written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
I needed a minute to process… everything, so please excuse the absolute lateness of this review but we here at LG finally got around to jotting down our thoughts from BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea episode 2. Withholding spoilers, this final DLC adventure (and possibly final foray in the BioShock universe) is hands down the defining piece of content for the entire BioShock universe. Note: if you haven’t played the first episode, there will be spoilers for that. For the review of episode one, go here and for our review of the main game, that can be found here.
Strangely enough, the story starts with Elizabeth in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. While strolling the beautiful city, Elizabeth spots Sally, the young girl she and Booker were looking for in episode one, and chases her through the city. Slowly the scenery turns ugly as the once vibrant streets turn to a dark version of what they once were, mirroring more of Rapture than Paris, at this point Elizabeth is taken back to Rapture. Jumping off directly after the events of episode one, the final Zachary Comstock is dead. After the revelation that the “Booker DeWitt” you controlled throughout the entirety of the first episode was in fact a repentant Zachary Comstock, Elizabeth awakens next to the skewered remains of Comstock only to see members of Atlas’ camp searching Comstock’s body for valuables and taking Sally, a little sister, hostage. Before Atlas’ goons can kill Elizabeth, a hallucination of “her” Booker appears before her, instructing her to mention the name “Suchong” and that she knows how to raise Fontaine’s department store from the depths of the ocean, her terms: she offers freedom for Sally.
I won’t spoil it for you but a revelation shortly after returning to Rapture shocked me, this revelation explains why Elizabeth no longer can manipulates tears in time and space and why she is simply just another human being. The severed tip of her pinky is once again intact, which could mean that this “Elizabeth” wasn’t the Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite but rather another version of her. Though no longer possessing the ability to manipulate tears, she is far from helpless. Armed with a crossbow, along with an arsenal of plasmids, this Elizabeth is ready to fight. Combat is slowed dramatically from Booker’s run and gun style, instead Elizabeth is forced to employ a stealthier approach. Very similar to the gameplay of Dishonored, Elizabeth sneaks about Rapture seeking the best opportunity to incapacitate a splicer. One element I found deeply crippling was how Elizabeth could not kill any splicers during the early parts of the story. Not that the game wouldn't let you, but rather Elizabeth wasn’t “strong” enough to deliver a blow with her Air-Grabber (Rapture’s Sky-Hook) to do more than dizzy or knock a foe unconscious. Couple that with the click-clack-click-clack of her heels (who wears clicky heels on a stealth mission?) there were moments I was clearly questioning their direction with this DLC mission.
Eventually Elizabeth finds a Hand Cannon and a Shotgun, these dramatically level-up her stopping power, but are severely counter-intuitive to the stealth nature of the game. Her plasmids are more supportive than offensive, she get’s Old Man Winter along with Possession, but two new powers are Ironsides (allowing you to replenish ammo from enemies shooting at you via an energy shield) and Peeping Tom (allows you to see through walls or turn invisible). A far cry from powerful Vigors like Sock Jockey or Murder of Crows, but the function does fit the form of the DLC’s gameplay.
Burial at Sea Episode 2 is strongest during the narrative, I mentioned that I needed a minute to process everything after playing, that wasn’t just journalistic fluff… I really needed to take a moment to myself after the final credits. The first big reveal was so earth-shaking for me that I had to put the game down or a moment and just ponder to myself what happened, the moment was brief and lacked the bombastic overture of many other big reveals in gaming, but the understated nature of it just served to make it all the more mournful.
It’s hard to really talk about the narrative without spoiling it for you, but I will say that everything in the BioShock universe, and I mean EVERYTHING comes full circle with this DLC mission. Questions are answered while some previously experienced moments are given a new level of clarity. If you played BioShock and BioShock Infinite, the connection between the two is no longer hypothesized or implied but rather clearly laid out, and the final reveal may be bigger than that from either entry in the series.
I had issues with the revamped combat system and wished they gave Elizabeth a bit more power beyond the “I’m a frail girl in clicky-heels” archtype. But a strong stealth element and an earthshakingly poignant narrative make this a worthwhile play. Were you a fan of BioShock and BioShock Infinite? I implore you to play both episodes of Burial at Sea, would you kindly?
+ Gripping Narrative
+ Atmospheric Setting
+ Rapture is hauntingly beautiful
- Combat poorly executed
- Dem heels...