Building (Critical) Consensus: BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea DLC – Episode One

burial-at-sea-episode-one-poster-artIt looks like 2K Games is all aboard the DLC train this week. Yesterday, we looked at the Enemy Within expansion for XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Today, it’s the first part of the two-part Burial at Sea DLC for BioShock Infinite. If you haven’t played through to the end of Infinite, chances are that there are some spoilers in the reviews, this post and the DLC itself so consider yourself forewarned.

Opinion on the first real narrative driven BioShock Infinite DLC seems to really be split on whether you’re partial to using the term “ludonarrative dissonance.” If you thought it was a big issue with Infinite proper, you’ll find the same here. The narrative apparently doesn’t have quite the same moral undertones of the game proper’s so that might also be a detracting point for some. Though everyone agrees that the game looks gorgeous. Since BioShock doesn’t work on Windows 7, this might be one of the few opportunities for PC gamers to visit Rapture in all its glory.

gamesTM (90%): The first narrative addition to the BioShock Infinite delivers everything it promised – it’s an affectionately crafted homage to the first game, retroactively building on the grim story and Ayn Rand-ian themes, galvanising them with a fresh perspective whilst simultaneously tying Rapture more wholly into the Columbian narrative. It’s intelligent, indulgent and nostalgic in equal measure, left dangling on a transfixing narrative hook. It’s everything we love about BioShock, condensed.

Game Informer (80%): On one hand, I’m thankful Irrational Games took this unconventional approach to DLC. Instead of re-using all of the same assets from Infinite, the team recreated Rapture and found a way to meld successful elements from several games in the series. On the other hand, the additions are minimal at best, leaving players to go through the same motions with a different backdrop. For a world that invites infinite possibilities, I was hoping for less familiarity.

Polygon (70%): If you’re simply desperate to return to Rapture, to explore all the dystopian nooks and crannies you’ve previously been barred from, Burial at Sea will scratch that itch. It’s a gorgeous, haunting two-hour tour of a world I can never get enough of, and if you’re willing to judge Burial at Sea solely as virtual tourism, it’s beyond reproach.

PCGamesN (60%): Burial at Sea has a real pacing problem, stemming from the very literal segregation of its narrative and combat sections. It makes you finish your meat before your can start on your vegetables, where the metaphorical meat is the talking and the vegetables are the shooting. As a digested mush in your tummy, Burial at Sea is a beautiful brown ride through gaming’s most iconic city and a compelling return of two remixed and much loved characters. On the plate however, its two very different games struggling to find a common ground, and both doing themselves a disservice as they try.

[Ed. Note: They’re making an analogy to avoid saying ludonarrative dissonance which is when a game stops telling a story and starts being a game… Even though we complain when games don’t have enough of one or the other. Can’t we just let games do their thing and evaluate them on everything but this mythical ludonarrative dissonance drivel?]

GameSpot (50%): Irrational Games focused on a flawed what-if scenario and crafted an equally flawed story to fit it. Burial at Sea seems a prime example of the tail wagging the dog, and the result is an adventure with fantastic sights and sounds that don’t come together in a meaningful way.

About Steve Murray

Steve is the founder and editor of The Lowdown Blog and et geekera. On The Lowdown Blog, he often writes about motorsports, hockey, politics and pop culture. Over on et geekera, Steve writes about geek interests and lifestyle. Steve is on Twitter at @TheSteveMurray.

Posted on November 13, 2013, in Games and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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