Bioshock Noir: Burial At Sea’s Opening Scenes

By Adam Smith on October 8th, 2013 at 8:00 pm.

Bioshock has that one part, the stunning moment that locks the game in the memory forever. I’m talking, of course, about the opening plane crash and the first view of the lighthouse. The descent into Rapture, like the ascent into Columbia, employed tidy, efficient techniques to build a world that was eerie, allusive and oddly attractive. Alec wrote an entire post about that first sight of Rapture. The opening five minutes of Burial At Sea, Bioshock Infinite’s narrative DLC, contain a different side of Rapture, as Booker and Elizabeth walk the corridors before the Fall. Spoilers abound, obviously, with the plot’s initial direction outlined as the two take in some familiar sights.

Things I have noted:

1) Femme fatale Elizabeth likes to perform a sassy hand on hip wiggle-walk but when investigations begin, she immediately jogs off into the distance but doesn’t bother to ditch her cigarette first.

2) Rapture used to have the same shoeshine booths as Columbia!

3) Old-timey music!

4) I am very amused by people having conversations while one appears to be running away from the other.

5) Little Sisters are creepy.

6) I probably should have known this one already, but I hadn’t realised this is ‘chapter one’ of Burial At Sea.

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65 Comments »

  1. almostDead says:

    I just bought Infinite in the recent sale. I find it a bit like Far Cry 3 and other AAA titles for me- I run out of steam in them and get bored quite quickly. I still haven’t finished FC3, have yet to start Skyrim, the AAA list goes on.

    Infinite looks a bit like RAGE to me, beautiful at a distance, but ugly as hell close up. Are the textures for flowers and stuff this horrible on everyone’s PCs? I admit I was quite shocked, and remember being awed in the first Bioshock.

    The gunplay is so inconsequential, and with your god powers, it’s not very hard.

    I’m trying to pay attention, but I only seem to get the story when I read about it outside of the game. I totally didn’t get the civil war thing inside columbia. I must be mega-oblivious.

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      DrScuttles says:

      While the overall art direction in Infinite is quite lovely, there were a few shockingly bad textures. This one being perhaps the single worst looking thing in the entire game.
      Seriously, big egregious M. Night Shyamalan twist and I’m sat there in horror thinking… “but those oranges.”

    • alsoran says:

      I too got bored halfway through. Watched someone else finish it because I was not inclined to and put it on the completed shelf. More of the same would be hard to bear.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        You.. have a “completed” shelf? I am suddenly feeling egregiously disorganised

        • Bull0 says:

          Back in the good old days, my completed shelf was called “eBay”.

        • Lemming says:

          Rather than use the ‘installed’ option on the Steam library sorting, I have the following minimized custom categories: “unplayed”, “shite”, “finished” and anything currently installed and being played is visible outside of those.

    • db1331 says:

      I also recently bought it in a sale, although I finished it. I have to say it was pretty underwhelming. The combat was just woefully boring. I rarely used any vigors other than Possession, and 99% of the time I used that was just to get money from vending machines. And for the amount of work they put into Elizabeth, she was still barely anything more than your typical annoying sidekick. It was great that she would toss me ammo in the middle of a fight, but I could do without her wanting to flip a coin at me every minute. It was neat the way she reacted to some things in the environment, like covering her nose when you go into a bathroom. I think one time she told me to grab a lockpick I had missed. I was somewhat impressed with that, although I don’t know why she couldn’t just grab it herself. She IS the master of unlocking things, after all.

      I definitely agree that the story is the real star of the show here, although sometimes it got completely ridiculous. NO SPOILERS. At first I thought the ending was pretty contrived, but the more I read up on it after the fact, it was actually pretty impressive.

      I think I got a good deal for the $16 I paid for it. I’m certainly glad I didn’t pay $60 though. All in all, it’s my least favorite game of the 3. I still think the original is the best.

      • almostDead says:

        I think, fundamentally, I might be in the wrong past-time.

        If Bioshock Infinite is supposed to be as good as it was hyped and reviewed to be, then why aren’t I also thinking the same thing as I play it.

        It’s easy, the gunplay has no weight, Elizabeth reminds me of those guys in Medal of Honor that give out infinite ammo- yet when they do it the critics go nuts. I can’t get my head into the story no matter how much I pay attention.

        It just seems so much like the rest of life to me- guys like Kevin Levine get their arses kissed so much and everyone just goes on and on about how wonderful they and their creations are. Yet when I play, I think ‘what am I not getting here?’.

        • almostDead says:

          To be honest, although I keep picking up AAA games in the sales, it’s the revolution in funding for indie-games that has kept me playing things.

