Did you hate BioShock Infinite's combat? Then this DLC isn't for you. For a lot of players, having to shoot people every ten minutes got in the way of Infinite's beautiful world and compelling story. Clash in the Clouds is a series of arcade-like challenges that focus entirely on combat, set in four large arenas whose assets are reused from familiar locations around Columbia.
The Ops Zeal is based on Finkton, Columbia's Metropolis-inspired factory district. It's the smallest of the lot, and criss-crossed with Sky-Lines. The Duke and Dimwit Theater is set in Soldier's Field and features rooftops and floating barges to hop between. Raven's Dome is similar to the blue-skied area of the city where Booker first emerges from the chapel. Then, finally, there's Emporia Arcade, which is set in the upmarket shopping district from the end of the main game.
A Bulletstorm-style points system rewards you for creative killing. You score bonus dollars for using Sky-Lines, the environment, tears, and so on. Where the real challenge lies, however, is in the Blue Ribbon Challenges. These give you a significant bonus for dealing with enemy waves in a certain way: for example, only killing them with a particular weapon, or with possessed Patriots.
It's tough. We hadn't played BioShock Infinite for a few months, and were getting slaughtered as we tried to settle back into our favourite weapon/vigor combos. Waves start out simple, with basic soldiers, but soon you're fighting Firemen, Zealots, and all the other 'elite' enemies - often all at once. Luckily Elizabeth is there to toss you items when you're struggling. There's no new dialogue, though, and a lack of mid-fight banter between the two is strange and never unnoticeable.
Between missions there's a hub to explore called the Columbia Historical Society. You're teleported here between waves to choose from a rack of all the game's weapons and buy new upgrades and vigors. It's also home to a beautiful museum where you can buy character models, concept art, and recordings of those great old-fashioned covers of pop songs heard throughout the story. When you finish all four stages - surviving the waves will do; you don't need to complete all the Blue Ribbons - you're treated to a brilliant easter egg.
Clash in the Clouds feels like a stopgap. It's an appetiser for Buried at Sea, the two-part story-led DLC set in Rapture before the city's fall that's due for release later this year. For a reasonable £3.99/400 MSP there's enough here to enjoy (provided you're a fan of the combat), but for a game so thought-provoking and complex, this DLC seems a little too basic and brutish.
BioShock Infinite's combat isn't strong enough to hold its own with the story stripped away, but if you loved it (and many did), this might be worth a shot.