This game contains examples of the following tropes:
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Action Game, Quiet Drama Scene: Between the various fire fights are optional contemplative scenes between Elizabeth and Booker, often during gondola or elevator rides. One unique instance has Booker silently pick up a guitar and accompany Elizabeth as she sings Will the Circle be Un-Broken and tries to give food to a starving child in the basement of the Graveyard Shift pub.
Actionized Sequel: BioShock Infinite noticeably simplifies the inventory system (you no longer carry first aid kits or EVE hypos) and does away with minigames entirely.
Air Jousting: You can use sky rails to rocket through the air at similarly airborne opponents while firing at each other. If you and an enemy are riding directly towards each other, you can make Booker hop off the rail, sideswipe the enemy, and reattach to the same rail.
Captain Slate, whether or not you execute him, and the Songbird.
There's also the citizens of Columbia in general. It sure is a lot easier to hate them when they're not being executed in the streets and forced to abandon their homes and everything they own to escape the uprising.
The game has multiple references to the real-life Battle of Peking, which in this Alternate History was fought entirely by the forces of Columbia, instead of by the Eight-Nation Alliance. Notably, Slate mentions that the Columbian forces lost thirty men, which is over three times the number of American casualties in the real-life battle.
All Just a Dream: One interpretation of The Stinger is that the whole game was just a dream from Booker's depressed mind to teach him to appreciate what he has.
All The Myriad Ways: Booker and Elizabeth abandon multiple Alternate Universes for ones that better suit their needs at the moment, with little concern the "old" realities all still exist. Subverted in the ending, when Elizabeth insists she use her powers to kill Comstock in the past and prevent any of the suffering in the "old" worlds from happening. Unfortunately, Comstock's DeWitt. Hope you liked breathing, Booker.
Infinite's history diverged from the real world's when Comstock created the floating city of Columbia, leading to Columbia personally ending the Boxer Rebellion and eventually destroying New York City in 1984.
Alternate Universe: Columbia is full of "tears" Elizabeth uses multiple times as doorways to different versions of reality. A convenient (and MASSIVELY spoiler-heavy) chart can be found here.
The universe you start in has Comstock slowly wiping out an underground rebellion of minority citizens, the Vox Populi. Booker and Elizabeth are tasked with finding a gunsmith to provide weapons to the Vox, only to find the smith is already dead.
Elizabeth then transports herself and Booker into a second universe where the gunsmith is alive, thanks to the fact he married a white woman with ties to Fink and Comstock, but his machines have been confiscated, and most of the Vox Populi's members have already been arrested or killed. Elizabeth and Booker quickly realize they have no way to bring the machines back to the gunsmith, leading to a third jump.
The third universe where Elizabeth was moved to Comstock House and Booker became a martyr for the Vox trying to save her, leading to a bloody revolution in which the gunsmith and his wife are killed.
Booker then gets pulled into a fourth universe where he failed to save Elizabeth, resulting in her taking Comstock's place and eventually destroying New York. This Elizabeth gives him the code to override Songbird's programming, which allows Booker and Elizabeth to survive the Final Battle.
And then there's the sixth, where Elizabeth has destroyed all realities where Comstock existed by drowning Booker at his baptism, effectively killing her, Booker, AND Comstock, and ensuring none of the deaths caused by Columbia and its people happen.
There's a hint of a seventh, where Booker isn't dead, is back in his office, and goes to check on Anna. This may or may not be real, as the vision is gray, like in a tear.
It's hinted that this cycle happens earlier, as when Elizabeth is angry at Booker for lying to her about going to Paris and disembarks at Finkton to try and lose him, she opens a tear into a brick wall and winds up in the middle of a police blockade that immediately tries to apprehend her. While you do find Elizabeth on the other side, struggling against the cops, Elizabeth can only open holes into other dimensions, so you might not even be traveling with "your" Elizabeth.
American Dream: Columbia as a whole is a dark mirror of everything America represents to the world.
Anachronism Stew: Columbia has taken numerous pieces of technology and culture from after 1912 using "tears" in space-time, including:
A phonograph playing a ragtime-waltz version of Tears For Fears' 1985 song, Everybody Wants to Rule the World.
A barbershop quartet singing the 1966 The Beach Boys song God Only Knows and the 1928 Makin' Whoopee.
At Battleship Bay, you can hear a carnival version of Cyndi Lauper's 1983 Girls Just Want to Have Fun being played.
And you hear the original version of a song through a rift at one point.
You can hear Ed Cobb's 1965 Tainted Love in the Graveyard Shift Pub.
Although, in keeping with the 80s theme (Tears For Fears, Cyndi Lauper etc), Tainted Love is somewhat more famous for a 1981 synthpop cover of it by Soft Cell being a worldwide hit.
A host of typefaces that didn’t exist in 1912 are on all sorts of signage and advertisements.
The song "After You've Gone" almost seems period appropriate, but it was not written until 1918.
Analogy Backfire: At one point Elizabeth comments that helping the Vox Populi obtain weapons would enable it to stage a revolution akin to Les Misérables, seemingly forgetting that the attempt at revolution that took place in that book was snuffed out easily. And the Vox's attempt at revolution that players get to see over the course of the story actually is much more successful... and far more brutal.
Propaganda posters around Columbia refer to Elizabeth as "the Lamb", ignoring the biblical significance of the term. Jesus Christ is referred to as the "Lamb of God" because he was sacrificed for the sins of humanity, and lambs were common sacrifices made to God in 1st-century Israel. Surprisingly, none of the super-religious citizens notice this, and nobody mentions it the entire game. This later becomes a subversion when Elizabeth drowns Booker, sacrificing her and Booker's life in the process, to make sure that Comstock will never exist and thus the entire game will never have taken place.
If you fall into one of Columbia's many Bottomless Pits, you'll simply be put right back where you fell with only a minor drop in health.
Vigors can be purchased from vending machines on the off-chance you missed picking them up initially. This includes Vigors like Possession that you can only circumvent through Sequence Breaking.
A sharp noise is played to let you know when the last enemy in the immediate area has been killed, so you don't have to wonder if there's still someone waiting to ambush you. Note, however, that if the space is large enough, there could still be some lurking out of range.
Containers never hold alcohol (which lowers salts) or cigarettes (which lower health). Thus, you can quickly search a group of dead bodies, lockboxes, steamer trunks, etc, without worrying about losing either.
Collectable items that go towards achievements (voxophones, weapon kills, etc) are cumulative across playthroughs. Even if you only find half of the voxophones during your first playthrough, when you start a new game the voxophones you previously found still count, so you don't have to find all 80 of them in one game.
Arc Words: "Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt."
"The seed of the Prophet shall sit the throne, and drown in flame the mountains of man."
The Ark: Comstock envisioned Columbia as one, seeing it as a refuge from the corruption of "The Sodom Below". He eventually plans to ensure that it is the only thing which survives "the flood" as he plans for it to "drown in flame the mountains of man".
Comstock: Even the Lord is entitled to a do-over, and what is Columbia but another Ark for another time?
The force of grabbing onto a sky rail while falling through the air would rip off your arm and tear the rail in two, not just cause light injuries.
The ability to use a skyhook to leap thirty yards through the air onto a hook or rail is waved away as "Huh, thing must be magnetic."
People walk around in ordinary summer clothes despite Columbia being above 15000 feet sea level, where it should be extremely cold and windy. Oddly, "higher" locations of the city actually are as windy as you'd expect from those heights.
Art Major Biology: No one shows any signs of altitude sickness or shortness of breath, despite Columbia flying at an elevation between 15,000 to 20,000 feet above sea level.
Booker murdered women and children in his youth as a soldier at the massacre of Wounded Knee, and later became a Pinkerton who violently broke strike efforts, actions he's privately ashamed of.
Robert Lutece helped Comstock steal Booker's daughter. His insistence himself and his sister aid Booker over the course of the game is his way of trying to set this right.
Future Elizabeth has shades of this too, going as far as to make sure the Elizabeth we know doesn't become like her.
Attack Reflector: Maintaining "Return to Sender" allows Booker to catch enemy bullets, crush them into a lump of metal, and then violently throw it back. This can be seen as the spiritual successor to the Telekinesis plasmid of previous BioShock games.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Crank Gun. It's a hand-powered gatling gun that does considerable damage per shot, has good accuracy, and has a higher rate of fire than any other firearm in the game. The latter however, is something of a double-edged sword: the Crank Gun will eat through an entire magazine of 100 rounds in less than 10 second and has only another 100 in reserve. Moreover, you can only find the gun (and ammunition) on Motorized Patriots or in tears, and it also requires about three seconds to spin up before it can fire, which makes it very impractical to carry around between major battles.
Awesome Yet Practical: The Hand Cannon (which has the inside of a revolver) can be upgraded to have nine shots per clip, a reload speed of a second, and one-shot kill most low-level enemies without a critical and do serious damage to many enemies. Late-game, ammo becomes plentiful for it.
The general consensus on using the skyrails (even to more objective reviewers like TotalBiscuit, and more cynical ones like Yahtzee) is that blasting enemies while zooming around at high speeds grappled onto a skyrail is FREAKING AWESOME.
Awful Truth: The truth Comstock believes is so horrible it will turn Elizabeth against you? You sold her, your own daughter, to Comstock to wipe away your debts. Oh, and "Comstock" is just an Alternate Timeline version of you, with only one decision 20 years ago separating you from being the same monster he is.
Back from the Dead: Sometimes, when Elizabeth uses the Tears to change something significant (like Chen Lin's death), she can accidentally end up bringing back enemies you killed, but they often get stuck in a state of confusion between which version of themselves they are. The result is... disconcerting, to say the least.
Happens to Preston E. Downs only for Booker to kill him again. He comes back a second time, working with the Vox Populi.
Bad Future: Booker's vision of a 1980s New York being destroyed by Columbia. (A billboard suggests it'sNineteen Eighty-Four!) Booker eventually learns this is a future where Comstock stripped away Elizabeth's free will, essentially turning her into a female version of him. Thankfully, future Elizabeth retained enough willpower to bring Booker to her and show him how to prevent it.
Bait and Switch: The reveal trailer begins with an underwater shot and a Big Daddy...which turns out to be the inside of a fish tank. Cue the sky.
Battleship Raid: Several points in the game require Booker to board and make a mess of an airship that is raining down fire or otherwise being an obstacle. The penultimate section of the game involves boarding the flagship of the Columbian air fleet, then defending its deck against a different attack.
Bilingual Bonus: Fink is both the name of The Songbirds inventor and the German name for - a type of songbird.
Bittersweet Ending: Booker has Elizabeth drown him in the river before he can either accept or reject his baptism to prevent Comstock's existence, and Elizabeth is thus Ret Gone in every incarnation - as a Heroic Sacrifice to save all the people Comstock and the Bad Future version of Elizabeth would have gone on to kill.
Black Mesa Commute: You start off on a boat, followed by a rocket ride in the same vein as the bathysphere from the original, then a waterlogged church where you're baptized, then the city streets - and even then, it's a while until your first real battle.
Body Horror: Aside from the Handymen and related individuals, we have the physical side effects of Vigors. For instance, Bucking Bronco causes the skin on the hand to crack apart and bleed, and Undertow gives the arm barnacles and octopus-like suction cups. Picking up the Devil's Kiss vigor gives you a vision of your fingers being burned to the bone, then the bones crumbling. After that, every so often your hands ignite, small areas blackening then glowing and spreading. Return to Sender strips the skin off Booker's fingers and seemingly causes the bones to become metallic.
Booker returns to the lighthouse where his journey began (twice!) and has a baptism.
In a more meta-example, BioShock Infinite ends where BioShock begins - taking the Rapture bathysphere and your character drowning.
Even further, when you first arrive in Columbia, you're nearly drowned during a mandatory baptism. At the end, you're drowned in baptism to stop Comstock from existing.
And let's not forget that literally the first thing we see of Booker (in 2010 reveal trailer) is him being drowned in an aquarium.
The piano solos in the music when Booker breaches the cloud layer to enter Columbia and when Booker is drowned and the multiple Elizabeths start disappearing are very similar.
Booker's journey begins and ends with him opening a door to a lighthouse.
Boring, but Practical: The Pistol is kind of bog-standard average when compared to other weapons in-game. However, it is highly accurate, can be fired as fast as its trigger can be pulled, has a high critical damage multiplier, is very cheap to upgrade, and has a near-instantaneous draw speed. With the right gear and upgrades, the pistol can be upgraded to have over 31 rounds by the time you get to Soldiers Field and provide solid performance at all ranges.
The Carbine has shades of this as well, functioning well-but-not-spectacularly in engagements at nearly any range (outclassed only by the Sniper Rifle and Crank Gun at long and close range, respectively) but not being particularly flashy. But then, this is what carbines were built for and it does look cool. Once you have headshots down, the Carbine can be just about the only weapon you'll ever need.
Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Booker and Elizabeth take a detour to Memorial Gardens to acquire late Lady Comstock's hand in order to proceed to the Comstock House.
The card with the symbols of Columbian worship, the key, the scroll, and the sword (and the numbers on how many times you ring the bells to enter).
The postcard for Monument Island is used for the location of Elizabeth and the ending when the Siphon is destroyed. The reason why it's a postcard is because people used to be funneled through there first upon arriving at Colombia.
A large and elaborate key, one side printed with a bird, the other a cage. Not only it is the key to Elizabeth's tower, the two brooches the Luteces offer Elizabeth later in the game ("The bird?" "Or the cage?") have identical symbols.
There is a handful of Silver Eagles, which tells you Columbia has its own currency.
The box itself is labeled as "Booker DeWitt, Seventh Cavalry, Wounded Knee", which is significant three times for completely separate reasons due to the timelines being messed up.
A photo of Elizabeth when she was younger, taken without her knowledge. Obvious practical use, but the same photo turns up later among other photographs of Elizabeth in her tower - also taken without her knowledge. The Luteces are more deeply involved with the job than Booker originally suspects.
The one thing that doesn't have any later significance is the gun, because Booker almost immediately loses it. Unless you count it as a Continuity Nod to the original Bioshock, where Jack begins the game by opening a box that contains a note and a gun, for hijacking the plane.
Broken Pedestal: Columbia as a whole to America and the world. What was initially hailed as a symbol of American ingenuity and progress turned out to be much, much worse.
Elizabeth has to deal with one of these when Daisy Fitzroy, whom Elizabeth hoped would lead the oppressed people of Columbia to freedom and equality, proves to be an extremist dedicated solely to destruction.
Building Swing: The Skyhook often serves this purpose for Booker. It has a user-activated magnet which can yank him boldly up to an equally magnetic tram rail, or pull him to a hanging cargo hook. Using this, he can Reverse Polarity to launch himself off and then activate the magnet again to pull himself to another one, often leaping from hook to hook to traverse areas.
But Thou Must: Infinite makes a point of stating that even though there can be millions upon millions of alternate universes depending on the decisions we make, there are some events that cannot be changed. For example, the coin flip during the fair will always be Heads, and Booker will always pick ball #77 even after explicitly being told not to. The game also communicates this by offering several multiple choice decisions (like whether to throw your ball at the announcer or the captive couple) that may change subsequent events a little, but ultimately have no effect on Booker's eventual fate.
As in the earlier BioShock, But Thou Must is heavily deconstructed. When Booker is forced to recommit the most horrible decision of his life (selling his daughter) he's outright told "You don't leave this room until you do."
Came Back Wrong: Lady Comstock after Comstock siphons energy from Elizabeth to revive her; she doesn't really seem to appreciate the thought.
Call Back: BioShock opened with a man in a plane descending to the sea, and going down stairs in a lighthouse to a vehicle which brings him to a city under the sea. Infiniteopens with a man in a boat being rowed to a lighthouse, then climbing up stairs to a vehicle which takes him to a city in the sky. Turns out this is actually a plot point.
Tons of other callbacks as well: the final part of your elevator ride has words printed on the wall for you to read through the viewport, Booker starts off by opening up a box given to him by somebody, and one of the first things someone says to him when he arrives is, "Is it someone new?"
Shortly after arriving in Battleship Bay, Booker comes across an abandoned baby stroller, with a box of pistol bullets inside, referencing how the player character from BioShock first came across a firearm.
At one point, Elizabeth gets her hands on a solid wrench which she uses to knock out Booker. It is the exact same model of wrench (geometry and textures) that Jack picks up as his first weapon in BioShock.
The Boy of Silence that gives the player a Jump Scare in Comstock House is very similar to a Doctor Splicer giving a similar Jump Scare to the player in the first Bioshock.
The Cameo: While in Rapture, you can glance upon a destroyed Bouncer-type Big Daddy and a Little Sister crying over him right after Songbird dies. Coincidence? YOU DECIDE!
Canon Welding: It turns out that Infinite is actually part of the same multiverse as Bio Shock and Bio Shock 2; not only do Booker and Elizabeth visit Rapture at the end of the game, but it's connected to hundreds of other universes in which a story begins with a man, a lighthouse, and a city.
The Cast Showoff: There's an optional scene in Graveyard Shift pub where Elizabeth and Booker do a rendition of Will the Circle be Un-Broken to show off Courtnee Draper's singing and Troy Baker's background as a guitar player. A video of them rehearsing is even included at the end of the closing credits.
Chaos Architecture: Many of the buildings in the city can detach and float independently, allowing the city to reconfigure if need be. One of the nameless citizens Booker passes by shortly after arriving even mentions that he hates it when buildings dock behind schedule, and he has to rely on the rail tram more often than he would prefer.
Character Focus/Demoted to Extra: For all the hype and assumed importance about Columbia, the game isn't really about the flying city. It's about Elizabeth, following her relish in new found freedom, charting her growth and maturity, and her relationship with her father. It helps that she's a wonderfully three dimensional character from the outset, far from the doormat damsel in distress who hangs off the arm of her rescuer and exists purely to be saved from yet another castle; there are a few wonderful moments where she flat out refuses to put up with Booker's crap, and even forces him to develop in his own ways as well. She's strongly characterised with real depth and a measurable arc that truly marks her as the main character of the game, above the petty politics of Columbia and even the internal narrative of redemption that Booker follows.
This is emphasized at the very end of the game; the credits begin to roll the precise moment Elizabeth ceases to exist.
Company Town: Finkton is clearly one, and a very wretched example at that. The population who live there are kept on strict company schedules which are enforced by giant clocks and whistle alarms in every public and residence area, residents are only paid in company scrip which is only redeemable at the company store and at prices fixed to their wages, and the place booms with frequent Canned Orders Over Loudspeakers, usually delivering Fink's lines about how grateful they should all be to be exploited by him. You even get to see an auction where, instead of buyers bidding on an item, workers are bidding on a job, using the time they can finish it as bidding ammo.
Completely Missing the Point: Comstock's approach to baptism. While being baptized would absolve him of his sins at Wounded Knee, it does so by removing his responsibility for his actions, not by making the sins themselves admirable, and definitely does not make them worthy of being enshrined in a museum.
Contemptible Cover: A downplayed example. The cover of the game was blasted by the fandom for "dumbing down" the presentation of the game, and not including any of its expected complex themes and moral questions. However, Ken Levine has been quite open about the cover being targeted at the Lowest Common Denominator.note Yes, it looks like a generic new action game, but paradoxically the market wants to buy things which are novel but not innovative, at least so goes the wisdom of a lot of marketing departments which were the masters Irrational had to please to get the time and funding they needed. The rationalization is that most people who are interested in BioShock Infinite for the setting, story, and themes have probably already made up their minds to buy it, and the cover art was calculated to reach as wide an audience as possible and pull in players less invested in checking gaming news. This in turn made publishing executives more willing to accept delays and additional budget needed to ensure the game is released in the best quality possible.
That said, they published the game with a double-sided cover so that fans could turn the cover around to give the game a more 1912 look.
Continuing Is Painful: More so than the previous BioShock games. If you run out of health in this game, you lose some money and the enemies will regain some health. On 1999 Mode the amount you lose is 100 Silver Eagles, so dying there is really discouraged.
Continuity Nod: Right away you start off the game being dropped off at a Lighthouse in the middle of the ocean, which leads to how Booker is transported to Columbia. Just like in BioShock when Jack was "dropped off" at a lighthouse in the middle of the ocean and leads to transport to Rapture. This become much, much more significant then it initially seems on first playthrough.
Even when you touch down on Columbia in a chapel flooded with about two feet of water that is very obviously meant to evoke Rapture's waterlogged environs. Turns out they baptize all new arrivals into their religion.
Through voxophones, one learns that Fink's concept of the Songbird came from observing Big Daddies through a tear.
As soon as the Siphon is destroyed, Elizabeth transports herself, Booker, and Songbird to the bathysphere station within Rapture, straight out of the first game. Songbird is killed by the water pressure, while Elizabeth takes Booker to the bathysphere, back to the surface to the lighthouse, as to show him that there are an infinite number of worlds.
One of Fink's elevators plays a recording of him where he shares his personal views, a la Ryan.
Finkton in general is an alternate version of Fontaine's Home for the Poor. Unlike Frank Fontaine however, who used his personal fief as a recruiting ground for his Atlas persona, Fink is content with just slave-driving his corner of Columbia for profit.
The priest at the start of the game is the same one that baptised Comstock-Booker. (Except he's now blind, so he can't recognize Booker, and might not be able to anyway.)
In Battleship Bay, a baby carriage can be found containing a box of pistol ammo, likely a reference to the location of the pistol in the first game.
When you first come to Columbia, the priest who baptizes you asks "Is it someone new?" - just like the spider splicer did when Jack first arrived in Rapture.
Cool Airship: Several, including technically Columbia itself.
Cool Guns: The weapons in general all have a considerable weight to them, from the Mauser pistol to the Pepper Mill,
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Jeremiah Fink, with all the nastiness of every single Gilded Age robber baron distilled down into one convenient package.
Crapsaccharine World: Columbia. Beautiful sky-high city... under ultra-nationalist, imperialist rule with angry robots, gun-toting xenophobes and bloodthirsty anarchists trying to kill you. It's possibly worse than Rapture, considering that everyone who tried to kill you in Rapture at least had the excuse of being completely insane, and the enemies in Columbia are either punch clock mooks, or blood thirsty terrorists.
Finktontries being this, enticing would-be employees and workers with promises of a bright future for their families. Once Booker actually steps into the place however, it doesn't take much to see the sordid underbelly lying beneath.
Critical Hit: Like Borderlands, the "critical" term is used to denote attacks to an enemy's weak point. Headshots, shots to a Handyman's heart, and shots to the gears on the back of the Patriot get you them.
Cult Of Personality: The Founders' religion is one. Those personalities are, nominally, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. However, those individuals are deceased and no longer there to be venerated in person. (Rather convenient for the Founders, since those three men would not have appreciated the worship.) Comstock on the other hand, is still present, and he is adored by the masses as a Messianic Archetype as an all-knowing Prophet of the Lord. He has statues of himself placed everywhere, museums dedicated to exaggerating his accomplishments, and people in Columbia invoke him in prayers in front of shrines dedicated to him.
Overheard dialogue near a 50 ft statue of Comstock from a Columbia citizen: "I'm not sure this statue truly...captures Comstock's divinity."
While touring a bank late in the game, you can discover from Elizabeth's dialogue that Comstock receives a whopping fifty percent tithe from the people who work there, and there is no indication that they had any qualms.
Cutscene: Surprisingly plentiful for this game, in a series not known to have a lot. For comparison, the original BioShock was popularly known to have exactly one, while this one might have at least five, two or three of which are Mythology Gags.
When being dropped into Finkton, there's a cutscene performed where Booker falls and manages to hang onto the side of a blimp created by Elizabeth, similar to the first trailer. This time, he actually hangs on by the ropes, but he states that he's slipping to an angry Elizabeth.
Comstock's death is performed in a cutscene. You start it by interrupting Comstock, but Booker proceeds to kill him in the indoor bird pool (likely a Baptismal font) and drowning him. Comstock is also Elizabeth's father, which gives rise to how Andrew Ryan is directly related to the protagonist of BioShock.
Cyborg: The Handymen are probably the best example, but some of the other Heavy Hitters may also qualify.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Using/selecting weapons/vigors are swapped from BioShocks 1 and 2. Jump and crouch are also moved.
Dark Reprise: The first time you hear "God Only Knows", it is a mere goofy moment where a barbershop quartet is singing it on a flying barge. However, it plays over the end credits, by which time the lyrics echo Booker and Elizabeth's story. They are, however, still the same song-ish.
Dead Man Writing: Three of the recordings are from an alternate Booker who died, funnily enough. It's... pretty jarring.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: The slap stings a little more than in the original BioShock (the player loses a little money and enemies gain back some health, while in "1999 Mode" death costs you $100 every time), but dying is still nothing more than a minor inconvenience.
Deconstruction: The game seems to be a deconstruction of American Exceptionalism, as well as the nationalism and imperialism that come along with it. Also falling under Levine's deconstructive eye is the concept of La Résistance, as seen with Vox Populi.
There also seems to be a deconstruction of the whole Steampunk aesthetic going on — or at least of the nifty, flashy, Lighter and SofterTheme Park Version aspects of steampunk that have come into vogue. It all looks very promising and optimistic from the start with a flying city made from late-nineteenth / early-twentieth century technology, but add in the less-savory aspects of the era (such as contemporary political extremism, imperialism and Exceptionalism as mentioned above) and a generous heaping of Steampunk Body Horror and it starts to look rather more sinister...
