Bioshock Infinite: Burial At Sea -
Episode Two
Developer: Irrational Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: Out Now
Players: One
Words By:

Readers of this review are naturally assumed to have played through the main Bioshock Infinite game, and will contain references to its ending. If you havenít completed Bioshock Infinite yet please read no further, as spoiling the gameís surprises for you is not our intention.

After the end of Burial at Sea Episode One, despite it being reasonable for the player to be curious about what happens next, there will be a nagging doubt as to whether it is worth bothering with Episode Two at all.

The reality-bending nature of the Bioshock Infinite story is fascinating but calls into question any further story elements. Which Elizabeth is this? Which Booker/Comstock are we seeing and why should Rapture have anything to do with it? Given the titular infinite nature of the realities, does any of it matter, as there will always be a reality where stories havenít resolved themselves?

Episode One was also very short. The curious can always find out what happens in the end by finding a playthrough on YouTube rather than buying more DLC. The first hint you would get of this episode not being as stunted as the last is the download size. Two large separate downloads are required.

Playing as Elizabeth, the DLC takes her on a journey that tries to tie up loose plot ends and makes a brave attempt at tying the story back to the original Bioshock story. As both games had a satisfying conclusion, it is reasonable to debate whether doing this improves either or both game stories or (in the reviewersí opinion) weakens them.

Episode Two is significantly deeper and more interesting than the first...

Gameplay-wise Elizabeth is not as tough as Booker. She is without her powers of creating tears in reality, has a limited arsenal of weaponry, and does not have any shields. The play style is more oriented towards stealth and Elizabeth and can utilise plasmid-based powers to support this (that are best discovered in-game rather than in a review). It is fun playing in the game world from this perspective as opponents become a lot more deadly and thinking through plans of attack or diversion can be a lot more absorbing than wading in guns blazing. Another benefit of this game style is that it makes the player slow down to appreciate the work that has gone into crafting the environments. A minor gripe is that too many fetch & carry quests can make the awe-inspiring vista you saw moments ago become wallpaper you ignore to get on with the rest of the game.

Elizabethís lock picking ability has become a tiny but perfectly formed mini-game of pressing a button at the right time to not set off an alarm, or to deliberately set off an alarm to be a distraction for guards. It does a good job of providing a functional game mechanic that makes sure not to slow down the action.

This DLC contains powerful scenes with deep emotional resonance, and is not afraid to be brutal. In my opinion, on one occasion it goes too far in showing a scene of horrific sadism. Given the sophisticated storytelling in the Bioshock games (well, perhaps not Bioshock 2), such a clumsily violent scene stood out that much more. Itís like splicing an implausible scene from one of the Final Destination horror movies into one of the Godfather movies. As the contexts donít match, the offending scene becomes that much more jarring. Perhaps this was done on purpose for shock value, but it felt like a cheap shot.

Episode Two is significantly deeper and more interesting than the first. The slight gameplay change is different enough to keep the Bioshock experience fresh. It is not likely to stand up to multiple play-throughs as the story is the star and (just like with the many fetch quests) the story might not stand too much scrutiny. Despite all this, it is still a good story.

Given the depth of Episode Two, it is difficult to understand why parts were split in that way. Yes, Episode One ended with a big surprise, but thereís so much more going on in Episode Two it makes one wonder why the split could not have been more even. Perhaps we should just enjoy the results rather than question how they came to be.

Best Bits

- Unlike Episode One, itís long enough to justify the download.
- Interesting gameplay changes from Elizabethís perspective.
Worst Bits

- It tells a story that arguably didnít need telling.
- There are some scenes of pointless sadism presumably there for shock value.

by: Jason Rainbird

Copyright © Gamecell 2014