Warning, this review will contain major spoilers for the main Bioshock Infinite campaign.
Bioshock Infinite is a game that suffers from some unnecessary padding and average shooting, but ends up as a brilliant experience thanks to the story, characters, and breathtaking environments. The ending is very shocking (to me at least) and left me wanting more from Irrational Games and more in the Bioshock universe. With the reveal that there are multiple dimensions as well as multiple Bookers and Elizabeths, the potential for more stories was built right into the fabric of the game and without too much wait we have received our first taste in Burial at Sea – Episode One.
Right off the bat it is important to note that Ken Levine and Irrational Games have already announced that this tale will be told in two parts, both featuring a return to Rapture (the locale from Bioshock 1 and 2). This is teased in the final minutes of Infinite and most people (myself included) are thrilled at the idea of a return to the underwater city of Rapture. The story in this DLC campaign starts with you once again as Booker DeWitt, still in the role of a Private Investigator. This time though, Elizabeth comes to you looking for help finding a missing girl. You shortly realize that you are not travelling to Rapture, instead this Booker lives there, but the timeline is approximately a year before the events of the first Bioshock game. To say much more would be a dis-service to those that want to experience the story as freshly as possible.
Booker and Elizabeth return in this new chapter, as do some old faces from Bioshock, but there are definitely differences in their characters. Booker is more hesitant and Elizabeth much stronger, stern even. It is a refreshing change to their dynamic and one of the key strengths of this campaign. Their dialogue is as entertaining as always with Courtnee Draper and Troy Baker once again nailing it in their delivery as we explore Rapture. The world itself is more fully realized than we have ever seen it, with peaceful times still in place in Rapture. There are people everywhere sharing conversations and going about their business as you pass through.
The meat of the experience of course is the gameplay and it is the tried and true Bioshock Infinite mechanics at play here. There are Plasmids based on the Vigors from Infinite as well as some new ones to spice up the experience. The Sky-Hook is back as well, but obviously not as essential here as in the sky city of Columbia. Overall, the biggest improvement in Burial at Sea over the main game is the lack of obvious padding to lengthen the experience, in fact the entire chapter is really quite brief at just around two hours. After a lot of thought this is not such a terrible thing, the experience is exciting start to finish, the world is breathtaking and the dialogue between Booker and Elizabeth is at a different level than in the main game. It is a nuanced experience that literally gives the player everything they want, a tight experience, more Rapture, tense gameplay, and a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more.
The Final Word
Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode One is a must play experience for anyone who loves the Bioshock series of games. It is an expertly crafted experience, that while short, is immensely satisfying and enjoyable from start to finish. The world of Rapture looks amazing as envisioned in the Bioshock Infinite engine, especially on PC, and the gameplay is as enjoyable as ever.
Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Episode One is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Mild Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco. This game can also be found on: PS3 and Xbox 360.