On a more meta-level near the end game: it functions as a deconstruction of story-telling itself, specifically within the BioShock franchise but also generally in any series of stories which shares themes internally but have ostensibly separate canon. Everything is an Alternate Universe, every choice the story-teller makes literally creates a new universe and a new story to tell. Sometimes they are connected by a few common starting points, other times they are less obvious, but each one is just another facet of the creator's imagination and choices.
This is itself deconstructed and reconstructed by the ending undoing each and every one of those realities and the player's own.
Deflector Shields: The "Return to Sender" vigor DeWitt picks up late in the game. It functions in one of two flavours, the first of which simply generates a magnetic bubble to swat bullets and projectiles away. The other function catches incoming projectiles and crushes them into a lump of semi-molten metal which Booker can then throw back.
Prior to that, the Lutece twins give Booker an Infusion which causes his body to generate an intrinsic magnetic field that can absorb damage for short periods of time.
Rosalind: Interesting... Robert: That he took it? Rosalind: That it didn't kill him.
Levine claims that the game was partially inspired by this speech supposedly given by William McKinley regarding the annexation of the Philippines, which is definitely Values Dissonance at its finest.
Another noticeable example is children smoking fairly openly — they're kind of trying to stay out of the way of adults, but not too hard since back then it would have been treated like sneaking a sip of dad's beer. Then you find an ad that proudly touts a brand of cigarettes developed for children.
As mentioned above, Columbia is an in-verse example of this trope to the time period itself. On the one hand, its norms, beliefs and standards are what many Americans in 1912 would have found quite unexceptional. On the other hand, its oddly modern progressiveness in gender (there's the whole thing with Elizabeth, you fight and kill women soldiers on both sides, Fitzroy is the leader of the Vox Populi and Columbia's top scientist is a woman) equality stands in contrast to a wider society where women still did not even have the right to vote.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: It's possible, through Sequence Breaking, to intentionally miss Possession, which you'd normally have to use to open a gate at the beginning of the game. If you do somehow to get past the gate without Possession, you can find it for sale in a vending machine later.
When you first get the Shield Upgrade from Rosalind and Robert, you have the option of shooting at them if you want. With the Fridge Brilliance behind the two, not only do you miss, Rosalind makes several quick remarks about missing again and again as Robert points out that they have all the time in the world while you don't. Starts at :30 
Staying too long in a place near where the Luteces are found would have them quip lines at how Booker (and the player) ought to get moving.
Even better, when you meet them outside of Port Prosperity, Robert offers you a card. If you don't take it, Rosalind asks if he'd like to hear a waltz on the piano and then plays one and hums along.
Following your encounter with Cornelius Slate, if you let him live, you'll run into him again in the prison level on your way to find Chen Lin. If you shoot him, Elizabeth comments on it.
Towards the end of the Asylum Level, when you get access to the warden's office you turn around to see a Boy of Silence as he alerts the guards to your presence. On a second playthrough, or having knowledge of what will happen, you can try to avoid it. Only your controls are locked until you look him in the face.
Difficult, But Awesome: The Return to Sender vigor, which projects a shield that absorbs damage, which can be released back at the enemy as a projectile. However, the shield's activation window (when the casting button is pressed) is very brief and only takes effect when Booker is taking hits from the front. It's also very tricky to use offensively, especially as the projectile is very short-ranged and has a smaller area of effect than most vigors. However, with enough practice and the right timing, Return to Sender can be a life-saver on higher difficulty levels, especially against Snipers. It's also a godsend against Handymen and the Siren, as their powerful attacks are completely negated by the Return to Sender shield and can quickly charge the projectile up to its maximum damage cap. With the right gear, it also has the potential to be by far the most damaging and efficient vigor of all.
In the backstory: A charismatic nineteenth-century man with an impressive beard takes control of a religion which was allegedly inspired by an angelic visitation and takes it to an uncharted territory, leading to tension with the US government. You figure it out.
The Vox Populi meanwhile seem to take considerable influence from turn-of-the-century Anarchist movements, Communism and even the Occupy Wall Street movement to a degree.
Elizabeth: It seems the Vox Populi have adopted their favorite color.
Booker: Sounds about right.
The whole premise of a man rescuing a girl from a tower that is guarded by a a nightmarish flying beast who functions both as a protector and a jailor is reminiscent of a common Fairy Tale setup.
It goes way beyond that. Elizabeth bears more than a passing resemblance to Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and Lady Comstock's glass coffin brings to mind Snow White's coffin.
The Dragon: Songbird appears to fill this role rather literally, considering that he rather resembles a clockwork cross between a Big Daddy and a Night Fury — with every bit of the nastiness that implies.
Dramatic Irony: Lots of it on a second playthrough, starting with the Beast trailer. "Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt. That was the deal. The details elude me now, but the details wouldn't change a goddamn thing." Oh, how they would.
Dummied Out: A good number of things from scenes and characters to vigors and weapons, as well as some of Elizabeth's powers. In fact, virtually every scene from the initial gameplay demos got dummied out and only some of the assets were recycled; Ken Levine says that "five or six games worth of content" was scrapped during the long and often delayed development.
Dynamic Entry: Booker has a gameplay maneuver for this, where he can let himself launch off of a hook or skyrail and Goomba Stomp an enemy below, catching them by surprise if they were not aware of him already. Some varieties of Gear add fire, lightning or knockback to his landing.
Early Game Hell: Without Elizabeth's help, Booker is constantly outgunned during the first few levels of the game and needs to constantly move, flank, search corpses and hope he doesn't die.
Inverted if you bought the game with the included pre-order bonuses, which after the first few sparse combat encounters (shortly after defeating the first Fireman) the game gives you several bonus Infusions in a row and some nice gear. These make Booker almost overpowered, until the enemy threat level gradually creeps back up.
Eagle Land: Columbia is what happens when a Type 2 gets worse. Once, the USA is referred to as the 'United States of Un-Merica' because it just wasn't psychotically racist and imperialistic enough for Columbia's elite.
A series of videos previewed so-called "Heavy Hitters," but it turned out most of them played little role in the game. There's one "Siren," you see her in one level, encounter her three times and then she's done. The "Boys of Silence" also appear in only one level, and they're different than advertised, acting more like the cameras in the previous games. "Handymen," this game's equivalent of The Big Daddies, show up four times during the game to be fought. Only the Motorized Patriot is a frequent enemy.
The armored enemies who tend to use the Hailfire, RPG, or Volleyguns, the Firemen, and the Zealots of the Lady fit this role much better.
Embedded Precursor: The PS3 Blu-ray copy of the game will include the first BioShock free of charge - but only if you're in North America.
Emergency Transformation: After contracting stomach cancer, a worker in one Voxophone recording was turned into a Handyman.
The Empire: Columbia serves as a military powerhouse, likened to the Death Star, to conquer other nations for an expansionist despot, in keeping with the theme of imperialism. Given that it's also "seceded" from the US, Columbia pretty much sees itself as an Empire-in-the-making.
Escort Mission: Averted, with Levine noting they made sure that working with Elizabeth was the farthest thing from an escort mission, after the criticism of the escort mission with a Little Sister in the original BioShock. Elizabeth may not be in the midst of a battle, but she's not hiding either, helping to resupply Booker with ammo and vigors, or being there to use her own powers.
Having spent the first twenty years of her life in near isolation, Elizabeth's picked up a number of other useful skills — like cryptography and lock-picking.
According to one internet wit, Elizabeth is actually escorting Booker; he's the one who keeps running out of ammo, money, and salts, asking her to help, and having to be revived.
Near the end, there's a mission that involves escorting an airship.
This is another interesting Aversion; during that mission, Songbird is the one escorting you!
Establishing Character Moment: Daisy Fitzroy gets one in her first interaction with Booker. Dangling him head-first from an airship, she informs him there is a war beginning and he needs to choose a side, and then drops him to fall a very long way. Everything in her demeanour makes it clear Booker does not have the option of refusing to help. It's her character in a nutshell - forceful, charismatic, and deeply ruthless with no room in her mind for peaceful resolutions or abstaining from the conflict. She has a legitimate grievance, but her revolution won't be bloodless.
Even Evil Has Standards: Preston E. Downs is a ruthless hunter who takes pride in killing non-whites (and whites who "mix in with the local color"). However, he has a My God, What Have I Done? moment when he sets up traps to bleed out one of Daisy Fitzroy's couriers for information and instead catches a Sioux child she sent, and finds out that Comstock was lying about his involvement in Wounded Knee.
Evil vs. Evil: Zachary Comstock's Founders (Bible-thumping, jingoistic bigots) against Daisy Fitzroy's Vox Populi (destructive, lawless thugs in it to destroy the Founders, whatever the cost - and that's if they're not just completely focused on raping, robbing, and murdering the local populace For the Evulz). This is also why neither Booker or Elizabeth are all that eager to get involved in their civil war.
Exact Words: Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt. Booker's interpretation doesn't quite match the original intent of the order.
Jeremiah Fink is a jovial but much more ruthless version of Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood.
The "official" story of Columbia's rise and subsequent succession from the USA is reminiscent of the Mormon experience. The truth turns out to be a tad different.
Fink's assistant, Flambeau, bears an uncanny resemblance to Oscar Wilde.
Columbia's Crapsaccharine World facade also calls to mind Disneyland's "Main Street USA," which is based on Walt Disney's idealized memories of turn-of-the-century Americana.
Speaking of Disney, a lot of people have described Elizabeth as "a Disney princess" pretty often. Not surprisingly, considering that at the beginning of the game her looks are very close to Belle and her back story and personality have quite a lot of things in common with Rapunzel. Word Of God is that animation principles were referenced to ensure she was expressive, appealing and distinctive - meaning large eyes, a rounded face, a fairly simple set of clothing making use of strong contrasts, and a distinctive silhouette. All of which are characteristics shared by the Disney princesses (the studio did spend several decades refining the formula).
Face Death with Dignity: The Songbird's eyes switch to green just before dying, as Elizabeth comforts it as it drowns. Green indicates a peaceful state.
Comstock does this also, having foreseen his death at DeWitt's hands. His last words are "It is finished."
Facial Composite Failure: It pegs Booker as either a mulatto dwarf or a Frenchman with one eye; an eyewitness tells an actual sketch artist that he looks Irish, with red, curly hair. Not even close.
Fake Ultimate Hero: The "Hall of Heroes" is a monument to Comstock's supposed great accomplishments in the field of battle. According to Cornelius Slate, however, Comstock was never there at all, unlike DeWitt (whom Slate remembers). Since Comstock is DeWitt, he really was there, but the heroics "documented" in the Hall of Heroes are still a total fiction.
Family Unfriendly Aesop: Intentionally invoked with Duke & Dimwit, a marionette show that instills in children the values that made Columbia what it is today, such as white supremacy, religious zealotry, copious weapons training, unquestioning loyalty to the government, and courage in the face of the Yellow Peril.
Fate Worse Than Death: According to Elizabeth, getting caught by Songbird and being dragged to Comstock House is either death, or something a lot like it. In the glimpse of the future where that happened, it's hard to disagree with her, as she's mind raped and lobotomized until she's a misanthropic shell of a woman.
If Booker spares Slate, he claims that Slate will suffer this when Elizabeth comments on it. When Slate is seen again, Elizabeth agrees.
Final Death: In 1999 Mode, you lose a lot of cash when you die, at least a hundred dollars each time, and if you have less than that when you croak, it's back to the main menu for you!
Fingore: Elizabeth wears a thimble on an obviously stumped pinky finger. Her finger has been that way for as long as she can remember. The ending shows her losing it when an interdimensional portal closes onto it. When she was a baby.
Finishing Each Other's Sentences: The Lutece twins are fond of this whenever they are not arguing. They do it even while they are lampshading it. Turns out they're the same person from different realities, only separated "by a single chromosome."
May also be a result of them being implied to have been through the same basic scenario more than a hundred times before; presumably, they've gotten very familiar with whatever the other plans to say under the circumstances.
Finishing Move: The Skyhook lets you perform a murderous execution on any weakened enemy with a skull icon above their heads. There are sometimes advantages to this: it gives you some invincibility frames and some Gears let you gain health from executions.
First Name Basis: Booker constantly tells Elizabeth to call him "Booker" instead of "Mr. DeWitt". She lapses back and forth between the names, usually depending on her trust and familiarity for him at a given moment. "Booker" is close; "Mr. DeWitt" is more distant and formal.
Foreshadowing: Beating the game and playing through again is startling; almost the entire game is filled to the utter brim with foreshadowing that makes sense on replays or analysis.
When Booker first arrives at the tower, he sees a water tub with "Of Thy Sins Shall I Wash Thee" over it. Booker mutters under his breath "Good luck with that, pal." This doesn't become symbolic until later when you learn about Booker's rejected baptism.
And, of course, the baptism that shortly follows sees Booker almost drown...
The blind preacher who baptizes Booker when he enters Columbia is the same one who tried to baptize Booker after Wounded Knee. The Booker we know refused the baptism; the one who accepted it took the name Comstock. For extra irony points, the preacher's first words to the player are "Is it someone new?" Answer: No!
