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title="Permanent Link to Event of the year: Bioshock Infinite">PCG261.feat_top.bioshock







Welcome to the PC Gamer Game of the Year Awards 2013. For an explanation of how the awards were decided, a round-up of all the awards and the list of judges, check here.



Sometimes great games are released to the silent enjoyment of millions, others are lightning rods for discussion. They're talked about, turned over and examined for months, even years after release. Love it or hate it, Bioshock Infinite is one of those games, a shooter with too many ideas for its own good. Confusing, spectacular, controversial, its scope and absurdity ensure that it will linger in the popular imagination longer than its competitors. What better candidate for our Event of the Year award.



CHRIS Infinite is spectacular, grotesque, violent and sentimental. It s a shooting game about racism, America, grappling hooks, time travel and gospel music. Its schizophrenia is its biggest strength and its biggest weakness I admire for it for its spectacular nonsense as much as I understand why people have a problem with it. There s been nothing like it this year, and I m glad to have taken the journey.



CORY Whether or not you enjoyed exploring Columbia and its mysteries, you were certainly talking about it. Infinite s explorations of racism and religion angered some, but I still believe they were necessary to build a world that was beautiful on the surface but ugly underneath. I know some of us found the combat to be vapid, but I loved soaring over a Handyman s head on a skyrail, firing rockets and opening rifts that brought turrets to life.



ANDY Actually, I found the combat in Infinite a bit of a chore, but I still love it for taking me somewhere so wonderfully different. Emerging into that plaza for the first time after the church scene, and hearing Garry Schyman s beautiful Lighter Than Air , was a magical, transporting moment. Columbia is one of the most memorable places I ve ever explored, and the anachronistic music one of many neat touches that punctuated the wonder with a feeling of unease; a sense of something sinister lurking beneath those cerulean skies. As a game it has a lot of problems, but as an experience it s unforgettable. And I liked the ending.



BEN Without wanting to sound overly dramatic, stepping into Columbia for the first time felt like entering heaven both kingdoms of white and gold hanging like jewels in piercing blue skies (both, incidentally, ruled by crazy old white guys with beards). Irrational s world is a monumental achievement, from its foundations to its fiction. Whether I was watching families enjoying lazy picnics on the grass, poking at oddities and antiquities in shops, or bashing the crap out of terrorists using a hook hand, BioShock Infinite took me somewhere I had never been before.



TOM What spell was I under, to think that BioShock Infinite made a lick of sense? It was wonderful nonsense, though, a moshpit of ideas that provided ammunition for lengthy, excitable discussion. In the week that followed its release, we would talk in strange code to avoid spilling spoilers. Have you reached THAT bit? one of us would ask, with an odd eyebrow waggle. Oh you mean the bit with the THING? the other would reply, forming their hands into a flapping bird shape. The imagination behind Infinite s glorious, beautiful world proved infectious, and for all its incoherence, it s a million miles away from the mundane shooters we ve grown used to.



TONY As soon as I finished, I started again. Not for myself but so that I could plonk my non-game-playing girlfriend down beside me and show her the incredible sights. The colour-saturated, carnival atmosphere of early Columbia. The terrifying attack on Elizabeth s statue. A female NPC who didn t wear hotpants or carry a gun. No other game this year made me so excited to say look at what games can be now!
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title="Permanent Link to The Text Adventures That Never Were: Bioshock Infinite">Bioshock Infnite The Text Adventure







The holidays are a time for family gatherings, massive dinners, mildly disappointing presents, and visitations by ghosts who show you harrowing visions of what might have been. This year, the Ghost of Video Games Past showed me what the games of 2013 would have been like if graphics cards had never been invented! I have no idea why he did that. The Ghost of Video Games Past is a little weird.



Bioshock: Infinite impressed critics with its otherworldly visuals of a city in the clouds, but strip away the sunbeams and statues, and does it hold up? Let s chug a vigor, eat a cake out of the garbage, and take a look at Bioshock Infinite: The Text Adventure!



