          Now that there is a true disconnect between creators and traditional moneymen there is an interesting amount of choice out there.

        • Lagwolf says:

          Actually that is a very good summation of the game. It is very much style over substance/story over gameplay.

        • Eddy9000 says:

          You’re not in any wrong time dude, it just wasn’t for you. You can’t like every game. I loved infinite, the themes of forgiveness and redemption were really interesting to me and the way the theme of freedom of choice was handled using the game mechanics in a way that a film or book could never do. I don’t know about the shooting but I really enjoyed it, it was nice to have an excuse for FPSing without having to be an american soldier shooting at brown people for a change.
          But that’s the thing, neither of us are right or wrong, we just live within different constants and variables.

          • driveninhifi says:

            But the mechanics didn’t handle the freedom of choice. It was just a nod to it, in a very similar manner to the first Bioshock.

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            particlese says:

            Yep, some loved it, some hated it, and some will be of mixed opinion about it, so don’t waste too much brain power being confused. Since we’re swapping opinions here, I’ll say that Binfinite left me with a thoroughly and probably permanently mixed opinion. Kind of like homogenized milk, and it might even turn chunky and rancid if left long enough.

            More specifically: I really enjoyed the looks and gameplay, especially the variety and combos of the spell system that no one seems to care about, but only after I got used to periodically handing over the controls. I also thought most of the story and themes and a few bits of music were pretty cool or interesting, but I also felt they were wasted by the end of it. I read a bunch of articles (both positive and negative) about it since I thought I must have missed something, but my opinion became more nuanced and considered rather than shifted. Between that and the juicy bits I’ve seen of the original Bioshock, it makes me think they generally enjoy criticizing things while doing what they criticize, which really doesn’t work for me. But that’s me, and if their real, secret goal was to make people think about the game, I’d say they did so splendidly. I’m definitely glad I played it and have already beamed about bits of it to others, and I think this expansion looks pretty neat, but I’ll probably just go back to never finishing Skyrim. (Because that’s just what one does in Skyrim.)

            Edit: Darn you, Binfinite. Stop making me want to write so much. *fist shake*

          • waltC says:

            I liked it, too. BSI is an absolutely brilliant game. If a person is “bored” by this game but intrigued by something like GTA 5 or WarMonger XXII, I’ve got a nice little room at Bellevue for ‘em–courtesy of a nurse friend of mine. They don’t do shock therapy anymore–instead, you get to watch, with your head held steady in a steel brace and your eyelids taped open, a 104″ HD TV three feet in front of you showing nothing but monochrome reruns of Bonanza and Combat in high volume mono, for days on end…

            Great game–I love the roller-coaster-like trestle scenes, and the opening scenes are so much like a day in the real Disney World that I could almost smell the hot dogs and taste the cotton candy. I think I like it most of all because the shooting and the gun-play isn’t the star of the show, it’s almost incidental to the atmosphere and the story. The vigors are much more fun to use, and far more effective, than their analogs in BS 1&2, imo. I guess some of us will have to agree to disagree, but “boring” is definitely not a word I’d use in conjunction with this game.

        • C0llic says:

          I think the reviews, this sites included, were generally pretty fair. It was a good game but it didnt have same coherence of vision and the killer twist the first game did. It wasn’t even bioshock’s twist, persay that made it so memorable, but how it was presented.

          A trick like that is something you only get to do once. For what it was, Bioshock Infinite was good, but it was never going to measure up to the goosebumps and atmosphere of the first game. And the cleverness that made you grin from ear to ear and feel vindicated that as a late twenties male, PC gaming was still your hobby.

          • Dave Tosser says:

            I really don’t think 9s and 10s across the board are very fair when you consider just how empty a game it is. It manages to make a city in the clouds feel constrained, and doesn’t let the player do anything but shoot men when the shooting itself is even more simplistic and floaty than in previous games. You can’t interact with this pretty world they’ve put together outside of pressing buttons when it tells you to or shooting men in the face.

            Compared to Bioshock it’s a few steps backwards, but compared to System Shock it’s lobotomised. Whatever themes it’s dealing with, I found it so trite and uninteresting gameplay-wise that none of it mattered.

            Edit: Heh, it’s literally on rails!

      • Spidy09 says:

        @db1331
        “I don’t know why she couldn’t just grab it herself. She IS the master of unlocking things, after all.”
        well that’s where you’re wrong, Sir, that title still belongs to Jill Valentine, you do raise a good point though.

      • driveninhifi says:

        The gameplay itself definitely felt loose and rote.

