Sunday, 17 November 2013

Revisiting Rapture: Irrational Games takes no risks with Burial at Sea

Ah, Rapture. It’s like slipping on an old jumper. A nice, warm, terrifying jumper. In Bioshock Infinite’s newest DLC, Burial at Sea, we find ourselves once again wading our way through the clanging steampunk halls of Rapture, the greatest city you never knew existed. However, instead of deformed humans, half-mad tyrants and overly protective deep sea divers, we are confronted by an eerily normal city landscape. Well, as normal as any underwater city can be.

Irrational Games know exactly what they’re doing with Burial at Sea – they’re not breaking new ground, they’re giving their audience and community the trouser-tightening nostalgia they’ve all been waiting for. Sadly, it means that they’re playing it safe in an industry that could afford to take more risks. They had a chance to make something that could have blown our minds, but instead settled for a simple, fizzled pop.

Take Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon for example. Now there was a game that blew your mind, pants and everything in between. Ubisoft Montreal took a chance on an idea that could have produced an utter failure of a game, but instead made one of the most unique expansions to grace 2012. They tore down the cubicle of conventionality and took a steaming titanoboa in the toilet of mediocrity. It was astounding, and showcased the wonders you can create when you decide to take a risk.

Blood Dragon had dragons with freakin' lasers, man.

Burial at Sea does none of this and effectively portrays itself as a condensed version of Bioshock Infinite had it been set in Rapture, twist and all. Still, I liked it – it’s a game that I would describe as “nice”. It’s a pleasant gaming experience that, sadly, will probably be lost on those who haven’t played the first two Bioshock games. The DLC is purely driven by nostalgia, made to shed light on Rapture before the troubles and to give insight into some of the socio-political perceptions that wracked the water-logged city.

For example, the discovery of open homosexual relationships within Rapture. Being a city hauled away from the social norms of land-life, it’s understandable that sexual freedom is celebrated in Rapture, but that was the first physical evidence of it. It was things like that, or the demonstration of Little Sisters-to-be and the industrious Big Daddy’s that had you wandering around every corner and crevice of the map thinking “Oh, that’s nice.”

Brings a whole new meaning to "Big Daddy"

All in all, it felt like nothing had changed between Burial at Sea and the original Bioshock; the same tense feeling and dreary setting fits seamlessly between the two, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. The experience could have used a little more spice, even if that meant heading in a completely different direction to the one they had chosen. The story was solid, but refused to deviate from the tempo of Bioshock Infinite.

Burial at Sea is fun, interesting and at some points quirky, even if it was a little short – I love Rapture and wanted so badly to be back there, but once the experience was over the feeling was bitter-sweet. This game is what I wanted, but wasn’t the game that I needed.

No comments:

Post a Comment