 
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title="Permanent Link to 2013 in PC gaming: Reflecting on BioShock Infinite">bioshock infinite







Before running away for a few days of making resolutions and breaking last year's, Evan, Cory, and Tyler gathered to talk about BioShock Infinite, and how they feel about it now that the buzzing excitement and debates have settled into a low hum. Watch the whole five-video series on the PC Gamer YouTube channel, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more regular content, gameplay footage, and conversations.
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PC Gamer editors are prohibited from celebrating Christmas. For the team, the end of the year is marked by an event known as GOTY Sleepover, a time where we somewhat-voluntarily sequester ourselves away from our families and loved ones in the interest of a greater good: selecting the best PC games of the year. We gather in a room with a very heavy door and very little ventilation and stay there until we ve reached a unanimous decision on every award category. It s a lot like the Papal conclave, but with more Cheetos.



So far, this is what we ve got. These are games nominated for awards in general, not just our single Game of the Year. Consider this a short-list of the games our team loved in 2013, one we ll whittle down into proper, named awards in the coming days.





Dota 2

Arma 3

Spelunky

Battlefield 4

Gone Home

Tomb Raider

Rising Storm

Saints Row IV

Papers, Please

BioShock Infinite

Total War: Rome II

The Stanley Parable

XCOM: Enemy Within



Check in each day over the holiday break to see who's victorious. In the meantime, here's our 2012 winners and some lively year-end video conversations about our best PC gaming experiences in 2013.
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title="Permanent Link to Giftstravaganza 2013: Buy stuff for people">gift guide







We're in a giving mood at PC Gamer, and so in the style of a certain in-flight catalog (except without dog sofas or skeleton gnomes), we're giving you the gift of a gift guide packed with great ideas for all the gamers in your life (or yourself, of course). So welcome to PC Gamer's 2013 Giftstravaganza, your one stop holiday satisfaction machine with toys, gadgets, tools, and merriment for all as we embark on the next month of family gatherings, overeating, and gaming marathons. Let the binging begin.



Plush Doom Monsters

 





Warm up your heart with the fires of hell! Who says evil hell monsters don’t like to cuddle? Get cozy with a snuggly plush Cacodemon or Pain Elemental, and fall in love with their insidious eyeballs and twisted grins.



bit.ly/doomplush $15 / ~£10



Nerf N-Strike Elite

 





Fire high-caliber foam with the Centurion Blaster! The N-Strike Elite Centurion Blaster is a marvel of foam dart weaponry. The 6 included MEGA darts (big darts, that is) can fly 100 feet—we swear we felt recoil from this thing. It even includes a detachable bipod so you can accurately pelt your friends while lying prone under a ghillie suit made of lawn trimmings. That is, if the bright orange plastic doesn’t give you away.



hasbro.com/nerf $50 / £50



Kerbal 3D Prints

 





The cutest little green men in the universe! They’ve died countless deaths adventuring into the great unknown, and now you can memorialize the sacrifices of your Kerbal Space Program astronauts with an adorable 3D print! Made by Shapeways, these little guys are the perfect addition to any launch control room or captain’s quarters.



bit.ly/kerbal3d $47 / €41.35



Artisan Dice

 





D20s just like they used to make ‘em! These gorgeous hand-crafted dice are made from the finest hardwoods. Take your pick from standard six-sided dice, fudge dice, and polyhedral dice, and choose from dozens of exotic woods for your own custom set of fate-deciders!



artisandice.com $25+ / £15+



D&D Books

 





Give the gift of imagination! We’ve crawled countless dungeons and slayed hundreds of dragons on our monitors, but some of the fantasy adventures we remember best happened around a table with friends. Pick up the D&D 3.5 handbook (we prefer it to the newer 4th edition), accessorize with guides and adventures, and start a quest you’ll never forget!



wizards.com $20-$40







LEGO MindStorms EV3

 





Robot block! Robot block! Build and command five robots or design your own with the incredible LEGO MindStorms EV3 kit! The set includes an ARM9 processor, touch sensor, color sensor, infrared sensor, and over 550 LEGO Technic parts. You can build remote control and automated machines that’ll scare your cat like never before! Or, design a robot that solves Rubik’s Cubes while scaring your cat—the possibilities are endless!



bit.ly/legoev3 $350 / £300



Fretlight Guitar

 





Learn to play the LED way! Learning to play a new instrument is hard—most of us have given up on a few—but Fretlight has designed a solution that gives beginning guitarists the lessons they need without all the frustration. The built in LED system removes the finger position guesswork new players struggle with by showing where the hands should be right on the fretboard. The $300 FG-507 Acoustic model is great for beginners, but novice rock stars should also have a look at the $600 FG-521 Traditional Electric model pictured here. If you want to go really crazy, Fretlight also sells a $900 Pro Electric model, but at that level of investment, we’re guessing you have some idea how to play already.



