Review: BioShock Infinite – Burial At Sea – Episode 1 / Developer: Irrational Games / Platform: Various / Release Date: Out Now
After exploring the civil war of skyborne Columbia, this first episode of a two-part DLC set sees the series returning to submerged Rapture. Playing as alternate versions of Booker and Elizabeth, the DLC is one squarely aimed at fans. Shortly before the Rapture civil war, Booker is made an offer he cannot refuse in his search for his missing daughter. However, despite sounding like a very familiar beginning for these characters, they’re soon sent tumbling down a different rabbit hole.
Despite returning to the setting of the original games, the title is still very much BioShock Infinite with many core design elements remaining. Elizabeth still lobs consumables at you, the resuscitation method is identical, there’s even the odd skyrail, but many have been tweaked in some way in a response to criticism. While still linear, the areas have been opened up somewhat, allowing players to wander about the Art Deco, noirish landscape of the seabed city. Furthermore, for the first time ammo feels genuinely scarce. Rather than lugging sufficient bullets to equip a small regiment, you’re left scrambling to find enough to keep fighting.
The combat itself is slightly tighter than people have come to expect from the series, due to the aforementioned lack of ammo and much heavier reliance upon plasmids. Admittedly, the inclusion of a microwave gun and a few previously unseen toys definitely helps in that department. As does a particular boss, which finally addresses one criticism of a certain enemy being far too easy to bloodily murder. Beyond him though, the splicers themselves prove to be your common-or-garden variety. Most sprint about toting guns, with only one or two bothering to use the drugs they are addicted to as weaponry.
So is it worth it? Yes and no.
Only lasting a few hours, its overall value ultimately comes down to how much you love the universe – especially given the hefty price and the fact it’s half a story. You also won’t get much replay value out of this one, and while its tribute to fans is its greatest strength, it also proves to be its Achilles heel. Many audio diaries will only be meaningful to those who played BioShock, while the overarching plot and outstanding twist will only mean something to fans of Infinite. You need to have played both to fully enjoy what’s on offer here.
It’s fantastically designed, excellently written, and improves upon what came before, but will ultimately only be valued by fans of the overall series. Think carefully before you get this one.