Alien Isolation – Review (PS4)

Alien Isolation Main

So here we are again, another console generation and another Alien game. Isolation promised an experience much closer to the original film and pre-release material looked great. However as someone who got burnt by Alien vs Predator and Colonial Marines, I was reluctant to let the hype carry me away. Could Creative Assembly be the first developer in decades to nail an Alien game?

Picking up in 2137, between the events of Alien and Aliens, Isolation sees you take on the role of Amanda Ripley – the daughter of general badass Ellen Ripley. With Ellen still missing, a flight recorder from her ship Nostromo is discovered and Amanda heads to Sevastopol, the space station that has the recorder, to get some answers. And that’s where we pick up the story, playing as Amanda from a first person perspective.

The first thing you’ll notice is the presentation. From the opening boot up sequence, featuring some wonderful retro logos, to the in game world, everything has been crafted with a level of dedication that shows a real love for the universe. As you make your way through the levels you’ll find yourself taken in by how good your surroundings look. Of course, you’d expect a high level of fidelity and detail when dealing with enclosed spaces and corridors like this but that doesn’t mean its any less impressive. The fire in the game looks especially good and while character models can sometimes look a little off facially, Isolation is a pretty good looking game.

Alien Isolation 1

Another thing to note is that while Isolation is a first person game that features guns, flamethrowers and other weapons, it is not a shooter. This is a horror game, pure and simple. You will spend a lot of time hiding and almost all of the game crouch-walking slowly around areas. While Amanda can handle herself against human and android enemies (although even those can kill you quickly) the Alien itself is not killable, or at least certainly not with the tools you have at your disposal. It will also kill you in one hit, often from behind. These mini cut scenes are great, for example the first you might know about it is suddenly losing control of Amanda and she looks down to see the tail of the Alien break through her chest! That means if you hear it nearby you’ll need to find somewhere to hide or set up a distraction.

The Alien is well designed and uses the games artificial intelligence to learn your patterns, which is really cool (but terrifying). If you keep hiding in lockers the Alien will check them first when looking for you. Same goes for hiding under desks or in cabinets. It’s a clever mechanic and doesn’t feel unfair, it’s something that adds a bit more tension to proceedings. The amount of times I was hiding somewhere only to see the Alien slowly stalk passed outside, I was literally holding my breath.

As someone who doesn’t really like horror games with jump scares (I survived about 20 minutes of Outlast before turning it off and let’s not mention P.T…) I found this to be a great experience. The issue I had was that it was so intense I could only play an hour or so at a time. Which is why it’s taken me months to finish it (apologies @lefty_flip!). And that brings me to my main complaint about the game, it’s length. It is quite rare these days for a game to be too long but unfortunately Alien Isolation out stays its welcome by a good few hours. Clocking in at around 20 hours, it was just too draining. Also a few of those missions before the game ramps up at the end really felt like filler and there was a lot of ‘go to this door, try the handle, power’s out, track back across the map to turn it back on, and return to the door’ type stuff. And all the while you’re being hunted by an AI clever Alien. It just felt too long.

Alien Isolation 2

The other issue was that the game lost any suspense when failing areas. If you could get through them on your first or second attempt it was an exhilarating ride. However repeated deaths led to instances where you ended up just running here and there with pinpoint accuracy. I’m not really sure what the solution would be for that but it definitely shattered the carefully crafted illusion of the game on several occasions for me.

I quite liked the story but there were a few issues and the ending seemed to have a few gaping plot holes, which had me reaching for the internet. The characters felt quite well formed and Ripley herself was a decent protagonist. Even though I knew from the films what had happened to Ellen Ripley it still felt interesting and important when Amanda discovered new pieces of information.

In addition to the main campaign there is also Survivor mode, whereby you attempt to escape through levels as quickly as possible while doing optional side objectives to increase your score. You are given a time limit (30 minutes for example) in which to escape and the whole thing feels even more claustrophobic than the campaign. Having a timer running in the top corner adds even more pressure. I couldn’t even beat the first of these challenges so I suspect they are for more hardened/skilled players or people looking to play more of the game without replaying the story.

Alien Isolation 3

It has been years since the last decent Alien game – Alien Trilogy on the PlayStation (1996) and Alien 3 on Sega MegaDrive (1993) come to mind as stand out titles – but Alien Isolation is the best we’ve had for a long time. It captures the feel of that first film perfectly and while it has some issues with plot and overall length, this is recommended – especially if you’re a fan of the Alien universe.

Rating: 8/10

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Top 20 Kick Ass Female Characters: Part 2

CherryDarling

So we kicked off our Top 20 Kick Ass Female Characters earlier this week with numbers 20 down to 11, which can be found here.

And now the countdown continues…

 

10. Chun Li (Street Fighter)

Chun Li

Chun Li was one of those characters that everyone remembers, with her Lightning Kick and Spinning Bird Kick moves.

She enters the Street Fighter competition to avenge her father’s death as he was killed while investigating Shadaloo, M. Bison’s crime syndicate.

Chun Li was the first playable female character in a fighting game, which is pretty kick ass in itself.

But anyone who’s played as her only needs to hear her shout ‘Spinning Bird Kick!’ to know how kick ass she really is.

