Friday, July 17, 2015

Alien: Isolation (Multiple, 2014)

Back to the games, as I spend some time with that awesome Alien game everybody raves about, yet it seems like nobody has finished because it's so damn long.




We start with Amanda Ripley (daughter of Ellen Ripley ((Sigorney Weaver)), alluded to in the movies) doing some mechanical repair. In walks this dude who may or may not be an android. Hey, wait a minute, that looks like...

Whoa! It's Lt. Malcolm Reed from Star Trek Enterprise! BY GOD, I NOTICE EVERYTHING

...at least, I think it is. Might just be another British guy.

In any case, Amanda gets an offer she can easily refuse: Go out into space and investigate a station that stopped communicating. And probably get accosted by a Xenomorph. Let's do it.

Whoa.

...is this what women see all the time?

Here's the ship that brings our heroes out into the depths of space. It looks a lot like the Nostromo. There are a couple of DLC chapters where you play as OG Ripley and do stuff on the actual Nostromo, too.

Just walkin' around. Yep. This proves that if I were to quantum leap into a woman's body, I'd pretty much just look down all the time. I'm a real sicko.

Here we see the super-helpful map screen. You're never really at a loss as to where you need to go, 'cause it tells you. The only problem is getting there.

Just...takin' a shower. Man, the first chapter of this game is great!

Unfortunately, the sexiness must end, as our heroine gets dressed and checks email. This is a very 70's idea of email, even though this takes place like two hundred years from now. Game is very faithful to the original Alien in that regard.

Whoa, who's this cutie? Apparently it's Taylor, a science officer. I hope she's also Amanda Ripley's lover. Since we kept electing Democrats in this future, everyone is gay. ...and beige.

Damn, Taylor.

"Damn, Taylor."

What the? Why is Richie up here in space?

Alright, enough creeping...for now. Amanda teams up with Taylor to investigate a disturbance in the force. A distress signal went out from Sevastopol Station, and our heroine is on the way to help out. Unfortunately, she isn't Samus Aran. If she were, this game would be much shorter.

The game begins for real with OH GOD IT'S SO CREEPY

Just gonna...crawl through this vent WHY DID I DECIDE TO PLAY THIS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

::breathes heavily into a paper bag::

Okay, so...there's an option here to change "film grain intensity" and I have no idea what that means. It doesn't seem to affect the game visuals at all. I think I turned it off, thinking it might negatively impact videos and shots.

Sevastopol Station has been in trouble for a while. There's grafitti everywhere, and the grafitti indicates that The Powers That Be pretty much left the station to rot...at best. At worst, the Powers That Be sent these people into some kind of death trap to perhaps profit off of the results.

Leave Weyland-Yutani alone! Corporations are people!

The light-effects are great, as expected, but the graphics otherwise look kinda low-res. Apparently the game is only 720p, which is kinda shocking for a PS4 game. I got used to it with the PS3. 720p was fine...in 2009. Once you get used to 1080p, especially on a big TV, 720p looks cheap in comparison. Probably because it is. Luckily there are other things that go into graphics and can compensate, like advanced lighting effects (which this game has in abundance).

My past self that reviewed Bloodborne called and said that this grafitti might be a metaphor for global warming.

I really like the mood of this game. It's dark and eerie, yet you often find scenes that are soothing to look at. For instance, a view of a sun or planet looming out the window. Beautiful as it is, it's also a reminder that ZERO other populated areas are anywhere near this station. Now that's chilling.

Interesting that there are Chinese symbols on the walls of the station. The name "Weyland-Yutani" alone sorta connotates a meeting of east and west in the corporate world of the future. That said, the evil corporation in this game is Seegson. At least at first. It isn't much of a spoiler to say that Weyland-Yutani Corporation is the real villain here.

Just crawling through some more vents. No biggie, nothing to see here

hlep

The cargo bay of the station is full of bodybags. Inhabited bodybags. Against my better judgment I wanted to inspect them and see what lay beneath, but disappointingly the game doesn't really allow much interaction with the environment.

The apocalyptic cancelled-flight board of the future. Check out all the stars listed on there. Pretty much every star listed is located near us, though Arcturus is pretty far off IIRC. No Sirius or Vega is surprising, mainly because more people would know those and they're closer. Keep in mind that this series transpires during a time when human interstellar travel is still fairly primitive, only allowing us to travel to the twelve or so closest stars in very lengthy voyages. It's a more realistic vision of how things could go than Star Trek, in that regard. No Warp 5 here.

There's a crafting system in place where you can build stuff, usually MediKits. I'm actually not that big of a fan of most crafting systems. It depends, though. Some RPGs have dedicated crafting systems that are very interesting, and I like those. However, it seems like modern shooters/FPSes/FPAs all seem to have to shoehorn in a crafting system, and it usually just slows down the gameplay. I say leave it out of games like this and Far Cry 4.

