BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea
|BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea|
|Designer(s)||Andres Elias Gonzalez Tahhan|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
November 12, 2013
March 25, 2014
|Genre(s)||First-person shooter, stealth|
BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea is an episodic expansion to the first-person shooter video game BioShock Infinite, and a prequel to the original BioShock. It was developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games. It is available on Linux, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and OS X. Burial at Sea consists of two episodes. Episode 1 was released worldwide via download-only on November 12, 2013, and Episode 2 was released on March 25, 2014. A retail version for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 was released on November 4, 2014 as part of BioShock Infinite: The Complete Edition, and for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 13, 2016 as part of BioShock: The Collection.
Burial at Sea is set after the events of BioShock Infinite, which spanned several alternate realities and was themed on the nature of choice. Whereas Infinite took place aboard Columbia, the floating air city set in 1912, Burial at Sea takes place in an alternate reality within the underwater city of Rapture, a year before the events of the first BioShock game (which is set in 1960). The game features Booker DeWitt as a private detective, and Elizabeth as a femme fatale who employs Booker's services.
Like BioShock Infinite, Burial at Sea is a first-person shooter with role-playing elements. Using a mixture of the limited spaces of Rapture in BioShock and BioShock 2 with the expanded environment of Columbia from BioShock Infinite allows for more dynamic combat challenges. Returning from BioShock and BioShock 2, the player may carry more than two weapons at a time, and can collect other weapons and ammunition either from defeated enemies or from random locations around the city. Returning from Infinite is the regenerating shield, while health can be replenished with medical kits or food. Plasmids and EVE replace Vigors and Salts from Infinite. Plasmids grant activated powers such as creating shockwaves, releasing bolts of electricity, and machine/human possession. Plasmids require EVE, the equivalent of magic points for powering their abilities.
The player can traverse Rapture both on foot and by riding a pneumo-line, a roller coaster-like rail system similar to the Skyline from Columbia. The player rides the pneumo-lines via a wrist-mounted tool called an Air-Grabber, which the player and enemies use to jump to/from and hang onto the self-powered tracks. Players can jump onto, off of, and between pneumo-line tracks at any time, and may face enemies that use the system to attack; the player can use one-handed weapons in Booker's free hand while using the pneumo-line. Freedom of movement along the pneumo-line allows for several varieties of combat, including flanking, cover, and area-of-effect attacks through creative uses of the system. Throughout episode one, the player does not directly control Elizabeth, but instead she scavenges the area for supplies such as ammunition, medical kits, EVE, and other items, and tosses them to Booker as needed. She can also use her Tear-opening powers to aid the player, bringing in weapons, health, EVE, assistance in the form of Samurai warriors, and automated defense units. Only one Tear can be opened at a time, forcing the player to decide between the available options to suit the battle.
Episode Two includes a "1998 Mode" in which the player is challenged to complete the episode using only stealth and non-lethal methods of defeating enemies. The mode is a callback to Thief: The Dark Project released in 1998 by Looking Glass Studios, the predecessor to Irrational Games, and is compared to the main game's "1999 Mode", itself named in reference to the release year of Irrational's System Shock 2.
Burial at Sea begins in a reality where Booker DeWitt (Troy Baker) is a private investigator in Rapture. On the eve of the Rapture civil war, Elizabeth (Courtnee Draper) asks him to investigate the disappearance of a young girl named Sally. Though Booker fears that Sally may have been made into a Little Sister, Elizabeth believes Sally to be alive and that the artist Sander Cohen (T. Ryder Smith) may have information regarding her whereabouts. Cohen makes them dance as part of a performance piece, but disappointed with their act, knocks them both unconscious. They wake up in a bathysphere descending towards the Fontaine Department Store building, previously sunk by Andrew Ryan (Armin Shimerman) to serve as a prison for Atlas, the leader of the underclass uprising who, unknown to the other characters, is really Frank Fontaine, Ryan's political rival.
Within the building, the two deal with Atlas' men that scavenge through the stores, and find Sally crawling within the ventilation system. They devise a plan to close all but one vent, then raise the air temperature to force Sally to the last open vent so they can grab her. When Booker attempts to pull her out, he discovers she has become a Little Sister and refuses to answer his call. Sally calls upon a Big Daddy, which then proceeds to attack Booker and Elizabeth. They fight off the Big Daddy, and Booker goes to grab Sally again. He suddenly has a flashback to events he had previously forgotten, in that he had accepted his baptism and became Columbia's founder Zachary Hale Comstock. With the help of Robert and Rosalind Lutece (Oliver Vaquer and Jennifer Hale) they had attempted to steal the infant Anna (who would grow up to be Elizabeth) from an alternate version of Booker, but in this situation, Anna was killed when the portal closed around her despite Comstock's efforts to pull her free. Comstock was shamed by the loss and asked the Lutece twins to wipe his memories and place him in a dimension where Columbia did not exist; this resulted in his identity of Booker within Rapture.