Midway through the game when Booker is questioned by Elizabeth about Columbia, he says he never even knew about it before arriving. This is because in his universe, Comstock (and therefore Columbia) didn't exist.
Songbird's eye cracks from the pressure of being underwater when it seeks out Booker. Note it's a relatively shallow depth, so when Songbird ends up at the floor of the ocean...
Disputable, but when Booker washes up on Battleship Bay he calls Elizabeth "Anna", which she refutes. Towards the end its revealed that she actually is Anna, given up by Booker to pay a debt. Maybe he subconsciously recognizes her?
Similarly, the Columbia goon who gets Elizabeth to confirm her identity so the Columbian Police can ambush Booker asks Elizabeth if her name is "Annabelle".
After being forced through a gauntlet of Slate's men, Booker denies the old soldier's claims that he's a hero, to which he responds "If you take away all the things that make Booker DeWitt, what's left?" The answer is: Comstock.
Throughout that entire area, Slate is constantly deriding Comstock because he believes that he was never the war hero he claimed to be. Slate is wrong.
If Slate is given a Cruel Mercy by being left alive, Booker and Elizabeth later find him in the bottom floor of Finkton's police station, catatonic from lobotmization. Elizabeth, in the Bad Future, suffers this fate, but unlike Slate, turns just like her father.
Shortly before the nature of the Luteces is revealed, Rosalind can be seen posing for Robert, yet he's painting a self-portrait.
The true nature of the Luteces, the same person from two different universes, foreshadows that Booker and Comstock are just like them, except they're separated not by a single chromosome but by a single decision.
In the bank, Elizabeth says Comstock's tithe is a whopping 50% of everything that comes in. Booker quips that he needs to get a job in the prophet business. Comstock, as it happens, is an alternate Booker who did just that.
Early in Columbia, the very first Voxophone Booker may find is Lady Comstock saying "Love the Prophet, for he loves the sinner. Love the sinner, for he is you." Accurate in more respects than you'll likely realise the first time you hear it.
When you meet Elizabeth face-to-face for the first time, the huge book she was about to smash your face with is titled The Principles of Quantum Mechanics.
There's one particularly telling dialogue between the two as they go to deal with Comstock.
Booker: I won't just abandon you!
Elizabeth: You wouldn't. Would you?
Everything Comstock says to Booker. Comstock says Booker has a tendency toward self-destruction, and he's right in any reality - whether it's Booker drowning Comstock, Comstock abusing the Tears until he became sterile and sickly but absolutely at peace in the belief he would soon go to God, Booker gambling and drinking his life away, Booker allowing Elizabeth to drown him, and Comstock allowing himself to get drowned.
Everything Booker says to Comstock. Blind with rage, howling at Comstock for all his crimes against Elizabeth? Nothing but a pretext for Booker to express his profound self-loathing. Everything he says applies to him as much as Comstock. In that moment, Booker subconsciously wishes he could strangle and drown himself.
Following the first jump through to an alternate reality and finding Chen Lin alive, but disoriented to the point that he's unaware of anything happening around him, Elizabeth comments.
Elizabeth: Maybe... he also remembers not being alive. What would you do if that happened to you?
Booker: I don't know.
It already did.
Comstock's prominent biography display in the center of the Hall of Heroes gives his birthday as 1874. Anyone who pauses to do the math on that will realize he's actually much younger than his appearance would indicate.
In the universe(s) where the Vox successfully rebel, you come across a sobbing, hysteric woman who is deathly afraid of leaping onto a barge, and possibly falling to her death below, while her husband tries to get her to take the risk, or she'll be left behind, which would be worse than falling to her doom. When the barge leaves, it's implied she did make it. When Booker's forced to relieve his attempt to get back his daughter from the Luteces, Rosalind is desperately trying to convince Robert to hop the small and unstable hole into the universe, and Robert is frozen up in fear and saying he can't go through with it, what if the gap closes and he's stuck between universes, or chopped in half...?
Foregone Conclusion: A rare subverted example, as the Mockumentary made by Irrational Games talks about Columbia slowly decaying in the mid-80s, but that is because the Mockumentary is an alternate universe before Comstock and Booker are killed to stop Columbia from existing in the first place.
For Want of a Nail: Thanks to the exploitation of tears, Elizabeth and Booker visit different versions of Columbia; the one they meet in, a second one where the weapon dealer isn't killed, and a third one where Booker never found Elizabeth and died a martyr for the Vox cause and incited a revolution. Interestingly, they never seem to go back to the original universe they first existed in. Of course by that point the story officially doesn't care about the politics of Columbia and starts focusing on our protagonists exclusively, and the ending kinda makes that a moot point anyway.
The entire story is the result of another nail that occurred when Booker went to a preacher to be baptised after the Massacre at Wounded Knee. The Booker we play as ran away from the preacher, while another Booker went through with the Baptism and changed his name to Comstock and spearheaded the construction of Columbia and the sale/kidnapping of Anna from the first Booker. At the end of the game, Booker and Elizabeth change the nail into the other Booker drowning during the Baptism and preventing Comstock from existing and committing the atrocities of Columbia.
This, in itself, leads to a nail in that it also undoes Elizabeth (we see all Elizabeths except possibly "ours" vanish as their timelines collapse, and it's left in the air if she remains or not), the Grandfather Paradox invoking as a result. The epilogue is the alternate where Anna is not taken. The story of Infinite, for all its multiple possibilities, is in fact a temporal mobius strip — BioShock Infinity.
From a Certain Point of View: Both the Founders and Vox Populi aren't above twisting history, so long as it serves their respective beliefs and goals.
Anna DeWitt's abduction could be seen as an effort to save her life if Comstock ever foresaw the Drowning. Just an unsuccessful effort...
From Bad to Worse: The setting of Columbia gets more and more chaotic as you go through the game, until in the end it's virtually a ghost town from all the infighting. However, part of this is due to entering two tears to go into different, worse versions of Columbia, so the chaos can partly be attributed to that, and may not have been in place in the first Columbia visited.
Gainax Ending: Let's just say it involves a lot of lighthouses. Lots and lots of them. And baptism and rebirth. Long description: constants and variables. Anna and Elizabeth, along with Comstock and Booker, are the same people but from different timeframes. The lighthouse is the catalyst for their relationship, the Luteces help the past selves reunite with the future selves since the Luteces are dimensional travelers, and "being reborn" is another way of saying "becoming your future self".
Gameplay and Story Segregation: The hidden rooms cannot be open until you find something that tells of its location (IE hearing a recording of where the button is or finding the secret code). This made pretty clear where the button for the door under the cash register won't even appear until you listen to the Voxophone telling of its existence.
The Gay Nineties: The general atmosphere of Columbia, which was launched a good fifteen years before the events of the game. A number of scenes are also set around 1893. Including Anna's capture and the Playable Epilogue.
Gender Is No Object: The Columbia police force employs several female officers alongside the male ones. One of the male officers even mentions his hatred of misogynists alongside his hatred of unions and the Vox. Given how regressive the Founders are in a lot of other areas, this bit of extreme progressive gender views for the timenote (this was an era where in most of the western world women were still struggling to get the right to vote) might count as a Pet the Dog bit on their part. However, since Comstock wanted to install his daughter as his successor, squashing the misogynist views of the time was probably a deliberate attempt at paving the way for her.
Giant Mook: There's an entire range of these, dubbed 'Heavy Hitters.' They range from the previously-seen Handymen to Devil's Kiss flinging Fireman to heavily-armed robots such as the Motorized Patriot and others that are significantly weirder. They're all designed not only to give Booker a bigger challenge than the regular mooks of Columbia, but also to look as creepy as fuck.
The Gilded Age: An undercurrent theme running through parts of the game. You have happy Columbian citizens, but they are supported by a vast underclass made up of "undesirable" immigrants kept in Urban Segregation from the rest of the city. You have characters like Fink, who acts like a Robber Baron to an even more excessive degree (with Finkton being a glorified Company Town that literally has gold gilding in public avenues just to stress this), and a society which cracks down on this so hard that, absent any attempt at reforms, uprising becomes inevitable.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Booker has the initials "A.D." etched into his skin of his right hand, which he explains came from a past transgression and serve as a reminder to him. It turns out to be the initials of his daughter's name: Anna DeWitt, as penitence for giving her away as an infant to wipe away his gambling debt. Comstock knew of both Booker's brand and Booker's eventual arrival in Columbia through Elizabeth's rifts, which is why he knew how to warn the others of the "False Prophet."
Groin Attack: Elizabeth does this to an undercover police officer in an ambush early in the game.
Hand Cannon: There's a revolver in game that is called the Hand Cannon.
Hand Wave: The outrageous impossibility of the Sky Rails is handwaved by Booker mumbling something about magnets when he first uses them (or so he assumes, but it's never really explained).
The city floats from "quantum mechanics". Elizabeth does state the principle that enables the city to fly, sort of, but it's still kind of ludicrous.
Happiness in Slavery: The citizens of Columbia sincerely believed in this, which is why they see Lincoln as a traitor for freeing the slaves.
Zachary Comstock: What exactly was the Great Emancipator emancipating the Negro from? From his daily bread. From the nobility of honest work! From wealthy patrons who sponsored them from cradle to grave! From clothing and shelter!
Harder Than Hard: 1999 Mode. When you die, it costs 100 silver eagles to revive. If you don't have 100 silver eagles, then it's game over. Enemies also have a lot more health while Booker has a lot less. Also, Navigation Mode is disabled. Hopefully you went through the game on Hard first...
Have a Gay Old Time: Very early on, you come across a barbershop quartet performing God Only Knows in front of a sign that, among other things, proclaims them to be "Columbia's Gayest Quartet".
"Faggots was stacked in the courtyard..." He means the bundles of sticks used for building fires... meant for putting people to the torch.
Hello Sailor: Booker gets chatted up at the fair with this line, by a naval gentleman who then chuckles "any port in a storm, if you get my meaning".
The Hero Dies: At the end of the game Booker/Comstock is drowned by multiple versions of Elizabeth so Comstock will never exist. Fortunately, this causes the Temporal Paradox to collapse to a state where he couldn't have possibly sold Anna and caused the entire story to happen, so he ends up having earned his happy ending.
Heroic Mime: Averted by Booker DeWitt, who, in contrast to the previous two protagonists in BioShock games, speaks freely in gameplay, and not only cutscenes. First Person Ghost, is, curiously, not averted, however.
Heroic Sacrifice: Aside from the ending, apparently in one reality, Booker became a Vox Populi and died, becoming a martyr that the faction rallied around.
Hidden Elf Village: Averted - everyone knows about Columbia. Subverted though in that the mysterious strangers actions seem to imply that getting there is a pain. It makes sense, since not only does the game takes place before the proliferation of airplanes and the invention of radar, but while everyone knows that Columbia exists, no one knows where it went. Played straight though, because nobody knows about it even in The Eighties, when those things are commonplace. But that can be explained away with the Tears.
"A guarantee? Who has time for all that paperwork?"
"Who needs competition when you have quality?"
Hope Spot: Constantly whenever it seems Booker and Elizabeth are on the verge of leaving Columbia. The first time, Elizabeth knocks out Booker when he reveals he's trying to deliver her to someone. She tries to commandeer the ship but is forced to flee when the Vox Populi invade, leaving Booker to deal with them. The second time is shortly after they kill Daisy and once more are on the verge of leaving, only for Songbird to crash their ship. The two then realize they won't be able to leave unless they deal with him and Comstock first.
Hot Dad: Booker. The women early on comment on his looks (before he's revealed as the "False Shepherd"), and he's Elizabeth's father.
Wanted posters for Elizabeth and Booker state their heights to be 5'1/2 and 6', respectively.
Elizabeth and Songbird. (Assuming Songbird is/was a guy, it is referred to with masculine pronouns by Elizabeth.)
Hyperactive Metabolism: As with the earlier games, eating restores health, and you're much more likely to rely on the food since you can't store medkits any more. Some drinks restore Salt, smoking restores some Salt at the cost of health, drinking alcohol has the opposite effect. And of course there's absolutely no limit to how much you can eat or drink.
Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted unlike previous games, Booker can only carry two weapons at a time.
Hypocrite: The Vox Populi. In the flash game they give you missions because they want you to get the weapons off the street, only for the next mission to show they actually want the weapons to use themselves.
There's also Comstock, for a multitude of reasons. The most readily apparent, in retrospect, is how he claims unbelievably egotistical glory for his service at the battle of Wounded Knee (as seen in the Hall of Heroes), despite getting baptized specifically because of unbearable guilt from taking part in the campaign. Compared to Booker, who refused baptism, and was very firm in refusing being called a hero for his actions there in his dealings with Slate.
I Die Free: Captain Slate's unit of ex-military men, cornered in the Hall of Heroes, force Booker to kill them in battle rather than be captured by the Founders and tortured.
