Review

BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea—Part One

Unraptured

Burial At Sea’s romp through Rapture is both too short and just long enough.

By Drew Toal • November 14, 2013

When we first see BioShock’s Rapture, the undersea libertarian metropolis created by Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ry…I mean Andrew Ryan, it has already fallen from capitalist utopia to Davy Jones dystopia. Your character, Jack, having survived a plane crash at sea, makes his way into the briny depths and the remnants of this once proud, decadent civilization. The most recent iteration of the series, BioShock Infinite, trades giant whales for humungous robot birds and takes place aboard a city floating high above the clouds. It doesn’t have any direct link to the first game other than some familiar themes and a steady hail of bullets. So it’s with no small sense of wonder, then, that we approach Burial At Sea Pt. 1, which melds the worlds of the original game and Infinite together in a long-awaited, brief addendum.

It’s difficult to go too deep into the scenario’s underpinnings without giving away the big twist at the end of Infinite. Let’s just say it involves tampering with the very fabric of time and space. In this context, where anything is possible, the situation at the beginning of Burial At Sea is sort of plausible because implausibility is itself implausible. Make sense? You reprise the role of Booker DeWitt, star of Infinite and soldier of fortune turned alcoholic, Sam Spade-esque gumshoe in a not-yet-dilapidated Rapture. Your companion from Infinite, the young miss Elizabeth—or rather, a more adult and breathy version of Elizabeth—walks into your office, fires up a cigarette, and tells you that she knows where a missing girl named Sally can be found. Who is Sally, and what is she to Booker? That remains to be seen, but the severed doll’s head in his coat pocket indicates a strong, possibly unhealthy history between them.

BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea—Part One

This is the first chance players have had to interact with the submerged city before its self-destruction, a fact that accounts for this add-on’s primary appeal; mixing elements of the oldest and newest BioShock screams fan service through and through. In some small ways, Burial At Sea fulfills that promise. Rapture’s glory days look as one would expect, full of advertisements, people, and shops. (The clerks in the wine shop instantly recognize DeWitt as a valued customer.) Unfortunately, your time in the squeaky clean Rapture is severely limited. There is a single mission that involves sneaking into a black-hearted artist’s show, after which you are sent into a less civilized corner of the ocean. In a way, this fits with Infinite’s blueprint. Its idyllic airborne setting quickly devolved into blood and smoke and fire, leaving barely any time to explore the scenic confines before you are forced to get out your gun. It speaks to BioShock’s increasingly apparent shallowness. All of the high-minded ideas present in each game are paper-thin, it turns out, and none of them can function for very long without the game resorting to gunplay.

As for the mode of violent interaction, it takes the same form seen in Infinite, with Booker acquiring “vigors”—ability-enhancing potions that allow him to do things like freeze water or shoot electricity from his hands—and a variety of firearms. The skyhook doohickey that allowed Booker to ride rails from place to place rollercoaster-style in Infinite is also present and results in some amusing space-time confusion between Rapture’s Booker and Elizabeth.

BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea—Part One

As you descend into the bowels of sub-Rapture in your pursuit of young Sally, Booker uses his arsenal of Infinite-era weapons against BioShock-era mutants, refilling his pockets periodically in one of the game’s many insufferably talkative vending machines. What you don’t purchase, Elizabeth will conjure out of the ether and throw to you as needed. For all her outward changes, Elizabeth’s ammo largesse remains the same. It doesn’t take long for Booker to begin suspecting she isn’t quite what she seems. He is a detective, after all, and she’s pretty terrible at subterfuge.

The story in this installment ends suddenly. Even a languid playthrough likely won’t last more than three hours. As opposed to stretches in Infinite that felt like a unnecessarily prolonged slogs, the brevity of Burial At Sea is simultaneously unsatisfying and just right. Irrational didn’t fail to expand on the premise so much as there was little to expand on in the first place.

BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea—Part One
Developer: Irrational Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Price: $15 (Requires BioShock Infinite)
Rating: M

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151 Responses to “Unraptured”

  1. Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

    I find it amusing that for DLC for a game subtitled Infinite, the developers have gone ahead and revisited the setting of the previous two games of the series. Apparently infinity = 2, who would have guessed.

    Man, Infinite had that bit at the start where you wander around Columbia for the first time and it looks amazing, a choir sings a Beach Boys song….and then the game starts for real and it’s just rubbish. A crying shame, that.

    • needlehacksaw says:

      There was a long discussion on another website about whether the BioShock games are held back by their Reliance on Guns, And Nothing But The Guns, of if it’s up to the developers to decide what their game is, and it would be impossible to bankroll a game of that scale in any other genre, anyway.

      I’d actually like to think of the BioShock devs as some sort of dark horses, the way, say, Seijun Suzuki or Takashi Miike use(d) the Japanese genre cinema-system to finance movies that were all their own. On the other hand, if that’s what’s going on there, 2K do not really do a great job in balancing necessities and ambitions. What’s more, it’s simply not true that other genres, which would be a lot better in developing the aspects that Levine&Company so obviously are more interested in than the shooting, are not profitable… you wouldn’t have to explore BioShock as an adventure, and the “Immersive Sim” might be too dead to give Rapture or Columbia the <Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines-treatement (even though I have to say: that would be so, so perfect). But how about an RPG in the vein of Fallout 3? One can dream. One can only dream.

      • Girard says:

        I definitely aborted the first Bioshock about 2 levels in because exploring even a (somewhat) inventive, interesting environment is boring as hell when you’re only option is to explore it as yet another floating gun whose primary/only verb is ‘shoot.’ I had managed to force myself through Half Life out of some sense of duty, to eat my vegetables and play this ‘important’ game, but I couldn’t even muster that up for Bioshock, which just felt interminably dingy and boring.