As Booker realizes what he has done, he furiously apologies to Elizabeth, but she does not accept this. As they argue, Booker is impaled from behind by the Big Daddy.
The second episode takes place from Elizabeth's point-of-view. She wakes up from a nightmarish vision of Paris in flames to find herself and Sally captured by Atlas (Karl Hanover). Atlas prepares to kill her, but a vision of Booker appears, instructing her to say that she knows where to find Dr. Yi Suchong (James Yaegashi), a doctor working under Ryan but secretly assisting Fontaine. Atlas lets her go, taking Sally as a hostage.
While exploring the store, Elizabeth finds her body impaled by a piece of reinforcement steel, and realizes she had been killed at the same time as Booker; she still exists as her other alternate selves have collapsed into a single body and lacking her ability to use Tears, a result of her deal with the Luteces to bring her to Rapture. She explains to the vision of Booker that she had seen visions of how to end the cycle of violence by coming to Rapture. The vision, in turn, tells Elizabeth that Suchong is in Rapture, and she must find a way to get there.
She learns of a secret lab that Suchong kept in Fontaine's store where a portal to Columbia can be opened. Elizabeth hypothesizes that by acquiring Lutece particles that keep the air city afloat, she can use them to lift the building off the sea floor and back to Rapture's depth. She arrives in Columbia in the midst of the Vox Populi revolution, and discovers that Suchong and Jeremiah Fink (Bill Lobley) had cooperated in sharing technology between the two periods, co-developing the Big Daddies and Songbird; she also learns that the Luteces' had a role in prompting the Vox Populi leader Daisy Fitzroy (Kimberly Brooks) into actions that previously caused Elizabeth to use her powers to kill her. On return to the Fontaine building, Elizabeth finds herself assaulted by Ryan's men, believing her working for Atlas. She escapes and makes it to the top of the building, releasing the particles. The building starts to lift, but Atlas appears and knocks her out. She awakes, finding that she is being injected with truth serum by Atlas to learn where Suchong is. She is given an overdose of the drug and falls unconscious for two weeks.
When she wakes, Atlas has launched an all-out war against Ryan. Atlas is now desperate to locate Suchong as the doctor has his "ace in the hole" to be used against Ryan. When Atlas threatens Sally, Elizabeth has a momentary vision and reports Suchong is in his clinic guarded by Ryan's security systems that are keyed to repel Atlas and his men by their DNA. Atlas sends Elizabeth in to retrieve Suchong. In the clinic, Elizabeth finds the doctor as he harms two Little Sisters, causing a Big Daddy to appear and kill him. Fearing the "ace in the hole" lost, she finds a piece of paper with a coded message, has another vision, and realizes she has found the ace. She returns the paper to Atlas, and decodes the message for him: "Would you kindly?" Atlas realizes this is the trigger phrase that Suchong has implanted in Jack, the illegitimate son of Ryan that Atlas has sent to the surface to keep out of Ryan's hands until the right time (and the player-protagonist from the first game). Atlas orders his men to make arrangements for Jack to come to Rapture, and then delivers a fatal blow to Elizabeth, leaving her alone with Sally. As Elizabeth dies, she has a final vision of the events at the end of BioShock, where Sally and other Little Sisters are saved by Jack, the future that she came to Rapture to ensure would happen, and holds Sally's hand as she dies.
A post-credits scene shows a steady shot of Rapture as the tail end of crashed plane sinks into the city, signalling Jack's arrival as the screen fades out.
The in-game setting of Rapture is nearly completely rebuilt with very little reuse of BioShock assets. The gameplay for the content was altered to fit the setting and feel of Rapture compared to the larger battles of Infinite. The added content includes new weapons, gear, and Plasmids (the Rapture equivalent of Vigors), as well as bringing back the mechanic of the "weapons wheel," used in the first two BioShock games, where players can swap between more than two weapons at their disposal. One of the Plasmids is Old Man Winter that freezes and shatters enemies. The concept was created by Joe Trinder, a fan and graphic designer, shortly after the reveal of Infinite. The concept art, mimicking other in-game posters for Vigors, caught the attention of Levine, who decided to incorporate the concept within the Burial at Sea content with Trinder's help. The artwork was redesigned to match the Rapture setting, but further influenced one section of the content where a portion of the city has been converted into a winter wonderland where the Plasmid will be found.
