Bioshock Infinite got a great review and then they announced Burial at Sea, DLC that would continue not in Columbia, but in the world of Rapture. For a BioShock fan such as myself and like many people out there who are fans this was like a dream coming true. Coming back to visit Rapture but with a new face and better yet in the time before the fall.
Burial at Sea Episode 2 promised the chance to play as Elizabeth, the sidekick from Bioshock Infinite, and they kept their promise. Episode 2 starts off directly after the frankly disappointing Episode 1, where Elizabeth has finally hunted down and killed the final Booker.
Atlus (who we all know is Frank Fontaine) and his thugs turn up at the scene with Booker lying dead on the floor and Sally still hiding in the vent. Elizabeth must make a deal with Atlus to get Sally back but to do so she must raise the sunken part of the city back up with the rest of rapture. Piece of cake, right?
By now you’re thinking this is all very interconnected with the first game and it is. Burial at Sea episode 2 was made purely for the fans of BioShock and it pushes on this a lot throughout the game. Burial at Sea succeeds in connecting the worlds of Columbia and Rapture together for the most part, but it comes across a little up its own backside.
Burial at Sea Episode 2 is not, as you might expect, an action game like its predecessors Instead, Burial at Sea Episode 2 is a stealth game. Elizabeth doesn’t have the combat chops of Booker, so she has to rely on avoiding or sneaking up on enemies rather than running in guns blazing.
To further add to the stealth focus philosophy, Elizabeth, for highly convenient reasons, has lost all her universe defying powers and cannot longer open tears or see every future every possible. She is now just a normal girl trapped in a more sunken part of a sunken city inhabited by crazy people. Her only tools are hiding, crouching and using a crossbow filled with sleeping darts.
The stealth mechanic works well by giving players everything they need to sneak and attack by using noise, the environment and a new plasmid which makes Elizabeth invisible and able to see through walls. Sadly the enemies were not originally designed for it, so their super senses which let them hear paper rustle across the other side of the building makes the stealth feel less than impressive.
That being said the mechanic adds another dimension to the Burial at Sea and helps it stand out from the main game.
Being out manned, with little defence and using hiding as your only option takes Bioshock back to its roots as a survival horror series. A careful player has much more time to check their surroundings and see Rapture better for what it is, a damn scary please to be, but also a beautiful one. Burial at Sea has managed to bring the core essence of the series back, not a mad shooter but a game ripe with tense moments and adrenaline filled near misses.
The game offers a lot of exploration and hidden supplies, an aspect I personally love about survival games. Taking the time to explore as Elizabeth not only unlocks parts of the story of Rapture but allows you to gain additional upgrades for your plasmids which further help your adventure. One upgrade allows you to be invisible indefinitely as long as you stay still which further add to your sneaking ability making you more of the hunter rather than always being hunted. It is a good idea in concept but once you gain the additional upgrade, Elizabeth becomes a ninja nearly unstoppable and the tense original BioShock atmosphere disappears.
Playing as Elizabeth allows you to see BioShock from a while different angle, offering you a story from a different angle where you’re not a muscle toned mad man with a gun.
The story of Bioshock Infinite has become a tangled mess of lighthouses, birds, cages and many othertime-related paradoxes. Burial at Sea Part 2 still continues down this road, but they explain the interconnectivity of Infinite and the first BioShock. It’s very cleverly done, but also very self-referential and the story is obviously a bit in love with itself. Elizabeth is a fantastic protagonist, adding to the scientific side of Rapture, using her intellect and wits to get around. Like she says, she’s “Just a whole lot of books and some lockpicks”. Booker, who is only in her head this time around, could not pull off what she does and would definitely not be sneaking around but he does have a strong presence in episode 2 as her compass and support while she struggles with what is going on around her.
This relationship deepens the connections from Infinite and shows how complex their relationship is over the vast many “lighthouses” a subtle addition but a good one.
Overall, Burial at Sea Episode 2 is a good end to the franchise which worked much better than the first episode. Elizabeth is an enjoyable character to play, watch and follow through Rapture and the change of pace from gun basting to stealth makes for a much more interesting game than Part 1. It’s well and truly in love with itself, filled with fan service and references to the previous games but I’ll be damned if it isn’t good.