        • Crusty Old Dean says:

          I had almost the same experience! I had just played all of the Metal Gear Solid-series so I was convinced I had grown into appreciating macho games with lots of shooting.

          The concept art looked so interesting! But, bleh.

        • CrabNaga says:

          Well the thing about Half-Life (2 especially) is that there are extended periods of time where you’re not shooting, and just exploring, travelling, or fleeing. This makes every segment in those games feel meaningful, I feel. The shooting in the Half-Life games isn’t all that intense or deep, so it’s probably the pacing that makes them so well-regarded.

          • DrKumAndGo says:

            I’d also add that the Half-Life games have also fully integrated the plot and gameplay, so the shooting, even when it gets repetitive, at least makes sense. As opposed to Bioshock Infinite, where your character suddenly becomes a mass murderer because the game needed to give you something to do.

          • rubi-kun says:

            I actually found the first big fight in Infinite incredibly satisfying in a Christoph Waltz in Django sort of way, but yeah the combat does get repetitive, and it actually creates something of a serious thematic problem when Booker starts complaining about the Vox when outside of Daisy they’re all doing the same shit you’ve been doing throughout the game (as opposed to Bioshock’s big twist which was kind of perfect for its genre).

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          God the first Half Life game does not hold up. It is so long and repetitive. I get why it’s important and some of the set pieces were cool but man it was a slog after a while.

          Half Life 2 was much more enjoyable, but cripes, it’s impossible to try to say anything remotely negative about the first on most places on the internet. I fucking LOVE seeing people who are actually critical of a game, beyond “not enough graphics” or whatever.

          • CrabNaga says:

            Black Mesa was a pretty good remake/reimagining of Half Life 1. I liked how each area was pretty distinct. Then again, I only got past Power Up before I lost interest, so maybe that sort of proves your point.

          • NakedSnake says:

            “Surface Tension” may be my favorite level of all time. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but yes, I would have trouble criticizing Half-Life. Thinking about it right now makes me want to play it. In fact, I played in through a couple of years ago and enjoyed it just as much. Honestly, I think it’s better than HL2. I loved HL2, but I felt like it dragged a lot more than HL. I got tired of killing those combine guys. But Welcome to Ravencroft was amazing.

          • Half Life 1 for many of us is like Super Mario 3, it sort of forms the base unit of great FPS in your brain.

            HL2 is good but the tech was too new so it’s sort of janky now. I think I was amazed during my first run at the physics puzzles but during a HL2 run this year I got to the see-saw that needs bricks to progress and it prompted much sighing. Also the vehicle stuff has not aged well.

          • Girard says:

            I actually ‘forced myself’ through both Half Lifes, honestly. Though the second had a little more variety. I still couldn’t make it through the episodes, though. FPS mechanics are just, like, the least compelling thing in the world to me.

      • CrabNaga says:

        Well one thing’s for certain: the setting in the BioShock series does not deserve the gameplay that is attached to it.

      • RobertMosesSupposesErroneously says:

        Nah man, it should have been a Life Sim game.

        “Build your splicer family’s very own rotting underwater lair, buy them cool new bunny masks, and decorate with fun furniture like rusty vending machines and blood-spattered wheelchairs!

        But watch their Adam level – if your splicer runs low, he could throw a tantrum!” Rated E for Everyone.

    • feisto says:

      The way the “real” game starts like some kind of bizarre Sam Peckinpah parody of “The Lottery” immediately took me out of it, and I just couldn’t take the rest of the game seriously at all. In general, I didn’t think the game ever quite figured out what kind of a tone it was going for.

    • snazzlenuts says:

      So, people are trashing the first BioShock game, now? This feels wrong.

      • SamPlays says:

        No, just stretching our claws on the pedestal, making it teeter ever so gently.

      • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

        It’s been going on for a while. I’ve been fairly critical of it for a long time, as the shine wore off during my first playthrough. It’s not that it’s a first person shooter; Fallout 3/New Vegas, Deus Ex, Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines, etc. were all shooters (with worse shooting mechanics, no less) and they were great. It’s that the game just doesn’t fulfill the promise of the opening sequence and doesn’t recognize that what people were most impressed by was the city, not the gunplay.

        • Oof says:

          “I’ve been fairly critical of it for a long time”

          At least you’re consistently wrong. And on that theme, “Fallout 3/New Vegas, Deus Ex, Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines” were not all “great.” Are you saying these are games with great gunplay that could’ve taught bioshock a thing or two?

          • CrabNaga says:

            I’m glad that you asserted someone as being “consistently wrong” while simultaneously misunderstanding the crux of the comment you’re replying to.

          • Oof says:

            He edited the comment!

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

            No I didn’t! It says I posted it 29 minutes ago (as I write this comment).

          • Oof says:

            Well, then. You’re still wrong about bioshock and I win so there. UP yers!

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

            Did you read my reply to your original comment?

          • Oof says:

            Oh hell no. You’re wrong about things and life’s too short! Go play bioshock and apologize

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

            Looking at some of your other comments, you are consistently an asshole but also capable of and willing to defend viewpoints cogently. You’ve embarrassed yourself today.

          • Oof says:

            HAHA. No. I talked about video games on the internet while phone banking. I’m pretty OK with how things went here today. Now admit you’re wrong about bioshock. SAY IT.

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

            Thanks for the even-handed response! Notice I called out those games as having worse mechanics than Bioshock.

            The complaint I had is that the game is an adequate shooter which squanders a great premise and even better setting. Deus Ex is a pretty standard third-person shooter, but the well realized world with lots and lots of incidental details elevate it. Similarly, Bloodlines has uniformly terrible combat but reams of great writing that sell the setting and make the plot interesting. And Fallout 3 and New Vegas have perfectly acceptable shooting mechanics but have tons of options for exploration and world-building.

