Genre: First Person Shooter / Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Developer: Irrational Games / Publisher: 2K Interactive
Platform Played: PlayStation 3
Constants and variables are a running theme in Bioshock Infinite. Those of you who have finished the main game’s ending will understand what I mean here and the same extends into the game’s first piece of story-based DLC, Burial At Sea Episode 1.
For the most part, Burial At Sea is good refresher if you’re looking for some Bioshock action six 0r so months after finishing the main game. If you were taken away by Bioshock Infinite as many were, you’ll enjoy this rich albeit short expansion pack and while it certainly delivers mechanically, there are a few issues to be found with the game’s story.
If you somehow missed it, Burial At Sea takes place in Rapture before the events of the first Bioshock game and after having experienced Rapture years ago, you’ll be glad to make the return. Even if it does feel like a facade of sorts. Rapture this time around isn’t dominantly populated by the crazed Splicers from the first game but instead features the inhabitants before everything sank to the bottom in concrete shoes. What we experience here is the ideal world Rapture was meant to convey before its demise. In Rapture, there are no Gods or kings, only man. It all looks engrossing and you just want to reach out and touch it but it always just seems too far away to be able to do so. Rapture feels more like a museum in Burial At Sea than it does a living, breathing city. If Rapture is the museum then its citizens are the museum staff who are ready to talk to you when you approach or pass them but won’t directly interact with you otherwise. It almost tricks you into believing you’re back in the Rapture but you’re mostly just looking.
The game’s story suffers in Burial At Sea. Whilst the culmination of this episode is really quite good and is what you’d expect from Irrational’s writing (yet still able to surprise you), the rest of the story only really boils down to a “go here, go there” video game style plot. There’s a common understanding when it comes to storytelling that it’s the journey that matters more than the destination but it seems to have escaped Burial At Sea. Up until the last part of the game I never really felt I was doing anything significant. I’m looking for a lost girl which sends out the familiar vibes of numerous video game plot-lines. Instead it felt as if the crux of my playthrough was to clear a room of enemies, advance and repeat. Nothing I did felt like it really mattered right up until the end and even then, I still didn’t really feel like my battling through hoards of enemies was all that necessary. I didn’t feel I did anything.
What’s more is that the story is quite short. Now, there’s the argument of “quality over quantity” and whilst that’s a valid statement, the £11.99 price tag for at best, a two hour experience isn’t exactly appealing to some. Sure, you may be called a shallow robot who refuses to delve into the experience but you’d be a shallow robot who’s up £11.99. However, Burial At Sea Episode 1 is only half the package so hopefully the story will seem a little better once we get to the next episode.
Thankfully, Burial At Sea is as mechanically strong as it’s ever been. Shooting is tight and precise, the Vigors (or Plasmids as we might call them in Rapture) add an interesting alternative to gunplay as they always have done. Irrational’s new ice vigor/plasmid is probably one of the best out of the lot. The ability to freeze an enemy where he or she stands is nothing new to video games, but it’s still really quite fun nonetheless.
The Sky-Lines from Infinite make a return in Burial At Sea but disappointingly so, there’s only two or three throughout the entire experience and one of them just circles the room. I never found the Sky-Line to feel like it mattered at all in Burial At Sea and it almost feels as if Irrational forgot about it until the last second and decided they needed to shoehorn it in there.
Overall, Burial At Sea Episode 1 doesn’t do a whole lot to impress long term. It makes good first impressions with an interesting new angle on Elizabeth’s personality which, for spoiler reasons I haven’t delved into, and the introduction of a Rapture we’ve never seen before. Burial At Sea shows us a Rapture we can look at but we can’t touch, a world that just doesn’t meet the standards we’ve come to expect from Irrational’s team and some uninteresting motivations for the characters which only become interesting until the very end.
When Burial At Sea gets going, it really starts to get fun but before you know it, it’s over and for some, that can be a real turn off. It seems to almost say to the player upon your return to Rapture “Hey, remember this? Good, now move along.”
Is Burial At Sea worth returning to Rapture for? If you really want to play some more Bioshock sure, but it might not be what you expect after having played the main game.
. A return to Rapture.
. Interesting ending.
. Interesting new take on Elizabeth.
. A museum-like Rapture.
. A dull, uninteresting story.
. A feeling of insignificance leading up the game’s ending.