BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode 2
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Irrational Games
Genre: First-Person Shooter/Stealth
Release Date: 03/25/2014
It’s hard to believe, but this game is the swan song for Irrational Games. As such, it has a lot to live up to. However, we fans have been let down by the previous two DLC releases for Infinite. Clash in the Clouds was fun enough, but it had none of that classic BioShock substance we know and love. Episode 1 of Burial at Sea looked to correct this, but instead offered a plodding experience that failed to meet expectations. It’s up to Episode 2 to save the day.
I’d say it succeeded.
Episode 2 takes place immediately after the first episode. However, this time you’ll play as Elizabeth. There’s a rub though. Elizabeth, for reasons I won’t spoil, no longer has her powers. She’s, in her words, “just a girl who’s read a lot of books”. That’s a bad thing, since Atlas is on hand to order her execution. Elizabeth promises to raise the sunken section of Rapture back to the main city, thus freeing Atlas and his cohorts, in exchange for her life and the life of Sally. Sally, as you may recall, is the little sister that you worked so hard to save in the first episode.
The story here is actually pretty great. It mostly deals with the guilt Elizabeth has over how things went down at the end of the first episode. She used Sally to get her revenge, without any consideration for the safety of the little girl. In a way, this makes her no different from Comstock. With this second chance, she hopes to redeem herself and save Sally once and for all. A big part of the story is Elizabeth slowing regaining some of her abilities, thus allowing her to see through the doors of multiple universes. It isn’t long before she knows how it all ends, but pushes forward regardless.
Best of all, the whole thing ties in quite nicely with the original BioShock, and even brings some closure to characters from Infinite as well. By the end, the whole thing will come full circle to a satisfying conclusion. Also, it’s insanely cool to be present at the recording of some of the audio journals from the first game. Where the first episode of Burial at Sea failed, this episode succeeds. It bridges BioShock and BioShock Infinite in a satisfying way and brings a sense of closure to a franchise that may not see another entry.
I’m not going to go on long about the visuals and audio for this DLC. It looks good. It sounds great. If you want a more in depth analysis, reading one of my other three reviews will do the trick. This is BioShock in all its glory. It’s an atmosphere that can and will suck you in. However, I will state that this episode feels like the true return to Rapture.
Playing as Elizabeth is a literal game changer. She’s not as physically gifted as Booker, she doesn’t have plasmids, and her powers made her strong enough to never need a weapon. However, with her powers gone and no meat shield to hide behind, she’s going to have to do some heavy lifting.
This is a stealth game, rather than the first-person shooter you might have been expecting. Elizabeth can’t take too many shots, and doesn’t have enough ammo to stage drawn out gunfights. As such, sneaking around enemies and using sleep darts to incapacitate them is the way to go. It’s not a hard system to grasp at all. If enemies see you, they attack. They’ll come at you with full force until you find a hiding spot and stay out of sight. While you’ll have weapons, ammunition is in short supply. So while it might seem like a great idea to barge in with guns blazing, that path will likely lead to a quick death.
New to this DLC are a couple of plasmids that fit this new style. Peeping Tom is a plasmid that lets you see through walls and even turn invisible. It becomes a tool that you’ll use constantly throughout the game. Another new plasmid lets you put up a shield that absorbs bullets and adds them to your stock. Since you have no sidekick to throw you ammo when you need it, this comes in handy. Also new is the crossbow. It fires three different kinds of bolts. First, there’s the sleep dart. It puts people to sleep, obviously. The gas bolt unleashes toxic gas in a small area, which is great for taking out multiple guys at once. Finally, the noise maker bolt makes a huge racket that draws the attention of all nearby enemies. You can only get these by picking locks though, which make them especially rare.
The level design here is classic as well. It’s pretty much one big level that you can explore at your leisure. While you have a goal, there’s nothing to stop you from ignoring it while you go somewhere else. This is even encouraged. You can find upgrades, ammo, audio logs, and other secrets strewn throughout the sunken city. There are also multiple paths and possibilities that allow you to choose your own tactical style when making your way through the game.
There are some issues though. There are too many parts of the game where you can simply dash by enemies with no consequence. While they’ll react, that won’t be able to catch you in time to stop you from using the elevator or whatever. There’s also one section that forces you into open combat, which can otherwise be avoided through careful play. That was a downer. Hardcore stealth fans are definitely going to have some things to nitpick, but it does a pretty decent job.
Episode 2 also does a great job in providing more value to the player. First of all, the campaign is probably a good four to five hours long. That’s twice as long as the first one easily. Secondly, you have a much larger area to explore with far more secrets to find. Even if it’s just a little lore, that gives the player a decent incentive to continue playing even after the end credits have rolled. Basically, this is the DLC we both wanted and deserved.
Short Attention Span Summary
I’m happy to report that Irrational Games’ swan song is a smashing success. It changes up the status quo by focusing on stealth rather than pure combat, but that turns out to be a good decision. The story is far more interesting this time around, you can’t beat it in an hour, and it feels like something you could legitimately expect to pay fifteen bucks for. It’s kind of sad that we had to wait nearly a year after the core game’s release for this, but it was worth the wait.
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