BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode 2 Review
Irrational Games is no longer a functional game development studio, which is sad, but not a surprise considering the volatile state of the game development industry. Last year this studio created one of the most intriguing games of the year in BioShock Infinite, and now a year later it has put this game’s story to bed with the release of Burial at Sea – Episode 2, the conclusion to the ‘Burial at Sea DLC’ campaign.
(SPOILERS from Burial at Sea Ep. 1 will be present)
The first episode of Burial at Sea setup a return to Rapture for long time fans of the series, and offered yet another interesting look into the BioShock multiverse. Elizabeth made her way to Rapture to snuff out a version of Comstock who avoided the purge at the end of BioShock Infinite, and succeeded in her mission, but at a cost to her morality. To trick Booker/Comstock into helping her she used a little sister named Sally as bait, but due to this evil plot she also cost the little girl her life.
The concept of righting one’s wrongs is what drives the story in Burial at Sea – Episode 2, and for that matter it’s the same driving force behind all of the Irrational Games produced BioShock games. At the start of Burial at Sea – Episode 2 Elizabeth is enjoying life in Paris where everyone knows her by name, and the world is full of promise and brilliant colors. These pleasantries don’t last long though as she’s quickly and mysteriously pulled back into the world of Rapture to the time just after the end of Burial at Sea – Episode 1. It’s not revealed until later on in the game why she’s back in Rapture after completing her quest to snuff out another Comstock, but now that she’s there she pledges to save Sally from Atlas and his thugs, who have taken her captive to mine her ADAM.
Elizabeth makes a deal with Atlas to help him return to Rapture and take the fight to Ryan after he banished him and his thugs to the bottom of the sea. She’s assisted by Booker (a projected version of him multiverse style) via a communication device en route to gathering what she needs to help Atlas and ensure Sally’s safe return, but she quickly finds out that things are not as they seem. Her dimension tearing abilities no longer work, and she can’t see behind the doors of other realities, she’s essentially a regular human now, so part of the mystery of Burial at Sea – Episode 2 is diving deeper into the BioShock multiverse rabbit hole to see why Elizabeth is different this time around.
Throughout the 5-6 hour campaign you’re treated to multiverse theories that will make your head hurt all over again, but the tie between Rapture and Columbia gets revealed, so Levine’s ultimate plans for the Irrational produced BioShock games does have a payoff, and it’s a sad but fulfilling one. For the sake of not spoiling the narrative of Burial at Sea – Episode 2 I will forgo diving into its plot, but I can tell you that it’s just as satisfying, if not more depressing than the ending of Infinite. Threads do get tied off nicely, and for as confusing as the BioShock multiverse can get, it was awesome to see Ken tie up its narrative as neatly as possible, while also perfectly tying the events of BioShock 1 to the events of BioShock Infinite. It may take some deep thinking when you complete Burial at Sea – Episode 2, but its shocking turn of events do adhere to the rules that Ken and his writers created for the BioShock universe, so fans of the franchise should be pleased with its contents.
The story featured in Burial at Sea – Episode 2 is worth the price of admission ($14.99), but thanks to the fact that you control Elizabeth this time around, the gameplay is completely unique. Unlike Booker, Elizabeth isn’t an imposing force to be reckoned with, so she must rely on stealth and cunning to achieve her objectives. Rather than running into a hairy situation involving a pack of splicers, she must use abilities that cater to her stealth tendencies. One of the best plasmids she has to use is the Peeping Tom variety, which allows her to see through walls, and turn completely invisible for a brief amount of time. This power helps to avoid major skirmishes with packs of enemies that she wouldn’t be able to take down on her own.
This results in the gameplay feeling very similar to the style featured in BioShock 1 thanks to the importance placed on resource management. One can’t just simply waste EVE, Health, and Ammo as if they were acting out a Rambo movie. Each resource needs to be carefully managed to compliment Elizabeth’s ninja-like skill set, which doesn’t allow her to really confront more than one enemy in a head on battle at a time. Routes between objectives have to be carefully mapped out, and sometimes running for the exit is the best strategy to employ. You will most definitely die more than a few times during the Burial at Sea – Episode 2 campaign, and these deaths are usually a result of not employing patience. For those that really like to punish themselves this DLC offers a variety of difficulty modes, with the 1998 variety forcing you to complete the game without harming a single enemy.
This unique take on the BioShock gameplay formula really helps to give Burial at Sea – Episode 2 a fresh feel, as well as allowing players to further explore the characters of Elizabeth, Atlas, Ryan, and other denizens of Columbia and Rapture. Although, this DLC’s true value is housed within its heartbreaking narrative. Elizabeth plays the tragic hero role perfectly, and her exploits have a direct impact on BioShock 1, so this DLC truly can’t be skipped if your a Bio-junkie. Levine’s exquisite writing abilities are once again put on display, and rather than just blowing your mind with his grasp of multiverse theory, his work in Burial at Sea – Episode 2 will also touch your heart as you watch its events unfold.
We can only hope that the BioShock franchise lives on, but as a fan I can honestly say that if another game never released I’d be content with the threads that Levine wove in BioShock 1 and BioShock Infinite, which do get tied up by the time Burial at Sea – Episode 2 ends. Once again Irrational Games has proven why video games can be more than just a game.
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Review Statement: The author of this review was given a code from the publisher for the Xbox 360 version of this game for the purposes of this review.