Title: Alien -
Platform: Steam, PC, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4. Xbox One
Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Sci Fi, Horror, FPS
Players: Single player
Written by Xeno 10th October 2014
So cards on the table, I'm a MASIVE aliens fan. No really, I have all the movies on multiple formats, the Xenomorph is my phone and PC backgrounds, my web handle comes from the Xenomorph's name; hell I've been getting the exoskeleton of the Xenomorph tattooed onto my skin.
Why am I telling you this you ask?
I'm just telling you this so you can fully understand where I'm coming from when I say “If you are a fan of the Alien franchise you need to play this game”, but if you need more convincing let’s get into why I love Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation so damn much.
Now for me the only games before this that really got H.R Giger’s iconic Xenomorphs right were the AVP games but this was only in the James Cameron ‘Aliens’ action movie sense. Isolation on the other hand is going full force on Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ vibe of dark corridors with ever present threats all around and it freaking nails it!
In Alien: Isolation you play as Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripley’s daughter. This game being set between the first two films, Ellen is still missing and Amanda is still looking for answers as to what happened to her. She is given the chance to be part of a team tasked with the retrieval of the Nostromo’s flight recorder from the Sevastopol space station. Upon arriving things quickly go balls up and Amanda is thrown from one life threatening situation to another. It’s a simple plot but its executed well and does all it needs to.
One of the most stand out aspects of Alien: Isolation is how the visuals and sound come together to masterfully recreate the memorable atmosphere. Everything about the environments absorb you in the world of the Alien movies. The squared off hatches, odd things sticking out of walls, lights casting shadows across the scenery, god you just can’t help but get swept up in the world, it really feels like you running around a ship from the movies. Add on top of that the sound design that pulls you even deeper in. It uses music cues right out of the film, the loud mechanical sounds of the computers as you use them, even the damn steam pipes have their fair share of making this world feel alive, like your really are in this creepy futuristic place oozing with atmosphere.
The best bit is all this gets you to the perfect point where ‘nothing’ can scare the crap out of you (as in literal nothingness will scare you). There was more than the one time I was panicking about what was about to kill me only to find that I was jumping at shadows. After the first time I ran into the Xenomorph I was so sure he was about to run me down and murder my ass but it was just the game putting me in the right head space where I was sure every steam pipe bursting was it screeching and every shadow was me just dodging out of its view, only to have it just be pipes and fan shadows!
The majority of the game will be spent trying to avoid one of three types of enemies. The human survivors are the simplest to deal with if you can get them alone but this is rarely the case. More often then not The humans are rocking around with back up and their guns will cut you down right quick. Thankfully they ware the most vocal and so the easiest to sneak around unlike the synthetics. Theses guy are Seagson's version of the Weyland Yutani synthetics but unlike Weyland's models like Ash or Bishop, the Seagson synthetics have this cheap feel like their skin is just stretched over their skeleton and with these cold dead glowing eyes. You have no idea how terrifying theses guys are. When you turn a corner an notice that one of these guys has spotted you and like something out of terminator, he just starts marching in you direction, red eyes aglow, YOU WILL RUN! Now don't think your just going to drop these guys like squishy humans, even if you go at them with a gun you wont be dropping them quick as the can take a lot of punishment.
And the last foe you will face is non other then the big man himself, the Xenomorph. After it is introduced the walking Giger nightmare is a constant threat for the rest of the game. Any sound can bring the xeno crawling from the vents to see what it can find. Gun fights, people yelling, you running hell even knocking things over in the environment can have him come a stalking. The most terrifying thing is it learns. Should it see you flee from under a table the next time its out and about it may be more likely to look in such a place. This evolution of its hunting pattern not only keeps it feeling menacing but also makes it feel more like its hunting YOU! Now don't get any big ideas about kill this thing as the BEST you can do is drive it off with fire but it will be back. Your best bet when he is around is to keep hidden and listen for the sounds he makes. Every grown and screech has a meaning and this really heightens the tension as you discern “I'm out” from “I've found you”.
When stealth fails you, Isolation gives you two options, guns and gadgets. Guns while mostly effective are hard to use. Amanda is not soldier and so being accurate with a firearm is not going to happened. Your better option is to scavenge blueprints and scrap from the environment and turn it into gadgets to help you out. Flash bangs, EMP, noise makers and med kits can all be made to help you get what you need to done.
TLDR: Alien fans: JUST BUY THIS GAME. Everyone Else: this is a masterful Si-
Solid game play,
Atmosphere is spot on,
Plenty of genuine scares,
Fells like you are really in the Alien universe.
Lots of slowly sneaking around,
Sometimes the Xenomorph spawn can be really unfair.
Alien: Isolation gets just about as close to the movies as we’re going to get for the video game screen and gets a solid 9/10.