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Posted:
2010-06-01

gerbil

Super Gamer Dude

8.6

If you were to ask: Which fighting game should gamers buy? Chances are, you’d get a common answer: it’s Super Street Fighter IV. The iconic game from Capcom is back! And you bet, it’s a whole new improved Street Fighter. And get this - the online suite has also been recreated.

The mechanics and the battle system are familiar to everyone as they are basically the same as the last Street Fighter. The old Super Combo Gauge is still there. This is where you unleash your EX moves and specials. And the Revenge Gauge is a counter that permits you to pull off ultras upon enemies. The 25-member fighters are still there. Hence, the issue here is whether or not the so-called expansion of Super Street Fighter IV is worth it.

Now the game roots its strength from a combination of complication and convenience. The game appeals to the beginners because anybody can handle the controller and make decent moves. The Focus Attack feature is there to assist everyone. That spells convenience. This expansion is not a revolution of the original, but it is still the best fighting game around. Along with this, the challenge of game complication still exists. The moment you know the basics and the special moves of the characters, you can go to the next level and learn combos and go to EX Focus cancels. The characters have basically the same inputs; thus, the challenge is on how you time these skills in a fight. Character acquaintance should not be forgotten; knowing the skills of your opponent gives you the edge of anticipating what comes next. The expansion pack has added 10 characters which are completely new to the game. This again present a venue to play around and learn about them.

The game has now a total of 35 characters, so you won’t have any difficulty finding someone that suits the fighting style you like most. All the characters are available even at the start of the game. No more vexatious arcade campaigns to unlock characters. But should you still want to go to the arcade mode, you can still find some neat cinematic.

You can also find another improvement in the online mode. The problem of having only Ranked and Player matches as the available options is now a thing of the past. The point system in the game is also enhanced by implementing the more straightforward two-point system. Players can now gain points for victories in online contests and lose them if they are defeated. In addition, Battle Points are also awarded to those who attain a certain rating with a character. So you can now experiment with other characters because the points you gather when playing with each is unaffected by the result of the others. The only blow you receive is the overall points. There are now two aspects to look into with each player, the overall score and the best fighter score.

Still more on the online mode; the game is now supplemented with the team battle that is played on 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4. The players take turns to fight each of the opponents in the opposite team. Endless Battle mode is also present; which actually feels more like an endless arcade mode.

But the game is not perfect. Super Street Fighter IV did not include the Championship mode. As Capcom always hosts tournaments, the Championship mode would have been a good practice or training ground for players. This necessitates downloading the game if you want to join competitions, which are quite inconvenient, to say the least.

Given all that was mentioned, Super Street Fighter IV is highly recommended for both hardcore fans and newbies alike.

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Posted:
2010-06-30

gerbil

Super Gamer Dude

6.4

LEGO Battles (Nintendo DS) Review: Strategic Block Busting in Real Time

Lego sets – the authentic ones (not the ones you’ve seen on the Harry Potter movie) – are all about epic battles. Just about everyone who has an ax to grind with something or someone – space men, knights, pirates, ninja, treasure hunters – has had a LEGO set at one point or another. Here’s the good news for the avid fans: besides your imagination, you can now have (and hopefully, win) all those battles on the Nintendo DS. Although it has an undertone of “my-first-real-time-strategy” to it, the game is truly appealing and relatively impressive from a technical view point.

LEGO fans who’ve been in the know for a long time can easily distinguish some of the classic sets, such as the Space, Castle and Pirates pieces from a couple decades or so ago. LEGO Battles now makes it possible for the player to be in control of these various mini figures in a game that has a story mode of over 70 levels. The video cutscenes thankfully retain the humor charm and style that LEGO has been famous for.

Unfortunately, RTS fans who are expecting more challenging strategies aren’t so lucky, as LEGO Battles are really a piece of cake. The sad thing about LEGO franchise is it seems to just cater to kids, not realizing that everybody just loves LEGO! Still, LEGO Battles isn’t such a bad choice for neophytes in real time strategy. Although the six story modes are inclined to get repetitive, they are quite lengthy and maneuver the players smoothly into various units and buildings, showing each function as you go along. These are nice and helpful if you’ve never had any experience with an RTS in the past.

