• BioShock | Burial at Sea

    Burial at Sea is a two part DLC that attempts to address to address Infinite’s final loose thread, and brings players in to experience the pivotal time period that changed everything: the fall of Rapture.

    Get Well soon Odawgg!!-reviewcover_scroll-png

    Bioshock Infinite is a modern gaming masterpiece, as many discovered when the title launched in Spring 2013. It brought gamers into a new world rich with life, beauty, secrets, and tragedy in a dark tale that both paid homage to the original title and yet raised the stakes in an intricately crafted story with a twist ending that few titles manage to pull off. Ken Levine and his team of writers at Irrational Games crafted a story of, quite literally infinite proportions, and were able to bring things to a close with such a finite conclusion that critics and gamers alike were left with their jaws gaping. We saw in the final moments of Bioshock Infinite the culmination of all the crisscrossed timelines and story arcs, resulting in the conclusion of infinitely many stories that could have unfolded an infinite number of ways...save for one single thread left untouched. Burial at Sea is a two part DLC that attempts to address to address Infinite’s final loose thread, and brings players in to experience the pivotal time period that changed everything: the fall of Rapture.

    Get Well soon Odawgg!!-1-jpgEverything from Elizabeth's looks to her demeanor show that she's clearly not playing around.

    Burial at Sea begins with a scene all too familiar to those who have finished Bioshock Infinite. We see Booker once again in a dreary haze in his office, but this time it’s the office of a private investigator in the city of Rapture. He is approached by a mysterious woman named Elizabeth who claims she works in "debt collection." (sound familiar?) Now, this is not the sweet young Elizabeth we defended with our lives in Bioshock Infinite, this is a grown-up Elizabeth with a cold stare and dark secret. She hires booker to track down and find a little-girl named Sally, who went missing from her troop of “little-sisters”. There are obvious parallels to the opening events of Bioshock Infinite, yet everything is slightly altered - for reasons you will learn over the course of this 7 hour vignette of destruction. In the first playable moments, Elizabeth leads Booker out into the bustling euphoria that is the underwater city of Rapture. The environment is absolutely gorgeous, and players will no doubt spend the first minutes of the game walking around and taking in the world they once explored before it all went to hell. Long brassy jazz tunes fill the environment and thin trails of smoke plume from the cigarettes and cigars of Rapture's elite as they shop, dine, dance, and chat. It is easy to see that the developers went to great lengths to create an environment that is so rich with detail that it begs to be explored. I myself refrained from even looking at the first objective until I had entered every shop, checked every table, and listened to every conversation on the promenade. Players get a true sense of the lifestyle that attracted the consumer elite to Rapture in the first place. Very few games give this much attention to detail, and it is a real treat to explore.

    Get Well soon Odawgg!!-2-jpgThe 1%, living the dream the Rapture way.

    The story unfolds as Booker and Elizabeth begin hunting for leads in hopes that they can find anything that might lead them to Sally. The portions of the city belonging to our old pal Fontaine, which has since been separated from the whole of Rapture, has sunken to the depths of the ocean and provides us with the locale for the vast majority of Burial at Sea. The journey to Fontaine’s is where the nightmare begins to stir and we witness the changing atmosphere of Rapture’s demise from a beacon of social and economic liberty to complete devastation. Leaky pipes, crumbled stairwells, and ransacked storefronts litter your path, and the slow deep groans of the big daddies are as unsettling as ever. Splicers and thugs roam the streets scavenging and foraging for anything pretty and they won’t hesitate to bash your skull in with a wrench if they see you. Even though we have seen this environment before, there are enough new flavors to the setting here that it keeps things interesting. The combat, for one, is not the arsenal stockpile that was the first Bioshock and isn’t as elegant as what we experienced in Infinite. Burial at sea is a frantic and raw middle-ground between the two where the player is thrust forward into the heart of Rapture’s worst. Fast paced in-your-face engagements dominate the combat portions of episode one’s gameplay, leaving you constantly on the edge of your seat ready for whatever lies around the next corner.

    Get Well soon Odawgg!!-3-jpgIt's incredibly spooky to see those masks on people who aren't trying to kill you...or are they?

    No longer are you restricted by the two gun rule like you were in Infinite, leaving a little more room to adapt to each engagement with your weapon of choice. The caveat to this freedom is that ammo is incredibly scarce, and every shot must be made to count. Let it be noted though that you do not have access to the full arsenal of weapons available in Infinite. Even so, the game doesn’t feel like it’s limiting your ability to get the job done. The hand-cannon, the Tommy gun, the shotgun, and the carbine are for the most part all you will need, with the trusty ol’ skyhook to clean up the rest. This actually works pretty well as the combat arenas are never large enough that you can’t make due with whichever weapon you currently have a few rounds in. There is an increased emphasis on the use of iron-sights in Burial at Sea, which compliments the player’s need to make every shot count. Enemies are strong and resilient, making headshots more desirable as they can drop a target with maximum damage, allowing the preservation of precious ammo as long as possible.

    Get Well soon Odawgg!!-4-jpgThe weapons of Infinite are a fantastic addition to the Rapture environment.

    As the quest to locate the estranged Sally progresses, the player is revealed bits and pieces about the Booker and Elizabeth in this timeline as well as the circumstances which led to this seemingly inevitable pairing. The “weirdness” of the time-space parallel universes we saw in Infinite plays a large role in setting the stage for the many twists and turns in store for players throughout both episodes. Without spoiling what will surely provoke a similar “Oh ****” surprise that the end of Infinite gave us, I will simply say that by the end of the first episode, it’s clear to see that everything we learned in Infinite ties in with the creation, evolution and destruction of Rapture.

