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BioShock Infinite Cultural References

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Like the other BioShock games before it, BioShock Infinite contains many references to video games, philosophy, and real world history.

References to the BioShock SeriesEdit

  • BioShock Infinite and the original BioShock have parallels to each other in a sense (revealed to be a part of the constants and variables in the infinite universes). Some of the following are parallels of BioShock and BioShock Infinite:
    • The game begins with the Lighthouse that holds transportation that will descend/ascend a user into the city the Lighthouse belongs to.
    • The man that enters the city receives a box/gift containing coordinates, a pistol, and an objective. Plus, the man has some sort of marking on their hand(s). Jack has chains tattooed on his wrists while Booker DeWitt branded A.D. on his right hand.
    • The travels to the cities are similar. While the travel to Rapture is descending in the ocean via Bathysphere, the travel to Columbia is ascending into the air via Pilgrim Rocket. Both signify the depth/height in which they are traveling until revealing the city through an obstructed view of a window followed by words that represent the city.
    • When the protagonist first enters the city, something significant catches their eye. In the original BioShock, Jack sees a whale swimming by as he enters Rapture; in BioShock Infinite, Booker sees a zeppelin flying by as he enters Columbia.
    • The Church of New Eden parallels the beginning of BioShock with a statue of its leader and the message and belief of the city on a banner. Also, developers mention that the candles on the water parallel the fiery waters from the plane crash in the original BioShock.
    • In the beginning of the game, the priest asks Booker "Is it someone new?", similar to Jack's first encounter with a Splicer in BioShock.
    • It is later revealed in the Sea of Doors that Rapture and Columbia are nothing more than constants and variables and that there is always "a lighthouse, a man and a city". Many aspects of the two games have parallels or are similar in some way. Jack/Booker, Little Sister/Elizabeth, Rapture/Columbia, Big Daddy/Songbird, Andrew Ryan/Zachary Comstock, Brigid Tenenbaum/Rosalind Lutece, etc.
  • When Booker and Elizabeth enter the Arcade of Battleship Bay, they will come across an arcade cabinet featuring Duke & Dimwit called "Flawless Flintlock". When Elizabeth is presented with this game, she exclaims: "Look! It's Flawless Flintlock! It's the newest one in the series! I heard it was delayed three times!" This an obvious jab at BioShock Infinite itself because of its "new game in the [BioShock] series" and its actual delay for release of three times.
  • When Elizabeth realizes Booker has duped her into thinking they are going to Paris, she hits him with a wrench. A direct reference to Jack's melee weapon from the original BioShock.
  • The only combination lock to feature in BioShock Infinite utilizes the same code as the first combination lock encountered in the original BioShock, which also happens to be the first code used in Deus Ex: Human Revolution and was the code for the door to Looking Glass Studios, creators of Thief and System Shock. This was originally a reference to the book Fahrenheit 451, and the Firemen of Infinite may also be a reference to the novel as well.
  • Near the end of the game, Booker considers "a city at the bottom of the ocean" to be ridiculous, which was ironic considering that he was in Rapture, the setting of the original BioShock.
  • On several occasions, Elizabeth mentions the novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.
  • In one of Jeremiah Fink's voxophones, he mentions observing a biologist through a Tear, along with "a merger of machine and man that is somehow the lesser, yet the greater, of both parties"; this is possibly a reference to a Big Daddy. Dr. Yi Suchong from the original BioShock is later confirmed in the DLC Burial at Sea - Episode 1 to be said biologist.
  • In Battleship Bay, when Booker wakes up and is searching for Elizabeth, a baby carriage can be found with a box of pistol ammo in it, as well as another baby carriage in Emporia containing a Hand Cannon. These are obvious nods to the first gun that Jack finds in the first BioShock (a revolver in a baby carriage).
  • As a reference to the first trailer for BioShock Infinite, one of the many versions of Elizabeth that appears at the end of the game is a slightly altered character model of the one in the trailer.

To Other Video GamesEdit

  • In the voxophone A Dog's Loyalty, the speech Comstock makes sounds similar to that of Question President Eden from the video game Fallout 3. "When I was a child, growing up in rural Kentucky, I had the best friend a boy could hope for, my dear old dog, Honey". It can be an inspiration or Easter egg.
  • The idea of only being able to have two weapons (and change them out) at a time is adapted from other first-person shooters, such as Call of Duty, where the player is only allowed to have two weapons at a time: a primary and a backup.
  • The game's 1999 Mode is a reference to BioShock's "spiritual predecessor" System Shock 2. The name itself is a reference to the game's release date and the mode featured similar, more difficult gameplay.
  • Burial at Sea - Episode 2's 1998 Mode is a more deliberate reference to the release date of Thief: The Dark Project. The gameplay of Burial at Sea - Episode 2 is also very similar to the Thief series and promotional material referenced the cover art of the game, specifically Elizabeth's attire.