        As for the plot (and avoiding spoilers), I was into it until the ending. Then, the more I thought about it the more it all falls apart. I didn’t think it was consistent at all – even Elizabeth’s powers change from set-piece to set-piece. They end up being “whatever is necessary for the plot” whether it’s merging universes, pulling things from one universe into the current one, traveling between them, creating ghost moms. It’s kind of a mess.

        It felt like they had a bunch of set-pieces and a plot that went through several rewrites. And when it came time to ship the game they spliced everything they had finished and tried to make it fit. But the seams are pretty obvious.

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          VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          So, Ken Levine is David Cage but with a fixation on FPSes and a better art team?

      • CrazyPaladin says:

        Maybe you’re missing something here, just saying. Vigors are very essential and creates possibilities in combat, and you’ll see on higher diffcuilties guns are pretty useless(maybe expect sniper rifle) as enemies are tough, you gonna rely heavily on vigors.
        The bioshock series always have amazing designed combat, which is imo quite underestimated(guess that’s why the had an arena DLC focus sololy on combat, it got the potential). That being said I still prefer Bioshock 1 or 2, where they have more varied vigors to choose from. Looking back, Bioshock 2 it’s the best, system-wise. The 1st Bioshock seemed a bit too complicated, with all its RPG elements. I mean saving parts and crafting advanced ammo is a neat feature, but actually pretty uesless gameplay-wise, at least for me. I’m very happy the simplified things in Bioshock 2 and it’s perfect. Infinte seems to simplified things too much

    • Untruth says:

      I was woefully underwhelmed by the gunplay. I say gunplay, because the gameplay (exploring) was often the most fun I’ve had with my pants on.

      The fact that the big final battles seem like an exercise in patience and slowly working out the convoluted attack patterns makes the game fall in the crevice between old school and “modern” game.

      I really want to play Burial at Sea but the good memories of Infinite are fading fast.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Currently playing Infinite, what with the cheap price recently. I find that, 5 hours in, I am of two minds about the game:

      On one hand, as on-rails, narrative driven shooters go, its pretty good. Borderline excellent, in places. The gun play feels good to me. Not perfect, but guns feel pretty good to wield and shoot. The upgrades are soulless, invisible number crunching and I could have done without them, though. The vigors are fun to use, but never necessary – and I approve of this. Not everyone likes being forced to use every ability in a game, to get through that game. Having the vigors but not requiring them was, I feel, the right way to go.

      As for Narrative, its head and shoulders above most of what we find in gaming these days. That’s damning it with faint praise, I know, but it is what it is. Its good but not great. Enjoying Elizabeth, yes, but the whole ‘throw me a coin’ thing got old about the fifth time. I wish she would just stop it already. But she makes up for it, with her rifts and her finding things I overlooked.

      So yeah…judged for what it is…Infinite is excellent.

      On the OTHER hand…there is what Infinite COULD HAVE been:

      -An “Open World” city in the clouds
      -A Hard-boiled, down-on-his-luck, -in-with-the-wrong-crowd former soldier playing PI
      -A need to find clues: Who is Elizabeth, how do I find her?
      -A need to plan a heist and escape: How do I get to the girl? How do I get her out of here? And me?

      Had Irrational decided to do something different here, Infinite could have been something other than a really good, linear shooter. And granted, it is a pretty darned good linear shooter. But lets be honest here; its not like its original in either its game play or structure. And I think that not only degrades the experience of Infinite, but the experience of so-called AAA gaming these days: In order to maintain their slim profit margins, they have to constantly play it safe and thus, cannot afford the risk that comes with true innovation.

      Which is a shame. Cause a little daring and some innovation could really have done wonders for this city in the clouds.

      • Iamerror says:

        I suggest you keep playing, you’ll soon discover why your suggestions wouldn’t really work within the narrative Infinite utilizes and why, really, it has to be a linear game to tell that story.

    • newprince says:

      Yes. It’s rather strange. On the one hand, Infinite is artistically sound and has some wonderful opening exposition. And really, its gameplay is pretty much more of the same Bioshock. But man… what was once so innovative in Bioshock and so evolutionary in Bioshock 2 is now solidly old hat and bland. I absolutely love the steup to Infinite, but then it devolves into shooty shoots and it is boring punctuated with interesting little vignettes.

      I dunno, a lot of people hated the first two. I still think 2 along with the DLC is still worthy of “best games of all time” consideration, and the original gets a nod along with Half Life 1 and 2 for furthering stories in FPSs. But the FPS needs to mature again and make us think why exactly we’re shooting thousands of people when it doesn’t really make sense anymore.

  2. pupsikaso says:

    So DeWitt not only fraks up Columbia, he’s now going to be the one that fraks up Rapture? More DimWitt than DeWitt…

  3. Vinraith says:

    All that beauty, and I’m not free to explore any of it. What a waste.