store.fretlight.com $300+ / ~£185+



Necomimi

 





They’re not just cat ears—they can read your mind! Expressing emotions is hard (why not just bottle them up?), but the Necomimi makes it easy! Just put it on your head and let the ears do the talking—your brainwaves make them move! Believe it or not, it works! We're pretty sure, at least—if all is operable, concentrate to make the ears rise, and relax to let them lie down. When you do both at the same time, they move back and forth. Science!



necomimi.com $70 / £60







Flip Book Kit

 





Make your own moving pictures! It’s actually called “FlipBooKit,” and includes everything you need to create incredible animations—we’ve chosen to showcase Laser Death Cat from Team Fortress 2 map achievement_all_v4. Run!



bit.ly/flipbookit $49 / £30



Songbird Plushie

 





Stay safe with your own obsessive robot protector! This hand-crafted faux-leather plushie won’t just love you, it will watch you sleep and violently kill intruders with its brass eyes and beak! Everyone’s favorite BioShock Infinite character sits seven inches tall with a wingspan of 14 inches.



bit.ly/songbirdplush $55 / ~£34



BioShock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia

 





The great board game in the sky! Replay BioShock Infinite on your table! This time, you’ll wrestle for control of Columbia as the Founders or Vox Populi—draw cards to zip across sky-lines, build an army, and deal with some jerk named Booker.



bit.ly/siegegame $85 / £70







Logitech Driving Force GT

 





Woah, slow down buddy! Cory’s having a blast obeying traffic laws in Euro Truck Simulator, but you can go as fast as you want with Logitech’s Driving Force GT, which includes a force feedback steering wheel with 900-degree rotation plus gas and brake pedals. Quit racing with WASD, silly!



bit.ly/drivingforce $150 / £272



ModMat Xtreme

 





Stay grounded! Make your next PC repairs go smoothly with this giant anti-static surface—it even includes nine handy reference guides so you can get to work without referencing a pesky manual!



bit.ly/modmat $60 / £55



SoundSticks III





Great sound with style! Is that a glowing jellyfish under your desk? Nope! It’s the stylish down-firing subwoofer in Harman Kardon’s three-piece speaker system. Add the eight transducers in the two speaker towers, and the set pumps out a deep, rich sound—it looks and sounds so good, even the New York City Museum of Modern Art has one!



bit.ly/sndsticks $170 / £130



Parrot AR Drone 2.0

 





Fly by phone and watch in 720p! The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 flies high and fast, and even includes a camera to capture photos and 720p video from the sky! Control it with your iOS or Android device, and fly it inside or out—embedded sensors help you take off and land, and you can even tell it to hover or flip on autopilot!



ardrone2.parrot.com $300 / £279







Rosewill PC Tool Kit

 





Fix it the right way! This 90-piece tool set includes everything you need to build and maintain your rig, including a ratchet driver with 40-piece bit and socket set, six precision screwdrivers, nine hex keys, a wire cutter, an anti-static wrist strap, a soldering iron, an electronic tester—the list goes on and on! If you like to tinker—and we know you do—make sure you’re never without the right tool for the job.



bit.ly/pctoolkit $30 / ~ £19



ViewSonic Projector

 





Play bigger with the PJD7820HD! Pronounced “Puh-Juh-Duh,” the PJD7820HD is the perfect way to play your games big! With a native resolution of 1920x1080, 3000 ANSI Lumens, and 15000:1 contrast, this projector fills your wall with crisp, high-definition gaming. Try pointing it at your ceiling—you’ll never need to sit again!



bit.ly/vsprojector $780 / £688



Mounted T-Rex Head

 





Wall decorations may be closer than they appear! Remember when you traveled back in time to hunt Tyrannosaurus? If not, you probably stepped on winged insect and irreparably altered history, but no matter! Remind yourself of the greatest hunting exhibition to ever possibly happen with a mounted T-Rex head—your friends rightfully won’t believe it!



bit.ly/trexmount $100 / £62



Raspberry Pi Starter Pack

 





Build your own electronics! Want to build a murderous robot that enslaves all humans? Start here! Adafruit’s Raspberry PI Starter Pack includes everything you need to learn microcontroller programming basics.



bit.ly/raspikit $105 / £63
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With BioShock Infinite it only makes sense to have more questions than answers. Thankfully the launch trailer for the shooter's new DLC—Burial at Sea, Episode One—fills that role nicely. We see the expected, and very stylish, film noir vibe dialed up to 11, but there's also a sense of dread lurking under the surface.



