You'll never guess who drags down the gameplay in Alien: Isolation

Title You'll never guess who drags down the gameplay in Alien: Isolation
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Game reviews
When October 13, 2014

It's a bad sign that the weakest parts of Alien: Isolation are the parts with the alien. You'd think getting that right would be a priority..

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Total, absolute agreement from me. I loved being on the station. The environment is perfect. Cramped, dingy, slathered in VHS scan lines and CRT green. It's a perfect recreation of Alien's sets. Then the monster shows up. Blech.

To do the monster right, you can't see it until the 2nd act, can't get a good long encounter until the climax. You can't do that and have a 20 hour long game. This is why I love the Nostromo DLC so much... it's appropriately sized to carry the tension.

No opinion on the game itself but that is the best review box quote in a long while, Tom.

Well, unlike FH2, i disagree with this review..

but i'm not gonna bitch about it cause that's how tastes, preferances, opinions etc work.

I disagree completely. The game improves dramatically when the alien arrives. It's not exactly scary, but it does ratchet up the tension to an extreme level. Avoiding the alien requires patience and skill, and reaching each save point is an immensely satisfying victory. Unfortunately, patience and skill are two things modern gamers seem to lack.

Also, can we stop pretending Lara had good character development in Tomb Raider? I loved the game, but Lara going from being mortified over killing someone to a full-blown mass murderer in the span of 30 minutes is not good character development.

Can we stop pretending Lara went from being mortified over killing someone to a full-blown mass murderer in the span of 30 minutes?

Glad to hear the alien bits worked for you, Valtiel, but creeping from save point to save point is something I've long since lost patience for. That, to me, is tedium rather than ratcheting tension. To suggest it's a product of lack of skill and patience is a bit insulting. Some of us value our time a bit differently. :)

I felt exactly the same about Outlast. The best parts in the game are when you get to explore the wonderful Session 9 asylum setting without worry of enemies.

Then the giant frankenstein guy pops up and you're forced into a dreary stealth game of hiding in lockers. Every single time you do so, the enemy is scripted to always ALWAYS check the other locker (they always come in pairs) before walking away. It was a neat trick for tension the first time, a laughable joke after that.

I remember learning first hand about tension and instant fail stealth situations in the PS3 horror game Siren. In that game, you controlled a variety of characters with different levels of combat ability. Some of them had plenty of ammo and health and could fight the zombies like any random action game. Others, were quite vulnerable and needed to do everything very carefully. Lastly, there was a little girl who could do nothing but die.
By a huge margin, the scariest setting was the middle one. This was particularly the case because the zombies couldn't be permanently killed (they'd stay down for 5-15 minutes). The player needed to move carefully, but also quickly, lest the earlier zombies get back up. The sections with the little girl were just boring and frustrating and had absolutely zero tension.

Siren is a great comparison to Alien: Isolation, partly because I remember what a great payoff there was for the level when you're the little girl. But, yeah, that was a whole lotta tedium, wasn't it?

Pretty much mirrors my experience exactly. It's such a shame as the environment art is truly superb. Sega and Creative Assembly deserve credit for trying something new. I just wish they managed to make the alien an interesting adversary. Whenever it showed up, my experience soured for the wrong reasons.

I'm guessing this game will sing once somebody mods the alien out of it. Surely someone will?

I've read some other reviews in which the writers seemed to dance around the problem that you've stated so explicitly. I don't know which side of the tension/tedium side I would come down on, but I know I'm not willing to find out at full retail price. Also, I've yet to finish Fatal Frame 2. That game creeps me out like no other.

Crankypants is on a roll this week. I think the world is beautiful, the cars are beautiful and the game really shines in multiplayer freeroam. Who cares if people use the lines and ABS to beat your dickbutt Drivatar.

Siren was a weird instance of one of the best settings, atmospheres, and narrative in a horror game combined with one of their worst interfaces and gameplay. No, you can't just hit X to unlock the car door with the car key and start the car. You must go through 10 different inventory menu commands!

My favorite level was controlling the guy with the old fashioned flintlock sniper rifle. It was still tense since you had to carefully pick when you'd spend ammo, but not frustrating like the rest of the game.

But frustration in place of tension was the standard operating procedure for that game. The best strategy for every level was to say screw sightjacking and just do a bunch of suicide dry runs, blundering into every zombie until you memorized their locations.

Not only have the always entertaining, or at least bizarre, console wars spilled over onto the QT3 frontpage, they've spilled over into a completely different game review. Kind of like the eternal Blood War spilling over into Sigil.

Wow, so you are complaining that the A.I. is too hard? It's suppose to have heightened hearing, and if you bring out the motion tracker, it'll make noise, now I know to each his own.

I beat Shadow of Mordor, got reptitive for me. Leveled up to 28 in Destiny, meh. Fifa 15 is ok. This game is perfect and I've got an hour or so left until it's done. Thank you CA & Sega.

Unfortunately, the PS3 Siren spent a lot of time on that highest setting. The PS2 version (because the PS3 one is, in many respects, an Americanized remake of the PS2 Siren) was a lot more adept at scares and making you be very, very careful, and had better storytelling and a creepier build. That said...this also means it's so balls hard that it's tough to recommend people actually play it. I'd probably just check out Egomaniac's Let's Plays of the original and the Japan/Europe only sequel, which brings a lot of interesting new elements to the table.

I really really hate instafail stealth. To the point where I've never played No One Lives Forever because they had it in the tutorial. (I did play the sequel, though, where the penalty for failed stealth was more guys to shoot and less hilarious conversations.) So I have definitely been dubious about this one. I also never really get anywhere in games that are genuinely scary, like people seem to feel this one is. So I'll probably check it out after a Steam sale or two. S'okay. Plenty of other stuff to play in the next few months.