    Get Well soon Odawgg!!-5-jpgA few areas in Burial at Sea have so much to see, it's almost a crime to just pass by without stopping to take it all in.

    Episode two picks up immediately where episode one leaves off but turns the player experience up on its head by placing the player into the role of Elizabeth. At first glance you might think that this would ruin the run-and-gun gameplay and break the believability of Elizabeth’s character. Well my friends, fortunately it does not! In fact, the gameplay is even better because of it. Burial at Sea fully acknowledges Elizabeth’s weaker battle fortitude, and as a result, episode two turns a fast paced shooter into a carefully crafted cloak and dagger arena. If you aren’t a fan of stealth games, don’t let this turn you away – Burial at Sea episode two offers some of the best stealth gameplay I have ever experienced, all without the hand-holding and snap-to-cover mechanics that seems so prevalent in other modern stealth titles. Elizabeth is up against the same enemies Booker faces in episode one, only this time a single splicer with a good swing is enough to end it all, meaning that stealth is a necessity, not a gimmick. The artists have done a remarkable job of making the movements look and feel very much like Elizabeth. The hand cannon is massive in her hands, and the weight of the shotgun pulls it low when she aims; everything just feels right. Elizabeth gets access to the same weaponry and vigors that Booker had in episode one, save for one addition that some might consider to be the best weapon in the game. Elizabeth finds a small and light-weight cross-bow that can shoot tranquilizer darts, sleeping gas, and noise makers. This small and elegant weapon is such a joy to shoot that every landed dart feels satisfying and silent. Sneaking along streets, ducking behind boxes, and peeking out to make a precise shots when enemies’ backs are turned is thrilling and terrifying. A single missed shot can both reveal your location and bring a whole pack of splicers down on top of you. If you do find your cover blown, all is not yet lost. Peeping-Tom, a new plasmid which grants invisibility and a heightened sense of sight, gives Elizabeth the ability to peer through walls, which makes it a great last resort that will save your skin at least a few times throughout the course of episode two. On top of the combat, there is also the introduction of a new lock-picking mini-game in which players must do the breaking and entering on their own. Lockpicks are a valuable resource and on more than one occasion you will need to decide if the safe found in the office that takes 3 lockpicks to open is worth spending on or if you would rather save them for a bigger payout further down the road.

    Get Well soon Odawgg!!-6-jpgPeeping Tom levels the playing field, allowing Elizabeth to gain the upper-hand on her much stronger enemies.

    The stealth gameplay also benefits the game’s pacing by slowing things down to the point where each moment can be savored. Voxophones are everywhere and give some great insight into the events of Rapture as well as the interconnectedness of the different universes. Though the story and conversation focused portions of the DLC do more than their fair share of world building, it’s really the little details scattered around that allow the player to piece everything together.

    If I had one complaint about Burial at Sea, it would be that the majority of the objectives are fetch quests, requiring the player to hunt down a trinket or a tool which will allow access to the next game area. Gathering each of these items can feel like a chore at times, but the game does enough with the stealth, the environments, and the collectables that you will often forget all about what you are looking for and can just enjoy the ride as you progress towards each objective. Each mission is fairly linear and the items to be retrieved often lie at the furthest end of a labyrinth of dimly lit hallways and labs, but the player is given the choice of the order in which they want to tackle each objective. Similar to the original Bioshock, large central rooms will contain multiple paths in each direction, giving some choice to the player that helps to break up some of the linearity.

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    Another chance to get up close and personal with what made Bioshock such a memorable experience.

    The ending to Burial at Sea addresses a lot of unanswered questions and pulls the loose ends together nicely, but doesn’t pamper the player with an outright dialogue explanation. Much like Infinite, the final scenes will leave you sitting in your chair pondering the implications of what you just saw until you can fully wrap your brain around it. While the twist ending is not quite as insane as Infinite’s, it is still a striking and marvelous send off to what will likely be our last moments within the Bioshock universe.

    Get Well soon Odawgg!!-8-jpgOne thing is for certain, Elizabeth is not afraid to get her hands dirty.

    The conclusion to Burial at Sea is not the ending we deserved but it is most definitely the one we needed. Episode one was a little weak on the story and clocked in at a mere 90 minutes, but episode two's 5+ hours more than make up for it by introducing some incredibly fun and unique gameplay changes to an already winning formula. The limited access to the full arsenal of weapons and vigors of the other Bioshock games may seem like a set-back, but given the scope of the DLC and tasks at hand, they are more than enough to bring this condensed package to greatness as possibly one of the best DLC add-ons to any single player game to date. The environments are stunning, the characters memorable, and once the gameplay finds its stride you have a complete package which earns its stripes with flying colors.

    Salty’s Verdict: 8/10
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. salty99's Avatar
      salty99 -
      If this DLC goes on Sale during the Steam Summer Sale, I highly recommend to you Bioshock Infinite players
    1. Alundil's Avatar
      Alundil -
      Yeah. I'm watching for it too. Have wanted to play it since hearing about it.

      Tappin dat talk
    1. Warprosper's Avatar
      Warprosper -
      Bought it... Thx Salty
    1. maximusboomus's Avatar
      maximusboomus -
      Fuck you salty. Bought it.
    1. salty99's Avatar
      salty99 -
      Woohoo. I hope you guys like it - I sure did.