Nearly four months have passed since Bioshock Infinite was released, and we now have our hands on the first bit of DLC to come out for it. While I’m sure many folks are happy that this wasn’t some sort of same day nonsense, many were pretty disappointed that the first set to be released would be a handful of maps made for killing off some of Colombia’s finest baddies in waves of increasing difficulty.
That’s right – Clash in the Clouds is an arena based, rise in the rankings mode designed around Infinite’s combat; a quite fun aspect of the game which could also be viewed as one of its weakest. Depends on your mileage. I personally found a lot of enjoyment doing battle in Colombia, despite the normalcy of the weapons (and the inherent weakness of the Vox armory). The Vigors shook the fighting up enough for me, and the gear added in some pretty deep layers as well.
All of the above are present here in this DLC. Some of the biggest set pieces in the main game have nothing on the frenetic and insane paces Clash can reach achieve. For those that enjoyed the fighting, this is a cheap way to get your fix without going through the main quest. Them’s that liked the tale more and hated the battles, you folks may want to take a look as well. Emphasis on may.
Title: Bioshock Infnite: Clash in the Clouds (DLC)
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: Irrational Games
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Price: $4.99/500 Microsoft Points
Release Date: July 30th, 2013 (PC, Xbox 360) August (Playstation 3)
Clash in the Clouds is divided up between four unlockable maps: The Ops Zeal, Duke and Dimwit Theater, Raven’s Dome, and Emporia Arcade. All four are pretty easy to recognize from the campaign, but have been retrofitted into closed areas dedicated for combat. In each, you’ve got a variety of skyline and skyhook placements, and a whole swath of tears for Elizabeth to back you up with, containing various supplies and automatons.
Each arena sets you up with different opponents to take out in 15 waves each, and not a single baddie has been left from the main game. Patriots to Firemen to volley gunners are here alongside soldiers; with Crows (called Zealots), and Handymen to boot. Even Elizabeth’s mother/anger manifestation (dubbed the Siren) makes an appearance, resurrecting faster than you can fire.
With this wide rogue’s gallery, repetition is a bit of an inevitability – you’ll find yourself fighting certain selections of baddies two, maybe three times over the course of an arena. However, because the selections are mixed up, shuffled like a Vegas deck and spaced out like your friend Saturday night, they don’t inherently feel repetitive. One instance will have you fighting basic soldiers, another will have you pitted against volley launchers and Firemen with Zealots as backup.
Hence, when a familiar foe does drop back into a group of new baddies, it’s less, “I’ve gotta fight these guys again?” and more, “I’ve gotta fight these guys again while dodging hot rockets looking for my face. Nice.” The difficulty will fluctuate from wave to wave depending on the enemy loadout, which isn’t exactly a bad point. In some instances, I was glad to have a quick relief from a fast pace with a couple easy kills. Others may find that this fluctuation may be more of a screeching halt kind of deal.
Additionally, each waves have unique challenges to conquer, dubbed the Blue Ribbons. The varying degrees of these objectives can get pretty inventive to the point of strategic necessitation, with some fun, some difficult, and some outright confusing (and sometimes frustrating). You’ll have ones that ask for Sky-Line strikes only, or kills with the shotgun, or you might be asked to set vigor traps for baddies to hit while they’re moving on a sky-line. It sounds less crazy on paper than it does in action, and beating these objectives will net you a large sum of Silver Eagle coins, on top of what you’re rewarded during your performance.
The coins are pretty generous with what you get, yet not to the point of breaking the game. Kills pay money to you, and Specialist and heavy hitter kills will net the most. You’ll also get bonus money for inventive kills such as vigor combinations and sky line attacks; you can even loot bodies and get bonus cash for the act on top of what you grab form the corpse. With this, it isn’t worth fretting over failing a Blue Ribbon objective, as you can still walk out with a decent sum if you’ve mixed up your kills enough and picked through a few bodies.
Eagles can be applied two ways – in-between waves, you’ll be dropped off at a hub where you can purchase and upgrade vigors, alongside upgrading your guns. You’ve got the whole armory to pick from, with a pop-up preview of what’s to come in the next bout which simplifies setting up. You’re also given infusions and new gear for free. Resurrections can be bought by visiting Booker’s door, both in the hub and in the arena. These stave off an actual death, which can cause you to either lose the progress gained so far (but keep going from that wave), or start over. Either way, you get to keep the money you’ve earned. Best off all is that you never lose your upgrades. Once everything is maxed out, you can keep going and not lose what you’ve gained even if you start an arena over.
The second is the Museum. Starting from blank frames and pedestals, you can buy statues and pieces of concept art to fill them up. Additionally, extra phonographs and kinetoscopes can be unlocked, some featuring neat tidbits from behinds the scenes. For those more interested in the lore of Infinite, you’ve also got more voxophones to take a listen to. Only trouble is, they were all recorded by the same character, and a few were hit and miss as far as deepening the story goes. However, the place is a heck of a sight once it’s finished.
Despite all this, there are a few snags in the works of Clash, particularly with the Handymen. Damaging as they are, they can easily take out a shield and a good chunk of life with a single hit. That’s fine, it’s what they’re meant to do. What I don’t understand is, when I’m coming back to life off a Handyman death, why I’m being attacked by one as the white haze of resurrection is still on the screen. I can move but can’t see, and a half robot man is already putting me in the deep end of my health.
Another issue is the failing of a Blue Ribbon challenge when in game actions haven’t infringed upon the conditions. Or in layman’s terms: when I haven’t done a single thing yet. Example: one challenge requires you to kill off every enemy with the pistol. A simple jump down from the start point, and I fail the objective with nary a shot fired. This has happened in other instances (yet sometimes in the opposite fashion), but I get the feeling that it’s more of a bug than anything.
Despite unfair deaths and quick to judge challenges, Clash in the Clouds is a fun and entertaining time through some hectic fights in Columbia’s more scenic locales. Again, those that enjoy the combat of the game practically have a theme park to run around in here, the main attraction being some stalwart battles against the toughest enemies in the game. There’s a lot to do here, repetition notwithstanding, as some of the Blue Ribbons may take a few tries to get down. However, for those story loving folks that didn’t dig the fighting of Infinite: if you’re waiting for Burial at Sea, I’ll be honest – Clash does feel like a holdover till then, and is probably not worth your time. But, $5 for all this is definitely worth it if you love a good scrap without the cinematics.
9.0 Amazing – This is a must have, you’ll see this game on top ten lists at the end of the year.