Impaled Palm: Happens to Booker while at a ticket counter. Booker rests his hand on the counter top, impatient with the man on the other side talking on the phone instead of selling him a ticket. Unless you draw on him, the guy turns around and pins Booker's hand to the counter with a sharpened letter opener.
Imported Interdimensional Phlebotinum: Fink seems to have spent a lot of time exploring the Tears, which is implied to be the source of the technology behind the Vigors, Songbird, the advanced AI... and the music.
Important Haircut: Elizabeth cuts off most of her long hair after she commits her first direct murder.
Improvised Weapon: The skyhook doubles as a brutal face-wrenching, bone-shredding claw. It sees a lot of use this way before getting near a skyline
Infant Immortality: Civilians and children in Columbia will mysteriously disappear the second a gunfight starts. The one time the game shows a child in mortal peril, he gets rescued almost immediately, and then disappears just like the rest. Also, in those occasions the player can open fire on the civilians, adults can be killed but children are impervious to any amount of shooting and bombing.
In Spite of a Nail: A theme of the game. You never row the boat, the coin is always heads, a baptized Booker always becomes Comstock. Not to mention "there's always a man, a lighthouse, a city."
Invisible Wall: In many places. In Battleship Bay, you can't walk more than a few feet into the water. After the first little area, they aren't used to prevent you from plummeting to your doom, though falling generally just teleports you back to safety with a red flash and a small drop in health.
Irony: The founding fathers best-known for promoting the separation of Church and State and racial tolerance are, in Columbia, worshipped as religious figures promoting incredibly vicious and dogmatic state-enforced racism.
A lady at the fair scoffs at the excessive number of ice cream flavors - four of them!
Jekylland Hyde: In an intricate way. Booker and Zachary Comstock is the same person, only Booker comes from a reality where he made a significantly different choice decades ago. In the beginning, it isn't technically a Jekyll and Hyde situation. They do not share a body, as they have not actually "merged" like the unfortunate dead/living soldiers, or dead Chen Lin brought in from the first timeline we walk through, and living Chen Lin from the second timeline we enter. Metaphorically, though, Comstock is a manifestation of the evil within Booker - both are single-minded, cynical and have a high capacity for violence. Booker is willing to committ massive manslaughter and serve blatant lies to reach his goal (which in the beginning of the game is even quite morally corrupt). Later on, the metaphor becomes physical reality. Firstly, when Booker kills Comstock but is forced to take charge of the Hand of the Prophet and use the Songbird to destroy a Vox Populi attack. Temporarily, he is Comstock in both biology and social function. Secondly when he is transferred back in time to actually merge with the earlier version of himself that is set on the path of becoming Comstock. When this past Booker "remembers" his future actions as the Hyde, observed from outside, he chooses to let himself be killed. The hero has, indeed, "caught himself".
Jesus Taboo: Despite the fact that the setting is drowning in the language, decor, and hymns of the Third Great Awakening, there is almost no mention of Jesus - largely because Comstock and the Founding Fathers have replaced Jesus and the Prophets in all but name.
The only time Jesus actually receives a namedrop is from the preacher attempting to baptize Booker after Wounded Knee. A marked contrast to the baptism in Columbia, where Booker is baptised in the name of Comstock, the Founding Fathers, and God. In that order.
Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: "Bring us the girl, wipe away the debt" seems pretty straightforward as a premise, doesn't it? Well, you'd be surprised.
Jump Scare: After finding the switch that opens the door to the Warden's office, you turn to find a Boy of Silence about an inch from your face. It promptly shrieks at you. It's just about the only jump scare in the game, making it all the more effective.
In-story example: the Boxer Rebellion and Wounded Knee walk-through displays both contain a cheesy jump-scare figure pop-up that Elizabeth reacts to.
Elizabeth also has the same reaction to a large Songbird toy, in the toy store in Soldier field, due to the noise it plays when she walks past it.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Daisy arguably does this when she decides that you have to die because you confuse her "narrative." She's definitely done it when she decides to shoot a young boy for being the child of a Founder (that is to say, white).
Kick the Son of a Bitch: While the Vox Populi are equally ruthless and brutal in their own way towards the Founders and their supporters once they launch their revolution, it's hard to feel too sorry for their victims, after having seen first hand just how vile the Founders are and can be. Even more so when you learn and see exactly what Comstock and his followers do to Elizabeth, as well as what Comstock has planned for the rest of America. After everything the Founders do, it's hard not to feel the Vox are justified to some extent when they execute Columbian troops.
More specifically, when Daisy kills Jeremiah Fink with a headshot after hearing him beg, you'll probably have to resist smiling in that moment.
Dr. Powell pleading with Booker to turn the device back on while Elizabeth summons a deadly tornado is maliciously satisfying - moments ago, Elizabeth was screaming at him to stop what he was doing, and he refused. Now the tables are turned.
The Klan: The Fraternal Order of the Raven is a Klan-type group wearing blue or black robes and hoods and revere John Wilkes Booth as a hero and patron saint, and consider Abraham Lincoln a traitor ("The Great Apostate"), blaming him for the American Civil War and hating him for freeing the slaves.
Kleptomaniac Hero: You can grab everything not nailed down, including eating people's lunches and searching their purses right in front of them. It does kind of enhance the impression of how off the citizens are, though. Later in the game, people will attack DeWitt if he steals from them, though these items are clearly marked.
Of course, you are able to shoot anyone and everyone in an area (except children) so after slaughtering everyone in the area there is no-one left to complain about your theft.
Konami Code: Unlocks the 1999 difficulty level early... though you probably need a run-through at a lower difficulty to not be completely frustrated.
La Résistance: The Vox Populi started out as this, only to degenerate over time into a mindless mob bent on nothing but violence against anybody who might even be tangentially connected to the Founders. Of course, they still believe themselves to be in the right.
Incidentally, it becomes difficult to pinpoint how violent the Vox's revolution will be after each timeline change. They are most violent in the version where Booker aided them and became a martyr for their cause. While undoubtedly readying for a violent uprising even in the original timeline, Retroactive Continuity comes into effect and has certain effects on the Vox Populi.
Large Ham: Steve Blum as the Motorized Patriots. And the man announcing about them to children.
Cornelius Slate is no slouch when it comes to hamming it up, either.
Late To The Tragedy: Purposefully averted. Whereas in the original BioShock you arrived in the aftermath of the conflict, this time you arrive in the middle of it.
Around halfway through the game, it's become clear that Booker has caused the conflict, and by the end of the game Columbia is in just as bad a state as Rapture was.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Toward the end of the game, excessive tears in reality begin to get a little... meta. Specifically, when Elizabeth begins talking about (and demonstrating) the multiple Alternate Universes that are created from each set of constants with different variables. She is not only talking about what can be done in the context of the game's canon, but how it relates to other canon like the first BioShock, or What Could Have Been in this own story (demonstrated by the appearances of other Elizabeths which were changed or otherwise Dummied Out.) She is not talking about in-story possibilities, but also about the process of making a story for a game to begin with and all the different directions it could have gone.
Liar Revealed: Booker is told to tell Elizabeth whatever she wants to hear in order to convince her to go with him. Booker tells Elizabeth that they are heading to Paris, as it is a city she has dreamed of visiting. Elizabeth's knowledge of navigation allows her to deduce that Booker is not taking her to Paris, but instead to New York. Elizabeth runs away from Booker; however, they ultimately decide to stick together.
Limited Loadout: Unlike Jack and Subject Delta, Booker can't carry every gun in the game at once. The player gets any two at a time plus the Skyhook Quick Melee, but every vigor is available once found or bought with no slot system like the earlier games had for plasmids.
Lonely Piano Piece: Many instances in the game, but in particular when each alternate Elizabeth disappears with a single piano note. The last note is struck right when the screen fades to black.
Levine noted with some amusement in a pre-release interview that, as of the time of the interview, none of the play testers or media members who were trying out the game had yet thrown the ball at the couple.
Madden Into Misanthropy: In the reality (or realities... or even the future of that reality) where Elizabeth was dragged to Comstock House and Booker was unable to save her from it, Elizabeth gets lobotmized and slowly mind raped over the years until she's just like Comstock, and leads Columbia to lay waste to America. She has a change of heart far, far too late.
Magic By Any Other Name: Vigors, replacing Plasmids. Bonus: no more jabbing yourself with huge painful-looking syringes. Downside: quaffing them causes very disturbing visions of their effects on your body, such as flesh flaking away into ash, skin cracking and peeling like dried mud, or sharp crystals growing into your palms like broken bones.
Magikarp Power: At first, the Charge Vigor might seem a little underwhelming. However, when fully upgraded and supplemented by the right gear, it can make melee one of the most effective play-styles in the game.
This is trope is inverted and played straight with the Machine Gun. Although it is reasonably effective early on, it will quickly lose ground afterwards against tougher enemies. When fully upgraded and used in conjunction with the Bullet Boon or Ammo Advantage gear, the Machine Gun has a larger clip size than the Crank Gun, is about as deadly as the shotgun at close to medium range, and will almost never run out of ammunition as it is the single most common firearm in the game.
Female members of the Founders wear porcelain masks modeled after Lady Liberty.
Maligned Mixed Marriage: Booker DeWitt gets the dubious honor of being the first to throw a baseball at a Negro-Irish couple being paraded on stage through a backdrop set of monkeys while "Here Comes The Bride" plays in the background to mock the couple, basically to set an example about "proper marriages and race relations" within Columbia's society structure.
Manifest Destiny: Something of a background theme in the game, Columbia itself being almost a monument to its success.
Master of None: The Burstgun. Unlike its Carbine counterpart, the Burstgun has a thirty-round clip, fires in three shot bursts and has a low-magnification optical sight. However, the Burstgun's recoil is so bad that the second and third shots will almost always miss at medium and long range. To top it all off, weapon upgrades for the Burstgun (which change it from a terrible weapon to decent workhorse) are extremely expensive.
Elizabeth's ability is the power to open "tears" in space-time into alternate realities, making the possibilities of what she can do truly "infinite". This really comes into play in the ending.
The Vigor "Murder of Crows", both in its nature for summoning killer crows, and the fact the word "murder" is another way of saying "group of crows".
"Vox Populi" is Latin for "Voice of the people". The expression is used to mean "the public opinion" or "the word on the street".
There's a further connection here: the term is part of an old aphorism "Vox populi - Vox Dei", The voice of the people is the voice of God. There is also the phrase "Vox populi - Vox Diaboli" expressing the opposite sentiment: The voice of the people is the voice of the Devil. Indeed, one of the earliest written references to the phrase is in a 798 letter to Charlemagne, where the scholar Alcuin writes: "And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness." All of this is quite apt considering the plot of the game.
Elizabeth's own name is a cognate of Biblical "Elisheva" — "God's promise". Seeing how Comstock, who groomed her as his tool, gave it to her, it's probably intentional.
Don't forget Booker DeWitt, sharing a name with Bryce DeWitt. Bryce is a renowned gravity and particle field theorist. Not exactly Booker's area of expertise, but remind me: How does Columbia stay afloat?
The same Bryce DeWitt was also the creator of the theory of multiple universes.
Zachary Hale Comstock is named after Anthony Comstock, an extreme religious zealot who was the US Postal Inspector in the same timeline Columbia was built and launched, and was responsible for the Comstock Act, which forbade any "immoral" materials being sent via mail. He was racist, destroyed anything he found "immoral", and was a major hypocrite - just like Zachary.
In a game so chock full of meaningful names, let's take a look at "Hale". According to the other Wiki that surname can have three meanings: "healthy", "hero" or "person who lives in a hollow, or valley". All those three meanings would be pretty ironic when applied to a deathly ill villain who lives in a city in the sky.
Zachary means "God has remembered". This name also appears a bit ironic: it is Booker who remembers his past sins and dwells on them, while Comstock believes that becoming cleansed through baptism allows him to forget them and start everything anew. Unfortunately, forgetting your sins apparently means repeating them - and replacing them with an even worse zealotry.
The Lutece twins: "Lutece" is modern French for Lutetia, the name of Paris during Roman times. Paris is used as a symbol of the modern and the future in this story: Elizabeth, who represents possible futures, yearns to go to that city, which is in 1912 pretty much the antithesis to Comstock's Columbia. Her apartment is plastered with posters depicting Parisian life. The first time she opens a tear it is into precisely Paris in the future (the 1980s). The Lutece twins are literally called "the Paris twins", only with an anachronistic name for Paris. This hints at the nature of the plot, and particularly the role of the Lutece twins in it - as the creators of tears through time and space. Their name is also used as an elaborate pun: Booker promises Elizabeth to take her to Paris, while he is in fact secretly attempting to bring her to his employer in New York. But it is revealed in the ending of the game, that if he had really brought her to his employer, he would in fact be bringing her to Robert Lutece - bringing her to Paris, indeed.
Mechanical Horse: They pull carts around the city, whether the driver is conscious or not.
