In which we meet Sander Cohen, a plot door, and a bunch of mad men.
We can go directly towards our plot goal, or we can go exploring. If we explore the area, we find several locations which seem to be blocked for some reason. Guess what’s going on?
We visit Cohen’s theatre/gallery and are rejected at the door. This event is only for artists, and as a ticket the local artists were given masks. We need a mask. There are three stores here where we could get one. We’ve been in every single one before, but as we hadn’t been told to rummage through the back rooms, we couldn’t tell Elisabeth to distract the shopkeeper, without the shopkeeper distracted and in front of the counter we couldn’t get into the back room… you see where this is going.
We find several audiologs in the area, and the DLC repeats the mistakes of the main game. Why are these here? This is an intact society, why would anyone place their diaries on a random counter? Among others we find the recordings of Dr. Suchong, watching Fink (of Fink Mfg) creating digestible plasmids – but as theft of intellectual property is a two way lane, he recreates those in Rapture.
Elisabeth distracts the store owner, we go looking for the mask. It is in the last store searched. I didn’t try it, but I’m pretty sure it’s always in last store…
With our one mask (Elisabeth doesn’t seem to need one) on our head we’re admitted into Cohen’s. He is established as a ruthless artist who will stop at nothing once an idea took root in his head, and those of you who played the first Bioshock will know that this is pretty accurate.
We enter the place, pass through a white room and a black room, and down the stairs we find Cohen and his guests. Everyone except Elisabeth is wearing a mask. For some reason there are a lot of bathtubs down here, with towels beside them. I’m really happy that the devs didn’t go as far as placing people in there – it would probably have ended in another visit in uncanny valley.
We watch Cohen paint, inspired by a dancing couple. The two don’t seem to satisfy him, as he wont have his muse mocked in his own halls, he electrocutes them. The things we do.
Given the nature of the painting he is working on… I’m not sure if “death and suffering” isn’t what he’s after, instead of “dancing”.
Ask about Sally, he admits that he actually knows where she is, and he will bring us to her – if we dance for him. He also warns us about Elisabeth, as she more than she claims to be and will take us to places where we don’t want to go. He is right.
During our dance with Elisabeth we learn that DeWitt already knows where Sally is not: in the hands of Dr. Suchong. He asked him. Tied to a chair. For 16 hours. We also learn that we cannot dance, at least not to Cohen’s satisfaction. We get shocked and black out.
When we wake up again, we’re not in the best of shapes. Elisabeth’s clothes are ragged, and DeWitt’s probably doesn’t look much better. Cohen sends us down to what’s left of Fontaine’s buildings to find our “young one”, but he is not sure we’ll like what we’ll see. She’s in the houseware department of Fontaine’s store.
Fontaine’s buildings were sunk to the bottom by Andrew Ryan after he overthrew Fontaine’s conspiracy. The official reasons are smuggling, human experiments in hospitals and orphanages where no child ever got out of again. The fact that Fontaine’s business was threatening Ryan’s profits was probably another.
Fontaine’ men, spliced up beyond recognition, are imprisoned down here. Left to rot. Elisabeth remarks that it takes a cruel man to do this, this burial at sea – DeWitt reminds her of a clause in her residence contract: in perpetuity. We’re all buried at sea…
Leaving out diving bell, we witness several splicers attacking each other, among them one using the freezing plasmid. We also find a so-called “air grabber”. I kid you not. It’s essentially a skyhook, ingame used for travel, dangling from freight hooks and melee attacks. The in-game justification? “Kids use it to travel along the pneumo-tubes”. Seriously, THIS is the best lampshade you found for this thing? Travel along the tubes for the pneumatic mail system, which usually are buried in maintenance tunnels? This is the legacy mechanic fuckup with the vigors all over again. Not as severe, but it still hurts. Elisabeth mumbles something about constants and variables.
After looking around, we learn that we will have to take the local tram to the houseware department. Somehow a system connection several building through the water survived the sinking of the complex. But Bioshock wouldn’t be Bioshock if there were no plot doors, so we need to find a way to freeze the fountain coming out of a burst pipe: the Old Man Winter-plasmid. I’m really glad that the bilge-pumps still work, considering the amount of water we’re dealing with.
Luckily, there is this thing called “Rapture on Ice” on the third floor of the store-section we’re in. Elisabeth picks a lock for us, and we enter the shopping centre. Clothing, jewellery, all such things, on two floors.
Elisabeth asks us about splicing side effects, and DeWitt tells the typical drug story: “nothing beats your first splice, and it’s all downhill from there”. The splicers are surely not the first people who try to escape from their misery using drugs, and who is he to judge that?
The shooty times in the mall are an actual challenge, as ammunition is scarce, Elisabeth doesn’t throw stuff at you every minute and vending machines are few and far between. I died. A lot.
We also have some pickable locks, some code doors, more audio-logs (no problems with the placement here – this is a warzone and everything is in disarray), a broken electrical switch and subsequently the Shock Jockey-bottle, several pieces of gear and strange doors. Upon pushing the button, we’re told that the airlock is cycling. But very few of these doors were airlocks. It’s most likely a way to let the game load content without pressing a loading screen to our face, but it still bugs me somehow. Another thing that keeps bugging me is the loot. We can not only grab money but also jewelery and other valuables, which somehow get insta-fenced. On the one hand it’s nice to have some other monetary loot than, well, money, but on the other hand… how does it work? Do we feed the Circus of Values with loot?
We’re at the top, shoot our way through the splicers guarding the Old Man Winter storage, and what happens there will be told next time.