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Clash in the Clouds is a hard proposition to sell to people who aren't necessarily fans of Bioshock Infinite for it’s combat and nothing else. A wave based horde mode for only one player that gets increasingly harder designed to be played numerous times to master. Many will be immediately turned off by this, and that’s fine. With the story focused Burial at Sea also coming, feel free to give this one a miss. However, if you are really into the combat of the game like myself there is some fun to be had here, though it’s still nothing you haven't seen before.
The DLC consists of four different maps based on locations around Columbia with 15 waves to beat per map. The objective is to survive all 15 waves and get the best score possible. Dying will result in either restarting from the beginning or forfeiting your leaderboard score to continue, unless you spent some of your hard earned cash on a revive which become increasingly more expensive per use.
To mix things up, each wave contains a unique Blue Ribbon Challenge. This is where things get interesting. Challenges range from quite easy (kill all enemies from Sky Lines) to insanely difficult (defeat a Handyman without shooting it’s head or heart). Completing a challenge will net you with even more points and cash which can then be spent on more weapon/vigor upgrades in between waves.
The simple concept does work rather well. As you get set the challenge before you start the next wave, you can plan accordingly in the armory and get the right equipment for the job. The problem is that the challenges get so hard that after playing through each map a few times I can already tell which ones are doable and which would take more time than I’m willing to invest to achieve.
Another problem is that you can’t restart any wave at your leisure. For example, if you only need the Blue Ribbons for waves 12 & 14 you will have to restart from wave 1 and work your way back to wave 12 before you can attempt it again. If you fail, its back to wave 1 and working all the way through again. If you could restart from any wave from the menu it would make this easier but the current system means you have to waste so much time just to play the parts you want, which is a bad way of doing things. As someone who beat the game on 1999 mode and got every achievement, I won’t be going after every Blue Ribbon unless they patch in the ability to retry any wave once you've completed it once.
The other part of this DLC is the hub in which you can access the four maps. Instead of jumping into combat, you can enter an interactive museum called The Columbian Archaeological Society which features a whole host of interesting goodies for you to spend your money on. You can purchase character models so you can get up close and personal with Songbird or a Handyman. Unlock concept art, listen to songs from the game and even view unseen audition footage and unused Kinectoscopes cut from the original game.
The museum is awesome and it is a shame it’s only got 35 items to unlock as this is what Infinite superfans will absolutely love. Purchasing two of the more mysterious character models from the game will unlock you access to an area Booker visited briefly in the main game and you get to explore and pick up five new Voxophones which I assume were cut from the main game. They provide more backstory on certain events and made the museum easily my favorite part of this DLC. Also, once you have beat the four maps once there is a rather strange Easter egg that appears in the museum. I won’t spoil it but it will make more sense I imagine once Burial at Sea arrives.
A small random irritation I had was how Elizabeth is presented in the DLC as she almost serves no purpose. She is needed so you can still open tears during combat and to provide health/ammo to aid the player. But seeing her just randomly walking around, even in the museum, and never speaking was very odd to me.
Overall, this DLC is a hard one to judge. For a relatively low price point (400 MS Points/$4.99 or free with the Season Pass) there is definitely some fun to be had. Plus if you are interested in the next DLC then buy the Season Pass to get those two cheaper and this one free just to pass the time until then. It’s nothing to get excited about and is not anywhere near the greatness of the full game but it is more content and for now, it is all we have.