Thursday, October 16, 2014

Alien Isolation Review

After the universally panned game Aliens: Colonial Marines, Sega had a lot of improving to do for their next Alien game. Instead of going for an action game, they decided to go for a horror survival one with inspiration from the first Alien. Did they succeed? Yes, yes they did.

Set 15 years after the events of Alien, Ripley's daughter Amanda is met with a Weyland-Yutani executive named Samuels about a Nostromo flight recorder. The tape recorder is being held aboard the Sevastopol space port, and it could reveal where Ellen Ripley is. Of course, since this is a horror game, things go terribly wrong and it's discovered that the port is abandoned. What remains on the ship are survivors, androids, and yes, a Xenomorph.

From the moment you start the game and wake up in the Torrens (the ship you arrive on), you can tell right away how much Alien influenced this game. In fact, the Torrens is modelled after the Nostromo! The atmosphere is one of the best parts of the game (as it should be in any horror game), and you never know what's around the corner, open or in vents.

The characters are probably the weakest part of the game. While not bad, none of the characters are anything special and leave you wanting more.

Going onto gameplay, this isn't your typical survivor game. Your six primary weapons are the revolver, shotgun, bolt gun, flame thrower, maintenance jack, and stun baton. For distractions you have flares, noisemakers, flashbangs, pipe bombs, smoke bombs, Molotov, and EMP mines, each having their purposes for a given situation. However, you need to choose carefully as supplies are scarce and you need to save supplies for medkits too. There's also a flashlight and motion tracker to keep you aware of surroundings.

The enemy AI is one of the best I've seen in quite a bit. Humans are easy to take down with melee, but if they catch you be prepared to die. Androids are hard to defeat without an EMP mine, stun baton charge, or bolt gun (the latter you don't get until late in the game), and if you don't have any of them be prepared to use your shotgun or revolver and make a run to the nearest locker or cabinet if the alien is nearby. Be on the lookout for androids lying down as they can give you a good startle if you're not looking out.

Finally there's the Xenomorph, and man oh man is this guy scary. I say this as someone who isn't easily scared, but by not being careful at times he scared me to the point where I was in shock for more than five seconds. You're never safe from him, not even in lockers and cabinets. If you run out of breath or he knew you were there and is messing with you, he'll take down the door and kill you unexpectedly. Your only way to defend against the alien is by using the flame thrower, and that will only scare him away for a short amount of time.

I played on hard, and it provided a tough challenge. However, the game will be challenging no matter what difficulty you decide to play on, so this isn't going to be everyone's game. There's 18 missions in the campaign and it took me 20 hours to complete. I would have cut a mission or two from the game, but otherwise it remained fun.

As far as extras go, Survivor Mode is a time trial mode where you have to complete an objective and get to the elevator without getting killed by the alien. It's fun, but only one map is included with the game; the rest you have to buy with DLC. Unless the maps are substantially different from the one included with the game, I have no plans on buying it.

The season pass will consist of Survivor Maps, but there's to extra missions that were included with pre-ordering that you can buy for $4 each: Crew Expandable and Last Survivor. Both missions take place during Alien. In Crew Expandable you play as Ripley, Parker, or Dallas and have to try luring the Alien into an airlock, while Last Survivor starts right when Ripley is the last survivor left on the Nostromo and you have to get to the escape ship. Both of the missions are fun for what they are, but they're incredibly short. Crew Expandable took me 25 minutes to complete and Last Survivor took 10 minutes, and I played both on Hard. They're only worth getting if they're 50 cents during a sale.

Overall, I loved Alien Isolation. This won't be a game for everyone, but if you're a fan of Alien and are up for a challenge, you won't regret buying this. I give Alien Isolation a 9/10 or A-.

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