This dude is straight out of Alien 3. You know, the weird one with the prison full of indistinguishable bald guys with cockney accents? Yeah, that's this guy. Spoiler Alert: He gets eaten by the alien

Even Amanda is all "Man, you look like an Alien 3 refugee"

She's pretty close to the uncanny valley. Most of the people in this game are. The graphics have this rubbery look to them for humans. Speaking of rubbery... stay tuned, the worst is yet to come.

Behind these doors...lurks more unspeakable horror. Let's go in!

...Principal Feeny is right.

NOTE: I almost entirely do my own memes. Feel free to steal this or any others.

But first! Is that a ship driving by? HEY YOU! GET ME OUTTA HERE

I finally find a weapon in the form of this sturdy revolver. Now I can fend off humans no problem, but will this be of any use against more malevolent horrors?

Speaking of...what's that in the ceiling?

HOLY FUCK IT'S A XENO TAIL HIDE UNDER THE DESK

Luckily it doesn't notice my presence and just sorta thumps out of the room. It can't be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with... and I think it's gearing up to make more xenos. Heard something about there being a hive. This just keeps getting better and better.

It proceeds to run around murdering all of the survivors that I've been dodging all this time. Things are about to get real quiet up in here. The good news is that now I don't have all these human bandits sniping at me in this room anymore.

And then...I find the most unspeakable horror of all. A lab section filled with androids.

...Rubbery androids. The devil's hands have been busy. The xeno completely ignores these things, interestingly enough.

On a better note, here's the legendary motion tracker. It works, looks, and sounds exactly like it does in the movies, and it's supremely useful. It also causes the PS4 controller to glow green and flash when motion is nearby as an early warning. Playing this in the dark is quite a trip as a result, since it's like you're really holding the tracker. The controller also makes a variety of sounds, so even if the TV is muted you can hear the various beeps and static of the motion tracker coming from your hands.

"Heee-heeee!" says the android. "Shi-MOWNN!"

What the fuck??

"Heee-heee! Got to be startin' something!"

GET OFF ME

As the androids suddenly decide to murder me, I unload a full clip with my new revolver and they DO NOT CARE.

 
"It's black! It's white! WHOO! Shiii-MOWN!"

I Beat It on outta there, because it'd be Bad if those things got ahold of me. They slowly give chase, and I gotta say, this is a real Thriller.

I hide in a nearby locker. They're too dumb to figure out that I'm hiding, but watching them patrol about outside the locker is SUPER unsettling. Once their eyes turn red, they're in "kill mode" and that means you.

"HEE-HEEEE!"

DAMMIT THEY'RE AFTER ME AGAIN I HATE THIS

I HATE ANDROIDS

"T-600s have rubber skin. We spotted them easy."

I got tired of running from androids and loaded up some of the DLC. They did a really cool Nostromo re-creation here with you acting out the final battles of Alien.

Space-suits on hooks are singularly creepier than the alien itself is. After everything else I've dealt with tonight, I half-expect these suits to un-hook themselves and slowly stride towards me while nonchalantly pulling off their own heads.

I get ahold of a flame thrower, and now the hunted is the hunter. Bring it on, xeno! LET'S DO THIS!

YEAH FUCK YOU TOO

It's trying to get away, but I'm on it.

FUCK YOOOOOOU

YEAH YOU BETTER RUN

ah hell it got me

This game... whoa. It's an experience for sure. It's an extremely lengthy game, but it certainly has the market cornered on "unsettling". At least early on.

Fast forward quite bit, and I find ways to get the better of these damn androids. Three revolver shots to the head usually does it, or one really centered shotgun blast. Shooting them in the body does nothing, as I learned earlier. If ammo is scarce, going all Goldberg-Stopper '98 on them with the stun baton can electrocute them as well (though you need to very quickly follow up with some solid melee attacks before they recover). As for "Shock to the System", I get it. An 80's Billy Idol reference. This game is so 80's every chance it gets.

Is that the xeno, or a pile of tubes?

It's the latter, but it's really impressive how this game uses the environments to play tricks on your eyes. Much like the first movie, a lot of the ship interior resembles the alien, so you often think you see it somewhere peripherally. It usually just turns out to be some tubing or a moving shadow cast by a rotating fan blade, something along those lines.

Few things are worse than the xeno seeing you before you see it and prepare. This revolver won't do ANYTHING against it.

I like to light up flares. Reminds me of The Thing. You can toss these on the ground to light up a particular area, or carry them around. Once again, the lighting effects in this game are outstanding.

One chapter, maybe halfway through the game at best, has you playing out a flashback sequence one character has of finding the Crashed Derelict. The mysterious alien ship is still as creepy now as it was back in the day, though Prometheus sorta ruined the mystique by trying to explain it.

This chapter, being a flashback, is wholly unnecessary. That said... FANSERVICE

The "Space Jockey" is reconstructed really well here. It doesn't look like it actually has any legs, but it's hard to tell.

The Egg Room. I used to think the Space Jockey was a collector and this ship was a means to travel around collecting different life-forms, meaning the Alien was indigenous to some other world. The pilot stumbled upon them and got infected, then the xeno popped out when it was flying through space (causing the crash-land).