            Bioshock was nothing more than a corridor shooter. The Plasmids were imbalanced–the bees were useless, there was almost never any reason to set traps, etc.–, the levels stretched out too long, and the writing took a nosedive after the big twist, culminating in a protracted struggle against an uninteresting character. What so many of us wanted was to wander through that setting and learn about a fascinating world. Shooting was fine, it worked, but the game didn’t let us do anything else.

          • AngryRaisins says:

            I think “nothing more than a corridor shooter” is a bit harsh: one thing that struck me about the original Bioshock is that even though its setting could lend itself to very cliched shooter environments, most of the locations actually felt like genuine locations (an abandoned bar or whatever, with various entrances, exits and side rooms) and not just a convenient funnel into enemy encounters.

            And even though you never got the same sort of non-shooty wandering round you would in, say, Deus Ex, that did at least make sense given the post-collapse setting, and there was quite a lot of interesting back story in the audio diaries (found Infinite a bit relatively disappointing in this respect, there just seemed to be a lot less development of supporting characters).

            I do think they made walking around shooting everything far to easy a combat mode to slip into: Maybe it’s just me being unskilled, but I know afterwards I read online about all the weird and wonderful ways one could in principle combine weapons and plasmids (attaching grenades to a barrel and flinging with telekinesis etc.) and they just seemed far too complicated to actually be a good option in the heat of combat.

            (But I did find the bees pretty useful for keeping people off my back while I shot them).

          • Call Me Carlos the Dwarf says:

            VtMB is a much better RPG than Bioshock.

            Of course, Bioshock isn’t an RPG, it’s a shooter, so everyone complaining about how it doesn’t have enough role playing elements is simply not the target audience for the game.

            (I’m much more of an RPG guy than a shooter one, myself, but I try to take games on their own merits).

          • CrabNaga says:

            Pretty much everyone arguing that the BioShock series doesn’t marry its gameplay and setting well is saying so BECAUSE it’s all shooting all the time. The games lull you in with promises of well-paced and thoughtful situations, and then behind the curtain is another corridor shooter. The idea is not to compare it to conventional shooters because it’s clear that it aspires to be something more than just a shooter, but the gameplay defies that aspiration. Comparing it to Deus Ex and the new Fallout games is precisely the correct thing to do because these games have shooting at the core, but are able to create experiences more unique than just shooting.

          • Call Me Carlos the Dwarf says:

            I’d say that the Fallout games are an RPG with shooter elements, while Bioshock is a shooter with light RPG elements. Apples and Oranges.

            Comparing it to

        • rubi-kun says:

          “Would you kindly?” got pretty close to that promise fulfillment, though, and a great way to combine storytelling and gameplay.

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

            Oh definitely, but after that the game stops being a passable shooter with a good story and goes down, down, down. I really couldn’t care less about Fontaine’s scheme or the weird Father-Son relationship theme they start using (don’t ask me to explain, it’s been forever since I played, but that’s how I interpreted it at the time). And I certainly didn’t want to end the game with a boss fight against the cover art for Atlas Shrugged.

        • snazzlenuts says:

          I’ll give begrudgingly give you that argument, since I have no defense. The wave-after-wave of baddies was tedious, at the end, but it didn’t ruin the game for me. I will agree with you that all of the small details like the vending machines (I will never get tire of El Ammo Bandito), the creepy-ass whistling when you can’t see anyone, and the great voicework (especially Andrew Ryan) were much better than the actual shooting. I am more forgiving for the game because of the details and atmosphere. You can hate-away on the shoot-’em-up aspects.
          BioShock 2, on the other hand is a completely different story. I felt obligated to complete it and couldn’t rush through it quick enough.

          • AngryRaisins says:

            Thought Bioshock 2 was a pretty good gameplay upgrade in a lot of ways: simultaneous guns and plasmids, streamlined hacking, and a greater variety/diifficulty range of enemies. It’s just the story feels so awkwardly tacked on and unnecessary.

          • snazzlenuts says:

            I agree with you across the board. It got to the point with the story that I didn’t care, I just wanted to finish it as a matter of principle.

        • George_Liquor says:

          I think BI is an excellent shooter, but you’re right: its opening promised a level of depth that the rest of the game just didn’t deliver. A heavily-populated city teetering on the edge of civil war could have provided a wealth of interesting characters, as well as opportunities for solving problems with shooting up the inhabitants. I guess what I’m saying is I’d love to see BI reimagined as an adventure games.

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

            I haven’t played Infinite. All of my criticisms are related solely to the first game (which is the reason I never played the others, incidentally). If anything I’ve said can be taken as a criticism of subsequent games, then I’m glad I never bothered.

          • snazzlenuts says:

            If it means anything, I enjoyed BioShock Infinite more than the first game. I found the twist (there’s always a twist) rather telegraphed, but overall, it was quite enjoyable.

        • huge_jacked_man says:

          I wonder why the Bioshock games always get compared to things like Fallout 3 or Deus Ex when a more apt comparison would be Modern Warfare series campaigns: Linear, narrative-driven asset tours with shallow gameplay and braindead enemies.

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

            They’re all FPS. I think my comments make it clear I find Bioshock closer to Modern Warfare type titles, but the potential on display makes players long for a Fallout 3 or Deus Ex treatment.

          • Call Me Carlos the Dwarf says:

            Have you ever played a Call of Duty game? I’m assuming not, if you think Bioshock is anywhere near as linear. I don’t know why anyone would compare it to Fallout 3, though, since it’s so much smarter and ballsier (not that it’s hard to be smarter or ballsier than a post-Morrowind Bethesda game).

            People who kinda know what they’re talking about might compare it to Deus Ex, because on the surface it has the same marriage of RPG elements with shooter gameplay, but it’s still a shoddy comparison

            The only game people who know what they’re talking about compare Bioshock and Infinite to is System Shock 2, Ken Levine’s previous masterpiece.

