While the road that it's been on has been long and weary, BioShock Infinite is just about at the finish line and is set for a release next week.  Anticipation for the game is high, especially considering that lead designer Ken Levine and his team at Irrational Games have been pouring their heart and soul into the project.  The delays were strenuous for those who expected its release last year, it looks like the extra time in development has paid off.

BioShock Infinite is an important game for the team, and for good reason.  There's quite a legacy for the series to live up to since the release of the original BioShock in 2007.  That first-person shooter adventure not only had great gameplay to keep players interested, but also an art deco style décor that had rarely been touched in video games beforehand.  Not to mention the fact that the player had the choice of either saving or "harvesting" Little Sisters that were found through most of the campaign, heavily guarded by the near-invincible Big Daddies.

Infinite has a number of similarities to BioShock in terms of approach and style, even if its location is far above the watery reaches of Rapture.  Here now are some of the things that are vital for the follow-up to match…

The City Has Its Own Entity

Likethe first BioShock, Infinite's location is everything.  As you roam through the streets of Columbia, you'll find all sorts of excellent décor throughout like littered propaganda sticking to the walls or the war-torn streets where rebels fight to make their voices heard.  The ambiance and setting the tone for the city's location in 1912 is important with a Steampunk-like futuristic approach is obviously everything to Irrational, as they want this to be a true follow-up unlike BioShock 2, which was a pretty good sequel that couldn't quite live up to the original's potential.

The enemies you face also play a tremendous part in Infinite, whether you're taking out some of the riff-raff causing you trouble or larger mechanical terrors, like the well-armed Motorized Patriot or the strong-armed Handyman.  That's not even mentioning the Songbird, the Big Daddy-like menace who shows up on more than one occasion during your journey.

This is the sort of game that sucks you in with its city design, whether you're walking through the streets before a gunfight or zipping through with the help of your Skyhook along a rail line.  You'll take a good amount of time just to see what it has to offer – and what secrets could very well be hiding in the shadows…

The Odds Are Against You

One huge part about the BioShock legacy is the ability to pit one man against the odds to persevere and win the day.  Jack, the main character of the original BioShock, had his hands full dealing with vicious Splicers and the merciless Big Daddies who became ruthless when it came to protecting the Little Sisters.  Jack also had to uncover a plot involving several key people around Rapture, eventually discovering (spoilers, BTW) he was a "sleeper agent" who was activated upon hearing the phrase, "Would you kindly?"

Booker DeWitt, the main character in Infinite, also has his hands full as well.  He's already under pressure to wipe away an enormous debt, but the task he's handed is monumental– retrieve a young woman named Elizabeth from Columbia.  Not only do roaming enemies make this near impossible, but you also have to deal with the Songbird, a guardian who's not ready to give her up so easily.

The interesting thing with Infinite, however, is that Elizabeth isn't defenseless.  She has powerful abilities that she can unleash over the course of the game, such as being able to open up the fabric of time and space to a new era and use powerful telekinesis.  Some of the trailers suggest that she could be one of the biggest surprises of the game, a force that Booker himself may find himself unable to overcome.  We'll find how everything fares in a future Spoiler Alert for Infinite, coming next month.

The Gameplay Will Keep You Busy

Unlike most first-person shooters, the BioShock games have a lot of variety in their action.  Not only do you get your hands on some fancy weaponry but you're also able to use Vigors that give you a temporary superhuman advantage over your adversaries, whether it's electrical, fire-based or even a flock of birds.

The original BioShock implemented the similar Plasmid system quite well and it looks like at least eight Vigor styles will also be included with Infinite, giving Booker more power than he could have ever expected.  However, he'll have to use them sparingly or else their power will run out when he really needs them.  Using them at the right time pays off, especially when you can defeat a cluster of enemies with ease.

The Ability To Change Your Destiny

It's too soon to tell if BioShock Infinite will offer the possibility of multiple endings, but considering how the first two games incorporated them, we wouldn't be surprised if they showed up.

The original BioShock gave you the choice to choose what ending you wanted, depending on whether you spared the Little Sisters throughout the game or harvested them to keep all the powerful ADAM for yourself.  If you took the nice route, you led a full life, eventually aiding them in living theirs.  If not, well, let's just say things took a turn for the worse.

Booker could easily be stuck in a similar situation, depending on who he kills in the city of Columbia or other actions surrounding Elizabeth.  It's too soon to tell since the game isn't quite out yet, but if we know Levine and Irrational they'll have something cooked up to prompt more than one run through Columbia.

Infinite looks dazzling and the gameplay should definitely live up to the BioShock franchise standards based on what we've seen.  But it could offer something new as well, which should bring even more people to the mystery of this strange, dangerous world.  Only time will tell…

BioShock Infinite will release on March 26th for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.