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Games : Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: October 7th, 2014 Movie Release Year: 2014

Alien: Isolation

Overview -

Ridley Scott's seminal 1979 sci-fi horror classic 'Alien' did far more than cement itself as a high-water mark of the genre and fully establish Scott as an auteur for years to come; it spawned a long running, highly profitable film series, not to mention comic series, and yes, the inevitable video game tie-in. 'Alien' fans (as well as those of the 'when worlds collide' 'Aliens vs. Predator' series) are no strangers to the numerous attempts to bring the panic and claustrophobia of Scott's vision to their consoles and PCs. In every case I can think of, a crack at the series in video game form has far more in common with James Cameron's action-packed follow-up, 'Aliens' than Scott's maze of corridors and H.R. Giger crafted terror. 

Enter 'Alien: Isolation,' a game that seems isolated from prior 'Aliens' game outings, and a game that takes the whole 'No One Can Hear You Scream' tagline to heart.

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
VIDEO
AUDIO
Tech Specs & Release Details
Audio Formats:
Dolby Digital 5.1
Release Date:
October 7th, 2014

Video Review

Ranking:

Visually, 'Alien Isolation' is for the most part very stylish, absolutely nailing the production design of the Scott film to the letter. Environments range from expansive to claustrophobic and detail is relatively solid. Animations, in particular the Alien, aren't as fluid as desired and there's the occasional hiccup in NPC movement. Character models both in-game and during cutscenes are generally realistic, although the cutscenes do suffer from some big-time framerate issues, minor screen tearing and texture pop-in. There's a noticeable hiccup that occurs whenever a cutscene finishes and the scene is returned to the in-game engine, but for the most part, gameplay is incredibly fluid and smooth, with very few instances of pop-in. Lighting effects in the game are quite underappreciated at first, but as the game progresses, they definitely provide a huge boost in your chances of surviving specific situations.

Audio Review

Ranking:

For all the issues with the graphics, in particular the cutscenes, the sound design of 'Alien Isolation' is a contender for best-of-the-year. Atmospherics rule the day and it really is a must to have your sound system cranked; while at first it immerses you in the environment, once the Alien shows up, you'll depend on it to here where he is, and the surround effects as he runs above you are simply amazing. Other effect work is more than noteworthy and voice acting is definitely above par. The score is very reminiscent of both Jerry Goldsmith's work on the original film and James Horner's work on the sequel; it can be used to heighten the tension or sell the bombastic tone of a situation.

Final Thoughts

I truly want to say 'Alien Isolation' is a contender for game-of-the-year. It's the rare gaming experience that offered me something I never experienced and immersed me in a setting from start to finish. It's beautifully rendered and one can't praise the sound design enough. Still, there's no denying it's long and repeated trial-and-error will only stretch that out to moments of sheer frustration at the game. The story of Amanda Ripley is definitely worth experiencing, but be prepared for some stretches of thin narrative amidst your quest to survive, or more aptly, die less. Finally, it seems, Sega, has directed developer Creative Assembly to make a game with enough authenticity, creativity, and style to make the franchise proud. For those willing to look past the most recent abysmal offering, Gearbox's 'Aliens: Colonial Marines,' 'Alien Isolation' brings it back to where it started. I can't lie about your chances, but... you have my sympathies.