Alien: Isolation - PS3

Release Date:

07 October 2014
7.6

Summary:

Alien: Isolation is set 15 years after the events of the sci-fi horror classic Alien, and it puts gamers in control of Ellen Ripley's daughter Amanda as she heads to the decommissioned space station Sevastopol to investigate her mother's disappearance. But shortly after she begins searching for the flight recorder from the Nostromo, it becomes apparent that a single Alien is loose in the space station. This Alien cannot be killed, the station is filled with panicked humans and erratic androids, and players are armed with only a flashlight and a motion detector. There are multiple entry and exit points in every room of the ship, which means that while players have more options to escape sticky situations, the Alien can also attack from any number of places.

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Posted:
2014-11-11

gerbil

Super Gamer Dude

PlayStation 3

7.6

How much patience do you have? Does your leg jitter convulsively when waiting in line, or are you the type of person who imagined vast fantasy worlds in your mind to while away the time when your jerk stepfather was late again to pick you up from school? If you're the latter, you might really be fascinated by Alien: Isolation. If you're the former, the horror game based on the popular movie franchise might promote baldness as you tear your hair out.

In Alien: Isolation, you play as Amanda, daughter of the iconic Ellen Ripley character. Of course she's looking for hints as to the disappearance of her mother. After some brief exposition, Amanda boards the Torrens space vessel, and one is instantly struck by how clever the graphics designers were in appropriating a retro sense of what we used to think the future will look like. Creative Assembly's crew of designers did a knockout job recreating the color, tone and vibe of science fiction as imagined from that era, from the clunky green monitors to the delightfully tacky 70s-esque color scheme, right down to the assumption that we wouldn't have progressed as far as we have already in mobile device technology.

I wish the same type of talent could be ascribed to whomever wrote the plot. It won't be spoiling much to say that Alien: Isolation has one of the stupidest endings in the history of video games. It is insulting not only to fans of the Aliens mythology, but to fans of consistent character vision. Elsewhere, the writing supplies a list of groan-worthy reasons to halt the action, or extend the game longer than it should be. The only triumph it manages is its great premise of being alone on a creepy spaceship with an alien. It only half-manages that. At points the game decides to try for variety spice with idiotic human characters and a rather unsatisfying android threat. Oh, there are cryptic logs to find too. The writer packs in genre tropes where the absence of them would have been an improvement.

Alien: Isolation relies on patience. The initial few hours will see you solving environmental puzzles that have Amanda forage for supplies to open doors and progress in the space ship. There is a neat crafting system that contributes great tension. It undercuts every decision you make by limiting the sources and supplies for weapons and ammunition like early survival horror games did. This works wonderfully for weapons, and not so well for puzzles. It's really obvious that the developers did this so you'd have to wander across the ship, try to evade the alien when it eventually appears and find your supplies to open the next point forward. The problem is that it ends up being like a repetitive, annoying gatekeeper who keeps asking you what the password is, even though the password is inevitably some variant of what you were asked last time.

Still, the little hacking mini-games you play to manipulate devices can add some real tension when you know the alien is near from sound and visual cues. It's basically like playing a Gameboy while swimming away from sharks though. At least it is until you procure the flamethrower or notice the alien has incredibly stupid AI you can exploit. Afterwards, all the tension is sucked out into the vast loneliness of space.

Alien: Isolation really should have been a smaller game with less repetitive puzzles, less effective late game weapons, no other humans to play their slasher movie deaths, no android threat and a better ending. (Oh, there's an extra time trial mode where you compete against a leader board to see how quickly you can escape while accomplishing objectives, but it only has one map until you buy more, which is like cutting off somebody's leg and telling them to get by on the human potential for overcoming adversity: pointless.) If you're patient though, the long and drawn out fight against the alien, utterly alone and helpless is a great piece of game design. It may be worth waiting for the jerk stepfather of the rest of the game to get its act together and deliver it to you.

Submitted by Cheat Title Rating
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Nov 7, 2014
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Release Date:

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