Philip R. Simon | The Art of Bioshock Infinite (Dark Horse)

Bioshock Infinite HeaderSet in an age where Tesla, Edison, and Einstein were all at the peak of their careers, The Art of Bioshock Infinite shows a world that literally rose above anything humanity had imagined before.

 

 

184 pages; $39.99 (Hardcover)

Of all the video game worlds out there, there’s always been something about the realms of Bioshock that touches the imagination in a unique way. There are a lot of games that look to mythology, fantasy, or history to inspire their epics, but Bioshock is one of the few series of games that seamlessly blends the three. This has never been more apparent than within the concept work of the series’ most recent installment, Bioshock Infinite.

Bioshock Infinite (1)Every Bioshock world is a little different than the last, but they all share some common themes: the stretching of human boundaries, the tearing of reality as we know it, and most importantly a warped mirror image of the future as it was envisioned in the past. In my humble opinion, it is the latter portion that has always been the most appealing parts of these games. The artwork collected in The Art of Bioshock Infinite reflects all the time and painstaking research that went into rendering a world that literally rose above anything humanity had imagined before, the floating city of Columbia.

Set in an age where Tesla, Edison, and Einstein were all at the peak of their careers, the city of Columbia was constructed in a time when the minds of the world were preparing to take a tremendous leap. However, with great change also comes great upheaval, and the writers and creators of Bioshock Infinite did a remarkable job of reflecting both sides of the equation.

Unlike some concept art books, flipping through the pages of The Art of Bioshock Infinite isn’t like revealing a land that’s simply been willed into existence. Instead, it’s more like watching a city being built from the ground up. With every new section and panel you watch Columbia grow. You see the city and its people at their best, then you watch it all slowly decay as utopian airs give way to civil unrest. This transformation is mirrored in the city’s citizens, who warp with the ideals their society was built upon. You see men and women become monsters as hope gives way to vice and violence.

While every video game art book is filled with settings and characters designs, what makes The Art of Bioshock Infinite so interesting was the inclusion of some of the finer details of the game, like designs for old-timey advertisements and pseudo-symbolic propaganda campaigns created as civil unrest in Columbia grew. These are the kinds of details that might be passed over at first glance, which would be a shame because, as in all things, the devil is in the details.

There are a lot of reasons to read an art book like this. It could be a genuine love of the game, a desire to understand the origins of the story, or perhaps a curiosity to see what ideas were left on the cutting room floor before the game hit the shelves. Whatever the reason, The Art of Bioshock Infinite is a book that has a lot to offer. | Brent Mueller

Bioshock Infinite (2)

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