Well here we are, what is most probably Ken Levine and the rest of Irrational Games’ last take on the Bioshock Universe. It has been just over a year since we first went up into the skies of Columbia with Bioshock Infinite and now we are back down at the bottom of the ocean in Rapture. Episode one was a short overall fan service affair and while at the time I enjoyed it, Episode two outclasses it completely.
After the conclusion of Burial at Sea Episode One, we find ourselves moving away from the familiar shoes of playing as Booker Dewitt and instead step into unfamiliar waters with Elizabeth. Tasked with escaping Rapture, which will prove difficult as she has now lost her abilities to manipulate the multiverse at will. The story is definitely the strongest aspect to the game, with returning key players in the Rapture universe such Atlas and Andrew Ryan. I was even surprised by the importance of this story for the whole Bioshock Universe.
When it comes to gameplay, the differences between playing as Elizabeth and Booker are noticeably different. A stealth approach is required, you’ll find yourself lurking in the shadows and using a brand new plasmid. This allows you to see enemies through walls and even turn invisible for a brief period of time. Ammo and money is scarce throughout the game, so choosing when to go on the offensive attack can be risky. These types of combat choices were missing from the main game in Infinite and even at times in the original. It creates more of a survival horror theme and makes Rapture a much more terrifying place to be than ever before. During your travels, Elizabeth acquires a crossbow (similar to the one from Dishonoured), with a varied amount of non-lethal attacks – which can knock groups of people out or distract them. Survival gameplay really fits well within the Rapture setting, hiding in the shadows and for the first time being full on fearful of a Big Daddy and having to sneak around as many as possible or stealth knocking them out. Elizabeth can use her “Air Grabber” (Sky-hook) to knock unsuspecting enemies on the head but only from behind, as head on melee attacks will do no damage at all. While this might be a problem in other games, here it makes sense; Elizabeth isn’t experienced with gunfights and after Episode one’s main gameplay, Episode two works well with the strong key differences.
Though I don’t think this stealth systems works completely well, enemies are fully equipped and at the slight sound or sight of your presence will reign down on you, making it time to pull out the shotgun for the offensive. As I’ve said before, I understand what Irrational were going for with this and with the retrievable knock out darts for your crossbow it is easy to take out a good number of enemies. I do think the gameplay works overall, but the reason this episode is strong is because of the environments and story.
Environments in the game are strong in design, which has become expected of the Bioshock franchise. In the episode you will see an objectivist kindergarten, where the ideology and philosophy of the city drummed into the youth. Even walking through an adult shop, will give you an idea of Rapture’s type of Pornography (what really is beneath those Big Daddy suits?). Of course graphically all environments have the Infinite facelift; wider spaces, strong colours and lighting.
One thing this episode does that even the main game struggled with is actually appreciating the environments. Sometimes you won’t run into any enemy types and can just walk around the environment and some it is for story information which is presented in a clever way, adding incredibly important lore to the whole Bioshock canon.
I don’t want to go in specifics as that would obviously just spoil the experience. The story in my opinion is strongest part of the episode, it is Irrational’s attempt at trying to close the book on the franchise. Meeting classic characters from Rapture and hearing the familiar crackle from the audio diaries reminded me personally why I love the original so dearly, and I believe this episode adds to and compliments the original plot, making it stronger. As far as I can tell, there is no mention of characters featured from when Bioshock 2 occurred, which does place that as a side story with rather little relevance to the series now.[tabgroup][tab title=”The Good“]Strong Story
Fan favourite characters return
Wraps it all up, nice and neat
[/tab][tab title=”The Bad“]Stealth gameplay feels slightly under developed