New 'BioShock' game takes aim at American taboos

Mar 26, 2013
BioShock lead designer Ken Levine is pictured on February 7, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A new edition of the dystopian "BioShock" shooter videogame released Tuesday puts Americanism in the crosshairs, taking on taboo topics including slavery and racism.

A new edition of the dystopian "BioShock" shooter videogame released Tuesday puts Americanism in the crosshairs, taking on taboo topics including slavery and racism.

The "BioShock Infinite" protagonist battles a cult devoted to US founding fathers in a fictional floating city of Columbia that clings to early 1900s Americana and shuns the notion of an Emancipation Proclamation.

The third installment in the BioShock franchise is the work of Ken Levine and Irrational Games, a studio he co-founded.

Levine was the mastermind behind the original "BioShock," crowned 2007 , as well as a sequel released in February of 2010.

The first two installments of the were set in a grim, morally tattered undersea world of Rapture.

Levine told AFP that inspirations for the original game's dystopia saga came from many places, including the films "Citizen Kane" and "Fight Club" and the work of author Ayn Rand.

BioShock Infinite promises to build on the success of the franchise.

By Tuesday, BioShock Infinite had earned perfect scores in reviews by Game Informer, Eurogamer, and USA Today.

"We believe Infinite is very much a BioShock experience, but at the same time something very fresh," Levine said.

Publisher 2K Games released versions of Infinite for play on or consoles or on personal computers powered by Windows operating systems at a price of $60 a copy.

The videogame is set in the early 1900s in a floating city called "Columbia," where there is a clash between founders who built a religion making gods of America's founding fathers and rebel factions.

A World's Fair atmosphere in Columbia belies the fact that underneath its trappings it is a heavily armed war ship.

Influences for the storyline reportedly include the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Racism is brought to the foreground early in the game, as the player is called upon whether to decide to take part in a stoning using baseballs instead of rocks.

"From the crumbling city of Rapture to the clear skies of Columbia, we're proud to help Irrational Games bring their unique vision to players around the world," said 2K president Christoph Hartmann.

Players take on the role of a US Cavalry veteran who takes on the job of rescuing a girl from Columbia in order to erase a debt to dangerous people. Trailers from the game are online at bioshockinfinite.com.

The game takes aim at extreme Americanism just as US politicians renew their scrutiny of violence in videogames in reaction to horrific mass shootings in the country.

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