The treatment of children in both the original BioShock as well as in BioShock Infinite was one troubling theme among many, but from the new trailer it looks like we'll be heading down that dark corridor again in the DLC. As Elizabeth tells us, "This world values children, not childhood."







We get glimpses of a sparkling and intact rapture as well as a glance at a familiar foe from the first BioShock, whose presence in the trailer must surely signal that there are even stranger confrontations in store for Booker DeWitt than a Big Daddy. As we saw in our review and hands-on preview, Rapture has become a stage for Booker to encounter some punishing combat, desperate moments, and bizarre characters. Want to dive back into the brain-bending possibilities of BioShock Infinite's ending before tackling the new DLC? Check out our in-depth discussion.



Burial at Sea, Episode One is out this week for $15.
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title="Permanent Link to Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea episode one review">Bioshock Infinite Burial at Sea 1







I'm being attacked by splicers again. I've got little health, no EVE, and only a few bullets for each of my four guns. I'm about to die, which is annoying, because I'd prefer to spend that money refilling all the things I'm low on.



Elizabeth calls out: she's found some EVE. I can use this. I catch a splicer with the Possession plasmid and, in the confusion, use my last shotgun shell to blast another. I then call for Elizabeth to materialise a freight hook, so that by the time I've Sky-Hooked (sorry, Air Grabbed) to reposition, my shield has recharged. I dismount, slamming into another splicer, and finish by using my buffed melee range to execute the last enemy, just as his possession wears off.



Such encounters are common in Burial at Sea, Episode One. It's BioShock Infinite's combat, retooled for BioShock's underwater city, but with fewer available resources than you'd find in either game. The resulting mix of scavenging and desperation ensures that you'll use the entirety of its systems - Plasmid, gun, Gear, and tear - out of a natural necessity for survival, rather than simply because they were there. For all this DLC's mysteries, twists and, yes, disappointments - and as clumsily as Infinite's tools have been massaged into Rapture's structure - it's the most fun I've had fighting crazed magical addicts.







Which is just as well, because despite a non-violent and story-heavy first section, the bulk of this two-hour adventure is combat. It starts with Elizabeth - older and more hard-hearted than she was in Columbia - arriving in the office of Rapture's resident PI, Booker DeWitt. She hires him to help find a child he has some past connection to, and the two explore a small shopping district, in search of the McGuffin that will let them progress.



The big draw of this episode is that you get to see Rapture before it descended into madness. As with Infinite, however, it's less a living city and more a stage. It feels like you're walking around a movie set, its actors performing on cue. Only, without the visual overload that was the open, constantly moving Columbia, the artifice is even more apparent.



That's not to say there isn't splendour. This whole section is lavish in its design, and culminates in an encounter with Sander Cohen that's full of detail, drama and enjoyable scenery chewing. Then it ends, and you travel to an isolated, dimly lit pocket of the city to shoot, burn or freeze a familiar procession of the violently insane.



Burial at Sea offers some brilliant standalone moments, builds on BioShock Infinite's ending, and, thanks to fluid, reactive combat, is enjoyable throughout its short adventure. But it fails to feel cohesive, and suffers from a cliffhanger ending that, in its desire to tease the next episode, dampens the impact of this one.



Details



Price: £10 / $15

Release: Out now

Publisher: 2K Games

Developer: Irrational

Website: www.bit.ly/1ciEdaZ

Multiplayer: None

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title="Permanent Link to Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 1 hands-on: a return to Rapture before the fall">Burial at Sea 1







Booker DeWitt is slumped in his office, his numb stupor disturbed by a persistent knocking at the door. Historically for Booker, whatever's on the other side isn't going to be good news. And so it proves in Burial at Sea Episode 1, the first story based DLC for Bioshock Infinite. Its opening minutes follow the beats of a hardboiled detective novel. Moments later, the door swings open to reveal a girl, a case, and a whole ocean of trouble.



