Over the past year or two I've read a couple of books and watched a couple of films that personally I think would make epic video games.
From Elizabeth to Fitzroy: A Look at the Characters of BioShock Infinite
A city in the sky, hiding secrets and torn apart by warring political factions. Few settings sound as fitting for a BioShock installment, and everything we’ve seen about the upcoming title from Irrational Games looks nothing short of promising.
Being that the studio has a strong history of powerful storytelling, it’s safe to assume that the narrative of BioShock Infinite will be a twisted and complex one rife with difficult decisions, compelling moments, and thrilling events.
But as we all know, at the heart of every great story is an even greater cast of characters. For the purposes of helping you get ready for the game’s eventual release on March 26th, here’s a rundown of the key players in the story of BioShock Infinite.
Booker is the game’s main protagonist and the player-controlled character of BioShock Infinite. He’s a war vet and a disgraced ex-Pinkerton agent who was used to break up Union strike efforts and was later thrown out for his “extreme methods” on the job.
In the latest “Lamb of Columbia” trailer for BioShock Infinite, we learn that Booker is looking for Elizabeth in Columbia in order to pay off debts he accrued earlier on in life. While the exact nature of the debts themselves are not detailed in the video, there is some evidence listed on the BioShock wiki that suggests perhaps they are related to gambling.
Creative Director Ken Levine has said that Booker’s character arc throughout the course of BioShock Infinite is meant to evolve with the player. In the beginning, Booker himself is merely a man settling a debt. But once he enters into the madness that is the world of Columbia and meets Elizabeth, things begin to change. He’s also a character who is fully self-aware from the beginning, making a departure from the classic protagonist of the original BioShock who remained both voiceless and nameless for a majority of the game.
So what makes a character like Booker work in this situation? We’ve all seen the grizzled, down-on-his-luck character in countless games before, and on the surface, Booker looks to be much the same.
However, it’s his interaction with Elizabeth that will ultimately change and shape him into the fully-realized character he’s meant to be. Booker’s the cynical and negative counter to Elizabeth’s optimistic and curious nature. As such, there’s room for him to grow into an interesting and fully-realized character with many dimensions and sides to him. Of course, we won’t know exactly how his character arc will pan out until March 26th. But considering the room his character has to grow, it’s easy to look forward to seeing it all unfold.
At the center of BioShock Infinite is Elizabeth, a young woman with extraordinary powers whom Booker is tasked with bringing back to New York City unharmed. Of course, as in any video game, this proves to be much more difficult for the ex-Pinkerton agent than originally planned.
Elizabeth has many abilities that allow her to bend and manipulate time and space at will. This proves to be useful in combat, as she can assist Booker by bringing in various objects for cover or to use as weapons. She also shows signs of being able to control the weather and use telekinesis.
Elizabeth has been held captive on Columbia since she was five years old. At the time of BioShock Infinite she is twenty one, although her personality suggests that she’s never had the chance to fully mature. This is likely because she’s never been properly socialized, especially considering that her only friend and social interaction comes by way of the Songbird, her giant protector that continues to hunt her an serves as a nuisance to Booker as the two try to escape Columbia.
Because of her power, Elizabeth is both feared and desired by the residents of Columbia. Both warring factions of The Founders and the Vox Populi want to use her abilities to win the war, and she’s been locked away in an effort to curb her dangerous tendencies. The fact that Booker admits to fearing Elizabeth more than he fears God in the above trailer stands as a testament to her power.
Elizabeth’s character plays a central role in the shaping of the relationship between her and Booker. As Levine stated in one interview, the two go through “a really sh*tty time together”, forcing them to make sacrifices and rely on each other in order to survive. On top of that, Elizabeth serves as the optimist to Booker’s cynic and brings some much-needed innocence to the jaded war vet. She’s also headstrong and wants to do what’s right at all times, sometimes being oblivious to the consequences. Her naivete is an interesting element in her character arc as it’s both one of her strengths and flaws.
Just as the Big Daddies were the most feared element of the original BioShock, The Songbird is meant to be one of the most dangerous parts of BioShock Infinte.
The Songbird was created for the sole purpose of guarding and protecting Elizabeth during her time in captivity on Columbia. While it is a terrifying creature widely feared within Columbia, it took care of her from a young age and delivered her such goods as food and books. As such, Elizabeth went through a bit of Stockholm Syndrome with the beast and grew to love it as her only friend and form of interaction in the world.
Once Elizabeth has broken free of her prison, the Songbird becomes hellbent on bringing her back and will do so by whatever means necessary. This will prove to be difficult for the player to handle, as the Songbird is a powerful enemy and Elizabeth wants to avoid any confrontation with it, if possible. After all, her attachment to the Songbird is a strong one that she can’t easily betray.
The relationship between Elizabeth and the Songbird is an interesting one. While she wants to escape and refuses to go back with it,she still doesn’t want to see any harm befall the only creature that ever cared for her on Columbia. Thus, her allegiance is torn and sometimes interferes with the success of Booker’s mission to rescue her and bring her back to New York. Hopefully this finds its way into the interactions between both characters throughout the game, as it could make for some very hard-hitting moments in storytelling.
Levine has stated that the design choices for the Songbird were made to help the creature represent the world it lives in, just as the nautical look of the Big Daddies were characteristic of Rapture’s underwater world.
ZACHARY HALE COMSTOCK
The leader of the ultra-nationalist group The Founders, Comstock is said to have the ability to predict the future. Because of this, he is called “Father Comstock” and is revered by his party of radicals.
Thanks to some hints, it’s possible that Comstock is Elizabeth’s father. She asks Booker to help her find him early on in the story, as she thinks he is the only one who can help her control her powers.
Prediction? Comstock will be a bad guy. It already appears so from the events of the “Lamb of Columbia” trailer. And thanks to some pretty heavy foreshadowing, he’s coming off as a fairly formidable enemy whose originally good intentions, much like the Illusive Man from Mass Effect, have twisted into becoming distorted mission calls that justify drastic actions. It should be noted that this is just an estimate, of course. We’ll find out Comstock’s true nature in March.
The leader of the Vox Populi, Daisy Fitzroy is a woman whose sole purpose is to take down the Founders. She’s a violent woman with a distinct accent who knows of Elizabeth’s powers and desires to use them in her fight for Columbia and her party. There is some back lore that suggests she is also guilty of killing Comstock’s wife.
Fitzroy’s likeness appears on propaganda throughout the entirety of Columbia, enticing new members to join her cause with slogans that read “Daisy Fitzroy hears your voice! Join the Vox Populi.”
Any interaction between Booker and Fitzroy is yet unknown, but if my above prediction about Comstock is true, then there’s room for some interesting choices and tough allegiances to be made in order for a greater evil to be taken down. Of course, it could just be that Booker and Elizabeth are facing danger on all sides and trust no one, but BioShock has proven to be a series full of twisted storytelling before, so the potential to use enemies as temporary allies seems like an all-too-likely one that creators wouldn’t simply pass up.
BioShock Infinite releases on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on March 26th. For a full preview detailing everything you can expect to see from the game, check out our BioShock Infinite Preivew.