Mega Corp: Jeremiah Fink's business ventures are pervasive throughout Columbia and even extends to ground-based connections. In the 1984 scenes, there's even mention of a "Fink Enterprises" being listed in New York.
Menstrual Menace: A chart in the Columbia tower shows that Elizabeth's powers gained a massive spike after her first period.
A remixed version of Frederick Chopin's Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 9, No. 2, to be precise.
, moving with a loud tick on every third beat.
Mind Screw: The various shots scattered around the Lamb of Columbia trailer, which shows: Elizabeth on display with various zoo-like factoids in a condemned Mounument Island, an audibly enraged Comstock refusing to "give up his Lamb", hints of some terrible plot by the Founders, Elizabeth holding her head in pain, and ending with Booker and Elizabeth in a cornfield with a tornado coming towards them.
Every plot induced death where Booker wakes up in his office is one.
Mighty Whitey: This mural◊, featuring George Washington in an elegant and shining outfit holding the Liberty Bell in one hand and the Ten Commandments in the other, rising up above dreary, poor and pathetic racist caricatures of all races.
Mockumentary: The videos of Columbia: A Modern Day Icarus? Which is a documentary of Columbia, based on evidence left by a segment of Columbia which crashed on the Alps.
Mood Whiplash: Being BioShock, the dark turn was expected, but still. When you arrive in Columbia, the place is beautiful and brimming with life in a cheerful fairground setting. While some things may feel a little off, there's no sense of particular danger just yet. Then you win the raffle, and what's your prize? First throw at the public stoning/execution of an interracial couple.
When exploring Comstock House [[spoiler:in a Bad Future where Elizabeth was never rescued, and where all victims driven insane by the tears are kept in asylum, the tone is overall that of Surreal Horror and suspense... and then you come across a very darkly humorous film that ends the Running Gag of a cinematographer dating his films.
(Title Card 1) Battleship Falls - William R. Foreman 1909 No.99(Movie shows the scenery, then the camera drops into the waterfall)(Title Card 2) William R. Foreman (Oct 13, 1867 - July 2, 1909)
Morality Pet: It's been stated that Elizabeth is this to Songbird. In fact, Songbird was specifically engineered to feel betrayed whenever Elizabeth escapes. She serves as one to Booker, too; for all his obvious flaws, he tries to avoid hurting her and is noticeably upset when he inevitably does.
Motive Decay: Part of the political extremes angle. By the time Booker sets foot on Columbia, both Vox Populi and the Founders' beliefs had devolved into blind hatred.
The motivations of Elizabeth's Bad Future self gradually devolve from fulfilling Comstock's apocalyptic dream to raze "the Sodom below" to just watching everything burn.
Multiple Endings: Subverted. Despite the previous BioShock games' multiple endings and the various choices you can make over the course of Infinite, there's only one ending in this game.
The Multiverse: The source of Elizabeth's power — she can pluck anything from other multiverses through tears in the fabric of reality that only she (and Booker) can see and bring them to our universe.
This is also what causes the events of this game. The only way to stop it is to kill Booker/Comstock at the point of his baptism before any of it can happen.
Mundane Utility: Elizabeth can tear apart time and space, breaking open reality to reveal a different reality beneath. One of the first ways Booker sees her demonstrate this ability is when she's in an enclosed space with a bee and doesn't want to squish it in case it stings her. She opens a Tear the way a lot of us would open a window to gently shoo it away.
Vigors are often put to more mundane purposes when they're not being used for attack and defence: Shock Jockey is often used as a power source- which forces Booker to go on a merry chase after the last bottle in the area when local machinery runs down. Devil's Kiss is advertised as being a handy torch, and in the Industrial Revolution game, it was originally marketed as a solution to the problem of lighting a cigarette at high altitudes. Bucking Bronco can apparently be used to lift or move things in a more mundane fashion, according to fairground barkers. The Possession vendor suggests using it to avoid getting ripped off by vending machines or to ensure that phone connections run smoothly; Booker goes one step further and uses it to actually steal extra cash from vending machines. And finally, throughout the fair, Vigors are used for entertainment by both the performers and the audience.
Mysterious Employer: At first, you don't know who you're working for. The two people in the rowboat to the lighthouse, maybe? But they talk about you in a bizarrely aloof manner, as if you aren't actually there to hear them, and respond to everything you ask in a roundabout fashion that doesn't answer any of your questions. You get a telegram from a "Lutece," which seems to want to help, but did that person hire you? Is that the same "Lutece" who built the city of Columbia anyway? And how did those two people from the rowboat show up in Columbia itself?
Mysterious Benefactor: R. Lutece and R. Lutece, repentant scientists, cross-timeline twins, deceased but still moving, and yes, the ones who hired you. You're their "hair-shirt," no less, because they remember paying you for your daughter. You don't, of course. Comstock also repeatly claims to have one, although whether he's just delusional (like Dr. Steinman was) or if he's actually managed to make contact with something is never addressed.
Booker: A city at the bottom of the ocean?! Ridiculous.
Even better, you're taken on the same bathysphere journey from the start of BioShock... in reverse - as 1946 standard Beyond the Sea plays.
The way the Boy of Silence ambushes you in Comstock Tower, with you unable to move until you turn around, is exactly like how a Doctor attacks you in Bioshock 1.
Songbird's eyes change color depending on his status (green=calm, yellow=alert, red=hostile), just like those of the Big Daddies.
The searchlights on the Gun and Rocket Automatons act the same way. In this case, green indicates an automaton that is affected by Posession.
A scene from the Beast Of America trailer has you rowing towards a lighthouse, opening a box and cradling a gun, which refers to Jack's arrival at Rapture in the original Bio Shock.
Adding further to it, the way to get to Columbia is a one seated rocket ship which has a window which gives a nice view of the city once you arrive. Similar to the bathysphere which dove you down to Rapture in the first BioShock.
A down-on-his-luck man being hired to infiltrate an insane religious cult was the pitch of the original Bioshock.
Elizabeth being known as "The Lamb of Columbia" seems to be a Call Back to Sophia Lamb from Bio Shock 2.
Her role is extremely similar to Eleanor Lamb: both are held captive by terrible parents who wish to use them as a sacrifice/cult leader to lead the insane masses to destroy the surface, possess terrible power, have been locked up and isolated from the populace for years, are worshiped as Messiahs, are eventually part of a Hive Mind, and are saved by their real fathers, who die after the fact. Bonus points for Eleanor potentially drowning her mother, while Elizabeth puts Booker to the drink.
Ironically, Bioshock 2 was supposed to contain flashbacks of the player character in Rapture before its downfall that might be parallel universes. Infinite has flashbacks to Booker's life before Columbia. Bioshock 2 was also was supposed to have the twist that you actually are Eleanor's father.
The code for an elevator is 0451, the first combination to open a locked door in the first BioShock (as well as the first code in the series' spiritual predecessor, System Shock 2), as well as a door code used in Deus Ex (and Deus Ex Human Revolution), which itself is a form of spiritual successor from System Shock.
Comstock, like Andrew Ryan and Sophia Lamb, first contracts Booker through a video device which of course ends in threatening you.
You find some pistol ammo sitting on a baby carriage, a callback to receiving your first weapon in the original BioShock.
A broken vending machine looks much like the tonic vendors from BioShock, and laying on the ground nearby is the wrench. You can also 'hack' the vending machines with your first vigor, Possession. They dump out a number of coins.
The Dollar Bill vending machines are all voiced by Ken Levine, in the same voice as the Circus of Values machines from the first game.
They even have modified versions of the original vending machine scripts. "Come back when you've got some money, buddy!" becomes "Return when you have the currency, fella!"
If you don't notice it right away, you will when you hear the Dollar Bill machine say "I appreciate a lady who appreciates value!"
Another Dollar Bill: "A carnival of thrift at your disposal!" — "carnival of thrift" being a rough synonym for "circus of value".
At another point, Booker comes across an police illustration of what an eyewitness thinks he looks like...which very closely resembles Sander Cohen.
Eating food or using a medical kit plays the familiar med hypo/med pack sound from System Shock 2 and BioShock, respectively.
The sound played when a new objective displays is also the same as in BioShock.
Towards the end of the game, there's a Jump Scare where an enemy spawns right behind you, just like in the previous games.
Fink puts people into categories like Andrew Ryan did. Ryan divided people into Men, Slaves, and Parasites, while Fink divides people into Lions, Oxen, and Hyenas.
An easy one to miss but when you die, Elizabeth brings you back with a syringe filled with a green liquid. Said syringe looks just like how the original idea for said syringe was designed to look for injecting ADAM. Also ADAM itself was originally green.
When you first enter Columbia, you end up in a church used for baptisms. The entire church is waterlogged, and you are up to your ankles in the stuff... just like you were in BioShock.
Nerf: Melee attacks are significantly less useful in this game than BioShock 1 and 2. They do less damage and enemies recover from them a lot faster, and should generally only be used as a finishing blow.
However, some pieces of gear really help melee attacks to make them even more useful than in previous games. Notably, Bull Rush gives melee attack the ability to send enemies flying 6 meters away from you, which is really helpful when surrounded by a mob.
All those early gameplay trailers are extremely different from the real thing. A few lines and scenes are retained but in different contexts or settings. In fact the whole selling point, the civil war, is barely the focus. The whole game is more about DeWitt and Elizabeth than Columbia itself.
Even the TV spot for the game counts. It revolves around Booker saving Elizabeth from being hanged by the townspeople. This not only never happens in the game, but the peoples' feelings towards her are the exact opposite, she's an icon to them.
Noodle Incident: We are never directly told what horrible thing Booker did at the Battle of Wounded Knee. Those familiar with the incident can probably guess by it now being called the Massacre at Wounded Knee. There is an voxophone where Comstock says he was accused of having Indian blood, so he proved it wrong by burning tepees down. With squaws inside. And since we learn, at the end of the game, that Comstock is Booker.
No OSHA Compliance: One of the means of travelling around Columbia is via a magnetic rail system known as the Skyline traversed via hand-held hooks. It's very fast, there's no safety nets, and landings appear to be rough and you'll probably feel horrible pain, but this wouldn't make gameplay fun so it's an Acceptable Break for Your Shoulder...er, Reality as you use them. It's an (During the gameplay demo, Booker jumps from one rail to another and laughs with relief that he's not now plummeting to his death.) The Skylines weren't originally intended for people's use, according to Ken Levinein a video, their purpose is to move bulk cargo containers about Columbia (though one NPC comments that reckless youths sometimes joyride on them with crude wheels.) However, the Vox have apparently been using them to smuggle themselves around the city and establish hideouts and safehouses along them in areas unreachable on foot. The hand-held hook Booker uses was one of several that were recently issued to the Columbia police to help them hunt down Vox operatives and flush them out.
Nostalgia Filter: Columbia pines for and embodies an America that never existed...and the city intends to impose that view by force on "the Sodom below."
Nostalgia Level: There isn't really any action there, but part of the ending has you literally in the entrance to Rapture.
Not So Different: Both the Founders and Vox Populi are shown to be two sides of the same extreme, ideological coin in practice, Booker noting wryly that the only real difference between Comstock and Fitzroy is spelling their names. There's also the realization that Booker and Comstock, like the Luteces are two versions of the same person.
Not the Fall That Kills You: You can jump from one Skyline rail to another, and as long as you actually grab on to a rail, you'll be fine. Even if you fell two hundred feet. Likewise, dismounting from a skyline doesn't hurt you even if falling that same height would. Booker's vocal reaction indicates it hurts, but no actual health is lost.
Offscreen Teleportation: The Lutece "twins", Booker's employers who are somehow able to appear where ever they want in Columbia. Towards the end, it is revealed that thanks to an "accident" with their quantum technology when Comstock wanted them bumped off, they exist throughout all of space-time, allowing them to appear and vanish at will, but usually before DeWitt asks them something important.
Elizabeth will also occasionally pop up in places you might not expect if you aren't looking at her. Not that she can't really hustle (she runs as fast as DeWitt), but it's a part of the game code that keeps her non-intrusive.
Civilians will also do this if you start a ruckus in a normally peaceful area.
Older Than They Look: Elizabeth's age is hard to pin down just from looking at her; she's actually about 20 years old, but can easily be mistaken for being in her mid teens due to her short height, petite build, and the Little House On The Prarie outfit she wears for the first half of the game. To a lesser extent, Booker Dewitt is in great shape for a man who's actually pushing 40, especially someone who's lived as hard a life as he has.
Old-Timey Bathing Suit: Sported by many visitors to beach at Battleship Bay. One of the female beach visitors will comment that she would like to see Booker in one, scandalizing her friends with how brazen she is.
Ominous Fog: Happens sometimes in Columbia, sometimes obscuring visibility during a firefight, other times giving an ethereal quality to a location Booker is approaching. Of course, being a flying city, this is not ground fog, but clouds that Columbia is passing through.
Omnicidal Maniac: Bad Future Elizabeth, after she went off the deep end due to Comstock's tortures.
