Alien Isolation: Brief hands-on

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The middling Xbox press conference was succeeded by a play day, and we got the opportunity to go hands on with a few titles. Unfortunately, so did every other Tom, Dick and Harry at the event, which means the queues were all rather long – and with limited time to play before having to dash out to Sony’s press conference, we had to cherry pick what we got too see. I made a beeline for Alien: Isolation.

The reasons are numerous; not least of which is that I have an appreciation for Ridley Scott’s Alien (more so than Cameron’s action-filled Aliens). The other primary reason I wanted to play Isolation is to get the foul, lingering stench of Colonial Marines out of my mind.

So I picked up a controller, wandered around for what must have been about 4 seconds, and summarily died, having become the latest victim of the large and surprisingly quiet Xenomorph that had just turned my insides to puddles of viscera. The demo you see, had little context or narrative behind it – and wasn’t even the game proper. It was some sort of challenge mode. I had no clear set of goals, other than that I had to survive without using the motion sensor, collect some or other McGuffin and find a set of ID badges.

I failed miserably at all three. The motion sensor is downright necessary; it helps you keep track of the monster in a rudimentary way, displaying its position should it move, without a third dimension. Without it, you have to rely very much on listening to every single little sound, and that in itself becomes rather frightening. Mostly because if you are seen, or make enough noise to attract the slimy, toothy matriarchal monster you will die, instantly. There’s no question about it.

I know this, because I died far more than the manly bravado I used to posses before it got scared away would ever allow me to admit. I got to play the game for a brief few minutes, spending much of my time hidden in whatever large enough receptacle would hold me as I watched the skulking alien from the relative safety of a vent. When I was braver, I did manage to find a working flame-spitting gun of some sort, which I managed to use to set the absolutely nothing in front of me ablaze in an absolute panic. About 2 seconds before I was disembowelled. and that was all I managed to do in the 10 or so minutes I played the game.

Being stuck, alone, on a rather small ship with little more than your wits and a few conveniently located lockers is terrifying and I can’t wait to do it some more.

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Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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