Review: BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea (Part One)
One of my favourite games of the year is getting its first story DLC. The last piece was a shooting arena which was disappointing considering the strength of the series lies in its storytelling. So now we’ve all got what we want, how does it stack up?
Switching the setting from the bright and airy Columbia to the depths of Rapture seemed liked an odd move given how much effort went into creating the floating city. There’s so much more of that city I would loved to have seen, not that I would ever turn down a chance to go back to Rapture.
Kicking off on New Year’s Eve 1958, you wake up in your office when Elizabeth comes knocking at the door. She wants you to find this missing girl and naturally you have something hidden away in your memory. This is clear from the minute flashbacks that you get through the game. If you’re memory isn’t hazy then you’ll remember it’s the night that war kicked off in the city, leading to its demise. This is sadly downplayed and you don’t actually get to experience any of the transition from lavish city to destroyed nightmare.
What you do get is a classic film-noir detective story that isn’t too bad but considering we know what we know from the events of BioShock Infinite, the ending wasn’t much of a shock. This story takes you up close and personal with Sander Cohen in a nice little section and to Fontaine Department Store which Andrew Ryan condemned to be closed off. This is where the bulk of the action takes place and adds a little fresh perspective on the lore of Rapture and reminds me of why the original is so highly regarded.
But, sadly it doesn’t last long at all, clocking in under two hours but that could be halved. I was messing around looking in every bin and trying to get into every nook and cranny. And it’s a double blow as it costs £11.99 by itself or as part of the £15.99 season pass. Despite the quality of the DLC, it’s fair to say it’s overpriced.
The best part of the package is seeing Rapture in all its glory before its downfall. What was teased in BioShock 2 now commands the first portion of the episode. The art deco style is as wonderful as ever and the city feels more alive with people running shops, sitting at bars and having a natter. As much as I find it odd that the developers ditched Columbia, you can’t argue that visiting Rapture is a bad thing, especially in heyday.
Much like the game’s overall length, this side of Rapture doesn’t last long either. After 20 minutes or so you’ll be getting to the run down sections and it’s back to how we knew the city in 2007. Darkness, flooded areas and crumbling areas take over. I would have liked to have fought in the bright lights of Rapture in all its glory, but the closed structure and environment does make for a more scary atmosphere again. Columbia had an abundance of atmosphere but Rapture was always unnerving. The babbling from crazed splicers does keep you more on edge than any of the threats in Columbia .
The BioShock series has never been applauded for its mechanics and very little has changed across the series in terms of gameplay. Infinite had bigger battles and the Sky Hooks but all in all it’s mostly a case of picking your favourite plasmid/vigour and doing a one-two punch with that and a weapon. It’s pretty much the same here, although battles have been dialled back to match the original title. There’s only a handful of splicers at any one time and the odd turret, not a Handyman and two dozen goons running around this time.
Despite not featuring in the original two titles, the Sky Hook, although renamed, is obtained during your run through and offers the same opportunities as it did in Columbia such as pouching on an enemy, albeit rarely. This is because there’s only the odd hook and rail which is fair enough, we’re in Rapture now, but that just means the item is pretty much rammed into the DLC to keep it consistent with its parent game. At least you do get a new funky weapon which is the most original new addition. It’s essentially a radar gun that makes splicers explode and can damage nearby enemies.
All in all Burial at Sea plays well despite the amalgamation of the original and Infinite. If you thought the battles were too much in Columbia, you’ll be much happier here.
To sum up
Over priced and too short, this DLC offering is thankfully redeemed by its setting and story. We’re it part of any other series it would probably sink and no one would care. But fans will enjoy what’s on offer even if they do feel a little annoyed with its length.
Version reviewed: Xbox 360
Bioshock Infinite: Buirial at Sea Part 1 is available to download on XBL, PSN and PC now.