          • huge_jacked_man says:

            The Bioshock games are absolutely linear (especially Infinite) and you’re fooling yourself if you think otherwise. Because there’s a bathroom to explore here and there doesn’t make them fundamentally different from a call of duty game where the narrative forced on you dictates everything you do. You still end up slogging through setpieces one after the other and shooting at the same 3 enemies over and over and Bioshock’s shallow attempts at featuring RPG elements (tonics, weapon upgrades) don’t actually impact gameplay any more significantly than being handed night vision or a heartbeat sensor in Modern Warfare. There is no agency in play style beyond going from point A to point B and shooting at enemies.

            And please don’t pretend you have played SS2 because I have and it’s an entirely different game. It’s not even the same genre.

          • The_Misanthrope says:

            I perhaps find that the hardest thing to deal with in Bioshock is how it keeps fooling you into believing you are really close to completing a goal, only to move the goal post a little further out: go to point A, get there and find the passage is blocked, so you have to gain access to another passage, which requires talking to some guy, who wants you to complete some task before you can access the passage, and so on. You are constantly fooled into thinking you are making progress–a resolution to the a building narrative climax–but it keeps being put off. Considering the twist, it makes some sense that the player should feel led along like a dog on a leash, but it still doesn’t make it less aggravating while you are playing through it.
            Granted, this game design/narrative trickery is not exclusively limited to Bioshock

          • Call Me Carlos the Dwarf says:

            Did you use the skyhooks at all? Did you ever use Murder of Crows? Both of those changed the way I played the game significantly. Someone who’s good at shooters can easily play either Bioshock as a straight shooter and completely ignore the tonics, but they make the game much more fun.

            By the by, I have played a good chunk of SS2, and it’s much better than either of Levine’s Bioshock games. My main criticism of Bioshock is that it’s attempting to be as good as SS2, but can’t manage it.

        • The_Misanthrope says:

          I’ve often said that Fallout 3 is a shooter for people who aren’t kinda shite at shooters, which made it a perfect fit for me, I guess. It gives the player the satisfaction of shooting some dudes head clean off, without having to finesse the reticule over that dude’s head. You even get a slowdown effect so you sick bastards can fully appreciate it; you can point at the screen and yell “I did that!” Has anyone actually played the game without ever using special Matrix powers the VATS system? It seems like it would get really frustrating.
          New Vegas goes some distance to address this with its “iron sights” shooting, but it seems still pretty far from a full-blooded shooter. The sights works well for the more reasonable guns, but once you start getting to the big guns or the energy weapons, the sights are a little wonky (most energy weapons don’t even have a sight).

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

            I never found VATS all that necessary. I’m not much of an FPS player, but it was pretty easy at higher levels to take down enemies just by pointing and firing.

          • The_Juggernaut_Bitch says:

            To be fair to Bethesda’s Fallout series, VATS was how *all* the combat was done in the original isometric Fallout games. It’s a nod to the series’ beginnings as a 2D top-down RPG.

      • huge_jacked_man says:

        Bioshock was always a wildly overrated pile of ass but it’s still a better shooter than Infinite.

      • Yeah what’s with the vitriol? The first Bioshock was widely regarded as an evolution in the kind of stories you can tell in an FPS and I can’t think of anyone that didn’t like it back then.

        It seemed like everyone liked Infinite also while playing it, they just got put off by the ending.

        It’s true Bioshock isn’t “{other game}” but neither was System Shock? These moments without shooting are compelling because they’re fleeting, do you really want to play a game where you just run around and look at scripted NPC events?

        • snazzlenuts says:

          Thank you for making the argument I was whiffing on in my brain.

        • Tearinitup says:

          I thought the ending of Infinite was the best part. Really thought provoking and cool.

        • dickwhitmansampler says:

          The theme I’m getting from the critical comments above (discounting the ones that are different phrasings of “I int liek it cuz it was dumn”) is that FPS gameplay wasn’t the best fit (and in some cases, undermined) the experience of the first Bioshock.

          For me, the biggest successes of Bioshock were in its atmosphere and world-building. Any number of other gameplay styles would have probably been a better fit for the atmosphere– survival horror, action RPG, or adventure. Those are just the ones I could come up with off the top of my head.

          Some other criticisms of the first Bioshock that I remember seeing around the time of its release (Yahtzee’s video definitely comes to mind here) were that it shit the bed in the final act and the much-hyped “moral choice” wasn’t really much of a moral choice.

    • Carlton_Hungus says:

      Thank god I’m not the only one. I liked the atmosphere of Columbia, and was relatively interested in the story, but I just couldn’t get over the “go here, clear room, go here, clear room” boring aspect over and over.

      I actually like FPS multiplayer, I’m not a crazy superfan but I occasionally get the itch and will pop in Modern Warfare 3 or Killzone 3 for some competitive shooting. But the single player parts are just so dull, they’re like long tech demos for the multiplayer part.

    • The_Misanthrope says:

      @NakedManHoldingAFudgesicle:disqus : Your comment reminds me of the one thing that really galls me about modern military shooters: the detailed environments of the maps (after the texture pops in, anyway). Mind you, I may find games like the Call of Duty series boringly repetitive and repetetively boring, but I won’t begrudge someone that enjoys them; It’s just not a genre that I understand. But I will be watching a friend run through one of the many multiplayer maps and I’ll just want them to pause so I can take in some errant detail that catches my eye. Developers have come so far from the day when the default multiplayer map was a series of corridors in some nondescript building, yet it all seems pointless when you can’t scratch beyond the surface. Where are the teeming masses milling through the foreign markets? The young and foolish ravers at the dance club? The skaterbois (and gurls) at the skate park? It all feels so wasted when the only thing you can do with these environments is run around shooting (and being shot at) by other players.