 

9. The Boss (Metal Gear Solid)

The Boss

Well without giving too much away from the (already confusing and downright wacky) Metal Gear Solid storylines, The Boss is a former C.I.A operative who was active throughout World War II and the Cold War as part of The Cobra Unit.

She has elite army training and is the founder of a specific type of close quarters combat using a combination of knife and gun to take down opponents.

The Boss was  a superspy who worked with lots of different organisations but her hand to hand prowess was almost unmatched and would easily take down squads of men before they realised what was going on.

 

8. Sarah Connor (Terminator)

Sarah Connor

Sarah Connor is a prime example of the maternal instinct – although in this case it’s also for the world’s benefit that she protects her son from harm.

After becoming pregnant following a liasion with a time travelling soldier 😕 Sarah Connor conceives her son John – who goes on to save humankind in a war against the machines.

Quite frankly anyone who can survive the advances of a Terminator is pretty hardcore in my book and you’re spoilt for choice with this entry as you have Linda Hamilton (film series) and Lena Headey (TV series) both playing the role so there’s twice as much carnage!

 

7. Miho (Sin City)

Miho

I think when I saw Sin City I was completely blown away by Miho – but in compiling this list all I could recall was her being handy with Shuriken. Well I checked out a clip on YouTube which confirmed her place in the Top 10.

Be warned this is VERY graphic violence from Sin City so don’t click the link if you like body parts remaining where they started:

Well I don’t feel like I have to add much but for those who didn’t watch the clip it basically showed Miho using her Shuriken and samurai swords to take out several bad guys.

Great skills but it’s the fact she doesn’t flinch once when killing these guys that makes Miho out as particualrly hardcore.

 

6. Buffy Summers (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)

Buffy

Buffy Summers has done her fair share of kicking vampire ass over the 8 seasons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

While the show had a kind of camp, comedic quality the actual fight scenes and hand to hand combat were really well done.

Her ‘Watcher’ (mentor) Giles always had her training with the heavy bag and her skill set included lots of different types of martial arts.

She had to be at the top of her game to battle with the undead every night and there was a lot of high kicking and vicious punching in amongst the stakes through the heart.

Plus she was pretty handy with a crossbow. 😎

 

5. The Bride (Kill Bill)

TheBride

If you are looking for an assassin you could do a lot worse than The Bride, the cream of the Deadly Vipers assassin clan.

Her outrageous battle with The Crazy 88 is the stuff of legend and her use of the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique is hard to better.

She’s able to wield swords, guns… you name it, she’ll use it. The Bride is also good at adapting plans on the fly and just using whatever she can get her hands on to kill her target.

You better hope it’s not you she’s coming after. 🙂

 

4. Jill Valentine (Resident Evil)

Jill Valentine

One of the survivors of the original T-Virus outbreak in Resident Evil, Jill has been non-stop ever since.

Initially a member of the Special Tactics And Rescue Service (STARS), Jill is highly skilled in hand to hand combat and gun play.

After leaving STARS, she helped Chris Redfield try to blow the lid on the Umbrella Corporation in various other games in the series.

She’s survived so many Zombie attacks it’s a testament to her skills that she is still alive to tell the tale.

 

3. Cherry Darling (Planet Terror)

 Cherry Darling

You might not think a go-go dancer from Texas would be such a kick ass character but then again perhaps you haven’t encountered Cherry Darling.

Following on from a virus being released into the atmosphere that has turned the locals into flesh eating zombies 😎 it’s up to Cherry and a gang of uninfected peeps to save the day.

After a car accident sees Cherry thrown from the vehicle and one of her legs eaten by zombies 😮 she recovers in hospital and is eventually given a custom made machine gun instead of a false leg 😀

Cherry uses her new found weapon to help stop the spread of the virus but unfortunately the spread does continue, albeit on a reduced scale.

From there on out Cherry leads what remains of mankind to a fort on the sea line, where they will do battle, defending the fort and living the best lives they can in the meantime.

 

2. Ripley (Aliens)

Ripley

Ellen Ripley’s nightmare began when her ship the Nostromo encountered a distress signal and decided to investigate.

We all know how that ended but Ripley shows guts and determination during the Alien series of films.

Protecting Newt and even some Colonial Marines in the second film, she has a sense of leadership that others look to in times of trouble.

Ripley might not have the combat skills of the rest of the Top 20 but her heart and all out action style would give any of them a run for their money.

 

1. River Tam (Firefly/Serenity)

River Tam

River is smuggled aboard Firefly by her brother Simon as the pair of them are on the run from The Alliance.

Upon coming out of hiding on the ship she is shown to be simple and most of the crew presume she has learning difficulties or the like.

That wasn’t true. Her emotional problems stemmed from botched brain surgery at ‘school.’

River came from a rich bakground and was considered a child prodigy. Sent to a private school called The Academy at age 14, which turned out to be an undercover government experiment that was trying to create the perfect assassin. 😀

Highly skilled with firearms and deadly in hand to hand combat River can be triggered at any time, which activates her assassin ‘mode.’

Check out this fight scene from the film Serenity – absolutely kick ass 😎

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