07
Jan
14

Alien: Isolation – Here’s Hoping!

I really, very badly, would like to get excited for a game based in the universe of Alien.  Watching Alien and Aliens for the first time when I was younger still ranks as my favorite movie viewing experience.  Recent media incarnations tied to the franchise haven’t exactly been kind to fans though.  And Aliens: Colonial Marines seemed to not just be the final nail in the coffin for Aliens based games, it was a ton of concrete piled on top of the coffin that would leave no doubt about its status.  So the fan community can be forgiven for approaching Alien: Isolation with cynicism.

Count me among them, at least until very recently.  We had already heard Randy Pitchford of Gearbox go on about how much of a fan he and the development team of Aliens: Colonial Marines were of the Aliens film.  And he assured us that the game was in good hands.  Seeing marketing reps for Creative Assembly make similar statements was not reassuring.  Though not because I don’t believe that they are fans, but because anymore I’m skeptical of the fans’ ability to create something that doesn’t just simply try to emulate the franchise’s past high notes.  It’s no good to have development driven by corporate executives who could care less about the films, but if it’s fans driving development then you can end up with an experience that says to the audience “Hey, remember Aliens?  Wasn’t that movie great!”

Destructoid’s Brett Makedonski has had the chance to play the game.  He provides a detailed account of what the game is like without having been put on rails or looking over a developer’s shoulder.  It’s clear that the game doesn’t tread on the same path as Colonial Marines.  It takes on a distinctive survival horror atmosphere and eschews the first person shooter mechanics CM had revolved around in attempts to capture the success of modern military shooters.  It’s characterized as being an experience where the player is constantly hunted by an unpredictable Alien AI.  His write-up made me envious of him, and gave me the sense that I could start to get excited about this release.  40 good minutes with a game doesn’t guarantee success, but it goes a long way to excavating the franchise from that concrete entombed coffin.  A survival horror based Alien game would do well to challenge the current gaming landscape as well as current state of the Alien franchise.

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