I loved BioShock Infinite. While I thought the story was intriguing and well executed, I also enjoyed the combat for the most part (barring a certain Zeppelin-based slog), with the mix of weapons and Vigors keeping things fresh throughout.
When Infinite’s long-awaited DLC was finally revealed last month, needless to say I was excited. However, it seemed as though wherever I turned for information – be it websites, or Twitter – everyone was labelling Clash In The Clouds as tacked-on Horde mode.
And so I fired up the combat-based portion of the DLC with a few concerns, the biggest being ‘can a horde mode be fun on your own’? My only experience of this type of mode has been in Uncharted 2 and Mass Effect 3, which were both co-operative multiplayer experiences that see you fending off waves of enemies while screaming that you need to be revived (or maybe that’s just me).
In the end I need not have worried; Clash In The Clouds isn’t really what I would call a Horde mode add-on. In fact it reminds me most of the VR missions from the Metal Gear Series. Yes, you do have ‘waves’ of enemies, but they’re static and non-procedural with enemies only dropping into the fray at the beginning of each round. My memories of Horde mode are that you’d have a small group to start with and more would come to your location as the wave played out. Here everyone is in the area to begin with and won’t attack until you’re seen or do something to attract their attention.
This means you have a few seconds to plan your attack and check out your tactical options, rather than just hunkering down and waiting for enemies to come to you. While that may also be a viable option to start off with, you’ll definitely need to use everything at your disposal to get through some of the tougher waves. Weapons, Vigors, dimension tears and, of course, the Skyhook all play a big part. Elizabeth joins you again and is as helpful as ever, throwing you salts, ammo or health when needed.
It wasn’t long until I fell back into patterns I’d developed during the main portion of BioShock Infinite and my trusty Carbine was taking out soldiers left, right and centre. While that was effective a lot of the time, it also made me realise that I’d been quite one dimensional in my combat approach in the main game – now I was using the Skyhook a great deal more and also thinking a lot more about mixing Vigors to create more powerful attacks, something I hadn’t done a lot of during the story mode.
You have four different areas to play in, each containing 15 waves, so you get plenty of bang for your buck. There are leaderboards for each level which adds replay value if you like to score chase with friends. If you die you have the option of restarting from the first wave or forfeiting your place on the leaderboard to pick up where you left off and carry on.
There isn’t much in the way of story content here though you can visit the museum and unlock various videos and music, as well as character renders that give the museum a waxworks feel. You can also access some additional voxophones via a tear in the museum and while these are nice extras, there is nothing ground-breaking in terms of the overall BioShock Infinite narrative.
Clash In The Clouds is a nice addition to the game, giving players a chance to jump into combat without worry about missing any collectibles or story beats. I found it quite helpful in getting me to vary my tactics and experiment with different ideas to take out enemies. I came into this thinking it would be a simple ‘run and gun, survive as many waves as possible’ affair and was pleasantly surprised by its tactical nature.
I actually think this would’ve been great content to have as part of the original game – having somewhere to hone your combat skills outside of the main story arc would have definitely benefited players in the long run, making the gun fights varied and even more enjoyable.