The lights are on
First and foremost, I should make it perfectly clear that you should not read this review until you've finished both Bioshock Infinite's story and Burial At Sea Episode One. In order to properly set the events of Episode Two in motion, I might need to explain a few components of the previous part's events, so now's your chance to hit 'Back' if you need to.
When Burial At Sea Episode One released, it was received quite favorably for bringing the characters and personalities of Columbia down to Rapture while keeping Rapture looking fresh. However, it also received plenty of criticism for its unbearably short length. Clocking in at around an hour and a half--though you could very well stretch it to two hours or so if you explore every nook and cranny--it left a lot to be desired, and more so it left all of us wanting more.
Well, a little over four months later, Episode Two has finally been released. I feared beforehand that Episode Two was gonna feel like a half-baked continuation of Episode One, like a movie aired as a miniseries on a network affiliate. Fortunately enough, not only does it not feel like that at all, but thanks to letting us see the environments as Elizabeth it feels entirely fresh. Whether it's because of the new areas to experience, seeing familiar voices and faces from the original Bioshock come to life in front of you, or because of the graceful elegance playing as Elizabeth exudes, I don't know.
Upon starting Episode Two, the game will ask if you'd like to see a "Previously..." style video to catch up on events, so I figured I'd bite and check it out. Instead of showing a summary of Episode One like I expected, I was instead treated to the original BioShock in a two or three minute nutshell. Even if know just about everything regarding the original game, I say it's worth checking out just because it's there.
*Spoilers for Burial At Sea Episode One ahead.*
Without delving too much into the plot of Episode Two, it kicks off right where Episode One ended pretty much. Comstock is dead, and Elizabeth wakes up to a splicer pointing a gun at her head, who's affiliated with some guy called "Atlas." The thugs take Sally, and Atlas promises to give Sally back to Elizabeth if she'll help them escape the sunken Department Store where they were left to die by Andrew Ryan.
From there, Elizabeth's journey through Rapture continues. Only this time around, there's no one to throw you money, ammo, Eve or health when it's vital to have it. In exchange, Elizabeth can carry multiple health packs, which is a welcome callback to Bioshock and Bioshock 2. However, in order to successfully complete the story Elizabeth will have to be sneaky about it, which introduces stealth mechanics to the Bioshock gameplay we all know and love. When approaching Splicers, as you draw nearer a couple meters will form above their heads which will fill up the more they detect your presence.
How you deal with the Splicers is completely up to you. You can either go all guns blazing and use your Hand Cannon and Shotgun to fire away, or you can be sneaky and use a new plasmid, Peeping Tom, to either sneak around them or stealth kill with the Air Grabber, a.k.a. Rapture's version of the Sky-hook. Players will also find a crossbow to use with three different types of bolts; one that tranquilizes, one that makes noise, and one that produces a toxic gas. Of all three, I thought the noise-making one was the most useless, but still a nice option to distract enemies. As the story progresses, Elizabeth will meet more familiar faces from Bioshock, and will also be exploring more of the original game's iconic areas.
Like I said before, I thought the inclusion of carrying multiple health packs was a godsend for this installment, especially since you might not be able to be 100% stealthy all the time... unless you're brave enough to take on this installment's 1998 Mode, where players will be tasked with completing it only using stealth and non-lethal means to deal with Splicers. With that said, it is fairly possible to complete Burial At Sea: Episode Two without killing a single one, but it's not something I'd recommend unless you've cleared it already or you're a pro at stealth-based games.
When I completed Burial At Sea Episode Two, I was left feeling completely slack-jawed. Not only does it perfectly tie Rapture's story with that of Columbia's, it also made me feel like the team at Irrational Games completely and perfectly wrapped up Bioshock's story with a neat little ribbon. That alone makes this an essential add-on for any Bioshock fan, and I can safely say that it makes buying Infinite's Season Pass a worthy investment.
What Episode One lacked in length, Episode Two makes up for with an unstable and sometimes emotional fury.