The lights are on
If you read my review of Episode One, which I published mid-November, then you should know that I enjoyed the added experience of the story content and gave it an 8.5- a pretty solid score. Well, here I am again, this time with the second portion of the duet up for review, and I find myself in the enjoyable position I was last time as well. I like the finisher here, I really do. And for that reason, I am giving it a solid score as well. Sure, the content is once again on the slim side, but after having already experienced that with the first half and still finding it to be enjoyable, I can hardly ding Irrational for their efforts once more- especially in light of recent events over there, and with what changes have come to town... Although this episode most definitely does incorporate some newer mechanics instead of relying on basic gimmicks as the previous was apt to do, I find once more that the tried and true mechanics from the base game are still its backbone and strongest component- which makes sense.
While we saw the freshly painted veneer of Rapture in the previous game, shortly before descending into the roiling madness below, in this particular chapter we find ourselves further entangled and embroiled in said madness, with notably less intrinsic "prettiness" around. I'll try to say things here without spoiling much of what will be better experienced through your own playtime, should you choose to purchase the additional and worthwhile content here, but do allow me this one teensy thing: I previously said that this Booker and Elizabeth are different than the ones we're familiar with, and this is quite true- however it stands to reason that they're all interconnected in some way, correct? I shall speak no more on that, for now. Note, also if you would, that this review will be slightly on the short side of things, as most of what was said during my Episode One review still applies to gameplay and mechanics here, this time around.
Seeing how nearly everything ends up being interconnected in the Bioshock universe during the main events of Infinite amazed me, but witnessing them even more fully realized in Burial at Sea- especially in the end and in the little moments really assured me of Irrational's genius. If they stop here with the series, I'll actually be happier, because it makes such a perfect circle and roundabout cycle that I am content to no know more and forever wonder at its equivocal mystery and sense. If that didn't make sense to you, play the damn game already. This episode picks up after the events of episode one, placing the perspective instead in Elizabeth's control instead of Booker's as in the last one. Finally getting to fully play as the longtime companion is overdue and works just as well as with Booker in mostly every aspect. There are of course some differences in combat to be picked up on- Elizabeth isn't as strong and now doesn't have a handy teammate with extra ammo and health packs to rely upon fully. Whereas the last episode focused on action, this one focuses on stealth- and even packages a neat 1998 Mode for those wanted to go the Deu Ex "no kill" route as well.
The main tool you'll be using is a crossbow with darts that knock your opponents out with ease, and some wisely chosen knickknacks like fire crackers and gas- to round out your already hefty array of powers and gadgets. The stealth oriented gameplay is amplified by the ability to use an almost 'detective vision' type of sight and see your enemies through objects, as well as the ability to essentially turn invisible and lurk about in the shadows. As much as I loved the explosive action of the Bioshock titles in the past, it is neat to see another twist for a change- and stealth is as good as any I've thought of before, as twist mechanics go. The ending ends up being very apropos, and you'll definitely love every bit of story this time around- making it much more interesting than part one was, and also a bit more bittersweetbitter. I loved every moment of this episode, even if I wasn't willing to fully let go in the end.
Concept: Irrational's final tribute to Rapture and the culmination of a trilogy's worth of content in one brief, concise story that will continue the revelations we thought were already unveiled accordingly. Truly a masterful finish if there ever was any.
Graphics: Still utilizes the same system branch-off of Unreal Engine 3 that the main title and Episode One also utilized, with great success.
Sound: Remember all the voices we heard in Rapture and Columbia? Well, chances are most of them are back, or Irrational at least got excellent copycats to voice their slightly different characters here.
Playability: The controls are as tight and easy to handle as they were in the main title and the first downloadable story episode, and still manage to add in uses for new weapons and gadgets as well, on top of that fact.
Entertainment: It takes a different approach, especially during combat, but is no worse off for it. In fact, it's actually more fun than I had in episode one.
Replay Value: Moderate.
Overall Score: 8.5
NOTE: I will most likely be doing a complete analysis of the entirety of Bioshock's story as a saga and how it is all intertwined, so be on the lookout for that blog as it comes in several parts here shortly in the future...
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