Back on March 26th of this year, Irrational Games released what is arguably one of 2013’s most memorable games to date. BioShock Infinite succeeded in captivating us all with its rich storytelling, controversial subject matter, and emotionally gripping characters that we couldn’t help but care about.
After receiving a ton of early game of the year buzz from various gaming outlets around the world, the question soon shifted to ask what would the BioShock Infinite DLC consist of and can Ken Levine wow us again? Unfortunately for us, Clash in the Clouds fails to fully answer these questions and we are in turn presented with a good, but infinitely frustrating package from beginning to end. Here are a few more reasons why Clash In the Clouds may or may not be for you.
Clash in the Clouds could be best described as an elaborate arena-based combat add-on that offers 4 brand new maps to do battle in. The maps include Ops Zeal, Duke and Dimwit Theater, Raven's Dome, and Emporia Arcade. Each map also comes complete with 15 optional blue ribbon challenges (60 in total) and leaderboards for players to take their skills and stats to the next level. Players are awarded money for successfully killing and looting enemies and can then in turn use that money to purchase collectible statues, and artwork in the Columbian Archeological Society. This piece of downloadable content weighs in at 1.45 gigabytes and retails for $4.99 for all non-season passholders.
Clash in the Clouds offers no additional story content to the overall BioShock Infinite experience. Fans who are familiar with the immersive world of Columbia and the daily interactions that take place between the inhabitants should be forewarned that these elements are no where to be found in this package. In stripping away the personality behind this atmosphere, players are instead thrust into a horde mode full of dangerous enemy encounters at every turn. This could essentially be a good or bad thing depending on your love or hatred for the game's combat system. Chances are if you enjoyed the chaotic final battle in the campaign, then you'll absolutely love everything that this add-on has to offer.
When describing some of the negative aspects of Clash in the Clouds, I can't help but focus most of my complaints on how the blue ribbon challenges were initially setup. While the concept of starting out with relatively easy objectives and making them tougher over time is expected, the latter challenges become increasingly difficult and repetitive. You may have a task as simple as killing up to 10 enemies with only a shotgun, but if you die at anytime during these encounters then you immediately fail the challenge. What is even more frustrating than all this is that once you fail a challenge you then have to start all over from the first blue ribbon challenge for that map just to have a shot at getting all 15. Having an option to start over from the failed challenge could have resolved this issue in more ways then one.
Another aspect about this DLC that I found to be quite frustrating lies in the value lacking from the collectibles you are able to buy over time. While a few items do provide some insight into various characters and storylines from Bioshock Infinite, these items don't really add anything extra to the gameplay itself. Take for example the simple fact that you can unlock various statues of Elizabeth in a different attire and yet you can never alter her outfit to change up the core gameplay experience. The same applies to the weapons too because you pretty much only get the same amount of upgrades that you were able to get in the main campaign. It would have been cool if Irrational added some new weapons to this DLC but instead we will have to wait until Burial At Sea to see most of these features become a reality. Overall this isn't a deal breaker, but it most certainly is frustrating in my eyes.
Clash In The Clouds is a fun but flawed arena-based combat DLC for BioShock Infinite. While the combat aesthetics and the engaging enemy battles remain top notch throughout, the blue ribbon challenges offer a great deal of frustration in both concept and execution. If you're looking for intense battles and you don't care about ribbons and achievements, then perhaps you'll grow to enjoy this DLC as is. However, if you're a story buff and your looking for a much more definitive BioShock Infinite experience, then I would highly suggest that you wait for BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea when it releases later this year. If for any reason you never played BioShock Infinite and want more info on it, then I would highly recommend you check out Gary Swaby's review right HERE.
This review was based on a digital copy of BioShock Infinite: Clash in the Clouds for the Xbox 360.