Irrational Games has always been known for its story driven games that will connect with the majority of gamers out there. Although some found the combat of the latest venture helmed comfortable, the more hardcore FPS players out there were left wanting.
I simply enjoyed my time in the extremely beautiful and detailed utopian city of Columbia. The game had a story that forced you onto the edge of your seat and an ending that pushed you right off it. So when I heard about single player expansions of the game in the form of Burial at Sea Episode One and Two, set in Andrew Ryan’s science driven and maddened world of Rapture, I was overjoyed...
The concept of Rapture that featured in the first two games of the franchise was utterly new and enjoyable. Even though the scenic beauty was 2D, it was so engaging to imagine a city fully submerged and left to its devices. Andrew Ryan was the leader of this scientific utopia and he ruled relentlessly. To be able to revisit Rapture and relive its world, which is now even more beautiful thanks to Bioshock Infinite’s upgraded Unreal Engine 3, was satisfying to say the least.
The Rapture shown is that of the city that Andrew Ryan built, before that fateful night of 1958 and before war and the ocean swallowed it whole. The game starts with Elizabeth entering Infinite's protagonist Booker DeWitt’s office. Booker is now a private-eye and Elizabeth wants a girl named Sally to be found. Although you can feel the relation between Booker and Elizabeth, a remnant of Bioshock Infinite, Booker doesn’t seem to acknowledge knowing Elizabeth. Elizabeth is now portrayed as a femme fatale, while Booker is still very much ridden with guilt, but still he accepts to help her. The game’s initial sequences are almost worth the $14.99 alone, such is the scale of the grandeur of a restored Rapture . The visuals of Rapture, now remastered, are breathtaking. Imagine witnessing Rapture before the city became hooked on Plasmoids, and before the ocean consumed it and you’ll know exactly what I'm getting at here, it can truly astonishing. This will be a memorable moment for those who have experienced Rapture before, allowing you to drink in a new atmosphere within a familiar setting.
Exploring and taking in the new Rapture is a captivating experience; as in the previous titles the player can hang around and listen in on various conversations (describing Fontaine's rebellion and other news from around Rapture) and collect audio logs giving some back-story to the game. As Burial at Sea trundles onward, the player will be thrown into combat of a similar ilk to that of Infinite, while having some elements of the original Bioshock alongside some brand new additions. The player can now carry multiple weapon types, unlike Infinite where only two weapons could be carried concurrently, and these are accessed through an old school weapons wheel. The player also has at his disposal the return of the Sky Hook(now called the Air Grabber) and some plasmids (which are now powered by Eve instead of Salts). A new plasmid named Old Man Winter shoots out icy bursts and is thus quite similar to the Winter Blast plasmid from the original Bioshock.
The combat techniques remain largely the same as Infinite and the player can approach a hit from various points and open tears and travel on overhead rails to gain a tactical advantage. Although more weapons are offered, the ammunition available to every weapon is significantly reduced and I often had to scrounge around for ammo and health during an engagement with the Splicers. Supplies like health packs and money are harder to come by and thus a better resource management technique is required. All in all, people who loved Infinite’s combat will have a treat with this game, there are just enough changes to keep the title feeling fresh.
What is a little disappointing is the length of the DLC campaign and the visuals in the later part of the story. The thorny issue of quality over quantity rears its ugly head here, but who wouldn’t want to experience some more Rapture. The game can be easily finished in a couple of hours and thus the experience is rather short; players who wanted to explore more of Rapture will be left wanting, particularly with the relatively steep entry price. The environments later in the story are largely similar to those of the original Bioshock and will thus seem a little bit boring to those who have played it, it loses the impact that the opening scenes had as it descends into chaos.
Overall the story expansion was a welcome addition to Infinite’s story line, but the changes made to it are just not enough to characterise it into the wholly different game that some of us were expecting it to be. Seeing a refreshed image of Rapture was undoubtedly awesome, but there just aren’t enough opportunities to explore it fully. The stage for the game in the first 30 minutes or so is set like a show that is played in front of you and although you will be mesmerised by it, it is out of your immediate control. The changes made to combat are good but, again, there are just too many things that are the same. The plot of the DLC is to be concluded in Episode Two having been left on a cliffhanger that will have you wishing for more. The expansion will surely be an enjoyable experience for the series' fans, but it also has the potential to become stale for those who have started to tire of the Bioshock formula.