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2K + E3 = OMG

2K and Irrational Games (then 2K Boston) rattled the gaming community in 2007 with the release of BioShock. Critics and gamers agreed BioShock was one of the most immersive titles ever created thanks to its original story, creative gameplay, and engrossing atmosphere. No matter the genre, BioShock changed the face of gaming.

The word “detail” takes on a new meaning in game design now. Beyond looking and playing well, if your game doesn’t feel alive, good luck. Especially if your game comes out next year. It appears Irrational Games and 2K Marin (spin off company of Irrational) aren’t sucking a single ounce of life out of their new titles.

BIOSHOCK INFINITE

Information about Infinite has been known for awhile now, so I won’t go on about it. Especially since it is the hardest game to get into at E3. I’m trying. Trust me. (Although, I have been shocked by the special treatment I’ve gotten since Nerdist.com is on my badge. Humblebrag? Damn straight.)

Set in 1912, Infinite leaves Rapture in the sea and takes to the sky in the city of Columbia. The player takes on the identity of Booker DeWitt, a former government agent, and navigates him through a series of railways to rescue Elizabeth, who seems to have special powers. Big Daddies will no longer make your peen-stick leak. Instead, the player will be chased by the Songbird, a robotic bird designed to protect Elizabeth. Columbia is not in shambles as Rapture was, but it is rotten with xenophobia and jingoism.

I loved BioShock for its attention to detail and its philosophy driven story. Infinite does not seem to be coming up short in either of those departments. All we know is that the game will be coming in 2012. I know I will not be missing out on this game. In the meantime, check out the new teaser released this week.

XCOM

When the reboot of X-COM was announced at E3 2010, we were told nothing. I completely forgot about it. When I couldn’t get in to see Infinite demoed in front of me, I glanced at the rest of 2K’s booth. Duke Nukem? Nah. It comes out soon enough. My friend pointed out XCOM. We had forgotten about it. Apparently others had too. We got right in and took our seats. Thirty minutes later, 2K Marin had to call in a cleaning crew to wipe our brains and drool off the walls and floor. This game is going to be incredible.

XCOM is a first person shooter/RPG from 2K Marin with the visual style of BioShock. The player assumes the role of Special Agent William Carter in 1962. He and his elite team, which you choose based on their special skills (think Mass Effect), must defend the USA from a powerful alien force, the Outsiders, armed with far superior technology, hellbent on consuming everything from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Forced against a wall, Carter’s squad must capture the alien tech and use it against them. As the player progresses, they gain new attributes and powerful sci-fi abilities. Again, think Mass Effect. Do you get what I’m saying yet? This is a sci-fi shooter that looks like BioShock and plays like the latter and Mass Effect. There is a heavy emphasis on tactical maneuvers and squad mechanics while remaining a fun shooter.

When foreign technology is captured, the player has the choice of using it on the battle field or sending it back to the lab to benefit them even more in the long run. Understanding the Outsider’s technology is the key. The aliens are not the aliens we are used to. They are a living technological force sent to terraform our world for their habitation. Without understanding them, everything we know and love will be gone. Remember, kids, science will save us.

Of course 2K Marin wouldn’t simply rely on fantastic game play to carry the game. We were ensured the story, which is non-linear, is full of shocking moments and heart-pounding excitement. Also, considering the unique time of our history during 1962, the developers are not afraid to attack the social issues of racism, homophobia, and sexism. I can tell you, from the roughly 30 minutes of live game play I saw, the game play is immersive and full of variables, while remaining easy to manage. The story is intriguing, and the twist at the end of the demo left my eyes wide and my brain confused. Fortunately, we only have to wait until March 6, 2012 to harness their power.

Update: I just got out of the BioShock Infinite live demo. DeWitt and Elizabeth were in route to Comstock’s compound (a leader of one of the two factions looking to take over Columbia). This is what you see in the trailer shown, but more. We also saw the Songbird rip a roof off a building in an effort to kill DeWitt and capture Liz. The graphics and atmosphere are absolutely stunning and the action had me on the edge of my seat, all of this while remaining funny and scary.

The movement on the railroads is fast, yet the player still has ultimate control. Everything is fluid and all signs point to an amazing release next year. This is THE BEST game at E3, and that says a lot.

One more thing: Elizabeth seems to have a connection to time travel when she cries. For a brief moment, we went from the early 1900′s to the 80′s. Who knows how this will come into play? One thing is sure, everyone will be talking about this game upon release. Everyone.

Follow Matthew as he dicks around on the last day of E3!

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2 comments

  • Woah! XCOM looks great! Finally, original concept design for alien tech!! They actually get it: advanced beings and cultures use ADVANCED technology!! Things that are outside of our thinking and experience. Why is this so hard for most designers in Hollywood and games to understand? This design approach makes it seem more real and frightening, love it!!! The last time I felt this excited for tech design was HL3. Can’t wait to play this!
    Hopefully other artists will follow this example and give us the awesome 21st century sci-fi we deserve. It’s time to kick it up a notch, yes?