BioShock Burial at Sea welcomes you back to the circus of value

first_imgIt’s been over six years since we’ve been back to Rapture as imagined by Irrational Games, the city’s creator. BioShock’s first sequel, which did return to Rapture, released just three years ago, but the game — so criticized at this point that it’s actually now underrated — was developed by another team, so it’s difficult to consider it as a proper return. Yesterday, BioShock Infinite’s first campaign DLC released, Burial at Sea. This ushers in that first proper return to Rapture, one of — if not the — best cities and atmospheres ever created in entertainment media, but does Irrational still have its magic touch?[There are spoilers ahead.]BioShock Infinite was a fine game, and like the original BioShock, was set in a well-crafted, creepy utopia where society is crumbling. Though often unsettling and fascinating, the game didn’t quite sport that magic BioShock or System Shock 2 atmospheric touch. Unlike its forebears, Infinite’s sky city of Columbia doesn’t have many in-depth stories to piece together simply by examining details in the environment, while walking into every nook and cranny in Rapture will generally bear narrative fruit. Infinite was focused more on plot, the previous Shock games were focused as much on vibe and atmosphere as plot and character development. Infinite felt like a game where you were waiting for the obvious and inevitable twists, whereas the twists that took place in Rapture were truly surprising. The biggest twist in Infinite though — the one you didn’t see coming but really hoped would — was the brief moment the characters were transported to a room in Rapture, updated in modern day graphics. Now, we have two entire episodes back in Rapture, the night before the city’s famed fall from grace.BioShock takes place after Rapture has already fallen, BioShock 2 takes places years after the events of the first game, and Infinite takes place somewhere else entirely. If there was one thing the fans wanted out of the series, it was seeing Rapture before its downfall. Burial at Sea taking place at this precise moment — and beginning with a quest line involving BioShock’s most beloved character, the crazed Sander Cohen — shows that Irrational hasn’t lost any love for its underwater creation, but also shows that the team is servicing fans as much as possible.Almost immediately, Burial at Sea has more detail than Infinite. It’s not that Infinite wasn’t detailed, but for instance, in Columbia, the little movie reels were short loops of film, while in Rapture, they’re longer, narrated, more produced pieces. This holds true for Burial at Sea. Nearly every citizen you walk by in the return to Rapture says something to you; if you walk by a group of people, you can eavesdrop on a detailed conversation. In Infinite, citizens mainly just glare at you until you walk away. Splicers, Rapture’s citizens-turned-mutants, are as crazy as they always were, talking to themselves and spouting gospel or describing their fear of vegetables if you stealthily follow them around. Even looking out the window in Burial at Sea into the expanse of underwater skyscrapers yields more detail than looking out into sky of Columbia, as whales slowly swim by while an anglerfish’s light can be seen twiddling around in the distance near a school of fish.Perhaps Irrational was able to stuff all of this detail into Episode One (as Burial at Sea is a two-part campaign) because it’s short — around two hours at a normal pace, reaching to three or four if you explore every nook and cranny. However, the level of fan service and detail packed into the DLC feels more like Irrational loves Rapture as much as we do, and it almost seems like the team is apologizing for branching off into Infinite before going back to Andrew Ryan’s deep sea utopia. If you miss Rapture’s brand of deeply unsettling, totally insane atmosphere, characters, and narrative, Burial at Sea is what you’ve been waiting for.With Burial at Sea and BioShock 2’s Minerva’s Den before it, it would seem the BioShock series is the shining lighthouse in the middle of the open ocean other developers should look to for guidance when deciding what to do about DLC. VIEW PHOTO GALLERY RaptureRaptureHome sweet home.An old friendWELCOME TO THE CIRUS OF VALUUUUUUEEEEEEESProgressiveRapture, a progressive society.Rapture TribuneA journalist’s utopia?BarHints of the Little Sister kidnappings.Little sistersThe infamous Little Sisters begin their journey.WhaleA whale of a view.Cohen posterWhy even ask?CohenEveryone’s favorite star of the show.PoshThe cutting edge of fashion.Sander CohenTrue art takes true emotion.Duo tubsPrivate baths.ArtAt what price beauty?Pub tubsPublic tubs.MineRomance is alive and well.WriterEven in a utopia, writers don’t have it easy.The Artist’s StruggleThe best and most appropriate name for a gallery.HoarderAn episode of Hoarders.Home sweet home.last_img

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