Share & Connect
“BioShock Infinite,” one of the most talked-about games of 2013 has finally had its first downloadable content (DLC) release. “Burial at Sea: Episode One” is the first of a two part DLC that returns players to the first “BioShock” (released in 2007) ‘s city of Rapture.
However, this is not the Rapture that fans are familiar with. This is Rapture before its descent into war, destruction and chaos. The DLC takes place a year before the fall, in 1958. Private eye Booker DeWitt is given a case by the mysterious Elizabeth to find a missing girl. Booker agrees to solve the case and Elizabeth volunteers a lead she believes has something to do with the girl’s whereabouts.
Because this DLC takes place after the events of “Infinite,” Elizabeth has a totally different demeanor. Players who have completed “Infinite” will understand why. Along with her new attitude, Elizabeth takes charge much to Booker’s dismay. She handles herself and makes it clear that she is only there to collect a debt. Elizabeth’s transformation is believable until she has to pick locks. When she does, her voice reverts to her cheerful, helpful tone of “Infinite’s” Elizabeth. This little break in character matters, because it highlights a crucial misstep from the developer; Whatever the scene before the lock pick sequence was trying to convey is lost because the player has been jarred from the connection that had been made. Elizabeth’s new demeanor should be consistent throughout the experience especially considering the circumstances.
A word of caution to players not familiar with the original “BioShock”: Burial at Sea is for fans of the entire franchise. It is not for newcomers who jumped on board with “Infinite.” To understand anything in this DLC, a play-through of “BioShock” is required and needless to say, “BioShock Infinite” needs to have been completed as well. It is not quite clear whether completing “BioShock 2” is necessary to the DLC as a whole, as the details of episode two are still scarce. There are only two, maybe three very small nods to “BioShock 2,” but nothing story-related.
In “Burial at Sea” we are treated to a true mix of new and old “BioShock” elements. Gears, lock picks, Infusions and Vigors from “Infinite” are present, and certain unclear story elements from “Infinite” are cleared up. The Accuvox audio diaries reappear to record the citizens of Rapture’s thoughts.
Fans of “BioShock” might make a few mistakes during their play through of “Burial at Sea.” What fans need to remember is that “Burial at Sea” is a prequel of sorts. Machines that performed certain functions in the original do not perform in the same way this time. For example, there are no Gatherer’s Garden vending machines to provide you with Plasmid upgrades.
In “Burial at Sea” Plasmids can be upgraded at the Gene Bank. The Gene Bank is no longer used to rearrange Tonics as they were replaced with “Infinite’s” Gears. The same principle applies to the Bandito vending machines. There are no Power to the People machines which allowed the player to upgrade weapons. Weapons are upgraded directly from the Ammo Bandito machines. The weapon wheel from BioShock was kept so it is much easier handling all the weapons you collect. You don’t have to make the gut wrenching decision of sacrificing weapons because Booker can only carry two at a time.
To truly enjoy this DLC, playing in 1999 mode is recommended. Unlike “Infinite’s” 1999 mode which is manageable, “Burial at Sea’s” is quite challenging. The splicers are ruthless and you really get the opportunity to strategize. Ammo, Eve, health and money are scarce and Elizabeth barely hands you supplies.
A welcome addition to this DLC is the new weapon, Plasmid and Splicer. The new weapon, Radar Range is like a ray gun that emits microwaves. When used the weapon can cook Splicers from the inside out. The new Plasmid is Old Man Winter which can be used on broken water pipes to make bridges out of gushing water or in battle to freeze Splicers (like the Winter Blast Plasmid of the original game). It can also lay traps like the Vigors of “Infinite.”
The new Splicer is the Frosty Splicer which can slow you down when hit. Unlike the Splicer from the original who was spliced with Winter Blast, this Splicer does not have the ability to teleport. His character design was also an unused model for “Vigor Junkies” or those citizens of Columbia who overindulged in Vigors as stated in “The Art of BioShock Infinite.”
“Burial at Sea” clocks in at under three hours of gameplay, if you take your time. Some might feel this is unfair for the price, however if you buy the season pass you will get all of the DLC, including “Clash in the Clouds” for $20. This is a bargain considering Episode One and Two are $15 each.
Rapture before the fall was truly an art deco paradise where political and business ideas flowed from every corner. Listening in on citizens conversations on the state of the city or concerning certain political figures before the fall is interesting as well as a good recap on “BioShock” lore. To see the city in such splendor makes playing “Burial at Sea” a bittersweet affair.
Rating: 4/5 – “Burial at Sea, Episode One” is a nostalgic return to Rapture for “BioShock” fans but newcomers to the franchise may feel cheated by the brevity of the content. Had Ken Levine treated “Burial at Sea” like the team behind “BioShock 2” treated their story-based DLC (“Minerva’s Den”) it definitely would have been worth the money all around.
Image credit: Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea via Facebook