We already know the next BioShock game will depart from the underwater setting that made the series famous. Now, Irrational Games Technical Director Chris Kline has revealed that BioShock Infinite will also break new ground on the technology front, thanks to a souped-up version of Unreal Engine 3.
Kline says the Irrational team considered using the original BioShock engine, itself based on Unreal Engine 2.5, before realizing that it was "too underpowered and unwieldy for the depth and complexity of the gameplay and narrative we had planned." Instead, the team started over using Unreal Engine 3 and added some special sauce of their own.
That special sauce, Kline explains, includes a number of ingredients: a new and more efficient artificial intelligence system, a new animation system, a new renderer with deferred lighting and a "proprietary per-pixel dynamic relighting scheme," a new audio pipeline, and a new parallel-processing framework that will "take advantage of as many cores as you can throw at it." That last item in particular should "give hardcore PC gamers something to show off their rigs with," Kline adds.
In this age of recycled game engines and relative technological stagnation, some new hotness certainly couldn't hurt. And with Ken Levine at the helm of the project, BioShock Infinite could end up having both beauty and brains. That certainly makes it worth looking forward to, in my book.