      • The_Juggernaut_Bitch says:

        One of the best aspects of The Last of Us, apart from the writing for the interactions between the 2 main characters, is being able to stop on rooftops in Baltimore, or anywhere else for that matter, and just look around at the America-that-was and what it has become in the 20 years since the infection started.

      • Radioactive Man says:

        “yet it all seems pointless when you can’t scratch beyond the surface. Where are the teeming masses milling through the foreign markets? The young and foolish ravers at the dance club? The skaterbois (and gurls) at the skate park?”

        This is a truly interesting point. Nowadays we have CoD whatever and Battlefield 4, which have changing levels (shit there’s apparently a B4 level where you can collapse a skyscraper) but none of these levels have civilians running amok. It’s always just the player limit split between 2 teams. Wouldn’t the “next-gen” multiplayer shooter be populated with AI civilians in addition to friendlies/enemies? In an actual combat situation, troops have to be aware not just for hostiles but also for non-combatants. It would really ratchet the tension up in a team deathmatch game when AI civilians are running around, as currently if you see something move you immediately target and start shooting.

  2. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    “Are you manipulating the fabric of space-time?”
    “… No?”
    “I think you’re hiding something.”

    ACE * DETECTIVE

  3. NakedSnake says:

    Drew, I’d like to think that you proposed reviewing this DLC just so you could make the joke about Pau… Andrew Ryan. It was too early to make the joke for the first two games, and it will be too late after this DLC is gone. The window was closing, and you had to take your shot.

  4. Chewbacca Abercrombie says:

    I bought the season pass for this when I bought the game, but haven’t put the game back in since beating it. I guess I should soon. Three hours isn’t a bad amount of time, just wish it was more than a ton of murder. The Saints Row 4 DLC only took me an hour to finish, but it was awesome. I don’t expect this to be as fun.

  5. SisterMaryFrancis says:

    I’d like to smack the person who decided that this and Enemy Within should be released the same week. I was planning on doing things, and now all I’m doing is getting sucked into 2K’s nefarious trap.

    • 2StoryOuthouse says:

      On that note, has anyone noticed that the purchase price for Enemy Within is higher on Steam than everywhere else? Before any discounts, the base price is $40, where it seems to be $30 on Green Man, Amazon, etc.

      • CrabNaga says:

        I got it the day it came out for $30, and am in the US. What region are you in?

      • Chum Joely says:

        I paid $40 Canadian for Enemy Within on PSN, also right on Tuesday evening when it came out.

        It’s kind of weird to start playing this new $40 game and find (even though I actually knew this beforehand) that you really are going through the same story arc as in Enemy Unknown, but “melded”, as it were, with the added storyline elements of Enemy Within. That being said, I can already see there is a ton of new content in every aspect of the game. The first 2 missions I’ve played are in new, much more interesting and already more challenging environments– there’s a new “recover downed UFO in smashed cityscape” map that is beautifully torn up and mazelike. The character customization is significantly more fun– to give an example, I just created a “Klaus Kinski” soldier who wears bright white armor and a white fedora, and growls out his dialogue in German– you get to pick your soldier’s language from a list of 7 possibilities.

        As for new stuff at XCOM base, let’s just say that my jaw literally dropped (followed by an excited smile) when I saw all the options that open up when you finish researching those mysterious canisters from the crash sites.

        Fortunately, I don’t care about BioShock (and I’ve tried!), so I don’t have the same dilemma as you, @SisterMaryFrancis:disqus. I’ll just be tackling Enemy Within in “Ironman” mode for the first time (only a single, auto-managed save file), so that should keep me plenty busy for my console gaming.

        • CrabNaga says:

          Yeah, my favorite aspects of EW so far are the following:

          – Downed UFOs sometimes crash into city areas (I’ve shot down 2 UFOs so far and both were city areas), so it’s not all forests all the time now.
          – MEC Troopers take away a lot of the trepidation of exploring the map (at least on Normal). I have a MEC Trooper in my squad that has the fist/speed upgrade, and he just explores for me. Enemies also don’t consider him a threat (or decide that they can just gang up on him) and tend to move FORWARD into cover, rather than running away like they tended to do in the original. Basically MEC Troopers are what SHIVs should have been.
          – It seems that Council missions will probably be a bit more prevalent now, which is good because they give good rewards and crucial panic reductions.
          – Motherfucking unequip all inactive soldiers button

          I’ve only encountered one of the new enemy types (the Seeker), and it’s more of a nuisance than anything. I just have all my guys cluster up and overwatch, so when one of them uncloaks, everyone just unloads on it. I also haven’t dabbled with gene mods yet, since none of them seem to be that useful at this point. I’m still reserving my money for Satellites and weapon/armor upgrades.

          • Passe_Partout says:

            I now regret giving my MEC the flamethrower. I’ve only gotten to use it once and all my dudes save the MEC have gotten slaughtered. I’ll probably go down as the worst XCOM commander in history.

            I am excited with all the additions though. There is so much there to mess with and tweak and I haven’t even started with the gene mods yet. I am trying to decide which of my soldiers should have their limbs removed so I can have my fully MEC-anized squad. Or are you limited in how many you can have at once?

            I hope they keep this trend of fun, content-heavy expansions or a least get kinda crazy with the new environments in the sequel. I still wanna shoot aliens on that Moon that shows up on the world map.

          • Chum Joely says:

            Please tell me that the mental stability of MEC guys is damaged as you increase their mechitude (hits on willpower or something). I want even more competing factors to have to manage and balance out at every second of the game.

            I am being both sarcastic and serious at the same time, why do you ask?

          • CrabNaga says:

            If I read it correctly, it seems like Will is even more trivial in the expansion, because they changed one of the Officer Training School upgrades to replace every squad member’s Will with that of the squad member with the highest Will.

