Just a quick note: Spoilers for pretty much everything BioShock are coming. So click away if your teeny virgin eyes are going to be spoiled by the voluptuous bounty to follow. You’ve had fair warning.
“Burial at Sea Episode 2,” the third piece of DLC for BioShock Infinite, is in the unique position of being the last thing that Irrational Games will ever release. With the studio closing down, I almost wondered if the guys at Irrational would just frantically spend all their use-it-or-lose-it vacation days, stick up their middle fingers, and crap out some barely playable schlock like the “Stasis Interrupted” DLC for Aliens: Colonial Marines. “Screw you, gamers,” they’d say. “Thanks for all the cash, suckers!”
Thankfully, that’s not the case.
No, “Burial at Sea Episode 2” is a fully formed story-based expansion. In fact, if you plopped down twenty-ish bucks for the season pass, this is the thing that will justify that purchase. It’s the biggest, heartiest, lore-iest piece of content in the bundle.
In it, you play as Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite proper. Well, not exactly that Elizabeth, actually. This is an Elizabeth that’s been stripped of her powers and memories and pretty much everything else that makes her Elizabeth, and she talks to a Booker who isn’t really there. Oh, and she’s dead.
WHAT?!?!??! (This is where you hear the sound of a head exploding.)
I mean, in a manner of speaking. The concepts of timelines and alternate dimensions tend to create convoluted storytelling – in the best ways possible, mind – making them difficult to talk about without writing down excessive notes in a legal notepad. Back to the Future 2, for example, had to feature a whole scene where Doc Brown frantically scrawling the whole timeline business on a chalkboard for the audience whose minds were undoubtedly being blown wide open back in 1989 (more head-exploding sound effects).
In “Burial at Sea,” instead of a wild-eyed Doc Brown, we have the Lutece twins, who don’t really explain the context so much as banter wittily about it.
But that’s beside the point, so I digress.
This game really neatly ties together the events of the original BioShock and BioShock Infinite, and features a disturbing yet compelling storyline to boot. If I say anymore about it, I’m going to start ruining all the neat little surprises that make this such a worthwhile piece of content. (Plus, I’d have to reuse that whole head-exploding bit again, which probably wasn’t even funny the first time.)
So yeah, is this game’s story worth the price of admission? Absolutely.
I’m a tad iffy on the gameplay, though. See, as opposed to the hyper-violent shooty-wooty stuff of Infinite, you’re going to have to take a more stealthy approach. It feels a bit like Dishonored, actually, complete with those lightning bolt awareness icons over the heads of your enemies.
Dishonored makes a better contrast than a comparison, though, since it features some cool gadgets and a whole arsenal of badass supernatural powers. (Blink, man. Blink!) And really, it’s those sort of creative toolsets that make stealth games fun for me. The still hot-off-the-press Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes stands as evidence of this.
“Burial at Sea,” on the other hand, has a powerless Elizabeth (who will eventually collect a tiny assortment of vigors/plasmids) with very few gadgets (aside from a gas pellet-shooting crossbow, which is actually really fun to play around with.) The toolset is too limited to serve the stealth gameplay approach for my liking. And since you’re going to be forced into the stealth approach by Elizabeth’s complete lack of carrying capacity (I think Elizabeth stole her carrying capacity from Resident Evil 1), it becomes a bit problematic.
Still, these complaints are pretty minor, all things considered, and, if I’m being really honest with myself, I could have probably experimented a bit more (which I intend to do on my second playthrough).
Either way, if you’ve been following the BioShock story since it first began, you really need to play this. You’ll get answers to some longstanding questions from both the original game and Infinite, as well as some leftover residue from “Burial at Sea Episode One.” You’ll get to play as Elizabeth. And, most importantly, you’ll get to experience the conclusion to one of the greatest video game stories that has ever been told.
Irrational Games couldn’t have possibly crafted a more fitting swansong.