Bioshock Infinite 16: Burial at Sea, Ep.1, Ep.1

In which we meet a mysterious client, light a cigarette and move through a believable setting.

Wow. Just wow. This is awesome. This is Bioshock. This is great. Wow.

Okay, that’s it. End of message.

Just kidding. But still: wow.

We’re dreaming, or rather waking up. Anna was just taken by Comstock, and repeated knocking on the door snatches us out of Morpheus’ arms. The dark silhouette of a woman enters our office while we lift our head from the desk. The calendar on our desk shows December 31st 1958.
The woman steps inside. It’s an older, more mature Elisabeth, and what follows is the one thing I missed most in the main game.
BI_BaS_00012She asks Booker for a light, he snaps his fingers, producing a flame to light the cigarette. A real life application, a non-combat use of a plasmid, just as advertised. Why didn’t they do this in Columbia? Why do we need a DLC for this? Why? This is AWESOME! This is EXACTLY what I missed in Columbia…

The woman asks us about a girl. Sally. Booker knew her. Later in the episode we’ll learn that Booker took her in, and then lost her.
Elisabeth tells us her name (“Diana” “Elisabeth”) and what she wants: she wants us to find a girl. Sally. Booker tells her that after Fontaine’s orphanages were shut down there no longer was a place for girls like Sally in Rapture, that there are dozens of girls like her in the slums and by the docks. Sally’s dead, and that’s all there is to say. Elisabeth doesn’t want to hear this. Lost isn’t dead, and it’s still work for DeWitt. She will pay us, she says, even if she thinks we’ll do this one pro bono, and leaves.
We grab another bottle and go back into hiding behind a wall of booze. Of course we go after her.
BI_BaS_00015Welcome to Rapture.Following Elisabeth, we learn that she doesn’t know where Sally went, but she knows someone who does – and it’s not our business to care about her business with the girl.
We walk through another example of videogame architecture: there’s a caf√©, a shoeshine, we pass a kiosk… the more I think about it, the more sense makes the placement of Booker office here. The noir-style office just struck me as odd, being placed here, but on the other hand it’s certainly not the worst place to set up camp for a private investigator. But it still is a long, linear section, which I wouldn’t expect in this form in Rapture, especially given the maps in the former two games.
There is another problem here, in the inhabited section of Rapture, which I know is hard to fix as it is hard to do right. Animations. Elisabeth’s skirt behaves oddly sometimes, and the animations of some of the citizens are just weird. There is a dancing animation at a diner which is extremely wooden. It feels wrong. Awkward. Or the man “dancing” to the jukebox is just a terrible dancer, but Commander Shepherd is a terrible dancer and has better animations…
What was done very well were most walk-by-interactions with the locals. We can listen in on discussions about the daily events in Rapture, mostly the takedown of Fontaine and his operations, and some even express their sympathy for our loss – DeWitt is known in Rapture, and the people know what happened. Great detail. Another great detail, seemingly breaking up the linearity: we can enter the Andalusian Arms hotel and are addressed by a bellhop. We should leave before we get thrown out, again.
On our way towards the area transition we also pass the Little Wonders Educational Facility – the indoctrination facility for the little sisters. I’m pretty sure it was placed somewhere else in Bioshock I, and I’ve no idea why a bunch of little sisters is actually outside the facility, but hey: we’re in Rapture, so we need to show this off. And we’re neck-deep in some parallel worlds-story, so this is probably totally justified.
Elisabeth asks about the sisters, revealing to DeWitt that she hasn’t been to Rapture for long – pressed for the reason of her presence and why she would want Sally, she avoids a direct answer. She’s working in debt collection.

We move on, talking a bit more about DeWitt lost Sally: there are places where one should not leave a child unattended. According to a cop friend of DeWitt, a fellow named Sullivan (there’s always an irish cop), her body was found, but DeWitt didn’t bother to identify the body.

We take an elevator up and are greeted by a waiter asking whether we need or want anything. We decline, and he uses the teleport-plasmid to move to the next group of guests. It’s the same plasmid a kind of splicers in Bioshock I used, I guess it were the Houdini-Splicers. Another civilian use of a plasmid, even if it’s not usable by the player. Another case where the whole thing is anchored in the world. There are even citizens discussing the rumors about splicing side effects. And there is a kinetoscope, offering a rebuttal: do you see any splicing side effects? Stop trash-talking, these things have no place in Rapture. As I’ve said before: I missed all these things in Columbia. These are all the details I missed so desperately. And yet another thing done better here: There are very few lootable things and containers here. In a liquor store (where Booker seems to be a regular) we have the opportunity to buy booze. Not just “grab it and drink it”, but buying it. The exceptions are sample bottles,¬†discernible as such. Another small thing making the whole setting more believable. And people keep telling me that Ep.2 will be even better.

This will continue on Tuesday.

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