In the second episode, Elizabeth becomes the player character. Being more of a thoughtful character than Booker, her gameplay focuses more on strategy and avoidance of direct combat, more like a survival horror or stealth game. It was important that Elizabeth did not feel simply like Booker "in a dress". Amanda Jeffrey noted that Elizabeth was the main character of Infinite and Rapture the main character of the first game, and so "Burial" involved "our two leading ladies playing opposite each other". No longer being recently out of the tower, Elizabeth's character is slightly different in "Burial", being "older, wiser and more confident". Lead animator Shawn Robertson felt that Elizabeth's presence helped tie Rapture with Infinite.
In February 2014, while promoting Burial at Sea: Episode Two, series director Ken Levine stated that the Burial at Sea will leave fans "walk[ing] away pretty satisfied with feeling a sense of completeness", with Courtnee Draper (voice of Elizabeth) calling it "the wrap-up for the whole BioShock series". Shortly after, Levine revealed that BioShock Infinite would be Irrational Games' last game in the BioShock series, leaving the intellectual property in the hands of 2K Games, should they like to continue the franchise with another developer.
|BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode One||70/100 (PC)
|BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode Two||84/100 (PC)
The first episode received "mixed to positive" reviews according to review aggregate website Metacritic. Its PC version holds an overall 70 score on Metacritic, as well as a 68.52% on GameRankings. GameZone's Josh Wirtanen described the game as "dark, disturbing, and laced with political and philosophical irony." IGN's Ryan McCaffrey felt that the episode was too short and was thus unable "to get across suspense and mystery without the luxury of taking its time", and that the story wasn't as impactful following on from BioShock Infinite, but ultimately felt that the game was enjoyable while it lasted and was priced accordingly. Polygon's Justin McElroy wrote that the "new look at Rapture in its heyday [is] as beautiful, grandiose and unnerving as you would hope", but also felt that it was all too brief, writing that "despite the promising introduction, the pastiche disappears as soon as the action kicks into gear, giving way to familiar combat rhythms." USgamer's Cassandra Khaw agreed with the sentiment that it was all too short-lived, while The Escapist's Paul Goodman wrote, "What harms Burial at Sea the most, though, is that it's really just too damn short." Kevin VanOrd gave the game its lowest critic score of 5/10; writing for GameSpot, he believed that the game did not benefit from moving BioShock Infinite's characters into BioShock and BioShock 2's setting, as neither were enhanced and there was no "new light on BioShock lore". He expressed how the combat was easy, with throwaway action sequences, and felt that BioShock Infinite's mechanics did not make sense in Rapture. VanOrd was ultimately disappointed that "the result is an adventure with fantastic sights and sounds that don't come together in a meaningful way." Similarly, Destructoid's Chris Carter found the game underwhelming, writing that while he liked the combat and the ability to carry more than two weapons at a time, he found the game too short, Elizabeth uninteresting, the film noir setting strong enough, and an uncompelling story sans the ending.
The second episode received "generally favorable" reviews according to Metacritic and experienced a better reception with critics than its predecessor. Its PC version holds an overall 84 score on Metacritic, as well as an 82.64% on GameRankings. Ryan McCaffrey of IGN said that it redeemed the disappointment of the first episode, finding its story more subtle, much longer, and more focused. He enjoyed the stealth-driven gameplay and liked that it served as a conclusion for both BioShock Infinite and the first BioShock. He slightly criticized the goals of the game that required the player to go on fetch quests for various items, but otherwise felt it "a carefully crafted, appropriately mind-bending sendoff" for the entire series. Destructoid's Chris Carter found it to be a vast improvement to the previous episode, calling it "Irrational's swan song". Like McCaffrey, Carter applauded the "uniquely improved [stealth-based] gameplay" and longer length of the episode, as well as the larger environments and return of characters from previous games in the series. He also believed that Irrational "went above and beyond with the implementation of 1998 Mode", a difficulty that tasks the player with completing the story without killing anyone. Kevin VanOrd similarly found the episode to improve significantly on the previous one, writing that aside from some plot points and metaphors which he found overly contrived, it was a strong entry with well-paced gameplay and a smart story. VanOrd also approved of Frank Fontaine, believing him to be an excellent villain. In contrast, Justin McElroy of Polygon was not as impressed; though he liked the visuals and "enjoyable sneaky combat", he felt that both were used "to tell a story that, without flowcharts and some seriously generous apologetics, is convoluted to migraine-inducing degrees." He stated that for all the episode's strengths regarding the gameplay, his time "was marred only by the persistent, suffocating suspicion that [he] at no time had a solid idea of who [he] was, what [he] was doing or why [he] was doing it." McElroy expressed that because of the constant mysteries, Irrational's final entry in the BioShock franchise kept him at arm's length rather than sucking him in and providing closure, and its attempts to wrap everything up "too often feels like well-made fan fiction".
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