    • Smion says:

      Yeah, agreed but somehow Ken Levine doesn’t strike me as the kind to release an Elizabeth themed sexsim.

      (I’ll just kill myself now)

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      FriendlyFire says:

      Imagine an open world adventure game revolving around solving a bunch of film noir-style crimes, set in Rapture. No combat or near to none, lots of exposition and exploration.

      • Vinraith says:

        That’d be amazing, I’d buy that in a heartbeat.

        • Laurentius says:

          That’s general problem, with videogames stories and characters, we need more lo-fi of it. i.e How much cooler would be DX:HR if Jensen after initial attack would be kicked out by Sariff with some money for basic augmentation as a compensation and had to start working as private investigator: doing jobs like hacking laptops of cheating husbends and wives or sneaking into offices to discover disloyal business partners etc.

      • JoeX111 says:

        That’s exactly what I want from this, and I’m heartbroken that it’ll never be.

        • imralizal says:

          Same here. Personally, I felt the same way about the first Bioshock. They have this beautifully constructed world and all they can think to do with it is make it a shooting gallery. Why go to all the trouble to humanize the enemy only to treat them like generic zombies to be slaughtered? It’s also broke my suspension of disbelief. Not everyone in Rapture would have become psychotic. Reasonable people would have banded together for protection and to scavenge supplies. What I would have given for Dishonored style game play. It could have been so much more interesting. Straight shooters can be fun, Shadow Warrior proved that to me again, but Shadow Warrior is silly ultra violent pulp and it knows it. Bioshock always seems to be pretending to be something else. Pretending it’s a complex world, pretending there is this whole alternate history to explore and interact with. But really, it’s just shadow warrior with game play that is a lot less fun and some very interesting art direction.

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    RedViv says:

    DeWitt’s handling of elevator buttons throughout the multiverse only led to one conclusion: He really really loathes obvious triggers for linear pathways.

  5. Shadrach says:

    Oh dear, it’s missing a huge FOLLOW arrow over her head so I wouldn’t know what to do at all I’m afraid.

  6. Zenicetus says:

    I like the Noir detective vibe, and I wish they would stick with that, but I can almost feel the countdown timer ticking until he suddenly turns into Rambo with guns blazing, and blows up the place.

  7. AlienMind says:

    She runs away from you all the while talking calm like she was standing still in front of you.
    Ken: Fail at immersion.

    • Vinraith says:

      Immersion? It looks and feels like a theme park ride, how could anyone be immersed by something so obviously scripted and linear?

  8. Bull0 says:

    Yes, Bioshock Infinite was terrible, rabble rabble

    • NotQuiteDeadYet says:

      Yeah, all the negativity is kind of bringing me down. I too found the systems a good deal less interesting than what was in the first Bioshock and its System Shock predecessors, but I swear to god, the combat was actually really fun. Its was fast paced, the enemies were aggressive, and you had like, eight different powers with two different modes each that you could chain together. Folks say that all you need are possession, or the water-shock combo, but why? You can take the skylines, and set fire traps, and deflect bullets. Didn’t matter if you kind of weren’t required to if you wanted to make it through on normal. The combat still let you do fun shit.

      • Bull0 says:

        I think really the game let you pick and choose which of the weapons and powers you wanted to use, and people gravitated towards the ones that they enjoyed using or fit their playstyle, but that’s not the norm for this type of game or the preceding games in this series – I think it’s more common to be given an ability, get a feature moment to use it in, and then rely on it for the next 20-30 minutes of play, before the next thing is introduced, etc.

    • blackmyron says:

      Agreed. Personally, I’m looking forward to it. I’ll forgive a lot for visually beautiful games, and I enjoyed the gameplay on Bioshock Infinite anyways. I’d rather follow a ‘path’ through a living Rapture than wander around GTA V’s Los Santos any day of the week.

  9. Pemptus says:

    Gee, I can’t wait to eat cake out of hat boxes and grapes out of trashcans in this universe too!
    Immershun!

  10. Tei says:

    :-O

  11. Lemming says:

    It would’ve been less confusing and more daring to have the player play Elizabeth as the PI, and DeWitt to be left out of this one.

    • newprince says:

      Agreed! I bet that didn’t even cross any of the designers’ minds.

    • The Random One says:

      Daring certainly, but how is having a PI in the DLC not be the PI that’s the main game’s character less confusing? People would just be expecting DeWitt to be the villain.

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      FriendlyFire says:

      If you were in her shoes then they wouldn’t be able to show her off. That’s unacceptable.