Now I'm pretty sure that the Space Jockey is just transporting cargo and that the xenos are lab-created weapons. The pilot knew what it had and was moving them, possibly for deployment on some enemy world. For whatever reason one of the facehuggers got loose and killed the pilot. This is sorta how Prometheus explains it, but I don't know how canon I consider that movie to Alien.

In any case, back to the game. Basically, this other team stumbled upon the same ship that was stumbled upon by the team in Alien, and history repeated itself. This time they managed to get to a nearby station before the infected person popped, and then the alien had an entire station to wreak havoc on. Hence the setting of the game.

At some point I get a Bolt Gun, which one-shots androids no matter where you shoot them. This is amazing and nullifies them somewhat as a threat (much like the Flamethrower does to the xeno, as long as you have time to draw it). Problem is, the Bolt Gun takes several seconds to charge up and fire, so you need to be aware of your surroundings and back off from a charging android if necessary. Even if the game gives you a big advantage, it comes with a caveat.

Later on, things become a bit clearer vis-a-vis the androids. Seegson builds these things. Seegson is basically the Charter Communications to Weyland-Yutani's Comcast, a distant second-place competitor. Weyland-Yutani androids are advanced and visually almost indistinguishable from humans. Seegson androids are these rubber-skinned, less-intelligent bots. Because their product has a lower production value, Seegson pushes that their androids are "more recognizable" than the competition. Wouldn't it be better to know who is and who isn't an android, without having to wonder? This is the line that Seegson tows in order to try and compete.

I find the Seegson main office on the station, where the director has been brutally mauled by her own "docile showroom androids".

Forget Seegson though, they're just fighting for WY's scraps. It turns out that Weyland-Yutani is running the show here, in a twist that is obvious from the get-go. This game follows the beats of the first movie.

We even get the intercepted Weyland communication that they want the alien preserved and that any people onboard are expendable. Basically, they don't want anyone to leave because they think they can swoop in and weaponize the alien if it stays contained here. In other news, anything with "Special Order" in it followed by numbers is probably bad.

Things go from bad to worse, as the alien ends up building its own hive. Oh, and it turns out there are a bunch of aliens on the station now. Not sure if this was always the case (would explain how it seemed to be in so many places at once).

Facehuggers are particularly troll-ish. They skitter around and one-shot you if they get anywhere near you. You can almost hear them going "lol" as they do it.

The xeno hive is particularly dangerous since the xenos have even more places to hide. Or they'll walk towards you right in the open like Psycho Mantis here. Sound is critical in this game (especially for hearing the rapid-tapping of an onrushing facehugger) and it's one game that I'm glad doesn't have much music. It does have some tunes here and there, but only in places where you're not in any particular danger of being snuck up on by noise-making creatures. For instance, when engaging the silent androids, some intense music might play.

Okay, now I know the game is trying to play visual tricks. That machinery on the left looks exactly like the alien from the side.

At some point we get an awesome escape sequence that looks like it belongs in Metroid Prime. My kingdom for a HD remake of that game.

Escape sequence or not, the game isn't over. It keeps moving the goalpost away, and I've been told that it's about ten hours longer than it should have been. I believe that, but I'm still progressing at a brisk pace so it's fine. This is all I'll cover for the game, think I touched on everything I wanted to talk about.

Leaving this one with a serene space-walk. It says something when the only relaxing part of a game is the part where you're walking in space with limited oxygen and magnetic boots being the only thing keeping you from floating off into oblivion.

Really good game. Well-designed and interesting, and the Alien game that fans have always wanted. Now if we could only get Terminator to get this sort of treatment, but that'd be harder to do story-wise. Maybe a game set pre-Terminator with Kyle dealing with things in the future. Done right, a stealthy game with him evading terminators and other hazards in eerie ruins would be a great game.




"The way you maaaake me feel! (Go girl!) You really tuuurn me on! HEE-HEEEE!"

3 comments:

  1. LOL, now when I play this I'm going to be thinking of Michael Jackson when the androids show up. Your war with them was the best part.

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  2. It just isn't Alien without underwear.

    BURN THEM

    "Seegson pushes that their androids are "more recognizable" than the competition. Wouldn't it be better to know who is and who isn't an android, without having to wonder? This is the line that Seegson tows in order to try and compete." - Ah, that's neat, it's like their androids have blast processing.

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  3. The Chinese character you're looking at here means "Noodles." Sorry it's a letdown.

    They did a great job of setting up how quiet and creepy this place is.

    The controller-tracker interaction you're talking about here is something I've never heard of a game having. That's very very impressive.

    Whoa, great idea for DLC there, a way to make your dreams come true by being in the movie you love.

    I agree these androids are scary.

    The ship looking like the alien..very nice design.

    This space jockey lore sounds interesting.

    Interesting so many people feel it's too long. Ah well, it's not -required- to play more of a good thing. I'm glad they finally got the feeling of the movie right. I bet this inspired a lot of young'uns to watch it for the first time.

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