It's not that simple, of course. The girl is Elizabeth, the case is to find a missing child, and the ocean belongs to Rapture. If you've played Bioshock Infinite, you've probably got some questions right now. Questions like, "wha-?", "huh?", and "come again?" It's not that these characters couldn't exist in this city - Infinite's ending made sure of that - but it's a surprise to see Booker feeling so at home here, especially because this isn't some intra-dimensional knock-off Rapture. It's the Rapture, the one we knew and shot bees at, shown two years before Andrew Ryan was introduced to the business end of a 9-iron.



Such a setup could easily seem forced, but Burial at Sea is a proper follow-up to Bioshock Infinite's story - just one that happens to expand our perspective on one of the most iconic game worlds of recent years. "You could take any of these cool characters, stick them together, and there's some fan service there," says Burial at Sea's producer Don Roy about the plot, "but we wanted do it in a truly meaningful way, so that it stands on its own and is impactful."







And Burial at Sea is impactful, especially throughout its opening areas, where Booker and Elizabeth explore the commercial district of Rapture seeking an an invite to meet with one of the city's more illustrious residents. Here, the shops and corridors are packed with detail, providing insight into the workings of the Rapture before the fall. "I'm very excited to see if players and fans have that experience," says Roy. "One of the great things about Infinite was the introduction of the life in the world. So the narrative that we could tell through civilians just walking around and being there, so that is a great new tool in our toolbox that we were able to bring to Burial at Sea."



To call it "life" is a bit of a push. As in Infinite, Burial at Sea's Rapture feels more like an explorable stage - its actors dutifully perform their vignettes as you pass. But the hyper-real spectacle does sell the idea of a place where magic has become the norm - from the theatrical flourish of a Houdini splicer serving drinks to his customers, to the awkward silence that follows a line of Little Sisters. It's an effective snapshot of a growing excess that would of course result in Rapture's horrifying implosion.



Nowhere is this more apparent than when meeting Sander Cohen, one of the few returning characters from Bioshock 1. His encounter is the highlight of this short Part 1 campaign, and it effortlessly ties together ideas and plot strands from both Irrational Bioshocks. It also shines a light on Elizabeth's perception of Booker. Their relationship is colder and more formal throughout the story; a result of the fact that Booker doesn't know who Elizabeth is, and that Elizabeth absolutely knows who he is.







"I love it," says Roy of this new incarnation of Elizabeth, "because she's still truly evolving as a character. I'm interested to see how players react to her, because there is a stark difference. Her existence is now coloured by the violence that she's witnessed in Columbia - and partaken in - and the transformation at the end to be who she ultimately became. So she's coming into the situation with a purpose, but she's coloured by all those experiences."



Burial at Sea does switch pace from exploration to combat, which brings back another recurring Bioshock scenario - rooms full of crazed, magical psychopaths in need of killing. Burial at Sea sticks with Bioshock Infinite's combat system, tweaked and squashed to fit inside the rooms and corridors of Rapture. "That's one of those ones where everybody in the room is 'yeah, we know how to do this,'" says Roy, "And then you start building and you're like 'oh wait, we have to build this from the ground up.' But it's great, because you end up with the best work when you do that. Trying to piece together something is never going to be as good as holistically going, 'we're going to make this new, and we're going all in.'



"Having to rebalance and rework the systems so they fit Bioshock 1's structure - because it's Rapture, and it's hallways and it's more enclosed encounters - was a big challenge for the team. But so many great lessons learned, and we flexed muscles we hadn't in a long time. And you start getting it, and you start making good decisions about the amount of resources the player has, and one day you're playing and it's really fun. You're running for your life, and you're having to make hard decisions, but they're fun hard decisions to make."







Not everything transfers cleanly. Rapture's using Infinite's Vigors now, for instance, although the fan-designed Old Man Winter bottle does reintroduce one of Bioshock 1's powers. "That's the best case scenario," explains Roy. "We realise we need a plasmid, we know we'd like to have some functionality that was in Bio 1, and we have this thing show up. It's amazing, and it looks like it could have been done out of our studio, and it's compelling and awesome and when you see that poster you're like, 'I want that bottle'."



There's an attempt to explain the switch: a series of audiologs from Ryan's researcher Suchong, as he investigates the after-effects of Elizabeth's reality hopping. The reasoning behind the inclusion of Infinite's Skyhook, on the other hand is arbitrary and throwaway. Brief justifications aside, the combat system feels great in its new home. Where Infinite could overwhelm through numerous systems in large arenas, Burial at Sea's tighter space and lighter resources mean every element feels essential. You need Elizabeth's tears to buy you cover, Vigor traps to cut off possible flanking routes, and the scarce handful of bullets in your handful of guns. Fights feel scrappy and reactive in a way that Infinite never captured and, for all the grandness of the opening, it's this focus on scavenging, planning and scrambling through that provides the majority of the DLC's thrills.



