Professor Layton Professor Layton

Gamer's Notebook

Professor Layton and Bioshock Infinite

By Chris O'Neal 11/14/2013

The R&B hit-maker Boyz II Men knew it best when it sang, “It’s so hard to say goodbye.” No one likes an ending, however sweet it may be. After all, it only means that the chances to see your pet, significant other or hero again are slim to none, short of resurrection via Indian burial ground. So it is with sadness that we say goodbye to Professor Layton, the hero that puzzle masters everywhere called friend, mentor and, most of all, gentleman.

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is the sixth and final installment in the series featuring Hershel Layton and his boy apprentice. As with previous entries, Layton is pitted against a dire and foreboding enemy, only this time the actions of the previous adventures really come into play.

Artifacts found in Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask are the subject of continued investigation, but if you’re thinking we’re about to interrogate a criminal, think again. Layton deals in riddles and often the answers to the question are given in the form of a mathematical equation.

My favorite memory of the Layton series is from Professor Layton and the Curious Village. After watching a beautifully animated opening sequence (a trademark of the Layton series are animated sequences which could seamlessly fit into a television series), we approached a bridge with a man who refused to lower it unless we guessed how many matchsticks he had in his hand. Just lower the bridge, weirdo!

Quirky, lovable, interesting and smart, Professor Layton has always found a way to turn a mystery into a learning experience. Azran Legacy is no different; here you’ll find puzzles to challenge your mind that are seamlessly melded into the narrative better than were previous attempts.

Since Miracle Mask, the Layton series has been a prequel. Technically, the character’s stories ended with Unwound Future, but even so, the climax to Azran Legacy is fitting, touching and bittersweet. It’s so hard to say goodbye.

After pulling oneself out of the depression that is knowing there won’t be another installment in the Professor Layton series, take a step back and realize that this year’s Bioshock Infinite (strong contender for game of the year!) is far from over.

Remember that game that had the whole Internet abuzz at one point? An experimental shooter that pitted the player against warped Americana is back with a two-part expansion — Bioshock: Burial At Sea offers up a new adventure in a familiar setting.

If you’re like me and you thought the first Bioshock had an amazing cast of characters in a world of underwater whimsy, then Burial at Sea is probably what you’ve been waiting for. We return to Rapture, the Ayn Rand-inspired fallen utopia with a knack for warping its citizens.

Booker DeWitt, the war veteran/source of many a dimensional paradox, meets with Elizabeth, the time-child, in 1950s Rapture before its fall. On the Xbox 360, Rapture looks better than ever, sleek designs and underwater griminess that pops. Elizabeth, a teenager in Infinite, is now her parallel-dimensions self and is stunning in her portrayal.

Burial at Sea can be summed up thusly: Infinite’s techniques meet Bioshock’s original enemies. Splicers, the mutated city folk, are easily handled by the weaponry from Infinite, but when it comes time to face a Big Daddy — the massive tank of an underwater guardian — Booker’s sky-hook and powers are just as useful as a long stick.

Where Burial At Sea falls short is in length. At only 90 minutes, it feels like watching a short film. There is a second part to this story, but at $15 for the first installment, are we expected to pay $30 for a three-hour experience? 2K and Irrational believe you should —  and face it, most of us will.

My suggestion is to wait until the DLC is bundled together as an inevitable game of the year edition. It might take a while, but if multiple dimensions exist as they do in Bioshock Infinite, you may already be playing the expansions somewhere in time.

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacies will be available for the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS in 2014.

Bioshock: Burial at Sea is available now for the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, $15.

Chris O’Neal has several copies of Boyz II Men’s Cooleyhighharmony. Follow him on Twitter @agentoneal.



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