|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC*|
|Pub: 2K Games|
|Release: March 25, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Mild Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
When Irrational Games was originally teasing episode 1 of BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea, they promised us that we would be in for a unique take on the BioShock experience, focusing on stealth and story outside of gunplay. What we got, was a couple hours of BioShock Infinite slathered over with a rapture coat of paint. It was fun enough, but it was really just more of the same, and so that’s all we expected going into BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 2. Imagine our surprise when it turned out that Irrational would make good on all of the promises after all.
In Episode 2, you play as Elizabeth, instead of Booker, and this is what makes the DLC so unique. Elizabeth isn’t nearly the hardened combat wiz that Booker is. She has a much smaller health bar and no shield bar to speak of. Her gun selection is extremely limited, and ammo is sparse at best. She also doesn’t have her tear making powers, which comes as a relief to anyone who was annoyed that they were kind of hand-waved into Episode 1 for no reason other than to inject them into combat sequences. She is at a disadvantage against most splicers, and Big Daddies will just flat out murder her. So instead, she will have to use stealth and guile to make it through Rapture’s halls and rescue a little girl named sally.
One of the first claims that Irrational made about Burial at Sea is that you would be able to complete it without ever firing a gun. In Episode 1, this sadly wasn’t the case, but Episode 2 delivers on that concept. Elizabeth actually can sneak past every enemy in the game without attacking them once, and many times you’ll find that doing so offers greater rewards than going in guns blazing. Episode 2 actually feels a lot more like Thief or Assassin’s Creed or even Metal Gear Solid than it does BioShock, which is what we were promised in the first place. Unfortunately, this does mean that fans of the original “gun enemies down from skyhooks” gameplay may feel a bit out of their element here.
To help Elizabeth along in her stealth crusade, Episode 2 includes several new weapons and upgrades for her to utilize. The most notable is the “Peeping Tom” plasmid which lets her see through walls. It’s an unimaginably useful tool here, allowing her to plan her routes and avoid the gaze of wandering enemies. It’s also a brilliant little gem of game design, considering this same ability would be pretty much useless in the main game. This will also pacify anyone who was annoyed that the plasmids from episode 1 were just painted over vigors from the main game.
That’s not to say that abilities from the main game don’t show up. They just take on a different sort of feeling and context. For example, remember the Possession vigor? If you were like me, you probably mostly ignored this vigor in lieu of crows, fire, and shotguns. However, the ability to take control of your enemies and have them do your bidding is invaluable in a stealth game. Being able to sneak around to a safe spot, peg an enemy with Possession, and watch the guards take themselves out is incredibly satisfying. Oh, and yes, you can possess a Big Daddy, which is just as awesome as it sounds.
Elizabeth also gets a new weapon to play around with: the crossbow. It has a slow rate of fire, but incredibly long range, making it a great tool to be used from a shadowy perch. However, the real draw is it’s multitude of different ammo types. For example, you can load in a noise making arrow to distract guards away from your position. Simply fire it into the wall and everyone will rush toward it, allowing you to either take them out or scoot away unnoticed. Similarly, you can load silent gas grenade arrows into your crossbow as well, and fire it into a room swarmed with enemies.
Once again BioShock’s original weapons return as well, but they also take on a different context. Simple pistols are a boon against opponents only armed with melee weapons. Firing it to take down an enemy will attract attention, but if you have a hiding place handy, you can use that noise to sneak behind the back of reinforcements and murder them in one strike. Shotguns are less of a go-to weapon and more of a panic or last resort weapon, meant to quickly handle a situation before it gets out of control. I’d like to note, that I managed to complete all of Episode 2 without ever firing one shotgun round, and I’d suggest other players attempt to do the same.