If there's a downside, it's those thrills are packed into such a small package. At roughly ninety minutes, it's short, even for a DLC campaign, and ends with a cliffhanger to set up next year's Episode 2, in which you'll play as Elizabeth. Of that chapter, Don Roy was understandably cagey. "The one thing I will say is that she's very different from Booker. The exciting thing about doing that - the reason to do that - is to be able to see the world through her eyes. As we were talking through the possibilities, it became, 'well, we can't not do this'. It's what fans want, it's what we want."



Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea - Episode 1 is due out on November 12th.
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title="Permanent Link to Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode 1 hands-on: a Rapturous return to the watery grave">Burial at Sea 1







Booker DeWitt is slumped in his office, his numb stupor roused only by the persistent knocking at the door. Historically for Booker, whatever's on the other side isn't going to be good news. And so it proves in Burial at Sea - Episode 1, the first story based DLC for Bioshock Infinite. Its opening minutes follow the classic tropes of hardboiled detective fiction, as, moments later, the door swings open to reveal a girl, a case, and a whole ocean of trouble.



It's not that simple, of course. The girl is Elizabeth, the case is to find a missing child, and the ocean belongs to Rapture. If you've played Bioshock Infinite, you've probably got some questions right now. Questions like, "wha-?", "huh?", and "come again?" It's not that these characters couldn't exist in this city - Infinite's ending made sure of that - but it's a surprise to see Booker feeling so at home here. Especially because this isn't some intra-dimensional knock-off Rapture. It's /the/ Rapture, the one we knew and shot bees at, shown two years before Andrew Ryan was introduced to the business end of a 9-iron.



Such a setup could easily seem forced, but Burial at Sea is a proper follow-up to Bioshock Infinite's story - just one that happens to expand our perspective on one of the most iconic game worlds of the last decade. "You could take any of these cool characters, stick them together, and there's some fan service there," says Burial at Sea's producer Don Roy about the plot, "but we wanted do it in a truly meaningful way, so that it stands on its own and is impactful."







And Burial at Sea /is/ impactful, especially throughout its opening third, where Booker and Elizabeth explore the commercial district of Rapture, looking for an invite to meet with one of the city's more illustrious residents. Here, the shops and corridors are packed with detail, providing insight into the workings of the Rapture that was. "I'm very excited to see if players and fans have that experience," says Roy. "One of the great things about Infinite was the introduction of the life in the world. So the narrative that we could tell through civilians just walking around and being there, so that is a great new tool in our toolbox that we were able to bring to Burial at Sea."



To call it life may be a bit of a push. As in Infinite, Burial at Sea's Rapture feels more like an explorable stage, its actors performing their vignettes as you pass. But the hyper-real spectacle does sell the idea of the place - from the theatrical flourish of a Houdini splicer serving drinks to his customers, to the awkward silence that follows a line of Little Sisters. It's an effective encapsulation of the evolution of Rapture, and the growing excess that would lead to its ultimate devolution.



Nowhere is this more apparent than when meeting Sander Cohen, one of the few returning characters from Bioshock 1. His encounter is the highlight of this short Part 1 campaign, and it effortlessly ties together ideas and plot strands from both Irrational Bioshocks. It also shines a light on Elizabeth's perception of Booker. Their relationship is colder and more formal throughout the story; a result of the fact that Booker doesn't know who Elizabeth is, and that Elizabeth absolutely knows who he is.







"I love it," says Roy of this new incarnation of Elizabeth, "because she's still truly evolving as a character. I'm interested to see how players react to her, because there is a stark difference. Her existence is now coloured by the violence that she's witnessed in Columbia - and partaken in - and the transformation at the end to be who she ultimately became. So she's coming into the situation with a purpose, but she's coloured by all those experiences."



