Right after Bioshock Infinite launched, there was a question to what the DLC Season Pass would bring us. We already got the combat-focused Clash In The Clouds, and now we have Part One of a 2 part adventure set in Rapture in 1959. For reference, the original Bioshock took place in 1960. In Burial at Sea, private eye Booker DeWitt takes a case from a mysterious woman named Elizabeth to find a young girl. He agrees, but why exactly does he go with her? Who is the girl? The answers to these and other questions are answered over the course of this two hour plus adventure.
Too Spliced Up
Fans of Bioshock are going to love seeing Rapture in 1959, before everything went to hell. You’ll see shopfronts of the highest opulence, and listen to the city dwellers talk about how happy they are to get away from the parasites. You’ll see a waiter use plasmids to teleport to people who want drinks, and also to light their cigarettes. You’ll even see a familiar face or two before you’re sent to really begin your adventure. You’re either going to love or hate the introduction of this DLC; it feels about as long as Bioshock Infinite’s, but seeing Rapture again was pretty cool.
I also was happy with the thematic elements in the game. You know you’re going to fight splicers, and without spoilers, I think the game’s explanation of why you’re fighting them makes sense. Fans of the franchise will also love the authenticity to the universe; Frank Fontaine and his businesses are heavily relevant to the plot, and Bioshock veterans know the importance of this character. You’ll also see references to Tenenbaum and Suchong.
As for Elizabeth, your new Rapture companion still has the excellent ambient behavior she had in the original game, but she has a bit more attitude. She’s a colder noir dame who always refers to Booker as “Mr. Dewitt.” I even noticed that when I died, her attempts to revive me were accompanied by not a look of worry, but of something like, “Dammit, not this again.”
This DLC is definitely full of mysteries, but many will be answered for you by the time you complete the short campaign. Again, without spoilers, let me just say that if you haven’t beaten Bioshock Infinite yet, don’t play this. It will make absolutely no sense for you.
Behind The Barrel
As far gameplay and combat, Burial At Sea is the same as Bioshock Infinite with two significant differences. The first is that you’re not limited to carrying two weapons at a time. Like previous games, you can hold every gun you find in your inventory at the same time. The second change is that ammo is very scarce, or at least it was on Hard difficulty on which I played (1999 Mode is also available). This turns every encounter into a desperate attempt to maximize your resources. Every fight could be your last, and I found I died more often per hour than I did in Bioshock Infinite. The ammo situation gets better as you find more weapons to utilize. You’ll also find several plasmids and pieces of gear to wear. Side note: I really liked Burial At Sea’s gear choices much better than Bioshock Infinite’s: They have more immediate impact to your overall power level.
Speaking of plasmids, there’s no hunting for Adam to improve your plasmids. There’s no Little Sister harvesting or any of that. Booker DeWitt starts with two plasmids, and already has a bar full of Eve. Yes, it’s called Eve, not the salts that were used to power your vigors in Bioshock Infinite. Improving your health, Eve, and shield bars is done through Infusions, just like before.
In reality, the splicers don’t fight that differently from the guards in Columbia, but their insane chatter definitely changes the mood. Each splicer has their own fantasy worlds they live in, and just overhearing them for a few minutes gives you a great insight into their state of mind. Getting up close to each one, I found them actually pitiful as I dueled them in melee range. You can still execute your foes, but I didn’t see some of the more gruesome executions from Bioshock Infinite.
The campaign is short, and basically encompasses two gameplay “bits”. If you remember the medium-sized objectives from Bioshock Infinite, you’ll go through two of them, before coming to the end of the game. There are a few places to find secrets by using plasmids creatively, or side areas where Elizabeth can unlock doors for you, and you can even shop for ammo, health, weapon mods, and plasmid upgrades. I didn’t buy any upgrades, and I was able to complete the campaign just fine, although I honestly died more than I would like or expect. It’s just too short to really take advantage of them.
Overall, if you liked the combat of Bioshock Infinite, you should be happy here, but be prepared to alter your approach. Be prepared to be frustrated at times, and be prepared to succeed in combat by dying repeatedly. You don’t have the freedom of movement that you did in Columbia, there are fewer hiding places, and you can basically forget about Skyrails, for the most part.
Everything Happening At Once
I don’t know if I have a problem with how Burial At Sea ends its first part. It communicates a lot of information to you in a very short amount of time, and I was so bewildered I had to take some time and step back to reflect on everything I had just played up to that point. As I stated above, if you haven’t beaten Bioshock Infinite, do not play this. Nothing that is said will make any sense to you. That said, the most surprising thing is just how much sense this ending makes. If you’re readily familiar with the… nature of Bioshock Infinite, the ending of the first part of Burial At Sea makes absolutely perfect sense. It’s also the only part of the game that will stick with you when you are done; the information emparted is so compacted and overwhelming, the two hours you played to get there will feel like they were even shorter.
The strange thing about the ending is that for the end of part 1 of a two-parter, it sure feels… final. I wonder where they will take it from here. That being said, fans of the Bioshock universe will love this, and should buy it. It’s fanservice done right without feeling overbearing.
Ted played through Burial At Sea on Hard difficulty and completed it in about 2 hours. He found 11 of the 17 audio diaries. He was not given a review copy by the publisher.
+ Great atmosphere and great use of Rapture
+ Enjoyable Intro
+ Character development is nice
+ Changes in gameplay will be enjoyed by some
+ That ending
-Changes in gameplay won’t be enjoyed by others
Available on: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Version Reviewed: PC