BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode Two PC Review
While Burial at Sea: Episode One set up a wonderful theme and reused the Bioshock setting of Rapture, with Elizabeth looking cool in her iconic 50s noir suit, the DLC itself was a bit disappointing. The content was too short to make much of an impact, was very linear in design and combat, and didn’t construct much with the plot until the very end. I also said Episode Two probably won’t do anything to solve this, but oh, I’m glad I was wrong with that statement, because BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea: Episode Two is a much better attempt at DLC for Bioshock: Infinite and offers a satisfying clarification to the Bioshock/Bioshock Infinite crossover.
Burial at Sea – Episode Two continues where the first DLC left off, but with a twist, you are now playing as Elizabeth. But before she arrives at the shocking conclusion of Episode One, Elizabeth starts exploring the wonderful setting of Paris, with some gorgeous visuals that really show the artistic talent behind the people that make this game. She’s not sure how she got to Rapture, but she’s here and after a reveal, she’s off on her way to get back Sally, the girl that Booker and Elizabeth were looking for in Episode One.
The great thing about Episode Two is that the story is much bigger in scope, grander and constantly being told as you move through this three hour adventure. I am not going to mention spoilers in regards to the story, because this is one that unfolds with more meaningful shock-and-awes than the first Episode. Familiar people from both Infinite and Bioshock will also make an appearance in this episode and the story does have Elizabeth visiting both Rapture and Columbia, as clues and enlightenments are fed to the player to help with understanding the story. This is a goodbye from Irrational, as they close their curtains on the story the studio crafted throughout the years before the Bioshock universe is moved into the hands of another company.
Irrational has tried to avoid making Elizabeth a simple clone of Booker by focusing her gameplay on stealth above anything else. Elizabeth has lost her ability to open portal-rifts through space and time, and is now a young woman who relies on sneaky tactics to survive. Elizabeth isn’t born to kill, so to back this up, she has been given less health and lacks the shield ability that Booker found useful from the Vigors/ Plasmids, but replacing those missing skills are more handy tricks, such as being able to instantly knock out enemies with a blow of the sky-hook or use the crossbow with tranquilizer darts to send an enemy to sleep. The crossbow can also take in two more ammo types, knock-out gas to KO a group of enemies or an alarm dart that will attach to a wall and create a high pitch wailing to attract attention of enemies. For most of the game, you will make your way through combat by utilising these stealth tactics, with only the last area of the game, where all hell breaks loose, is made easier to get trough by using the typical pistol or shotgun, since you are already spotted.
Plasmids have been tuned to fit the stealthy gameplay, with the new Peeping Tom plasmid allowing Elizabeth to either go invisible or look through walls with an x-ray-esque vision to pinpoint where the enemies are situated. Possession makes a return, offering the chance for Elizabeth to get a splicer to do some nasty deeds on their fellow townsfolk. Old Man Winter is a twist on Winter Blast, letting Elizabeth freeze enemies in place, allowing a follow up attack to knock them out or a gunshot to shatter them into pieces. All these are very helpful in keeping Elizabeth from being detected by the enemy. AI can be a mix bag in regards to detection. There is a metre that appears above their head to signal how alert that enemy is to the player’s whereabouts. Occasional I found it to be broken, as I would run right in front of an enemy when it was scouting the area and it would not notice me, giving me a free KO with the sky-hook. It’s very bizarre and immersion breaking, reminding me of a similar situation with Ellie not being detected by The Infected in The Last of US, but even worse here due to it being the player.
The level design is a bit more open than DLC one, with multiple rooms now available for exploration, and various hidden tape recordings scatter throughout these additional rooms that fill in more information about characters and what’s going on around Rapture. Irrational let the player see more of Rapture, and due to the stealth mechanics, you are spending more time taking in the surroundings, scoping the setting and captivating the amazing art direction that made the first trip to Rapture breathtaking. Sound is now a part of the level design, with broken glass and hard floors creating noise that will alert nearby guards. Crouching or walking on soft surfaces will dampen the sound, allowing Elizabeth to comfortably get behind someone for a quick smack behind the head. It feels different than playing previous Bioshock games, inheriting gameplay from Looking Glass Studios’ first Thief game, which even gets a shout-out with the 1998 mode, a difficulty that revolves around getting through the game using non-lethal methods.
Burial at Sea – Episode Two is a much better time than the first episode, fixing a lot of issues I had with episode one’s pacing and structure. This episode is wholly recommended for anyone who cares about the Bioshock universe. If you are a fan who didn’t buy a season pass, because you were put off by the disappointing reviews for Episode One, then I say forgot about them – Burial at Sea – Episode Two more than makes up for the lacklustre first episode. It’s goodbye to Irrational Games, but at least the studio got the chance to finish off the series with a standing ovation, a satisfying conclusion that will help fans remember it for years to come.