Diving further down into an already deep plot.
The first episode of Burial at Sea certainly left me curious how the second would play out, but felt like kind of a tease. Costing $15 and running between 90 minutes and two hours, it felt light on content for the price. Episode 2 redeems those complaints by doubling the content and adding in a ton of plot revelations. While I’m sad that this is likely the end of Bioshock, the series definitely goes out on a high note.
Episode 2 picks up right where episode 1 left off. Since several months have passed, I was happy to see a “previously on” option in the menu, hoping it would remind me of everything that was going on. I was surprised when, instead of covering episode 1, it instead recapped the events of the original Bioshock. It speaks volumes about the goal of episode 2 – connecting the world of the first game with that of Infinite. Fortunately, when I started the game played me the last 30 seconds or so of audio from episode 1, which served to remind me where I was.
The first half of Burial at Sea made some core changes to the game play, re-introducing the weapon wheel and putting an emphasis on stealth. The second continues in that direction, and adds some additional changes to facilitate playing as Elizabeth. I won’t say why for those who haven’t played the first part, but this entire episode is played as Elizabeth.
While Elizabeth begins where she left off, in pursuit of a young girl named Sally, she is not the same as before. Her ability to open tears and see alternate universes is gone, and she has no special powers at all. The focus of the combat also shifts towards more non-lethal means. Sneaking up on an unaware enemy will allow a melee attack that renders them unconscious, and the starting weapon is a crossbow loaded with tranquilizer darts. The more traditional hand cannon and shotgun can still be found, but I found myself avoiding their use as much as possible.
The game play shifts to accommodate this emphasis on stealth. When sneaking up on enemies there are variables to consider – carpet muffled footsteps, while stepping in water or on broken glass alerted nearby enemies to my presence. The first plasmid found is Peeping Tom, which allowed me to see enemies through walls, or go temporarily invisible to evade pursuers. Elizabeth can also crawl through vents to reach new areas, and can land from jumps in a crouch to make less noise.
Enemies are standard fare for Rapture – mostly Splicers, occasionally armed with plasmids. I also encountered a Big Daddy, and the game was quite clear in stating that it would kill me immediately, and I had no chance against it. I could, however, use the Possession plasmid to turn its attention to Splicers in the vicinity, giving me a chance to sneak by unnoticed. Elizabeth can still pick locks, but it functions like a mini-game – if I did it right I could earn a noisemaker useful for distracting enemies; wrong and I would trigger an alarm.
Episode 2 is the same as its predecessor in terms of presentation, for better and worse. Rapture still looks fantastic, and the dialog and character voices are excellent. There are occasional frame rate drops, but nothing more than a nuisance. I also had some problems with the navigation – a few times it just led me in circles, and it didn’t seem interested in helping me find side objectives, even when I set them as a goal.
My lasting impressions of Infinite all come from its story, and Burial at Sea Episode 2 adds plenty to the lore. Through play and audio logs I found revelations on Songbird, Big Daddies, the Vox Populi and why I was in Rapture in the first place. The end of Infinite left the universe in a state that almost anything was possible, but the developers did a great job of tying things together in ways that made sense, and avoided the cop-out of having things be a certain way “just because”. Like the main story I’m still not sure I grasp all the connections and nuances, but nothing felt forced or out-of-place (at least not considering the basis of the game).
I finished episode 2 in about four and a half hours. To be fair, I did every side activity available, and collected almost all of the 25 audio logs. Once I was back in the world, and knowing this was likely my last visit, I found myself wanting to explore everything, and answer as many questions as I could. For those who purchased Burial at Sea Episode 1 and felt burned by the lack of content, Episode 2 is a fuller package, and worth picking up to finish the story. For anyone who enjoyed Infinite and hasn’t played the DLC, the season pass includes both episodes (and the Clash in the Clouds DLC) for $20, and for that price it shouldn’t be missed.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.