BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea - Episode 1
AMD Radeon HD 6950
BioShock Infinite was amazing. Hell, it was probably one of my favorite games that came out this entire decade, if not ever - not because it succeeded better as a game but because it succeeded impeccably as a work of art. To those who wish to hear my thoughts on this, you can head on over to the BioShock Infinite review. Basically though, two things made it amazing: the sense of setting created with atmosphere and mood, and the excellent characters which drove the story. Now, the original BioShock had the former in immense, award-winning spades, Rapture being one of the most well-received and remembered gaming settings in history. Combine the two together, what do we get?
Well, in terms of the gameplay, we still get pretty much the same thing - not that it’s a bad thing. After all, the hectic gunplay combined with the brutal adrenaline pumping combat still manages to tick that nerve in me after all this while, and even with only one new weapon and a single new power, it still stands as a pretty interesting ride. Sadly enough, the developers failed to bring back the manic movements and madness of the Splicers from the original BioShock, instead scripting them to act more like their counterparts from Infinite.
Elizabeth portrayed in a noir-film setting is simply amazing.
On the bright side there's loads of new gear, which ramps up the enjoyment considerably, giving you new options to approach the combat with. The reduction in number of skyrails does somewhat change the dynamic, giving you less freedom, but also makes the combat less of a set piece by set piece deal and a little more spontaneous. Balancing the ammo count serves to be just right as usual, and thanks to the setting of Rapture, the battles feature much more closed-in panicky clutch situations as you run out of pistol shots at just the wrong moments.
However, let's face it. What you're here for isn't the gameplay. What you're here for is the setting. And this would then be what I could call the failure of this DLC, although that would be much too harsh a statement. Perhaps then, it should be labelled as where it could have succeeded more. Those looking for a game set in Rapture pre-fall will be disappointed, as they are only allowed to briefly explore it before moving onto a sunken portion of the city that is already similar to the first BioShock - essentially not a new setting but a return to the exact same one found within the first game. Fortunately, they still manage to capture the gothic noir feel of the original BioShock perfectly, resulting in a blast from the past.
Then again, let's face yet another fact. A substantial portion of you aren't even here for the setting, what you're here for is the story - the tasty morsels that hint at the ending of BioShock Infinite, that explain or perhaps bring up even more questions. There’s a few twists, and definitely a few turns, but otherwise you will be left satisfied, if only because you’ve had a good fill of the interaction between the wonderful characters. On the other hand, it is very possible that the ending may just have you once again tearing your hair out in suspense. Tiny hints and fluff bites are strewn all over, foreshadowing and expository scattered about. Characters have been developed even further, those who are invested in the story, as if you've bought the DLC and played the main game you most definitely are, would be delighted, shocked, heartbroken and the ending will bring chills down your spine. Absolutely wonderful.
Splicers still look pretty disturbing, but they somehow seem less scary.
The art direction is amazing as always, although we only see pre-fall Rapture for a moment it is a jaw-dropping level classy, achingly beautiful. The fallen Rapture captures the BioShock feel perfectly, amalgamating with the Infinite elements without any jarring effects - except perhaps for the slightly contrived addition of the skyrails into what is essentially a shopping mall.
Ultimately, while Burial at Sea, Episode 1, is not the out of the ballpark experience one would expect from a full BioShock game, as a DLC it serves what it should do. It reminds you why you loved the original game, it brings with it a galore of answers and questions, it adds little spins to established gameplay, not rocking the boat but making it a little more exciting. Most importantly then, it enhances the experience, bringing back old memories and wounds as you give the old girl another spin.
- They Haven't Forgotten: They still know how to rock the gothic noir underwater city theme perfectly.
- They Haven't Overreached: The developers know what exactly players are wanting, story and setting, and have rationed it out just enough that we are scrambling for more.
- They Have Teased: Oh the teasing and the fluff expository just sends the mind aflame with questions.
- Some Contrived Bits: Okay, skyrails in shopping malls and Gun Patriots in toy shops is a bit much.
- Nothing Majorly New: As advertised, it grants innovations mostly in story and character developments.
BioShock Infinite is a good game, one of the best of the year. One of the largest factors that contributed to that is that the base game had really good pacing with the story, that kept throwing new information at you and kept enticing you to continue on and see the end. Burial at Sea hardly throws any information your way until the very final moments and spends the rest of the time cheekily referencing the original storyline and Elizabeth's spot in it. It's worth playing for sure, especially if you're desperate for more information regarding possible alternate futures and versions of Elizabeth and Booker.
The first episode of the DLC consists almost entirely of combat. Don't get me wrong, I actually thought the combat in BioShock Infinite was stellar, but Burial at Sea is just more of that with only 5 available weapons, with one new weapon and one new perk thrown in with almost no weapon or perk upgrade progression to be seen, at least nothing like it was in the original.
As always, BioShock’s visual design is stellar. Rapture looks genuinely amazing with the new splicer designs, atmosphere, and how every little nook and cranny of the world is packed full of more loving detail than I can shake a stick at. With how great Rapture is in Burial at Sea it only disappoints more that the experience came up really shallow, especially for a game that takes place at the bottom of the ocean. The combat is just as stellar as it was in the original game, but the story feels like it’s dragging itself along even though the entire DLC episode only takes about 90 minutes. Burial at Sea is worth your time, it just won’t take much of it.