When Bioshock Infinite was released in March of this year players could also purchase a Season Pass for the game, as three DLC packs were promised to be released. Now the first of these packs has arrived. Clash in the Clouds (free if you have the Season Pass, 4.99 USD if you don’t) is the first of these DLC packs. If you enjoyed Bioshock Infinite’s combat, then you’re in for a real treat. If you were hoping for more story based content, this may not be for you, as that will come later this year in the form of the two-part Burial at Sea. This is more akin to a Survivor mode, which should be very familiar to most FPS players. It’s fast, frantic, and can be quite fun, but it can also be quite frustrating in later waves, where enemies become quite tougher and the camera can become an issue. There’s plenty of gameplay for your dollar, but how much you enjoy these types of modes will depend on how much enjoyment you get out of this.
Clash in the Clouds is divided into four separate arenas- The Ops Zeal, Duke and Dimwit Theater, Raven’s Dome, and Emporia Arcade. The Ops Zeal is available right off the bat; the others need to be unlocked either by passing the previous arena or unlocking it with the cash earned during your battles. The Columbia Archaeological Society serves as a sort of hub between these arenas, where you can go to rearm yourself, use vending machines to enhance both your guns and your vigors, and save your progress. With the money you earn, you can also unlock more of Columbia’s lore and history, through kinetiscopes, voxophones, and recordings, as well as unlocking character models and concept art. Take note that if you return to the Columbia Archaeological Society midway through an arena, you will have to start the arena all over again at the first wave. The choice is yours. Also in this museum you can view leaderboards for each arena to see how you stack up. There’s plenty to unlock here, so for those interested in learning more about Columbia this provides a nice incentive to continue through the arenas, earning plenty of silver eagles with which to use as you see fit.
Each arena consists of fifteen waves of enemies, and the game does a nice job of giving you a variety to deal with. Early waves are simple enough, consisting mainly of soldiers, but later levels ramp up the difficulty with heavy hitters, zealots, and the like. There is an office door in each arena where you can buy a life, which will resurrect you if you should fall in combat without penalty. You can also choose to simply forgo your ranking to be resurrected and continue through the wave. Each wave comes with a specific Blue Ribbon Challenge,which is spelled out for you prior to beginning each wave. The challenges may specify what weapon type you can use to dispatch your enemies, or that you may only use Sky-line strikes, or certain vigors. Achieving these challenges nets you a hefty bonus of silver eagles to use in the vending machines or the museum. Some are simple enough to get, others may take you several tries before success comes your way. Again, it’s an incentive to keep playing, and those looking for a challenge may be well satisfied.
Graphically, the arenas measure up to the main game easily. Elizabeth still provides some help, but not near as much as in the main game, so if you relied on her a lot to keep you alive in combat through the story you may be in for a rude awakening here. She keeps out of trouble as before, and will aid in finding salts, health, and ammo, as well as opening up various tears scattered about the arena. These tears can contain extra health packs, cover, or turrets, among other things, to aid you in surviving the assaults by your foes. Respawn points, should you choose to forgo your ranking if you die, are not always in the best place, especially if Heavy Hitters are included in the wave. Many times I found myself being killed by a Handyman, only to respawn right in front of him and end up dead very quickly. This does cause some frustration, especially since the camera tends to get a little wild in these parts. The enemies can also be bullet sponges, soaking up lots of ammo before they fall. Again, your enjoyment here will hinge upon how well you enjoyed the game’s combat and your level of skill in FPSs. But most should enjoy this DLC for what it is, and you do get enough gameplay here for the cost. It’s not outstanding, however, and if you didn’t buy the season pass, I can’t necessarily say that this is a must buy. Unlocking more of Columbia’s history is a nice touch, so that might be the selling point for fans of the game.
Overall, while fun, this DLC doesn’t quite measure up to the main game. It’s a nice little mode to play while waiting for the story based Burial at Sea, but it’s not something that’s going to keep the disc in the tray for days on end. The frustrations can equal the fun at times, and the repetitiveness can be tiring instead of thrilling. It’s worth diving into, but it may not hook you and isn’t quite as varied as say The Dunwall Trials DLC for the game Dishonored, which followed this same path as far as DLC releases (a challenge mode followed by two story based releases). For those looking to spend more time with Booker and Elizabeth, this will do, at least for now.
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