BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode One PC Review
If there’s one thing to take away from BioShock 2, it was the fact that 2K Marin did a fantastic job in bringing a standalone story expansion to the game. In fact, I preferred that four hour adventure about Subject Sigma traversing through areas of Rapture that we didn’t see in the main game over the full BioShock 2 experience. Minerva’s Den was the right way to DLC for a game. Now the original creators of BioShock, and the real successor to it, BioShock Infinite, are ready to bring fans their first attempt at a story-driven DLC after that awful arena-based combat DLC that, let’s be honest, no one was asking for. Everyone was waiting for the extension to the story, and now it’s finally here in one half, named Burial at Sea – Episode One.
I’m going to have to touch on some spoilers from BioShock Infinite, so if you haven’t beaten that game yet, then stop reading this and come back later when you have. Right, now that’s said, let’s continue on. Burial at Sea – Episode One takes place in Rapture, the location where the original BioShock was set, and was also teased a little in the final moments of BioShock Infinite. It’s New Year’s Eve, 1958, roughly a year before the events of BioShock. Players are still in the role of Booker Dewitt, who has been living in Rapture as a private investigator. The game begins with a femme fatale, revealed to be Elizabeth, asking for help in investigating the disappearance of a young girl named Sally, someone who Booker seems to have a connection with. Staying away from spoilers, because BioShock relies heavily on the story experience – let’s just say the story ends in typical BioShock fashion, so take that as you will.
It’s a short story that mostly comes together at the end of the episode, similar to BioShock Infinite. Not much happens before that, and at only 90 minutes long, it’s not something you’re going to spend a lot of time with. If you like the story telling in the BioShock series, then you’ll most likely enjoy what’s happening in Burial at Sea – Episode One, and unlike Minerva’s Den’s standalone plot, this DLC story is very much linked to Infinite‘s story. It’s just a shame that there isn’t enough of it, because at a price of £11.99, which is more than what Minerva’s Den released at, Burial at Sea – Episode One is nowhere near as good at handling the story over the course of it’s short lifespan compared to how well Minerva’s Den was done. It feels like we are here for the ending and not for the duration up until that point.
The setting of Rapture is one that is alive and well, showing happiness and healthy living – the perfect example of what the small underwater state planned to be. It’s a shame the player doesn’t spend more time in this pre-turmoil Rapture, as you are very limited in exploration, visiting a few shops and Cohan’s art party before going underground and seeing Fontaine’s banished building, which is where the combat starts. Here lies small examples of Rapture beginning to crack, such as one area that contains what seems to be the first home of the splicers, which are people who have overdosed on too much ADAM and transformed into mutations who are mentally unstable. These are the game’s enemies, which Booker will fight in the latter half of the game.
The combat remains the same as before, using weapons from this time period and Infinite’s timeline, thanks to those tear powers of Elizabeth. Tears still come into play for combat, so you can summon the robotic generals with rifles to help take down the splicers. Booker also has access to Rapture’s version of vigors, which are known as plasmids in this world, and are used in similar vein to burn or freeze enemies. The combat scenes are set up more like the original BioShock - close quarter combat with the splicers, using a mixture of plasmids and guns to deal the damage, but no wrench this time. Some sections even feature the air grabber, Rapture’s version of the Skyhook (also can be used as a melee attack), which seems weirdly out of place, feeling like something that was just thrown in to add gameplay similar to Infinite, and just like that game, it’s hardly ever used in combat scenarios.
Burial at Sea – Episode One’s most welcoming addition is seeing Rapture in a state of normality. Given the circumstances we saw the underwater city in previous games; this is actually really exciting to see. But the problem is the game is far too short to make the player care enough. Just as you are feeling this amazingly bizarre city, you’re tugged away into some typical BioShock Infinite gunplay before being splashed with loads of reveals at the end. People are here for the story, that’s fine, but the price seems high for the admission, especially after the bargain that was Minerva’s Den, and the short length makes the story feel handicapped compared to fuller experiences we’ve had in the BioShock universe. Will Episode Two do anything to solve this? Probably not, but if anything, it needs to get its story progression sorted over the course of the episode.