Burial At Sea Episode Two is pretty awesome!
The first episode of the excellent Bioshock Infinite DLC, Burial At Sea, ended up with an intriguing cliffhanger that again in a now known Bioshock fashion, raised more questions than answered. The second episode picks up immediately where we left things on even though at first it seems like a totally different game.
The start of the second episode I must say that it is one of the best opening scenes in video games ever. Set in a outrageously beautiful rendition of Paris at the turn of the 20th century, you are now playing as Elizabeth, a Elizabeth. After spending a few minutes roaming around in the beautiful Paris, once again in a know Bioshock fashion, hell breaks loose and you're back on Rapture. Now talking about what happens story wise without spoiling anything is difficult so I am not going to do that.
You only need to know that Elizabeth wants to make things right, wants to redeem herself by saving someone and to do that she has to go through some very difficult times and has to make some difficult choices. You also need to know that the story will not make any kind of sense, not until you reach the surprising ending which serves as a prequel/ prologue to the first Bioshock game. Everything is connected, the past, present and future are all intertwined, but you have to play through the end to see how it's all connected. And that is damn satisfying! Very few games have managed to pull of this kind of thing, time/dimension travelling, plot twists that you will not see coming and a story that really comes together only at the end.
Long time favorite and not so favorite characters return here, both in person and as voices playing over the Audio Diaries you find scattered throughout Rapture that give more information regarding what has happened and what is happening at the moment. Even though I do not really like this way of story telling hearing what some of these recording said helped me understand what in the hell was going on so I highly encourage exploration to find these collectibles. Elizabeth VA, Courtnee Draper performance is outstanding delivering a more gritty version of the Elizabeth we've heard in the past. Also the way she reacts to what is happening is changed, more realistic and hearing her conversations with people that might/might not be alive or her trying to make sense of what was happening, what was real and what wasn't, is masterfully done and immerses you more into this dark twisted universe.
So the story and twists stay true to what we have seen before in Bioshock games, but what about gameplay? Well, while most things are kept the same, there is one big change and that's the addition of a stealth element. As you might know, in the previous episode and in the main game, you played as Booker, a badass PI with a magic shield, tons of weapons and lots of cool powers to mow down the countless splicers. Elizabeth is not Booker, so the addition of the stealth mechanic makes sense. You will have to crawl to get around cause if the enemy hears you fighting against them can be quite difficult and most of the times will result in your death. So the devs have provided some new tools in terms of weapons and powers to help you. The crossbow that shoots different arrow heads is a fantastic new addition that builds upon that stealth mechanic. It works like the crossbow that Corvo had in Dishonored, where you can shoot sleeping arrows to knock an enemy out, gas arrows to knock many enemies out at the same time and distraction arrows to distract the enemies swooping by them or sending them directly into a trap you've set. Apart from the crossbow, you also have a revolver, a shotgun and the microwave thingy from the first episode that fries people from inside out.
The new power, Peeping Tom, is also a great new addition that expands the stealth. You can use it as a "detective vision" where you can see the enemies through walls or hidden objects, but you can also use it to turn invisible enough to get behind the enemies and knock them out. Possessions and Old Man Winter return, that when combined with the crossbow and Peeping Tom create some very enjoying and satisfying scenarios. There's also another power, Ironside or something like that and it works like an absorbing shield. If an enemy shoots and you have it activated, you get the type of ammo the enemy used against you. Cool but since you won't really do much shooting with weapons I can say that this is a useless power.
In terms of content, this episode is meatier than the first one as it took me around 5 hours to complete it and it might take a little more if you try to find every voxophone and upgrade.
Presentation wise, the game looks absolutely stunning. The opening sequence, the Paris one as I previously said, it one of the best things I've ever experienced in a video game. A vibrant color palette along with beautiful renditions of the architecture of Parisian buildings, the bridges on the river Seine, the silhouette of the Eiffel Tower combined with the fantastic atmosphere created by the baguette or other vendors, random citizens enjoying the serenity and little children playing around a clown was just fu*king perfect. I wish Irrational or what's left of them, would make a full game with that style. In contrast to this beauty there's the dark beauty of Rapture itself. Dark and decrepit filled with trash and destruction with only glimpses of what once was a beautiful place, now Rapture is a scary place to find yourself in. The music and sound effects work together to create the tense atmosphere, when it's needed, of a failed utopia, a failed dream.
Burial At Sea Episode Two it's fu*king great! Thanks for reading!