BioShock Infinite: Clash In The Clouds Review
Oh, Bioshock Infinite. You do like to keep surprising us, don’t you?
By now – hopefully – you should be aware that the first add-on to Irrational Games’ epic Bioshock Infinite is not the deep, dark, story-driven instalment that some of us may have been anticipating. Rather than expanding further upon Infinite’s rich lore, Clash in the Clouds is … well, pretty much what it says on the tin, actually.
Set against the bright, vibrant Columbian cloudscape, you’ll be tasked with wiping out wave after wave of Infinite-flavoured bad guys. You remember them fondly, right?
There’s the many soldiers, the Patriots, the Firemen, the Handymen, the Shrieking-Ghost-You-Hoped-You’d-Never-Have-To-Fight-Again-Lady. Yep, they’re all back, and your job is to keep on blastin’ and vigorin’ and possessin’ and murder of crowin’ until they’re all gone again.
Except it’s not. Getting through the first, second, fifth, eighth waves unscathed is a challenging if not impossible proposition, but – as you might suspect – the deeper you go, the trickier DeWitt’s task becomes.
Clash In The Clouds – Wave After Wave
There are fifteen waves per stage to wade through, and writing that sentence is a damned sight easier than actually getting through them. CitC is brutally unsympathetic to your plight. Sure, you can drop dead and respawn where you were before … but that privilege comes at a heavy cost. And whilst you’re able to retain the spoils of battle, your points – and leaderboard glory – can’t be resuscitated.
There are four maps in all, all boasting magnificent set pieces that are bursting with the luscious life and colour we’ve come to expect from Infinite’s universe. Stuffed with skylines, platforms and more combat-friendly tears than you can throw a Devil’s Kiss at, you’ll adapt quickly and utilise Columbia’s many offerings to your tactical advantage.
Coupled with the generous up-front arsenal – which includes your choice of guns and several vigors from the get-go – you probably won’t find the first stage, Ops Zeal, too much of a challenge.
Maybe it’s from not experimenting enough with new vigor/weapon combinations, or maybe it’s because – as tight as Infinite’s combat undeniably is – it’s harder to enjoy this kind of wave-based brutality outside of a multiplayer map, but getting through fifteen waves of bad guys without karking it is hard, frustrating work.
Clash In The Clouds – Fresh Tactics Needed
But whilst, admittedly, it’s annoying to keep crashing out at waves thirteen and fourteen, it certainly keeps you on your toes. You’ll find yourself resorting to stealthy, creative tactics, making for a much more thoughtful – and thorough – offence. In fact, it might just turn how you play BI on its head entirely.
And if you do crash out? It’s only your pride that sustains any lasting damage. Sure, you’ll lose points, but respawning right where you were with full health, salts and clips makes concluding that wave that much less frustrating.
Whilst your environment doesn’t change inbetween waves, you won’t have time to feel complacent. With each assault comes a slightly different combination of enemies, and you might want to think strategically about how best to take them out. Unfortunately, you don’t get much of an opportunity to prepare yourself; only the brief Blue Ribbon pop-up in the safe room will give you get a peek of what you’re about to face next, and it’s not on the screen for long.
Clash In The Clouds – Blue Ribbons Challenges
Talking of which – if it’s a real challenge you’re after, the Blue Ribbon Challenges are a must. In addition to the primary target of, you know, staying alive, these additional challenges turn up the heat and make all kinds of extra demands. You may have to clear a wave by using only the Hand Cannon, perhaps, or using only one nominated vigor. They add a dollop of difficulty to an already difficult task, but for those seeking a meatier challenge in line with the 1999 Mode, here it is – complete with blue ribbon gift-wrap.
Finally, don’t forget to visit the Columbia Archeological Society, the small room at the end of the hall stuffed with – to begin with, in any case – empty plinths and displays. Use your hard-earned cash to unlock character models, kinetoscopes, music, behind-the-scenes footage and other bits and pieces, including a handful of secrets.
If you heart Infinite for its no-holds-barred storytelling then these secrets are not quite meaty enough to justify the outlay, but it’s a fun addition nonetheless, particularly if you’re already palpitating at the thought of playing through the next story-driven DLC pack, Burial at Sea.
To be completely straight with you, Irrational’s desire to keep Infinite a solitary experience falls a little flat here. Sure, there’s an innate excitement of being a one-man execution squad (albeit with Lizzie’s help along the way), but it’s not difficult to imagine how much more enjoyable shredding each wave could be if you had an ally or two at my side.
Sure, Infinite is a single-player experience. But there’s a reason horde modes are a multiplayer staple, and facing up to this challenge could’ve been so much more enjoyable with a friend alongside.
Version Tested: Xbox 360