It’s been a while, but the original BioShock developers are taking us back under the sea where it all started in this downloadable content pack for their first person shooter, BioShock Infinite. The magnificent city of Rapture is back on full display as we pick things up once again with Booker and Elizabeth looking for a little girl named Sally. With the change of scenery there’s also a few new additions to the game including a return of the psychotic Splicer enemies. With Burial at Sea marking the first major DLC addition to this game of the year contender, is it worth your hard earned time and money? Lets have a look.
Please be warned that there’s information below which some of you may deem as spoilers so if you haven’t yet played or beaten BioShock Infinite yet, you may want to beware. I’ll do my best to steer clear of spoilers, but I can’t guarantee everyone’s safety on this voyage.
Full thoughts after the jump…
Things pick up with (what seems to be) an alternate reality version of Booker DeWitt, a private investigator based in Andrew Ryan’s underwater city a year before things go haywire as seen in the first BioShock game. It’s here this former gambler and drunk, gets a visit from a 1950’s inspired Elizabeth asking about a missing girl. With little else to do and a strange feeling that she knows more than letting on, you’re soon off investigating just what happened to this little girl named Sally.
So far, I’m finding the story to be fairly interesting mainly because the game treats it almost like a carrot on a stick. The more you play, another little nugget or detail will slip out causing your interest to spike as you to figure out how everything ties together. Elizabeth seems knowledgeable and then ignorant of common Rapture ideals and features which again adds to the intrigue. It’s because of this that I found myself wanting to keep going to the end.
The major element that you’ll notice first with Burial at Sea, especially once you get past the opening section, is that resources are extremely scarce. You can still loot containers and bodies but for the most part, you’ll constantly be low on ammo which forces you to think before you shoot. Careful head shots and setting traps are the way to go, which makes the combat feel a bit different here than what we saw in Infinite.
Splicers make a big return for this content and for the most part, they behave pretty much as you’d expect them to. They tend to be aggressive and swarming, but thankfully, you are now able to sneak up on them unlike Infinite where enemies seemed to automatically “sense” when you entered an area. Unlike the open spaces of Columbia, the return to Rapture also means a return to tighter spaces with only a few sections representing more open areas. This makes combat as a whole more centered around stealth and defense rather than brute force tactics.
The thing that I most clearly remember from my time with BioShock was the sense of awe and wonder stepping into Rapture for the first time. Here was this mysterious and clearly broken city at the bottom of the sea just begging to be explored. It was magnificent and terrifying all at once almost as if the city was a living character in the game not just an environment.
Upon stepping back into Rapture with Burial at Sea, I didn’t get that exact same feeling, which I guess is to be expected since we’re revisiting the city, not experiencing it for the first time. The city has never looked better however now running inside of Infinite’s engine and it’s also the first time we get to see the city in a working and relatively functioning state. It’s a joy to see the city full of life and seeing people go about their lives. I had to stop for a minute or two in awe of a local bartender using the Houdini plasmid to teleport around and tend to his guests. It’s a wonderfully realized and detailed section of the city even though you’ll sometimes see the same male/female character skins reused multiple times throughout.
Then, the coin flips and you step into a completely different zone, one that almost harkens back to your first time stepping into the broken city of Rapture. I felt a sudden sense of dread stepping from the well lit and populated area of Rapture into a broken, dark, and forgotten section filled with aggressive splicers. The visuals and lighting again are outstanding and help to really push this element forth.
There’s a lot of fan service here as well including references to the previous games through in game posters, spoken dialogue, audiofiles, and other sights around. It’s a nice little touch and will provide that little extra spark if you’re familiar with the series. One thing that’s surprised me so far is the lack of Andrew Ryan. Sure, he’s been mentioned here and there, but I would have loved to have at least heard him again through an audio message. Same goes for Frank Fontaine or even Atlas. As such, it feels like this content is directed more towards the combat side than an opportunity to learn more about the city. At least Sander Cohen is around again to (mostly) help guide us through our quest.
Combat, for better or worse, is relatively the same from BioShock Infinite, you’re still given a SkyHook to help aerial combat (only made to fit within the Rapture universe now), Elizabeth can still pull in objects from her tear abilities (including Samurai?) and you still have guns and plasmids (formerly Vigors) to provide ways to take down your enemies. New to BioShock Infinite (but not the franchise) is the weapon wheel. So instead of only being able to carry two weapons at a time, any weapon you pick up can now be used by selecting it from a menu. It definitely comes in handy due to the lack of ammo found in this world.
Guns and Plasmids carry over from Infinite so you’ll still see things like the hand cannon, shotgun, and carbine to name a few. The only new gun you’re getting is called the Radar Range and it’s almost like firing a microwave beam at enemies until they burst. It’s pretty fun to use and the ammo is plentiful which makes it seem overpowered once you acquire it late in the game. Old Man Winter is the only new plasmid add to the mix allowing you to freeze and shatter enemies, but if you’ve played the first two BioShock games, it’s not really new.
If you’re a fan of the BioShock franchise already or enjoyed your time in Infinite, there’s a lot to like with Burial at Sea. Granted, I’m not 100% complete with it just yet, but I know I’m right near the end so I feel comfortable in recommending it. It won’t run you very long, anywhere from 2-3 hours in length is my guess but what’s here in terms of content is high quality. If you’re none of those things I’ve listed above, Burial at Sea Part 1 is on the shorter side with little else outside of the main story to warrant a return visit. Make of that what you will.