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About a week has passed since BioShock Infinite got its first story DLC, Burial at Sea - Episode One. Irrational Games has been pretty good about teasers prior to then, revealing very little in terms of narrative, and for a while, all we knew was that Elizabeth and Booker were now in Rapture. And like the Infinite campaign, Burial at Sea revolves around the search for a girl, though anyone can guess by now that the overarching narrative is really just a means for Booker or realize how terrible of a human being he's been.
Insert minor spoiler warning here. If you don't mind learning a little more about DLC's general story and gameplay, then proceed without caution. Everyone else may want to avert eyes, but at least do so with the knowledge that Burial at Sea - Episode One is totally worth the money, whether you pre-paid with the Season Pass or plan to pick it up separately.
As we've already seen in a previously released intro video, showing us the first five minutes of Burial at Sea - Episode One, Elizabeth walks into Booker DeWitt's office with the intention of hiring him in a missing persons case. A little girl by the name of "Sally" has been presumed dead for some time, but Booker seems to care enough about her to take the case anyway.
We never really get a good look at Booker, but I'd assume some visual differences set Rapture DeWitt from his Columbia self, if only because the era is totally different. That, and Elizabeth, too, barely resembles her Columbia version. Armed with a 1940s hairdo and femme fatale attitude, our girl has gone from being doe-eyed to cut-throat. We see her play others with alarming skill, and toward the end of Episode One, her plan to catch Sally leaves Booker speechless.
As wonderful as Elizabeth was in Columbia, she is hardly the focus here. Like before, she remains an integral part of things, but the DLC is there primarily to torment Booker some more and show off pre-war Rapture, yet another beautiful world hiding deep decay. Rapture and Columbia are just metaphors for Booker's inner demons, in the end.
In their search for Sally, Elizabeth and Booker pass through Rapture's glamorous halls to a sunken prison, and the pacing is pretty excellent, when you consider how much shorter Burial at Sea - Episode One is compared to the campaign.
- Show player a wonderful utopian setting with some creepy undertones (like Little Sisters).
- Take all that away by sending player to hell. It was all a lie!
"Hell" in Rapture isn't so much racial segregation and a revolution gone wrong. Rather, we're sent into the darkest depths to a department store, of all things, after it had been made into a prison and purposefully sunk. Now this is the Rapture we remember: abandoned and overrun with Splicers.
Weapons haven't changed all that much since Infinite, with the exception of a Tommy gun and the deadly Radar Range. No, you won't have quite so many guns at your disposal, but Booker's stay in Rapture is considerably shorter than his trip to Columbia. Besides, you hardly need guns when you've got Plasmids.
Since this is Rapture, Plasmids are the primary form of otherworldly powers (as opposed to Vigors). You'll start out with Possession and Devil's Kiss, then acquire other familiar powers like Bucking Bronco and Shock Jockey. The new power here that we didn't get to play with in Infinite is Old Man Winter, a freezing power. Yeah, freezing enemies in place is as fun as it sounds. Even works on Big Daddies!
That all sounds pretty familiar right? Not surprisingly, the gameplay doesn't actually change between the main Infinite game and its Burial at Sea DLC. Still part of Infinite, after all. The big draw is really the return to Rapture, and the opportunity to see this iconic undersea civilization before it goes to hell (and Jack shows up). Still, I'm aware a lot of people who grabbed BioShock Infinite didn't actually play the first two games, and that's fine. The way I see it, BioShock newcomers can still glean some enjoyment from Burial at Sea through the characters they know, and the abundance of audio logs provide a nice, educational window into this alternate utopia. For long-time fans, they're a nostalgic offering, occasionally dropping some new information -- like Suchong's experiments briefly unlocking a tear to Columbia.
Not too long ago, BioShock creator Ken Levine came to the defense of Burial at Sea - Episode One, trying to justify its unexpected brevity to fans. Apparently, the first episode was estimated to run a mere two hours, which seemed remarkably short for a story-driven game like BioShock Infinite. However, after playing through Episode One, I can honestly say the length works. Irrational has done an excellent job of working a robust experience into a short two or three hours. Heck, I'm pretty sure I was in Rapture for longer than that, just because I loved running around and exploring every damn corner. The way Burial at Sea is written, how it progresses, feels perfectly natural.
That ending is really something else, too. If anything, that's the most sudden part of Episode One.
The (First) Ending
Be warned: major spoilers follow. Namely, this is where I touch upon the first episode's conclusion. Okay, you get that? Still going to keep reading? Alright, but don't say I didn't warn you.
When Booker and Elizabeth find Sally at the department store, she's revealed to be a Little Sister. Can anyone really be shocked? What I find most interesting is the parallel between Columbia Booker and Rapture Booker. We already know Infinite deals with multiple universes, and I think that a recurring part of Booker's life is his daughter. Here, Sally is a substitute for the Elizabeth that Booker doesn't have, in a world where neither of them exist.
There are a few theories floating around out there regarding the ending -- the Columbia Elizabeth, the Luteces showing up. Well, I have my own, and I like to think it's the most commonly accepted one.
In the final cutscene, Booker suddenly has a full flashback, where the frightened Sally he's trying to save becomes infant Elizabeth. He sees himself, Comstock, fighting to pull a familiar baby through a portal, with young Booker at the other end fighting to keep her. On his side of the portal (Comstock's), another Columbia Elizabeth and the Lutece twins are desperately shouting at Comstock, refusing to close the portal before the baby is through. And this is the turning point, when the portal does close, but Comstock can't keep a hold on the baby. The result? The portal kills her, cutting her head in half instead of just taking off a pinky.
Struck by grief and guilt, Comstock has the Luteces send him to to another universe, where Elizabeth never existed; they choose Rapture. His memory is suppressed somehow, and he lives his life as Booker DeWitt, private investigator.
So how did Elizabeth just show up one day, only vaguely familiar with the underwater city and still in possession of her "tear" ability? Many fans seem to believe she's the Elizabeth you rescue in the main game, now dedicating her life to hunting down and killing Comstocks from other universes (after killing Booker in her own). This is where I'm not entirely on board. Yes, the BioShock Infinite story is already weird as all hell, but the idea of a rogue Elizabeth hopping universes with the aid of the Lutece twins just seems to ascend to another level. I find the notion somewhat absurd, but hey, Rosalind and Robert are a good way of explaining just about anything away.
I'm crossing my fingers that we'll learn more in Burial at Sea - Episode Two. The second part of this Rapture crossover will allow us to play as Elizabeth, so let's hope for more answers.
Follow Lydia on Twitter @RabidChinaGirl or check out her news and reviews every day here on Neoseeker.