Just before you thought you were getting over the headaches caused by Bioshock Infinite’s rather monumental ending, Irrational Games have released the first single player DLC, Burial at Sea. As the title would suggest, this content takes place in a more aquatic environment, specifically Rapture. That’s right, that old chestnut again.
If the tumble through Elizabeth’s tear into Andrew Ryan’s playground got you polishing your Big Daddy drill then you’re in for a right treat with Burial at Sea. Set just before the downfall of Rapture, you’re finally able to see the underwater metropolis in all it’s former glory, albeit with a few drug-crazed residents still parading about. You’re once again in the boots of Infinite’s Booker DeWitt as you explore Rapture to find Sally, the child from the original plot, who’s gone missing in the city. Elizabeth has joined you, claiming she shares Booker’s desire to find Sally and offers to help.
Designed as an informative expansion, Burial at Sea attempts to soothe the brain-ache caused by the main storylines climax with several gap-filling bits of crucial information. The ideologies portrayed in the main plot are expanded upon and presented in a more simplistic light, a subtle touch that probably caused a fair few light bulb moments. As you can expect from DLC, the actual length of the content is pretty short, around 45 minutes for a concise play through. Concise meaning you ignore all the collectibles and alternative routes, which, if you’re familiar with any Bioshock title, will sound, like heresy to you. If that’s the case then you’re looking at far more boom for your buck and several extra trophies to boot as you track down all those audio files.
Mechanics are all thankfully unchanged; things degrade swiftly from the gangster-noir opening into the blood-pumping combat that was so prevalent in Infinite. Any promises of a detective and story-driven plot are flushed down the pneumo tube in the latter half of the episode when things free up into combat. Continuity also takes a blow to the face with a Rapture addition of the Sky-Hook making an unnecessary appearance along with Shock-Jockey Vigors that are lying around. That being said the combat is as fun as ever, purely because it remains unchanged and there’s also a degree of nostalgia around whilst blasting apart Splicers again. Sander Cohen also makes a chilling re-appearance, even though it’s after a scripted fetch quest and only for a brief scene.
Environments also follow the path of degradation. Initially your eyes are lavished with colorful and well-lit halls, bustling streets and breathtaking underwater views. After a descent in the Bathosphere into an exiled Fontaine department store everything takes a turn down Bioshock One lane. Broken glass, decaying bodies and ransacked shelves are what you’re faced with for the latter parts of the DLC. Certainly a definitive nod to those who have been with the franchise from the beginning but perhaps a little too familiar for comfort.
Elizabeth is up to her old tricks of ripping holes in the fabric of time and space and although the pressure might be getting to her, she seems to love zapping obedient Samurais into Rapture. This is another new feature for the DLC but, frankly, it feels wrong and out of place. When she isn’t snatching fearless warriors from their time period you’ll be super thankful that she still finds extra ammo and health as they’re at a premium in Burial at Sea. None of your progress or upgrades transfer to the content leaving you dreadfully ill-equipped, with careful headshots and tactical switches between munitions and plasmids being the key to surviving the irregular waves of insane Splicers.
When you reach the (seriously awesome) closing act of the DLC you’ll be shock-jockeied with a sobering realization. Infinite possessed one of the most well rounded storylines in gaming today, why does it need extra, story-driven and episodic content? It doesn’t, and as such this DLC isn’t really necessary but it’s the kind of unnecessary you’re happy about, like finding that extra twenty in your back pocket. Burial at Sea is in the metaphorical back pocket of Infinite, cradling its juicy storyline expansions like The One Ring and you’d be wise to Bilbo Baggins the hell up and get involved simply for the ride.
Although the taped-on nature that plagues many DLC expansions is prevalent and unavoidable here, the threads that are spun offer tantalising potential for a climatic second episode and re-imagine the main storyline’s message with admirable prowess. This is undeniably ideal for fans of Infinite but definitely not something that’ll make the haters change their tune. So, take the plunge back to the depths, it’s no picnic but then again neither is hitting a Big Daddy in the face with a wrench.
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