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        phuzz says:

        One episode has you playing DeWitt, the other has you playing as Elizabeth, and I think I’m more excited by the latter…

  12. Radiant says:

    Episode 2 is called “Swimming pools in Rapture”
    Episode 3 is called “Libraries in DeWitt’s house”
    Episode 4 is called “Wrapping in Rapture a Christmas tale”
    Episode 5 is called “Black Columbia starring Tom Hanks”

  13. Yosharian says:

    “Bioshock Infinite was too easy”

    Someone’s not playing on 1999 mode, bloody newbies

    “Bioshock Infinite’s textures are crap”

    Don’t care

    “Bioshock Infinite’s story made no sense”

    You’re just too stupid to understand it

    “Bioshock Infinite’s Elizabeth was just annoying”

    Elizabeth is beautiful and lovely and adorable and only occasionally annoying

    “Bioshock Infinite is not System Shock 2!”

    Yeah I agree with that one, it’s a shame. I still loved the game.

  14. bstard says:

    I’m a bit surprised by all the negativity here. IMO it is, just got it in the sale, one wonderful game. One of those rare big budget titles that really delivered.

  15. Low Life says:

    I don’t quite understand this “first X minutes of” marketing phenomenon. Would the arrival to Rapture in the first Bioshock been so memorable and impactful if you’d seen someone else go through it at their pace, looking at the things they wanted to look at, and then a month or two later you’d gotten to do it yourself?

  16. belgand says:

    I honestly don’t recall the opening to Bioshock as being all that special. I went and rewatched some video of it because I thought I might have been forgetting something, but no, pretty much what I recall.

    Then again I found Bioshock to be one of the biggest disappointments in gaming. I was a huge fan of System Shock 1 and 2, but Bioshock just felt like a dumbed-down version of those games aimed at the console crowd and with far more focus on being a shooter. The story was interesting and I think Objectivism was handled in a fairly even-handed fashion showing how things could go badly, but not stating that it’s inherently bad despite the many people who tend to prefer to just bash it outright. It was more about how utopias are inherently impossible and no matter the situation someone will find a way to manipulate it and twist it to their own advantage.

    Except it wasn’t just a story. It was a sort-of decent shooter, but one where you only fight about 4 kinds of enemies. And a terrible “morality” system that tries to go for a cheap, emotional pull by using children, but is really about being smart enough to choose delayed gratification (as most of them tend to be, if not about choosing money vs. XP). They stripped out almost all of the RPG elements, the inventory, skills, and pretty much everything else that made the originals great. In the end it was a game where you wander around shooting the same couple of enemies, using a few powers, and listening to audio logs. Pretty good if you’ve never played anything better and are more used to Call of Duty, but not so great if you were a fan of the originals.

  17. JoeX111 says:

    I want, more than anything, for this to drop all the combat and just let us explore Rapture through the lens of a film noir mystery. Make the entire thing like the opening hour of Infinite. I loved that hour! The combat in BioShock is easily the least interesting thing to me. I’m sure the noir elements will get dropped like a rock the minute splicers and big daddies show up. Then it’ll just be a BioShock one retread.

  18. 2helix4u says:

    It makes me sad how uninterested I am in this. I missed System Shock 2 which means I love Bioshock 1 an unhealthy amount. I also enjoyed Binifinite even if it wasn’t as good as the first game and Last of Us kind of made it look really terrible in comparison (they are narratively very similar, but Ellie is an actual character).

    Having said that I’m not interested in going back to Rapture, I’ve been there three times already. I’m also not interested in Elizabeth as a sexy femme fatale even more than I wasn’t interested in Elizabeth as a magical princess, all her animations make me roll my eyes and now we have two characters who speak in rough monotone, great.
    I guess pre-war rapture DLC just -reeks- of pandering to me, which is actually fine but you need some other hook and “your daughter from the last game is a smouldering temptress” is not that. Fuck all the noir posturing, noir films rarely involve personal bodycounts in the thousands.

  19. RAWRIMSATAN says:

    I think everyone here is being a little unfair with their judgments. You’re all comparing this to the first two bioshocks, as if it’s supposed to follow the same storyline. Fact is, unlike other game sequels, this is an entirely different story. Of course it doesn’t give you the feeling of being in Rapture, because Raptures a dead perilous city. Columbia is alive, thriving, and you’re thrown in the middle of it causing problems. The basis is time travel, not killing a big bad guy. Everyone here understands it’s not like Bioshock 1&2. It’s not supposed to. Personally, i loved all 3. I beat this one twice, and I am eagerly waiting for burial at sea. Only thing i didn’t like about infinite, is the fact that it has a linear story. But it makes sense because of the ending.