          • Passe_Partout says:

            That would be really cool! After seeing the little video when you get your first MEC trooper, I was a little creeped out wondering how it would feel to wake up with servos instead of muscles. I would love having more stats to follow for a bit more mechanical variety. That’s why I like the second wave option to have random solider stats while leveling.

          • Sarapen says:

            I sold my team’s laser pistols to the Chinese when I had trouble balancing the budget, so I’m pretty sure I’m the worst XCom commander. It does make sense that an extra national military force should have funding problems since governments hate anyone besides them having military capabilities.

          • Passe_Partout says:

            I had always hoped that my selling of experimental alien technology to any country that asked was fostering world peace/used to blast aliens. Knowing the real world, it would probably be used against other humans.

            Which makes me wonder what a game would be like where XCOM had to contend with aliens and withdrawn council members’ forces at crash or abduction sites in their countries. That would be an interesting mix that could work if it was treated as a free-for-all. Though I’m not sure how the Exalt in EU characters play in battle so they might just be reskinned aliens, which would be boring.

          • Sarapen says:

            I think the Xenonauts sort-of sequel currently in development has you able to use local police and military as backup on missions.

          • CrabNaga says:

            I find Laser Pistols to be entirely unnecessary, anyway. I use pistols primarily to soften up enemies for a Pokeba- I mean Arc Thrower. I don’t need them to do a ton of damage until later on (and then I have a bunch of Plasma Pistols just sitting around).

          • Roswulf says:

            I was planning on waiting for a significant sale to pick up enemy within, but damn does UFOs crashing in something other than boring forests and an unequip all button tempt me.

            Clearly the marketing focus on cyborg supersoldiers rather than buttons that save time was misplaced.

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

            That’s typical Firaxis. It’s hard to make balance changes sexy to all but the most dedicated players, so they end up hyping features that are cool and fun but less game-changing. It was the same way with Gods and Kings, where Religion was neat but less impactful than the various military rebalances.

            Hopefully we’ll get an XCOM equivalent to Brave New World, where the biggest changes really are show-stoppers.

          • Chum Joely says:

            Whoa, I didn’t see the “unequip all inactive soldiers” button. Is that what I hope it is, i.e. order everybody who’s not currently lined up for the pending mission to just drop their stuff… so I don’t have to go through all the soldiers trying to find who used the Arc Thrower last so that I can ask him to please put it down and let someone else play with it? Because I would greatly appreciate that feature after being pretty annoyed by its absence in Enemy Unknown.

          • Passe_Partout says:

            I started a replay of the vanilla game right before EU came out and I was surprised I didn’t remember how annoying it was to go item hunting. I think it was because my entire squad was whittled down to only 7 soldiers at the end game (that was a sad, sad memorial wall). I had the nice (unoriginal) idea “Oh they should totally fix that!” and lo/behold they did! They basically had me in their pocket at that point.

            It’s nice to find a developer that goes so far as to introduce exciting new mechanics that actually make the game more compelling without sacrificing core gameplay. It seems that many just add too much and make the game boring (Assassin’s Creed) or are a little to resistant to any variety. It’s a delicate balance for sure.

        • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

          Wow is this expansion a blast! MECs seem a touch overpowered on Normal. The medals are a cool new addition that I wasn’t even aware of. Gene Mods are crazy; a sniper with boosts to elevation bonuses + jump high without ladders/grapple suit + increase in number of vantage points = total bastard.

          And don’t forget about the Foundry upgrade that lets you equip two extra items for every squad member! I’ve got a heavy who carries four (!) grenades.

          • Chum Joely says:

            Yeah, I’m really getting into it now and it’s actually a major improvement on the formula. Everything is even harder, more complicated, and more AWESOMER than in Enemy Unknown. I screwed up the mission that would have introduced me to EXALT (the survivor got killed on the way back to the ship), which was disappointing, but I guess I’ll have another chance later. Anyway, that was immediately made up for by the UFO shoot-down mission where the ship apparently crashed through one skyscraper and came to rest on top of the broken stump of another. These new maps are great, much more interesting and challenging.

            It’s been a tough first 6 weeks for XCOM, but we’re building up a tough, grizzled core team– and I’ve been building out the base like a maniac, so within the next 4-6 weeks I should be really kicking some ass. Love it.

          • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

            I started on Classic, quickly failed, then restarted on normal, and it is a little tougher (some Second Wave tweaks probably didn’t hurt). There’s so much more to research and so much more that is worthwhile that I’ve spent way longer on a shoestring budget than before. They’ve also stretched out the enemy intros more than before–thank God, because after a little bit it used to be all Mutons, all the time, which is boring–and some of the new special missions are very good.
            Oh, and fuck Cyberdisks! I don’t remember them being especially hard to handle pre-expansion, but they are hovering death now and they’ve cost me more troops than any other enemy type. Maybe it’s just because there’s so many good options for research that I just don’t have the weaponry I normally would.

  6. Merve says:

    I haven’t finished the DLC yet, but after about 45 minutes of play time, I must say that the setting is absolutely gorgeous. Rapture in its prime looks almost exactly as I imagined it, all majestic and gilded.

    But the problem I have with it is the same problem I had with the first two BioShocks: Rapture doesn’t feel like a place. It feels like a mishmash of concepts and ideologies and architectural styles that don’t fit together, and this really hits home when you’re walking through a pre-rebellion version of Rapture. Columbia held together as a believable place within the context of BioShock’s fiction, because it twisted something familiar – Disneyfied Americana – into something more sinister; there was at least an entry point for the player. On the other hand, there’s nothing in Rapture’s hodgepodge of art deco and objectivism and deep-sea locations that serves as an anchor for the player, and there’s nothing that ties these disparate elements together. I still don’t buy into Rapture as a setting, and that makes me feel like I can’t fully invest in whatever story this game is trying to tell.