After Cohen, Burial at Sea switches pace, and Booker and Elizabeth travel toward another of Bioshock's recurring themes: rooms full of crazed, magical psychopaths in need of killing. It's Bioshock Infinite's combat system, tweaked and squashed to fit inside the rooms and corridors of Fontaine's derelict department store. "That's one of those ones where everybody in the room is 'yeah, we know how to do this,'" says Roy, "And then you start building and you're like 'oh wait, we have to build this from the ground up.' But it's great, because you end up with the best work when you do that. Trying to piece together something is never going to be as good as holistically going, 'we're going to make this new, and we're going all in.'



"Having to rebalance and rework the systems so they fit Bioshock 1's structure - because it's Rapture, and it's hallways and it's more enclosed encounters - was a big challenge for the team. But so many great lessons learned, and we flexed muscles we hadn't in a long time. And you start getting it, and you start making good decisions about the amount of resources the player has, and one day you're playing and it's really fun. You're running for your life, and you're having to make hard decisions, but they're fun hard decisions to make."







Not everything transfers cleanly. Rapture's using Infinite's Vigors now, for instance, although the fan-designed Old Man Winter bottle does reintroduce one of Bioshock 1's powers. "That's the best case scenario," explains Roy. "We realise we need a plasmid, we know we'd like to have some functionality that was in Bio1, and we have this thing show up. It's amazing, and it looks like it could have been done out of our studio, and it's compelling and awesome and when you see that poster you're like, 'I want that bottle'."



There's an attempt to explain the switch: a series of audiologs from Ryan's researcher Suchong, as he investigates the after-effects of Elizabeth's reality jumping. After Infinite, such paradoxical inspiration works. Unlike the reasoning behind the Skyhook's inclusion, which seems far more arbitrary and throwaway. But justification aside, the combat system feels great in its new home. Where Infinite could overwhelm through numerous systems in large arenas, Burial at Sea's tighter space and lighter resources mean every element feels essential. You /need/ Elizabeth's tears to buy you cover, Vigor traps to cut off possible flanking routes, and the handful of bullets in your handful of guns. Fights feel scrappy and reactive in a way that Infinite never captured and, for all the grandness of the opener, it's this focus on scavenging, planning and scrambling through that provides the majority of the DLC's thrills.



If there's a downside, it's those thrills are packed into such a small space. It took me around 90 minutes to play through the entirety of Episode 1 - although there was plenty of scope for further exploration. It's short, even for a DLC campaign, and is clearly only part of the whole - its ending a cliffhanger that puts the pieces in place for next year's Episode 2, in which you'll play as Elizabeth. Of that chapter, Don Roy was understandably cagey. "The one thing I will say is that she's very different from Booker. The exciting thing about doing that - the reason to do that - is to be able to see the world through her eyes. As we were talking through the possibilities, it became, 'well, we can't not do this'. It's what fans want, it's what we want."



Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea - Episode 1 is due out on November 12th.
Oct 25, 2013
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Nvidia Shield review">Nvidia Shield Featured







Everybody knows that if you try to get a cat to do what you want—sit up, fetch a stick, search for explosives—it will do nothing more than stare at you with contempt. That’s why console pitches to PC gamers tend to fall flat: we’re generally not as interested in hearing how a bunch of suits want us to play our games. Nvidia took a much different approach with the Shield, on the other hand, that seems to account for what PC gamers have in common with cats: give us great hardware and the freedom to do whatever we feel like doing, and we’ll show ourselves a great time.



And oh, what hardware! Closed, the Shield looks like a largish Xbox 360 controller, with a handsomely textured plastic chassis and contrasting magnetically-attached silver plate on top (called a “tag”) that can be swapped for glossy or carbon fiber tags (available separately at $20 each). The top flips upward on a firm hinge to expose the 5-inch, 1280x720 glossy LCD touchscreen display and controller surface. The layout of the controller combines the best of the Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers with dual analog thumbsticks, a D-pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, left and right analog triggers and bumpers on the shoulders, as well as five buttons in the center for system controls.







At 1.3 pounds the Shield isn’t lightweight, but the ergonomics are nearly perfect—including a smoothly contoured undercarriage that allows your ring fingers to rest beneath the device—so I was able to play well over an hour before any fatigue set in (and over ten hours on a single battery charge, although that included a half-hour sandwich break and finger yoga). Only the slightly recessed thumbsticks felt a bit awkward at first, but the slight arch in my thumbs necessary to work them actually made depressing them easier.



