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Why Alien: Isolation is the Alien game we’ve been waiting for

The stale stench of disappointment lies all around the Alien franchise when it comes to video games. Teased ever so slightly by the fantastic Alien vs. Predator 2 in the early 2000’s, the full potential of an Alien game has all but been squandered by the past few releases. Hope still seemed to be present, laid on the shoulders of our savior, Aliens: Colonial Marines. The initial tid bits of chum thrown out at fans was enough to spark the ember that had all but faded in the futile hopes of a good Alien video game. There was something there, it seemed to be faithful and authentic to the initial films predecessor. Oh the sound of that pulse rifle, enough to make any fan salivate at the mouth uncontrollably.

The story ends sour however, Aliens: Colonial Marines was not only boring and generic, it turned the most terrifying creature in the galaxy into a mindless nuisance that ran head first into gunfire. If there is one thing that destroys any other authenticity sprinkled through out the game, it is this. From its humble beginnings, we are told this thing, this Xenomorph, is a force to be reckoned with. It is smart, it is cunning, it is deadly. If we are to scavenge any sort of silver lining from Gearbox’s shot at the franchise most of us would point at one section, the stealth section. Without weapons and the stupid hordes of Xenomorph, we start to feel that uneasy feeling that most horror aficionados would call tension. This along with many other reasons is why Alien: Isolation will not only reach our expectations but put out the fires so many other titles have started.

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It all begins with one word and that is confidence. Since its somewhat startling announcement by its developer, Creative Assembly, there has been a glowing aura of confidence. Appearing at multiple game shows being fully playable along with the relatively steady stream of information, CA seems to have nothing to hide when it comes to Isolation. In fact, you just might say they are chomping at the bit to get the game into our hands. This is not normal, this is the display of pride, this is true passion for your work that we are seeing. Sure, these fine gentlemen have bags under their eyes, enduring countless sleepless nights to reach the ever encroaching release date that is but a few months off. The love and passion for the Alien franchise radiates brightly even through the tough times of development the whole team is certainly going through. They believe this is the game we have all been waiting for and they want us to believe the same.

The next divergence Isolation has taken compared to previous games is its choice of film inspiration. It is a no brainer that Aliens is (theoretically) a gold mine because of its source material, adrenaline-fueled action. Arcade games along with the Marines campaign in the AVP games have stanchly taken inspiration from Aliens. Creative Assembly is the first the delve into the rich content from the first breakthrough in the saga, Ridley Scott’s Alien. Without question inspired by Amnesia, a first person horror game that in a way re-imagined the idea of survival horror, Creative Assembly has seemed to have found a match made in heaven.

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While games for the most part largely empower the player with impossible strengths or an excessive arsenal of weapon; Alien: Isolation looks to keep you as hopeless and timid as possible. Armed with a clunky, fat motion tracker that hardly works and your feeble feet, you’re tossed in the ring with a Xenomorph on a massive ship that largely resembles the Nostromo. We have seen a few other tools come into play here but nothing close to any sort of self defense weapon. Now, when I say this ship looks like the one from the first film I mean it, the look of the ship from what we’ve seen is beautiful, authentic and terrifying. The term lo-fi sci-fi could not encapsulate the feeling better, filled with large blinking buttons, CRT monitors and heavy metal doors. It is a sight to behold and something I am truly looking forward to exploring.

There is a single entity that ties this all together, that if done poorly would void all other incredible strides to encompass you in the Alien world. That is the Xenomorph itself. The monster is still iconic for a reason, from its incredibly vile figure to the notion of it being the perfect predator, this needs to hit. The Alien must feel like impending doom, creeping, pressuring the player to make decisions. It needs to make the player feel vulnerable, oppressed, powerless. While this is truly yet to be seen, the ambition from Creative Assembly is apparent and beautiful. Amnesia relied mainly on crescendo moments to spook the hell out of players, Isolation is looking to create a true hunter. Implementing sight, sound and smell into its A.I, they are trying to make the beast we all feared so much in the movies come to life. I can almost guarantee you that we will see some of these scripted scenes which is fine, but I am incited so much more by the idea of a dynamic being. I want to feel hunted, seeing what looks like a tail curl up from a vent, the crisp clanking of claws on the metal surfaces of vents as it stalks me, its pitiful prey. Hearing the hiss of the Xenomorph and seeing the dripping goo from its dual mouth in the films evokes a certain emotion when I watch the classic film, if this is nailed correctly I know this feeling will be tenfold when the game launches.

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There is still a lot to be proven when it comes to Alien: Isolation, saying it is an uphill battle to bring this franchise to its former glory is a drastic understatement. Creative Assembly is saying all the things I want to hear when it comes to creating a true horror Alien experience. Everything shown seeps with succulent detail and dread, making you question what lies in the shadows beyond your eyesight. You may call me living on the edge putting faith into yet another Alien game and maybe I am a bit. I just feel something different here, something that screams “This is the game you’ve been waiting for.” We’ve already seen a redemption in South Park games with the excellent Stick of Truth, I can only hope we see the same for the Alien saga when Alien: Isolation releases October 7th, on Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Xbox One, 360 and PC.

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