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The atmosphere for Alien: Isolation is good. Disgustingly good.

Loud, creepy, tense, and it turns out that one alien is more. I can assure you that people would have been crying deep inside themselves after playing the Alien: Isolation preview. It really pounds you into a catatonic state with its sheer will to incite tension.

To some degree, we receive absolution for the mess that Colonial Marines was, but I fear that other problems could grind Alien down into a game that ‘could have been’.

Myself and other testers got to sample a short section from the game, a timed challenge if you will. However, I feel like I’m not the only one who didn’t get close to finishing the section within the 10-minute time limit. That isn’t exactly a bad thing, we need time to get to grips with the game and understand the rudimentary principles necessary to play it well.

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The experience, to be quite frank, was brutal. Once you opened the initial door; it was instantly on like Donkey Kong! Come to think of it, Donkey Kong is probably a lot easier in comparison. Whilst moving through the level you had to be in constant fear of the slimy, dripping alien roaming the halls, vents and anything it can get its nasty acidic body through.

Within 20 seconds I was caught green-handed and drenched in a cascading effect of deadly alien blood (acid). Not the best start, but I expected it to happen. I think I managed to last 20-30 seconds longer on my next go; it was at this point that my frustration started to set in.

I’m completely behind the developer’s motives to basically recreate the original ‘single alien’ scenario, which is fair enough. I can also understand the A.I channelling this beast is superior to what you come to expect from games on average. It follows your scent, it can detect your recent whereabouts and most importantly of all, if you alert with sudden/quick movements then it can kill you with a sneeze.

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Unfortunately the A.I is so good that you can easily have spells of 10, 20, hell, even 30 seconds of remaining motionless. Partly because of the untold horrors on the other side of the table you’re hiding at, but also because you don’t want to have to redo the section for the 50th time.

Speaking of motion, the motion tracker (seen in the films themselves) is paramount to your survival, without it, you are naked. Like Batman without his cowl, Spyro without Sparyx or Kratos without his blades; you would be helpless without your motion tracker. It can detect the alien up to a point, yet when it’s out of range, I feel more worried. Which is a good thing!

Suspenseful and engaging gameplay HAD to be the key to make this a better game. But it needs more to be a great game. The way you move is two-fold: moving about in general feels clunky and like I’m being impeded by dragging 10-ton weights behind me, whereas moving under tables and into vents is a lot more seamless as you don’t need to crouch as the game will automatically do it for you.

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Escaping an 8ft armour-plated, alien killing machine (get the reference anyone?) is not the easiest task to accomplish, so solid manoeuvrability enhances your freedom to outthink the beast. I’d say to limit running to a bare minimum though as any loud footsteps are just begging for Mr Sneeze to come and reduce you to bone.

I must say, one particular moment stood out for me; after negotiating a decent amount of the hallway, I locked eyes with the enemy and immediately stopped to hide behind a box. The alien was a foot away from me on the other side. I could see his eager tail wagging, he was probably hungry for flesh. After 30 seconds of the music getting louder and more intense, me thinking that he was going to zip around and get me….he walked away. But that moment was fantastic, perhaps repeated encounters like that wouldn’t be so much as good, but rather irritating in the long run.

Alien: Isolation has the potential to be a great game, its campaign is supposed to be 12-15 hours which is promising. But how often is the game going to throw annoying situations at you where it’s rinse and repeat? These 10 minutes were breathless at times, will the experience not be tainted after 10 hours?

I’ll guess we’ll have to see what Creative Assembly can do with the game and if they can be just that; creative.

- Andy

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AndyHighton_YNWA On October - 6 - 2014

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