Elizabeth: There will be no salvation until the fire floods the cities and covers the plains! Once this world has been born again...a million others wait their turn.
Other Me Annoys Me/Evil Me Scares Me: Well, Booker isn't too fond of Comstock, and the feeling is damn well mutual. Subverted with the Luteces: they seem to have a very close relationship.
Out of Focus: The first half or so of the game centers around the city of Columbia, its pristine shining display hiding the horrors rotting at the core, the extremism, the boiling political uncertainties, even the budding revolution hoping to make changes to the unfair way things are run. Then Elizabeth kills Fitzroy and the story stops treating Columbia as anything but a wacky floating city the characters zip around on in favor of becoming more of a Character Focus on Elizabeth.
Our Ghosts Are Different: In this case, they're quantum superpositions of a deceased person in both their alive and dead states, at least somewhat aware of both states simultaneously, and deeply unhappy about it. They glitch and vibrate in a manner reminiscent of demons from Jacob's Ladder.
Our Prophet: Statues and posters of Comstock are almost everywhere in the more affluent areas of Columbia, and he has an entire museum dedicated to his accomplishments (mostly exaggerating them.)
Path of Inspiration: Comstock and his cult are incredibly focused upon the notion of salvation and redemption, "washing away sins", nothing to worry about on paper. Unfortunately Comstock must have learned the wrong lesson about what redemption actually is because it seems he believes it's "proof you did nothing wrong and have no reason to change your behaviour." Hence why he's already snuffed out a bunch of people who would have called him on his misdeeds and plans on eventually blowing up the entire United States, "the Sodom Below," because it's so choked with "sin".
Which ultimately makes perfect sense, since Comstock is the version of Booker that accepted baptism believing that it completely absolved him, while Booker is the one that rejected baptism as a fantasy.
Pass the Popcorn: You'll even find a bag of popcorn in one of the viewing rooms in the tower on Monument Island.
The Peeping Tom: Outside Elizabeth's chambers are a bunch of one-way windows through which her captors have been monitoring her, including in her bedroom and bathroom. There are also voyeuristic photos of her (including one of her changing) hanging up to dry. Needless to say, she is upset when she finds all of this during the escape.
Platonic Life Partners: What Booker and Elizabeth develop into as the game goes on. They even refer to each other as "partner" and there's not a drip of anything remotely romantic between them at any point throughout the entire story, ever. Then, of course, there's that ending, but it doesn't really factor into this trope as they were both ignorant of their relationship up until that moment.
Promoted Fangirl: Anna Moleva, an Elizabeth cosplayer Irrational Games loved so much they decided to hire her to model Elizabeth for the box art and a TV ad.Her first name became a part of the true name of Elizabeth.
Propaganda Machine: The "Voice of the Prophet" Kinetoscopes are little more than glorified propaganda for Comstock and the Founders in general.
Protection Mission: There's only one instance of this, and it's the final fight of the game, where you have to defend The Hand of the Prophet from the Vox trying to destroy the core.
Arguably, it's Songbird's job to protect you during this segment.
Psychic Nosebleed: In the first gameplay trailer, Elizabeth gets one after doing several impressive psychic stunts in a row. This was removed along with her psychic powers in the final game. Instead, everyone gets them - Booker included! - when their minds and pasts are altered by Elizabeth's manipulation of the tears.
Psycho Strings: Played whenever Booker pulls off a Melee Finisher or a headshot kill. It can get a little wearing if you're pulling off a string of sniper rifle headshots...
Public Domain Soundtrack: The Mozart that is the background music in the Lady Comstock memorial in the Hall of Heroes. Specifically, it is sections of Mozart's famous Requiem.
Fink's factory features Chopin's second Nocturne, where presumably he wants workers to work in time to this peaceful tune while he spews his drivel encouraging them to accept their awful lot in life.
The boss fight in the Fraternal Order of the Raven features a phonograph playing J.S. Bach's Air on the G String for some major Soundtrack Dissonance.
A truly disturbing example occurs in Comstock House, in the room with the surreal film punctuated by accusatory glaring eyes: Pachelbel's Canon in D, so heavily distorted that even people who are used to hearing it may not recognize it at first. Between the distorted classical music, the grainy black-and-white film, and the mental degradation of a major character, the whole sequence is horrifically reminiscent of Alex's undergoing the Ludovico Treatment in A Clockwork Orange.
Pun: One of the vigors is the ability to sic a group of crows on your enemies. It's named murder of crows, of course.
Punk Punk: Infinite delves in Victorian/Edwardian steampunk, much like Mars 1889, in addition to the Biopunk of the first two games.
Putting on the Reich: For all the pretenses the Founders have of upholding "true" American values, their uniforms and gear all bear a whiff of authoritarianism mixed with influences from Imperial Germany. And given the Tears, it wouldn't be surprising if they've been copying Nazi Germany's aesthetics as well.
Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: All the superpowers, Schizo Tech, Mind Screw, and even the floating buildings in the game? It's all done with quantum mechanics... though the way the Lutece twins mention how it's done, it almost sounds like they don't believe it either - most of the technology, as well as most of pop culture is actually the result of using quantum mechanics to spy on other realities. It's still a well-researched and presented example, though;
Robert:[holding a coin between him and Rosalind] What do you see? Rosalind: I see heads. Robert: And I see tails. Rosalind: It's all a matter of perspective.
Rage Against the Heavens: A metaphorical take on it, especially once the Vox takes center stage. Columbia is set up as being Heaven and Comstock as God of that Heaven. The members of the Vox start wearing devil costumes and covering their faces with blood or red paint when they start their revolution to bring Columbia to its knees. Even more appropriate, Booker is considered to be Satan/the Anti-christ by Comstock.
Ragnarok Proofing: Played with. Columbia in general looks more or less more pristine than Rapture even with all the damage and accompanying wear-and-tear.The whole multiple timeline shtick would also explain why it seems intact even in 1984. Over time however, the city does devolve to Rapture levels of decay.
Random Drop: The gear pickups Booker finds will be different on each playthrough, and even in different loads of the same file.
Ravens and Crows: One of the Heavy Hitters is the Crow, who has a small flock of crows surrounding him and can transform into them to move small distances without damage. The "Murder Of Crows" vigor you get from the first one you kill lets you summon a flock, and they definitely play up the creepiness. The idle animation when the Vigor is equipped shows Booker's hand covered in feathers, his nails having turned into long black claws.
Reality Warper: Elizabeth's powers. And, through power siphoning, Comstock's visions and the Vigors and Infusions themselves.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: Seemingly literally with Vigors and related enhancements. Is appears that they are the same "tear-creating" powers siphoned from Elizabeth through her tower. Also, upon the destruction of the Siphon, we don't see any use of similar powers except by Elizabeth.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Songbird. It has three settings, shown via its eyes: green for at ease, yellow for on guard, and red for hostile.
Red Herring: Elizabeth's powers. While they're a big deal, the game initially leads you to believe that they're the reason she's important and why everyone wants her. In fact, they're the result of a totally unrelated accident — Rosalind Lutece was able to use the devices you see in her lab to open tears even without her (that was how she got her brother and Elizabeth in the first place), while Comstock wants her solely because he believes that he needs a daughter of his bloodline to rule Columbia after his death.
The second point is at least partially subverted - it's strongly implied that Elizabeth's powers are precisely what let her "drown in flame the mountains of Man". Comstock's predictions must've somehow foreseen that.
Red Right Hand: Inverted. Our heroes have identifying marks that give them away to anyone looking for them. Booker has the letters AD branded on the back of his right hand, and Elizabeth has lost most of her right pinky finger very early in her life.
Ret Gone: In the end, Comstock, Columbia and Elizabeth as we know her due to Booker's Heroic Sacrifice destroying Comstock, who would go on to build the city in the first place. As this would also prevent Booker from ever selling his daughter, that would mean the entire plot doesn't happen either, which may be a plausible explanation for the after-credit scene. Unfortunately, Timey Wimey Ball may be required to explain why Comstock ceases to exist in all realities at once. See Headscratchers or Fridge pages for more.
Motorised Patriot:The farm is now run by the pigs!
Revolvers Are Just Better: While you do get a Mauser as your first sidearm, this trope pops up with the Paddywhacker revolver-a gun so powerful it's actually referred to in-game as the Paddywhacker Hand Cannon.
This part of the game even becomes one for the player, as the game's writing and character development attempts to invoke such an emotional response.
The whole game turns out to have been one once you reach The Reveal.
Rogue Flying City: Columbia "seceded" from the US after what happened in China, although there are hints suggesting that relations between the government and Comstock's Founders were growing strained until that point.
Renegade Splinter Faction: Despite splintering off, Columbia follows an extreme, idealized version of American Exceptionalism.
Rule Of Cool/Rule of Fun: Why don't Booker or Elizabeth or anyone dislocate their shoulders when leaping from rail to rail? Who cares!
Rule of Three: Booker is drowned three times. Once at the beginning when he's baptized, after getting Elizabeth when they splash in Battleship Bay, and at the end when he's smothered in the crib.
There are many other instances of this in the game. For example, you must find three truths to bring Lady Comstock to peace, you visit three distinct versions of Columbia, three interconnected characters get drowned to death in the story, and so on.
There is also a recurring visual motif of three heads side by side, seen with Comstock House's Mount Rushmore-like entrance, and at the end of the game, when Booker is drowned by three alternate reality Elizabeths.
Satellite Character: Booker is probably the most three dimensional example ever, since he is equipped with a backstory and dramatic character arc, but that doesn't change the fact Elizabeth is the center of his universe as far as the story contained within the game is concerned.
The Savage Indian: The Wounded Knee exhibit at Hall of Heroes portrays Native Americans as savages with glowing eyes.
Scare Chord: Since combat always has music, chords are used as both a dramatic effect and audio cue to let you know you made a kill, or your shield is lost.
Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The reason the Luteces brought Booker to the Columbia timeline in the first place, which he doesn't remember: to save his daughter from Comstock after having sold her away for his debts. The only way to to do this is to break the Stable Time Loop leading to Comstock's existence.
Scenery Porn/Scenery Gorn: When you first enter Columbia, it resembles Heaven, almost literally. It slowly becomes Hell, almost literally.
Booker: Where am I?
Parishioner: You're in Heaven, friend, or at least as close as we'll get 'til Judgement Day.
Scenic Tour Level: Hoo boy. The game starts off with one of the longest in recent history, with not just the entrance into Columbia but also you spending a good deal of time walking round trying to get your bearings. Even if you're rushing it'll take about 20 minutes to get to the first combat. And in later levels this pops up again.
Schrödinger's Cat: Possibly the most true-to-the-original-experiment example in all of fiction. In the post credits scene, Booker walks into his daughter's room, calling her name. Is she there in the crib? The game cuts to black before we find out for sure. Considering the whole theme of Quantum Mechanics oozing from the story, it holds extra significance.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Related to Out of Focus. Eventually, pretty much all Booker and Elizabeth care about is escaping Columbia and letting it implode before it can take them with it. Though not without trying to take out Comstock once and for all.
That's not all - You can get an achievement for completing 1999 Mode without buying anything from Dollar Bill machines. Given that they sell health packs, salts, and ammuntion (and are the only machines that do), it's fitting that the achievement's called "Scavenger Hunt." Because you'll be hard-pressed to get through without scrounging for every bag of chips, soda pop, and bullet you can find.
Sequel Difficulty Spike: Definitely harder than the previous two games. Death is no longer a slap on the wrist since you lose money and enemies regenerate their health when you die, upgrades are much more expensive, game breakers are fewer and farther in between as well as less breaky, enemies are more aggressive and take longer to kill, and that's not getting into 1999 Mode.
Sequel Hook: Possibly. The Stinger after the credits has Booker waking up in his office and running to check Anna's crib, but cuts off before we see her. However, as noted elsewhere on this page, these are several other ways to interpret this scene.
Shotguns Are Just Better: You are gonna get quite attached to the China Broom. There's also the Vox Heater, a blunderbuss that blasts napalm all over everything in a wide cone in front of you — difficult to use with proper timing, but a real street-sweeper when you do.
The Barbershop Quartet in the beginning of the game is named The Bee-Sharps.
The code used to activate a locked elevator is 0451.
Two seemingly unimportant characters who wander in and out of the narrative, having disjointed philosophical conversations about the meaning of fate and flipping a coin which always turns up heads, and play a part in an absolute Mind Screw of the ending?You don't say.
At one point a sentient gate is unswervingly cheerful despite mistaking Elizabeth for her mother Lady Comstock, who's been dead for years, and remarks that it's nice she took the trouble to come back. Makes you wonder if it has a Genuine People Personality prototype installed.
The indoctrination video, with hideously distorted classical music, demoralizing voiceover, and subliminal messages, is one to A Clockwork Orange and LOST.
