Bioshock Infinite sits firmly in near the top of my “best games ever” list. It wasn’t perfect, though. The combat could be clunky/unfair at times. And how cool would it be to play as Elizabeth? We’ve been told to expect the latter in a two-part series in due time, but for now we are given the former. Clash in the Clouds is an imperfect return to Columbia, but worth it for $5. *** Spoilers for the main game may follow. You’ve been warned. ***
- TL;DR: An imperfect take on survival combat
- Platform: Xbox 360
- Score: 6.1
- Hours Played: 6
- What I Played: All four maps
- Recommended: Yes for $5, but don’t expect the same level of polish as the main game
Clash in the Clouds is a take on endless/survival/horde mode. Booker and Elizabeth start off at the Columbia Archaelogical Society with the pistol and four vigors. There are four maps — The Ops Zeal, Duke & Dimwit Theater, Raven’s Dome, and Emporia Arcade — each with 15 waves. Each wave modifies the map in slightly different ways — airships move, tears change, freight hooks come and go. There are also “blue ribbon” challenges for each wave, which act as an optional mission modifier that will net you extra cash. Your score is tallied and kept on a per-map and global leaderboard for all to see.
Defeating enemies, mixing up your combat style, and completing the aforementioned blue ribbon challenges will net you some money. Between each wave, you’ll be placed back in the Columbia Archaelogical Society with the option to change your loadout and buy weapon/vigor upgrades from vending machines. You’ll also be given either an infusion or a new piece of gear. After completing a map 4-5 times, you should be back to where you left off the main game as far as upgrades go.
The challenges are meant to be optional, but you get a huge money bonus for completing them. For your first couple of runs, you all but have to try and complete them to get upgraded enough to take on the later waves and maps. Not completing them will show you a huge “BLUE RIBBON CHALLENGE FAILED!” notification across your screen. At the very least, the challenges can be pretty diverse. One wave you’ll need to use the shotgun only, the next you’re under a timer, while the next you can only use vigor traps. Some of the challenges can be nearly impossible, though. In one wave, you are tasked with killing a Handyman before any other enemy. But the Handyman goes apeshit on the nearby soldiers as soon as the map starts, invalidating your challenge.
When you max out on all your upgrades, or just decide that you’re powerful enough, you can unlock various collectibles back at the Archaelogical Society. Concept art, character models, a pretty killer Songbird statue, and even some voxophones courtesy of Rosalind Lutece. There are 35 in all. I was able to unlock everything after a few map runs.
Clash in the Clouds is far from perfect, though. As I mentioned, some of the challenges can be pretty tough while some seem to be bugged. Each map wave is started through a new tear, a pretty neat way to shoehorn survival mode into Bioshock. But, you’re never given any information as to why Booker and Elizabeth are at the Archaelogical Society in the first place. There is no dialogue whatsoever, while dialogue is what made the main game.
Clash in the Clouds isn’t the DLC everyone wants — that will be coming with Burial at Sea. For now, we are given a slightly buggy, slightly forced take on survival combat. For $5 it’s actually really fun, but it doesn’t quite do the main game justice. Here’s hoping that DLCs two and three will be more of what we’ve come to expect in Bioshock.