The second episode of BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea is the last game we’ll ever see from Irrational. And that’s a shame, especially since it was clear that this game, taken together, would have been a great game just on its own.
Mechanically, the series takes a bizarre but not unwelcome shift to stealth mechanics. The game rapidly becomes something of a tribute to the original Thief games, complete with a nonlethal set of darts for your crossbow. Elizabeth, our protagonist for this episode, can’t take the bullets Booker can and has conveniently lost her ability to open rifts. You’ll need to sneak through vents, jump on hooks, and level up your plasmids to survive.
Honestly, players of the original Bioshock who specialized in the “back-shooting dirtbag” style like yours truly will be right at home. The main plasmid you’ll use, Peeping Tom, is a lot like the Natural Camouflage gene tonic from the first game, but with x-ray vision as well. Anybody who sat patiently with a wrench and a Bloodlust gene tonic to clobber a splicer will cruise through this game. You do have lethal weapons, like the shotgun and the hand cannon, but they’re the weapons of last resort.
The series also winds its way through Columbia and Rapture, explaining how the two are interconnected, which we won’t ruin here. The story is much stronger this time around, although the ending is probably going to be controversial for various reasons. Also, the metaphysics come thick and fast; it’s probably a good thing this game didn’t have a full campaign to play with, because it would have gotten incomprehensible.
In all, it’s a far better game than those rightfully disappointed by episode one might have expected. This is worth every penny you pay for it, and a reminder that Irrational’s loss is a loss for all of us.