The Infinite title is one to Marathon: Infinity. Both have a fair number of dimensional hopping, mind screws, alternate timelines, events being repeated, a Mind Screw ending where a character who's been with you the entire time muses on all the multiverses and the main character's death, as their universe collapses.
Shown Their Work: The 2011 VGA trailer used a rendition of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" by the lead voice actors, which drew ire from religious groups for removing a lyric with the word "lord." That's an error; the lyric was added in the Carter Family rendition "Can the Circle Be Unbroken (By and By)", recorded in 1935. The devs merely used the original hymn unaltered.... and it's also possible that they knew exactly what they were doing.
The absence of the added lyric also becomes obvious when one discovers that it's being used by the Founders' religion, who worship "Father" Comstock and the Founding Fathers of America instead of Jesus Christ.
Smoking Is Cool: The "Minor Victory" brand of cigarettes use this. The citizens of Columbia still don't smoke as much as the citizens of Rapture did.
Signature Style: Ken Levine's writing for BioShock Infinite echoes some of the things shown in his previous works. For example, the idea of taking a setting in a particular era and finding a way to tie it into something contemporary (stem-cell research in the original Bio Shock and political extremism in Infinite) so as to better connect the audience with the story. His penchant for deconstruction shows up here to, deconstructing Mission Control in System Shock and BioShock, utopianism in BioShock, and American Exceptionalism in Infinite.
Significant Monogram: The initials 'AD' on Booker's right hand stand for the name of Booker's daughter, Anna DeWitt, whom he sold to pay off his debts.
Solo Sequence: You play as just Booker, without Elizabeth, at two occasions: before you find her (obviously) and late in the game, when she is finally recaptured by the Songbird and taken back to Comstock's labs. The latter section also doubles as a Stealth-Based Mission, since you are strapped for ammo without Elizabeth resupplying you and the enemies are numerous, yet easy to bypass with the right timing.
Spy Speak: Only obvious in hindsight, but you'll see a few instances of this just before you walk into a trap, as some characters making small talk are trying to be inconspicuous about the fact they're watching you. One guy trying to order a hot dog casually but stumbling through it, for example.
If one subscribes to the theory the Playable Epilogue is the beginning of that loop, then it's a trope played straight and the cycle is never broken.
"Will The Circle Be Unbroken," indeed.
Depending on your interpretation◊, there may not be a Stable Time Loop at all.
That interpretation is at odds with Booker's statement implying the baptism took place immediately after Wounded Knee. For it to make sense he would have to go home, sell his daughter, regret the decision and then travel back out into the countryside to get baptised (or not).
It's also a dubious interpretation to say that the loop (and, more specifically, Elizabeth) is the only reason for the tears. None of the audiologs indicate this, and several seem to indicate that Rosalind Lutece was able to create tear-portals entirely on her own using her machines, with no help from Elizabeth. Elizabeth could create them more easily than Lutece's machines, but there's no indication that the portal that baby-Elizabeth was originally brought through was a product of any of her later powers, or that her powers were anything but an incidental later result of an accident involving the original portals created by Lutece's machines. The siphons weren't primarily there to exploit Elizabeth's powers; they were primarily there to restrain them. To Comstock, Elizabeth's powers were an unwanted and unnecessary complication in his actual plan to have a daughter of his own blood despite his sterility.
In fact, Elizabeth's ability to create Tears was due to the Portal Cut when Booker tried to get her back. She left her pinky in her home 'verse and is thus able to create Tears, and it is entirely incidental to Comstock's plans, albeit useful.
Stealth Pun: One of the ambient NPC conversations at the fair says that before the Lamb was born, Monument Island had been the waystation for immigrants to the city. It's an island...in the shape of an angel.note Angel Island was the immigration waystation for immigrants, primarily Asian, entering San Francisco at the turn of the century.
The Stinger: Reviewers advise players to stick around after the credits. We get a short scene set in Booker's office in 1893, in which he gets up and checks Anna's room. It's extremely open-ended, hence the numerous theories about it scattered across this page.
Near the end of the game, despite the fact that her feelings towards Comstock are best described as "murderous rage", she seems visibly upset and conflicted as you drown the old man in his baptismal font. She even goes as far as to make a feeble attempt to stop you while you just keep laying into Comstock, out of your mind with fury.
Stupidity Is the Only Option: In the lighthouse, when the chair with the very obvious automatic manacles on its arms appears, Booker plops down and perfectly places his wrists to be trapped, despite probably every player yelling at the screen to keep his arms to himself. Granted, they're actually just safety restraints - if his hands weren't strapped in, he would have fallen into the engine - and the rocket may well be wired not to fly without wrists inside them, but you can't even attempt to avoid getting restrained.
Stylistic Suck: While it doesn't "suck" by any means, a behind-the-scenes clip shown during the game's credits of Troy Baker and Courtnee Draper practicing "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" ends with Levine asking them to sound less professional, more like the amateurs their characters would be. In the final version, Baker is casually strumming, Draper's voice cracks a couple times, and their rhythms don't always sync up.
There's an amusing exchange in the clip where Levine tells them not to sound so much like "Eric Clapton and Sheryl Crow," and Draper makes a big show of being offended that Baker gets to be Eric Clapton while she's just Sheryl Crow.
Suspiciously Apropos Music: A good deal of the soundtrack has some connection to the plot or what's happening on-screen in general. When Elizabeth pulls Booker though a dimensional tear and into BioShock's Rapture, what should be playing on the old jukebox?: "Beyond the Sea."
That Sounds Familiar: The four notes Booker plays on the Whistler to summon the Songbird to destroy the siphon tower are similar to the starting notes of the Christian hymn "The Holly And The Ivy".
Throw Away Guns: Given how low the spare ammo count on weapons is and the aversion of Hyperspace Arsenal, this will likely be done by the player frequently, discarding spent weapons to pick up another fallen weapon. This can be somewhat mitigated by Elizabeth scavenging ammo for Booker or the use of vending machines, but these are not always an available option.
Throw the Book at Them: Elisabeth's first reaction when Booker comes crashing into her library? Pelt him with books! Well, they are her most immediately available weapon.
Tiny Headed Behemoth: Although the procedure that turns people into Handymen seems to bloat their heads to an unnatural size, they still appear small atop their massive, ape-proportioned bodies.
Town with a Dark Secret: Columbia gives off this vibe no sooner than you set foot in it. It's at first seems quaint and wholesome as you walk around and enjoy the scenery, as long as you take nothing from the odd religious imagery. Then you reach the fair and notice the games have an odd fixation with devil motifs. Then you finally reach the "raffle" and win it where the prizes turns out to be a public stoning of a interracial couple with you throwing the first stone (or baseball in this case). After this all pretense of Columbia being a nice place is dropped quickly and it goes downhill from there. As it is a BioShock game, it doesn't really come as a surprise.
Toxic Phlebotinum: The Lutece Fields (aka Tears) allow its users to peek or to travel into other timelines. Prolonged exposure to them causes cancer, sterility and rapid aging.
Tragic Monster: The Handymen, who are described this way in both the "Heavy Hitters" video focusing on them and the official artbooks. It turns out that they were physically crippled or disabled people whose heads/brains and hearts were involuntarily removed from their original bodies and implanted in massive, ape-like clockwork bodies, to create cyborg slaves. According to what they say while you're fighting them, it's also extremely painful*
"Every step feels like coals" indeed...
You can pick up an audio dairy which belonged to a woman who was forced to turn her husband into one of these to save him from stomach cancer. She is very... conflicted on the matter.
Later you can see her husband killed in Shantytown by the Vox with two Vox members posing beside while another takes a picture and with him a voxophone from his wife telling him uplifting words and encouraging him to play it whenever he feels down.
Trippy Finale Syndrome: So much you'll be forgiven for believing it's a Gainax Ending... After the Syphon is destroyed and Elizabeth gets full control and understanding of her powers, she and Booker spend the final minutes jumping trough time and space from an area with infinite lighthouses that lead to infinite universes. Of course, it's probably only trippy if you've been ignoring all the other weird stuff that's been hinted at throughout the game...
Truth in Television: Sadly, several American towns and regions really were as racist and self-righteous as Columbia, and while most lynchings were done secretly and at night, some were very public affairs like what you see at the raffle, a-la Jesse Washington and Henry Smith. That said, most victims of lynching were those suspected (but never tried) for murder or rape, as opposed to interracial couples who were minding their own business. (On the other hand, the Supreme Court didn't strike down all miscegenation laws until 1967.)
When the United States gained independence, neoclassicism was in full swing in the European art scene. There were actually lengthy discussions about whether the commissioned art from Europe should depict the Founding Fathers wearing ancient Greek robes or contemporary clothing.
Twist Ending: After the Final Battle it is revealed: Rapture from BioShock is part of the same multiverse as Infinite. Elizabeth is actually Booker's daughter Anna, who Booker forgot he sold to Comstock 20 years ago due to getting his memories jumbled traveling through a rift to save her. "Comstock" is actually an alternate reality Booker who accepted a baptism in his youth that Booker rejected.
There's always a man, a lighthouse, a city...
The Unfought: Several named antagonists are never actually fought by the player. Specifically, all but Slate and Lady Comstock; Daisy Fitzroy kills Jeremiah Fink, Elizabeth kills Fitzroy, Comstock is taken out by DeWitt in a non-interactive scene and Songbird ends up assisting the player in the final battle before Elizabeth sends it to die at the bottom of the ocean. Also, Slate is a pre-scripted Zero-Effort Boss who summons a few mooks, then runs away and collapses from exhaustion offscreen. Lady Comstock is the only named character in the game who's fought in a proper battle.
Up to Eleven: The gameplay preview shows that the powers in this game are much flashier, faster, and stronger. The civil war and the open setting (as opposed to Rapture's environment) means larger-scale combat with more 3-dimensional movement.
The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Comstock House fits the description; it's huge, ominous (it looks like it's been built on top of a thundercloud), it houses some of the creepiest, most resilient Mooks in the game... In a way, it both fits and doesn't fit the 'Final Dungeon' bit, since Booker's initial trek through it is during a Bad Future timeline, then when Future Elizabeth sends him back to the present, the last leg and final battle of the game take place in the Hand of the Prophet.
Villainous Demotivator: Fink frequently quotes the slogan "Simplicity is Beauty." In this case, "simplicity" means being content with your lot and NOT complaining about the 18-hour work days or poor pay.
Voice of the Legion: Comstock often speaks to Booker through a microphone that creates a slowed-down, delayed echo of his voice, presumably for dramatic effect. The First Zealot, leader of the Fraternal Order of the Raven, also speaks (without any kind of mic!) in a bizarrely resonant, buzzy sort of voice that seems to have some kind of static-like noise behind it.
Walking Shirtless Scene: Technically Elizabeth goes through the last half of the game without a shirt on, though she still has underwear, and the era's underwear was more modest than it is these days.
Walking Spoiler: Reading anything online about Booker, Elizabeth, Father Comstock, or the Twins is a good way to spoil a huge chunk of The Reveal and the ending, as the spoilers are a core part of each characters' background.
What Year Is This?: Once tears start happening to Booker, time becomes malleable, and he's often asking himself this question.
To a lesser extent, the point where Songbird kidnaps Elizabeth away from Booker and he chases after them into the Bedlam House marks when the story officially decides to go off the rails. And even before that when Booker and Elizabeth attempt to track down a gun smith and the dimensional hopping/alternate universe kerfuffle aspects of the plot get introduced.
The raffle, when our initial perception of Columbia is violently turned on its head, followed by Booker being exposed as the False Shepherd and the game's transformation into a bloodbath. All in the space of about a minute.
The Wonka: The Lutece twins, who like speaking in nonsensical riddles and like randomly hopping in and out to... play baseball and dance in the middle of Columbia getting torn apart.
Wretched Hive: Finkton, compared to the rest of Columbia, is very close to this: a grimy, run-down shell of industrial misery under Fink's watchful eye, overrun with the sick, the starving, and the bandits trying to hoard whatever they can.
My God, What Have I Done?: The description of the Vigor actually describes it as this, saying the subject commits suicide out of grief for what they did under your control. Even if they didn't kill any of their allies, the whole idea of being forced to side with the False Shepherd is probably enough to inspire such conclusions from the psychotically devout citizens of Columbia.
Younger Than They Look: Comstock is actually only 38 years old, even though he looks almost twice that age. His prolonged exposure to the tears has really done a number on his body.
Your Head Asplode: Killing shocked Mooks makes their heads burst like fireworks before their bodies disintegrate.
It also happens when you headshot an enemy with a sufficiently powerful weapon, like the shotgun or sniper rifle.
Zeerust: Columbia manages to feature even more strange Zeeust than Rapture while it also wallows in Victorian steampunk. What makes it especially bizarre is the patchworkiness of the Zeerust... one location combines somewhat accurate-to-period aesthetics with, of all things, a Fifties ice cream shop. Selling soft-serve. Justified in Comstock's use of the siphon to control the tears, seeing into multiple futures and gleaning technology, music, and information from them.