    Also, FYI, this DLC is hella buggy; it messed up my menus something fierce.

  7. JokersNuts says:

    Finished it last night. Really enjoyed it but have to admit at being disappointed when the shooting started cause I was having fun just being in that world. There were a couple splicers I didn’t feel the need to kill but the game expects you too anyway, there’s not many other options. I remarked to my buddy that I felt like the game was being held back by its Shooter trappings. I wanted to explore more. I wanted to interact more with the characters. But the most interaction you can do is shooting a splicer in the face.
    Oh well, still great to be back in rapture. I’m loving the story so far and it’s a fun game.

    • zpoccc says:

      the game actually kond of comments on that- one of the splicers lost in their own world (talking to themselves and staging a made up scenario) i came upon and killed instantly, and elizabeth wondered whether she was dangerous or not. the next one i came across, i decided to not kill right away and she proceeded to attack me as soon as i was spotted. i kinda wish the game would have taken it a bit further and allowed some of the splicers to not be so crazed and violent.

  8. CrabNaga says:

    I’m surprised Drew Toal is reviewing this instead of Enemy Within (unless he’s doing both?), considering his professed love of XCOM. Did he just draw the short straw, or is it considered a conflict of interest at this point for him to review it?

    • Chum Joely says:

      Conflict of interest?! Surely they should draw on his expertise! Maybe the issue is more that Enemy Within will take 30 hours to play through whereas Burial At Sea pt 1 was less than 3 hours.

      Anyway, double upvotes for the idea of an Enemy Within review on here right quick. It looks awesome from what I’ve seen of it so far, and I’d love to get the Gameological take on it.

    • Sarapen says:

      What conflict of interest? Could you expound on that topic?

      • CrabNaga says:

        It was an (apparently bad) joke on how much Drew Toal seems to gush about XCOM on this site, such that one might think he might be getting paid by Firaxis to do so.

  9. snazzlenuts says:

    Downloaded it last night and am stoked to get started! My wife got first dibs on it, so, I will have to be patient.

  10. boardgameguy says:

    I didn’t play Infinite but loved reading about the plot. It was probably the best way for me to interact with it since FPS aren’t my cup of tea. So if people would like to use this thread as a SPOILER SPACE to discuss the end of the game, I’d be very interested in reading about the game’s narrative in full.

    • Carlton_Hungus says:

      All the events of Newhart were all a dream from Bob Newhart’s main character on The Bob Newhart Show.

    • TheInternetSaid says:

      I kind of loved it. It was very obviously a meta comment on making video games (“there’s always a guy…”), but it was fun to think about the specifics of Infinite’s split timelines (I also liked Inception so YMMV). Booker’s drowning and the slow evaporation of multiple Elizabeths was unexpectedly poignant. Hell, so was the bird’s.

      • boardgameguy says:

        so a similar ending to infinite but in a different world?

        • TheInternetSaid says:

          Oops, I was talking about Infinite…haven’t played Burial at Sea.

          • The_Juggernaut_Bitch says:

            Oh, well…. ending of BSI:

            If you really haven’t been paying attention to the game up to that point, you learn that you, Booker DeWitt, are also Comstock, the mad preacher who rules Columbia, and are therefore Elizabeth’s father. You kill your alter-ego, Comstock, and then go through some trippy portals where Elizabeth explains the whole many-worlds theories of reality (and game design) and establishes that there are “constants” and “variables”. Then she drowns you.

        • The_Juggernaut_Bitch says:

          Ah, you want spoilers for the ending of Burial At Sea? Well, here you go:

          WARNING SPOILERS FOR ALL YOU OTHER READERS, OMGSPOILAGE:

          So, Elizabeth hooks you into tracking down this girl Sally, who Booker claims was one of the orphans turned out on the streets after Fontaine’s orphanages were closed. You find her, she’s been turned into a Little Sister. In trying to get her to come out of the duct-work the Little Sisters crawl through, you end up scaring her and she calls for her Big Daddy. Cue big fight.

          You defeat the Big Daddy and get into a conversation with Elizabeth and the Lutece twins, who have just rezzed into this reality. Turns out that you (as DeWitt/Comstock) have taken over someone else’s life in this timeline (which you paid Lutece to set up for you) and, as a younger man, trying to save Elizabeth from being stolen (by another you), instead of getting her finger chopped off by the portal, it’s her head. This apparently pissed this current-Elizabeth off a whole lot, as the final words between you and her are “I’m so sorry, Elizabeth” and “No, you aren’t… but you’re going to be.” And then the Big Daddy rams an augur drill through your back and out your stomach. Roll credits.

          • boardgameguy says:

            Thanks for providing this. That’s pretty wild. Not sure what it’s trying to say, exactly, compared to the base game. Still sounds interesting though.

  11. Kyle O'Reilly says:

    Dammit Kenny, stop resting on your laurels and give me the 1960s moonbase cold war bioshock you know you want to! I’m that dude in the forums who will pipe up to defend Infinite because “It wasn’t that bad!” but even my interest in Burial at Sea is tepid at best.

    I mean, it feels more like fan service than a meaningful addition to the Infinite storyline. “Hey Ken, we wrapped up the game pretty well. How’re we gonna do a DLC?”

    “Just take the characters and put them in Rapture from the old game.”
    “Brilliant! People love Rapture! They’re not bored with it yet at all.”

    • Oof says:

      “It wasn’t that bad!”

      I really don’t think you are “that dude” as this isn’t so much a defense that you’re offering.

      I am that dude because I thought it was almost perfect and I’ve played through it twice, delighted each time.

      “Just take the characters and put them in Rapture from the old game.”

      Yeah! Do that. I love these characters and I’d very much like to see a graphic overhaul of Rapture. Please.