On the Engineering deck you’ll find the brawniest Android hardware you can fit in a jacket pocket, centered around Nvidia’s own 1.9GHz Tegra 4 processor (with a 5-core CPU and a 72-core GPU) and 2GB RAM. The Shield also includes 802.11n dual band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, an internal gyroscope and accelerometer as well as 16GB of internal flash-based storage and a MicroSD slot where I’m currently storing 32GB of movies, music, emulators, and disc images I ripped from vintage games (more on that in a moment).



But the real stroke of genius is the Shield’s unmolested Android 4.1 (“Jelly Bean”) operating system, by far the most popular mobile operating system in the world. All you have to do is pop open the Shield, hop onto your wireless network, and help yourself to any of the hundreds of thousands of Android games available through the Google Play store. The Shield wisely highlights Android games with controls and visual enhancements customized for the device and its Tegra 4 proc, as not all Android games support game controllers or control remapping, and not all the ones that do aren’t guaranteed to work well with the Shield. And you’ll want to be very wary of games designed specifically for touchscreens: while some are a pleasure, such as the enigmatic puzzle game The Room, there’s simply no way to comfortably play others, such as the Android port of the classic adventure game The Last Express which bizarrely only supports portrait orientation.







The games tailored for the Shield, on the other hand, play beautifully, with super-crisp detail and unflappable smoothness—especially first- and third-person action games such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, zombie abatement shooter Dead Trigger, and Max Payne.



The Shield’s most unique feature—no, make that its most downright bitchin' feature—is PC streaming. You can launch any supported game from your PC—via the Shield interface or Steam’s Big Picture mode—and play, oh, let’s say Dishonored, in the bathtub. Which I did. Or Tomb Raider on the couch. I did that, too. I won’t tell you where I played BioShock Infinite, but the main idea is that your PC does the heavy lifting and squirts the results to your Shield with—under ideal conditions—negligible latency. But Nvidia was right to label this a “beta” feature, because getting it to work is something of an adventure in itself. Non-Steam games need to be manually added to your Steam library in order to work, and the hardware requirements are extremely steep: You need at least an Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 (laptop GPUs aren’t supported yet), and your results will depend on the speed and sophistication of your router and the strength of your wireless signal. I used a $180 Asus RT-N66U provided by Nvidia, and even then, in the labyrinth of dead spots that is my home, it took a great deal of experimentation to figure out where to put it—and how far away I could move away from it—so that I could stream without excessive lag or hiccups.







That’s frustrating, but in a sense, it’s also inspiring. Because PC gamers have always been tinkerers, and we’re used to adapting hardware to our needs; at the very least, we’d rather have the option than not. Nvidia cut no corners on the hardware, so I was able to watch my MKV rip of “The Brothers Bloom” Blu-ray without recoding (using VLC). I played my FLAC files of Tomáš Dvořák’s tasty soundtrack to Machinarium through the superb speakers (which are better than most laptop speakers, though light on the bass). And by pairing the Shield with a Bluetooth keyboard for experimenting with command-line instructions, I was able to play the gruesome DOS classic I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream (with the $3.50 DosBox Turbo utility) from a ripped ISO of my dusty CD-ROM. I plugged in the Shield to my PC, and as it charged over the USB connection, I transferred a rip of The Neverhood through Windows Explorer and ran it on the Shield using the free “Windows, Linux, Unix Emulator” on the Google Play store—and played it on my living room TV via the HDMI-out. I used a PlayStation emulator to play Fear Effect on a warm night on my fire escape. I even surveilled my backyard with the AR.Drone 2.0 from Parrot, with a live color video feed from the hovercraft streamed to my Shield.



That’s not to say these feats were easy—not all of them were. But they’re possible, and don’t require “rooting” or workarounds as a result of file system lockouts. You have the same freedom to improvise and experiment that you expect from your PC or laptop—and don’t ever get from console manufacturers. Instead, you get the benefits of an operating system with an open architecture in a handheld that’s several orders of magnitude more sophisticated in hardware and design than any handheld that came before it.



If you have the desire and patience to exploit the Shield’s whopping potential, it’s a must-have—if you tried to take this thing from me I’d tear your arm off and make you eat it. If you don’t, it’s a tougher sell without reliable PC streaming and iffy compatibility with many Android games. Either way, the Shield is a magnificent funmaker that’s worth every penny, and if Nvidia can bullet-proof the streaming and continues to promote compatibility and support among developers, it has an even more glorious future ahead of it.

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