Black screen. Ominous music. You hear the familiar, yet anxious voice of Booker Dewitt saying, “Liz, I’m so sorry!” The equally familiar sound of a Big Daddy’s drill revving comes screaming over everything until Elizabeth replies, “No, you’re not… but you’re about to be.” This is where part one of Burial at Sea leaves off and where part two begins. It’s a satisfying finish to the Burial at Sea story and full of great tie-ins to the Bioshock universe if you’re a series junkie, like me.
*** Spoilers for the main game or Burial at Sea part one may follow ***
- TL;DR: A satisfying, fan-service heavy conclusion to a great game
- Platform: Xbox 360
- Score: 8.2
- Hours Played: 3.5
- What I Played: Entire campaign
- Recommended: Yes
All throughout Bioshock Infinite, all Elizabeth wants to do is visit Paris. It’s fitting, then, that in Burial at Sea part two, you play as Elizabeth and start out in a lovely cafe in the City of Love. You see Sally, the little girl (who looks an awful lot like a Little Sister) from Burial at Sea part one, and try to catch up to her, but it becomes apparent that you’re in some kind of
dream nightmare. After the sky darkens and the winds begin to howl, you wake up in a dark place with Atlas in Rapture. He promises to return Sally to you if you help him get his sunken prison off the ocean floor, which you have no choice but to agree to.
I was really excited to play as Elizabeth. The three previous main characters of Bioshock were regular guys who stumbled into the wrong place at the wrong time (or so you thought). Elizabeth, though, is basically a superhero. She can see all the doors and see behind all the doors. A major kick in the ass, right off the rip, is that Elizabeth has, as Kotaku put it, been completely nerfed of her cosmic powers. Gameplay boils down to stealth. Elizabeth has access to a few guns, including the hand cannon and shotgun, but she can in no way take a beating. To truly survive, you have to play stealthily.
Most of Elizabeth’s stealth play centers around a new vigor, Peeping Tom. This allows you to see through walls if you stand still or to go completely invisible while you charge it. It also works as a pseudo Detective Vision from the Batman: Arkham games, allowing you to see freight hooks, vents, health/EVE pickups, etc. You do little to no head-on damage, so Peeping Tom should be a mainstay on your vigor wheel. You even get an upgrade pretty early that allows you to use the X-ray vision portion for free, so you can always know where enemies are.
Taking on guards usually comes down to sneaking up behind them for a knockout. Or, with Peeping Tom, running right up in their face and knocking them out. Guns, which are pretty ineffective, are loud, so it’s almost always better to go for the stealth approach via knockout or tranquilizing crossbow. The environment can help or hurt you in your sneaking, too. Carpets muffle your sound and shattered glass amplifies it, but there isn’t too much of either around Rapture to really matter.
One of Elizabeth’s main helping features in Bioshock Infinite is her innate ability to pick locks, which you can now do in Burial at Sea. Each lock has a number of tumblers in it, activating any of which will open the lock. But, each lock has one or many alarms in it which, when triggered, will bring up a number of automated turrets. Trust me, you don’t want that. Some tumblers will go the opposite way and reward you with a noise maker, which can be equipped to your crossbow to help cause distractions.
Elizabeth may not be the omniscient being we’re used to, but even more has been stripped out of the normal Bioshock formula. While there are guns, ammo, and money to be found, all of it is all but useless for the entirety of Burial at Sea part two. In my 3.5 hour play through, I only used money to buy a health pack once. There are other vigors aside from Peeping Tom, like fan-fiction-turned-real Old Man Winter and the new Iron Sides, which absorbs bullets, but both of which just take away from being able to go invisible for the kill.
Many characters from Bioshock, both Infinite and the original, return in Burial at Sea. The Lutece twins have more of their insanely thought-provoking banter. We also get to meet the bastard Atlas and Dr. Suchong who, through in-game dialogue and audio diaries, is quickly becoming one of my favorite Bioshock characters.
While it’s a little disappointing that in a universe with literally infinite possibilities that we are put back in Rapture, Burial at Sea does a very good job of tying together Infinite and the original Bioshock and in both asking and answering some big questions. Is Booker actually dead in this world? Why does this Elizabeth have her pinky intact? What exactly is the Big Daddy / Little Sister dynamic? It’s a large portion of service to the fans, calling back to moments and theories players have loved. It works and it works well.
Burial at Sea, as a full story, is very good, but it continues to get better the longer you dig into the possibilities it presents. If you enjoyed Bioshock Infinite, you’re probably hungering for more story and more detail. Burial at Sea is a well written and fitting end to one of 2013’s best games.