“Burial at Sea: Episode 1” is the first of a two-part downloadable story that follows end of Irrational Games’s “Bioshock: Infinite.” While I was in love with a living Rapture before its fall and the myriad of little insights into how life was under the sea, I couldn’t help but be frustrated with the actual gameplay of the expansion.
What made the first “Bioshock” so wonderful was the cluttered nature of an underwater city fraught with danger around every corner. “Bioshock: Infinite” changed that up by providing a more open landscape, but the danger came in larger waves and the fighting style changed into being creative and working in tandem with Elizabeth and her powers.
“Burial at Sea: Episode 1” attempts to marry the two styles of gameplay, and ends up falling very short.
Elizabeth’s appeal in “Infinite” was that she was always there in the nick of time, often giving you just what you needed to aid you in your fight against the seemingly endless hordes of enemies. In fact, this very characteristic is what made her so beloved by many shooter fans because she changed the escort-style gameplay into a tandem cooperative experience that worked almost seamlessly.
Having someone there to grab you health, ADAM or money is all well and good when the game revolves around having enough bullets and ADAM to dish out punishment to dozens of people at a time. But “Bioshock” is not about that, at least not the Rapture version. Elizabeth destroys the “survival” part of “survival horror” in “Burial at Sea.”
Rapture’s entire atmosphere was defined by the player being unsure if they had enough strength or ADAM left to fight whatever came at them from behind that door. With Elizabeth there, no one worried. The scenario became, “Well if someone jumps me and I get smacked around, Elizabeth will just toss me something and I’ll use that to get back in the game.”
There was no danger anymore, no fear.
But that wasn’t even the problem. The problem was that Elizabeth didn’t even deliver on that
|Maybe the cigarettes were hurting her performance?|
needed aspect that people had grown used to.
Too many times did I find myself with minuscule health and no ADAM, low on ammo and smacking an enemy to death only to have Elizabeth toss me ADAM after the last bad guy fell.
Now, this could be a conscious decision by the developers, in an effort to have Elizabeth around but make her less useful to try and capture that survival-horror feel. If that’s the case, then it didn’t work.
If this is a programming error, predicated on Elizabeth’s line-of-sight to the character and her ability to toss things at Booker, then that’s something that should have been ironed out. Line-of-sight? Rapture is full of junk sitting in the middle of rooms.
But I’m going to give the developers the benefit of the doubt and say that this was their decision. I’ll say that it was a design choice that they made to give that murky-mystery vibe they once had in Andrew Ryan’s world.
What I will also say is that “Bioshock: Infinite” is not “Bioshock.” It wasn’t “Bioshock” the minute you made the game about needing money to buy ammunition and providing so much that you could actually have that mentality.
This is not a bad thing. “Bioshock: Infinite” was a wonderful shooter, probably one of the best I’ve played in a long time because of Elizabeth’s inclusion.
However, the two are very different games, despite being made by the same company.
They should be treated as such.
So what’s to be done? The game’s already out, so nothing can change there. We also have word and hints that Elizabeth will be playable in episode 2 of “Burial at Sea.” That’ll probably eliminate the problem altogether. But hypothetically, is there a way to fix this? Could this have been done better? Can it be done better in the future?
Possibly, and I’d be first in line to see how it could be done. What do you think could have been changed? How do you think it could be helped?