You’d think that after creating one of the best games of this console generation, BioShock, Irrational Games would have nowhere to go but down. However, they’ve followed a completely different trajectory, shooting straight for the skies with BioShock Infinite.

Within the first few moments of BioShock Infinite, players will recognize a familiar intro — the player arrives at a mysterious lighthouse that is more than just a lighthouse — and by the 10-minute mark they’re thrown head first into a fully realized world. That world is Columbia, Infinite‘s city in the sky.

Right of the bat, players will also notice that instead of a solitary theme of discovery, Irrational Games has crafted the game’s early moments to combine both discovery and awe. The second Columbia reveals itself to the player — with its beaming sunlight and floating structures — it’s clear a unique adventure lies ahead.

What follows from there is pure set-up, as our main character (Booker DeWitt) tries to make sense of his surroundings. Columbia appears to be a city founded on the ideals of American exceptionalism and religion — treating our founding fathers like saints and casting the city’s creator, Father Comstock, as a “prophet.”

For now, the city beams with life, one of the major points of contrast between Columbia and BioShock 1‘s Rapture, but there’s still the sense that something is off. What exactly that is, I’m sure, will reveal itself as the story progresses.

BioShock Infinite Gampley Video Impressions

Infinite also organically establishes some of this universe’s unique elements — namely the use of robotics and vigors. Vigors are Infinite‘s version of plasmids, the magical powers that are mapped to the player’s left hand (left trigger).

These elements are byproducts of a city that is freer of imagination than early 20th Century America — a city that literally reaches for the skies in every way possible. While we don’t get to experience all of the vigors first hand, we do see how most of them work. Again, there are touches of BioShock to their design, but there’s enough new there to be intriguing.

If the rest of the game can live up to the first 30 minutes, players will be in for a very unique experience. Even within that short amount of time, the game was able to establish a lively city that exists on its own terms and a world worth exploring.

And how about that flashback (flash forward)? That was enough to pique my interest.

What did you think of the first 30 minutes of BioShock Infinite? How do you think this game’s opening compares to the first BioShock‘s?

BioShock Infinite is out now for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

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