Video: Bioshock Infinite preview takes the elevator

Irrational Games has released a gameplay preview for its upcoming dystopian thriller.

Bioshick Infinite starts in the same place as the previous two titles – the water. This time however, the protagonist isn’t headed down to the forsaken city of Rapture. He’s headed up to the cloud-city of Columbia, where he has been tasked with rescuing a young woman named Elizabeth. Once he finds the girl, the two will have to work together to escape the malevolent paradise, exploring the mystery of Columbia along the way.

This preview shows off the opening sequence of the game, taking protagonist Booker DeWitt from a small ferry onto the path that reaches into the city in the sky.

Stylistically, this opening is very similar to the first scenes of the first Bioshock game. The arrival at a mysterious place with a box of photos, the discovery of an unknown corpse which becomes a harbinger of the conflict to come, a strange encapsulating transport technology, and a series of signs on the wall which lay out the philosophical underpinnings of the plot, and make clear the themes of the story.

The game is not intended as a sequel to either previous Bioshock game however. The story of Rapture is over. Infinite take place many years earlier than the previous games, but is not a prequel either. The story of Columbia is another alternate history with some similar elements.

In the original Bioshock and its direct sequel, the player visits the city of Rapture. Intended as a capitalist, Randian paradise, where every man shall live and die by his own personal effort, it has fallen into a spiraling disrepair due to a terrible sequence of events that begin with a personal feud among the most powerful in the city. The conflict is fueled by a strange new technology that allows people some telekinetic power, at the price of their sanity.

Columbia is also intended as a paradise city, but it is founded on the pro-patriotic ideals of the early 1900’s, a place where those who do not love their government unconditionally are unwelcome to stay. The dark, claustrophobic quarters of Rapture are starkly contrasted with the wide-open, brightly colorful spaces of Columbia. The limited motion and frequent glass walls of city under the waves are replaced with flight and acrobatics. The basic solitude of the previous protagonists is switched out with the constant companionship, and assistance, of Elizabeth.

The strange telekinetic technologies have been retained, and one can expect similar mechanics in their use, along with the use and improvement of other weapons. As previously, players will be able to choose their own path through the plot, making several moral decisions along the way. The game even ships with a special mode in which is it possible to make poor decisions, a harkening back to games of yore, in which a singe bad call in the first few minutes of the game could potentially make some scene much later impossible to complete. This is off by default, however, as most modern audiences would not enjoy that mechanic.

Bioshock Infinite will be available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows on March 26, 2013. It’s already available for pre-order over on Steam.