      • Kyle O'Reilly says:

        Hey now, simmer down sancho! I loved Infinite and it’s an amazing heart breaking game but don’t you feel like it wrapped up Booker and Elizabeth’s stories really well?

        I don’t know what we’re supposed to learn about their characters by watching alterna-them follow similar roles in a new location. I was of the group that was expecting the DLCs to go over Daisy Fitzroy or Cornelius Slate or something tied to Columbia.

        You know how many of the awesome and rare in Infinite Handymen I get to fight in this new DLC? None, because they’re not in it. (I know I could download the arean DLC but that’s not the same as story). You know how many times I’ve fought Big Daddies? A lot. I’ve fought a lot of Big Daddies, hell, I’ve been a big daddy, twice. I just feel they could’ve been more creative with this.

  12. zgberg says:

    yay, claustrophobia

  13. hastapura says:

    So. I liked the ending of Infinite well enough, but the way this DLC caps off does not bode well. As a stand-alone piece the original game manages a bit of wonder and scope around the big reveal as well as closure for the story it’s telling, but here it’s turned into a machine for weightless cliffhangers that resemble nothing so much as a latter-day Doctor Who episode. Will any plot development mean anything when it’s all just dimensions and portals and doubles and time travel (and this is a criticism of Infinite proper that I didn’t agree with at the time)?

    I can see a way through the dense conceptual bullshit – and having the second part of the DLC told through Elizabeth’s eyes is a good start – but honestly I’d rather walk around Rapture for two hours than shoot Splicers and throw fireballs. Eh.

  14. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Playing Dishonored, I’m impressed by the thoughtful versatility of the play style. Much more faceted than your Bioshocks.
    And I also really enjoy the Scrim Punk world… does scrimshaw lend itself to an abbreviation like that? But it does reinforce for me how for my personal tastes and aesthetics, the Bioshocks are second to none in creating worlds that just draw me in and keep me hooked. They are so fully realized and articulated that I will forgive almost every other transgression because I love the feeling the games evoke so much.
    That’s my too-long, hyper-verbose fanboi proclamation.

    • rvb1023 says:

      If nothing else, Dishonored made me excited of the possibilities of teleportation from a first person perspective. Kudos to them for getting that mechanic right.

    • WinterFritz says:

      I agree. I love Dishonored, and all Bioshocks. Setting is very important for me in video games, and those games had very inventive and unique settings. This is not to say the real world settings are inherently bad, Rockstar does a fantastic job with it’s GTAV and Red Dead settings. But by and large these days we either get “MODERN URBAN LANDSCAPE 1” or “SEMI-FUTURISTIC LANDSCAPE 23” and it’s dull. Dull dull dull.

      EDIT: I also want to take the time to complain about Battlefield here. Battlefield 1942 was my all time most played game in high school. But recently the “Modern Shooters” kick has completely bored me and removed any desire to play Battlefield ever again. Battlefield 1943 was a far more enjoyable game than Battlefield 3 or 4. BRING BACK WORLD WAR 2 GAMES.

    • Electric Dragon says:

      Dishonoured really follows through on the multiple solutions/routes aspect. I managed to complete the final level very quickly without being spotted at all, by using an unconventional route.

    • Nacho_Matrimony says:

      I feel the same way about BioShock. I think there’s more to Disneyfied linearity than many assume.

      That being said, I have to admit to finding Dishonored a little less special than I hoped it would be, if only because it doled out its “mana” equivalent in scarce doses. The entire inventiveness of that game’s combat relies on the stuff, and I never seemed to have enough of it, leading me to finish each level in the traditional “frantically stab at dudes” way most stealth games default to when you fuck up.

  15. zpoccc says:

    i tend to take my time when a game’s world is especially compelling, so i think i ended up spending nearly 4 hours on the dlc. i did feel like the game introduced elements that weren’t given enough time to explore though.

    *spoilery stuff* – i wish i’d had more time to spend on the new weapon, it felt like i got my hands on in one moment and the game was over in the next. i also would have liked to battle more than one big daddy. i get why they used the one as the climax for the game, and it would have potentially tangled the plot to include more, but still…

  16. Nacho_Matrimony says:

    At this point I find it hard to get angry at BioShock for being BioShock anymore. I appreciate its quirks and merits and, for some reason I’m still attempting to figure out why I’m so glad that it exists as it does, even if I know I want different things from my games on a mechanical level. At the very least, BioShock chooses the weird when lots of other shooters would rather not be. That’s crucial.

    I liked what they did here. Gameplay got a bit tired, but it was cool being in Rapture again.

  17. Tom says:

    “All of the high-minded ideas present in each game are paper-thin, it
    turns out, and none of them can function for very long without the game
    resorting to gunplay.”

    Not really following you on that one, what high-minded ideas?
    There’s no gameplay mechanics to speak of until the gunplay begins and I’ve never felt the combat to lessen the themes and concepts of the games.
    Great write up though.

  18. Tearinitup says:

    SPOILERS:: So, who was Sally exactly to Booker in this?

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  22. Seeker says:

    I’m sorry but the reviewer made an ass of himself. What a joke. No, the storytelling in the Bioshock games and especially in Bioshock infinite, have never been paper thin. The high-minded ideas aren’t paper thin. Bioshock and Bioshock Imfinite are examples of the epitome of deep storytelling. Anyone who thinks the games are shallow is an idiot. Bioshock Infinite, regarding Elisabeth especially, is a testament of great character building and development. In fact she’s one of the more well developed and memorable characters in recent memory. The game thoroughly succeeds in making you care about her. It’s an all around great story with deep themes that ARE explored. None of it has ever been paper thin. It’s just that plain and simple. So yes, there is a lot more to expand on. The reviewer’s final statement is completely off base.

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