Cultural ReferencesEdit

  • A source of inspiration for Columbia was the 2000 film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Ken Levine in the past had cited inspiration from other Coen Brothers films for Rapture, the 1990 Miller's Crossing and 1994 The Hudsucker Proxy. [1]
    • There are several scattered references to the film, which itself was a retelling of Homer's Odyssey.
      • The baptism scene in the Welcome Center draws parallels with the baptism scene in the movie, both also featuring parishioners walking and singing to a hymn.
      • The first person to guide Booker DeWitt on his journey is Preacher Witting who is blind. The first person who guides the protagonists in the film is also blind.
      • Booker meets Cornelius Slate, a former soldier with a patch over his left eye. The protagonists in the film meet a swindler based on the Cyclops, though with the patch on his right eye.
      • Both soundtracks to the game and the film contain examples of early bluegrass, country, and folk music.
        • Both also feature songs sung by chain gang prisoners recorded by folklorist Alan Lomax.
BI Monument LizParis

The brief look into the 80s.

  • When the player first sees Elizabeth in Monument Tower, she opens a Tear to an alternate-universe Paris in the 1980s. The cinema seen is at the time showing "La Revanche du Jedi," which translates to "Revenge of the Jedi," the original title for Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.[2]
  • At the Fairgrounds, after Booker passes by the ticket taker machine, Robert and Rosalind Lutece will approach and they ask him to call a coin toss (which always results in heads). This coin tossing is reference to the play Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Besides, the Lutece twins also share similarities with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from the play in their play with logic, probability and language.
  • Booker's last name DeWitt might possibly be a reference to the theoretical physicist Bryce DeWitt, who advanced Hugh Everett's many-worlds interpretation (the interpretation plays a huge role in BioShock Infinite).
  • Just before entering the Fairgrounds in Welcome Center a man and a woman can be found discussing the Vox Populi, with the woman saying; "I do not want to be some character out of I Married a Vox Populi, now do I?" This is a reference to the 1949 film "I Married a Communist."
  • From a pre-release build of the game, the Barbershop Quartet seen in the Welcome Center is named "The BEE Sharps", a reference to Homer Simpson's band named "The Be Sharps".
  • The maps found around Soldier's Field also look quite similar to maps of Disneyland.

Historical ReferencesEdit

  • Much of Columbia's design and architecture was based on the "alabaster city" of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, though it is incorporated into the storyline that it was an offshoot of the fair itself. Creative director Ken Levine also cited Erik Larson's 2003 book about the Fair, The Devil in the White City, as a starting point for getting to know the culture of the time.[3]
    • There are several scattered references to events from the 1893 World's Fair.
      • In Hudson's Fine Clothing, a man complains about the half-finished landscaping for a park with the "fountain full of rainwater". The Chicago World's Fair was notoriously incomplete at the time of opening. There was a torrential rain the week before that showered the unfinished Columbia Fountain.
      • Preston E. Downs appears to be based on Buffalo Bill who also toured around with his famous Wild West Show. He was denied an official spot in the 1893 World's Fair, but set up camp on its outskirts to great popularity.
  • Zachary Comstock's last name may be a reference to Anthony Comstock, a 19th century American politician who became infamous for his extreme religious fanaticism.
  • In Battleship Bay, there is a newspaper that features an article about the RMS Carpathia rescuing people. This is likely a reference to the ship's role in the aftermath of the RMS Titanic sinking event.
  • The name Vox Populi comes from the Latin phrase "Vox Populi Vox Dei", meaning "The voice of the people [is] the voice of god", which is speaking about politics and not religion.
  • The Luteces take their name from Lutetia, a Roman city in France that later became Paris.
  • Lady Comstock's appearance is based on U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt's daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

Burial at SeaEdit

  • Rita Hayworth served a second time in the BioShock series as inspiration for the appearance of a character. Both Rita Hayworth and Lauren Bacall had a large influence on Elizabeth's femme fatale look for Burial at Sea.[4]
  • Both episodes have references to the 1986 film Aliens.
    • Sally's doll, Sarah, remains only just a head. This is a possible reference to Newt's doll, Casey, who is also just a doll's head.
    • A struggle between Sally in the vent is also a mirror reference of struggling to remove Newt out of the ventilation systems in the film.
    • Towards the end of the film, one of the more iconic scenes is Ellen Ripley rescuing Newt from the Queen's Lair. Ripley holding Newt while arming herself with a gun mirrors the cover for Burial at Sea - Episode 2 where Elizabeth is armed and holding a Little Sister.

Episode 1Edit

  • The cover art for Burial at Sea - Episode 1 was heavily inspired by the cover of the French film noir, This Gun for Hire.[5]
  • Hugh Everett (who formulated the many-worlds interpretation), was a heavy chain smoker and also had a drinking problem and was reported to be "sleeping it off in his office", (similar to how Booker appeared in the DLC opening) and was estranged from his daughter, whose name was Elizabeth.
  • Albert Einstein is mentioned twice. First in a discussion between two women on Market Street and later by Yi Suchong in his audio diary Observation #17. Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics.
  • Sander Cohen quotes Man Ray by saying "All critics should be assassinated." in his Audio Diary Critics.
  • In the finale, Comstock is impaled by the drill of a Bouncer in a similar way as the Splicer in the X06 trailer for BioShock.

Episode 2Edit

Ryandisneystatue

The statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse at Disney World.

See AlsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Things You Didn't Know About Ken Levine at Gamespot
  2. Return of the Jedi on Wikipedia
  3. Ken Levine Talks About His New Video Game at the New York Times
  4. We are Ken Levine (@iglevine) and Andres Gonzalez from Irrational Games. Ask Us Anything. on Reddit
  5. French poster for This Gun for Hire.

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