BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Part 2 Review – Revising History

Warning! This review contains multiple spoilers for BioShock, BioShock Infinite and BioShock Infinite’s “Burial at Sea – Part 1″ DLC. Don’t read this if that bothers you.

Originally, it seemed BioShock Infinite was Irrational Games’ attempt to revisit the world it created in BioShock from another angle, exercising a little creative license over its ideas to remake them anew. A remix, as I noted in my review of the original game.

Turns out, that’s not so much the case. In fact, Columbia and Rapture are literally linked. By tears. And the story of Columbia directly creates the story of Rapture. In fact, the story of Rapture is the conclusion of the story of Columbia. And Burial at Sea Part 2, the second story DLC for BioShock Infinite, is actually a massive retcon, tying up all kinds of loose ends that aren’t actually loose and reworking some significant parts of the BioShock Infinite story.

That makes it a weird piece of material. Burial at Sea Part 2 finally brings Elizabeth front-and-center in the storytelling of BioShock Infinite where, realistically, she has always belonged. It brings some interesting stealth gameplay to Rapture’s dark, horrorish environs and fundamentally changes how the game must be handled.

But it also weaves another confused tale that, in some ways, diminishes the power of the original BioShock, and of Rapture itself, by making it dependent on Columbia. Burial at Sea rewrites both stories in ways that don’t seem necessary and can even be a bit frustrating.

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea – Part 2 DLC
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Developer: Irrational Games
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: March 25, 2013
MSRP: $14.99
Available: Steam

Elizabeth is back in Rapture. After the conclusion of Burial at Sea Part 1 — in which she engineered the death of a particular Booker DeWitt/Zachary Comstock who had been hiding out in the underwater city — she finds herself awakening at the feet of Atlas, the rebel leader from BioShock who is fighting the oppressive rule of Andrew Ryan.

Of course, we know a few things about this: Atlas is Frank Fontaine, Ryan’s industrialist rival who doubles as a crime lord. He will eventually team with Rapture’s brilliant geneticists, Dr. Suchong and Dr. Tennenbaum, to create a pseudo-clone of Andrew Ryan called Jack. That clone will be imprinted by hypnotic suggestion with a code phrase, “Would you kindly,” that gives whoever utters it control over Jack. And in turn, Jack will be controlled by the player of BioShock, and in the “good” ending of that game (which Burial at Sea considers canonical), he will defeat Fontaine, free Rapture’s Little Sisters and generally make everything better.

But where Elizabeth factors in is weeks earlier, in 1958. Here, Atlas has been trapped in Fontaine’s Department Store, a prison Ryan built simply by sinking it away from the rest of Rapture. In focusing on killing Booker in Burial at Sea Part 1, Elizabeth allowed the Little Sister called Sally, the girl Booker and Elizabeth were pursuing in Burial at Sea Part 1, to be captured by Atlas. And we know that the people of Rapture are not kind when they get hold of Little Sisters….

So anyway, with all that exposition under our belts: We now play as Elizabeth, and she sets out through the department store to find the means of saving Sally from Atlas. The mechanism is a trade: Elizabeth claims she’s Suchong’s assistant and can get from him some MacGuffin for Atlas, and then she sets about sneaking past splicers to do so.

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