On the technical side, the touch screen controls seem to work well. At some point though, picking a single unit gets to be a little tricky, especially when a number of people and buildings appear on screen. The AI gets pretty irksome as they often get stuck somewhere when you send troops out over an extensive distance. You think you have better things to do winning a battle than babysit an AI that can’t figure out how to find its way! The workers are equally annoying as they simply just cease working and have to be prodded to continue gathering lumber.

The story modes reflect varied areas of expertise of different armies; and this is where the most fun part is; when you can actually mix and match diverse armies in the free play or multiplayer. Players get to choose their own heroes, vehicles, infantry and other paraphernalia from any of the unlocked sets, with available options that range from 5 to 25 selections.

The multiplayer is actually the highlight and best part of any RTS, and LEGO Battles, for all its shortcomings, has at least done an extremely good job at this, making the game as challenging as you opponent’s skills makes it. Be warned though, there are some snags in the caps on troop numbers and the maps aren’t that big. But all in all the mode works great, with just a very minimal slowdown and looks pretty impressive with two dozen characters fighting each other on screen, all at one time.

If the well known LEGO charm and humor are enough reasons for you to play the game, then you won’t be disappointed as there’s plenty of that in LEGO Battles. However, if you’re looking for more challenges, then this game probably would just bore you. It’s just too much of a “cakewalk”, which is such a shame as the multiplayer really is pure, solid fun and has lots of potentials. It could have been an excellent game to recommend to everyone. As it is… it’s really your take!

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Posted:
2010-07-13

gerbil

Super Gamer Dude

7.9

Today’s modern games include the development of first person shooters. We can easily depict the picture of War. From the likes of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Call of Duty, it is very clear from these games that gamers are rooting for these kinds of games. Having the most fans base out there, one would expect a very stiff competition among different game creators. Now, EA Sports have joined the band wagon as well, in its creation of the new Medal of Honor.

This is a remake of the long-running franchise in Afghanistan portraying the long standing battle American soldiers have to fight. The game has been created in Los Angeles under the EA sports production. The multiplayer aspect of the game is under DICE, the creators of Battlefield, with the same packaging as that of Bad Company 2. Because of this, the Medal of Honor multiplayer game is quite familiar.

It has the same layout but different kind of approach as they have different titles and storylines. One of the differences is the kind of application this game has where you get killed easily by a single shot from a rifle of the enemy; the player is not meant to live long while in the field. Thus, given this feature, the player’s positioning strategy and awareness of the situation in the field must be of primary concern. This game has two maps, the larger one of which is the Helmand Valley where US soldiers have to enter the Combat Mission mode through checkpoints and are forced to defend themselves. The area is too defined and seems too small for 24 players (12 VS 12) so that each one becomes an easy target for snipers.

This game is a lot different from Battlefield’s conquest mode in that Medal of Honor is not a capture-based gameplay. The characters in the game, particularly the Americans, like it better to move forward and largely depend on their highly regarded offense. To ensure the fast-pace approach of the game; there’s a respawn feature that allow dead players to respawn fast and get back into the fight.

The presence of tanks is not at odds with the game’s true gameplay. They merely support the real approach, such as lightning reflexes and accuracy. It is advised to use the map efficiently and clear up the surroundings to have a plain view of the site and make it easy to look for snipers. Each player must know how to efficiently use boulders and trees for hiding.

The game really depicts itself as the wild presentation of combat and warfare. The scenes are so detailed, from the impact of bullets to the clouds in the atmosphere and the dust surrounding the soldiers. Grenades, bombs, RPG’s and high caliber rifles produce and perfectly depict the kind of gameplay that the game is trying to portray … War in its most destructive form.

The second city is right on the ruins of Kabul. It is a Death Match game in here, and the idea is quite simple: kill the other team before they get to kill your team. It presents entertaining actions that mirror real war.

The game offers three types of characters, the rifleman, special ops and sniper. Each type of character has its own specialties and features. For example, the rifleman starts with a basic assault rifle but can soon upgrade to much more sophisticated machine gun. The special ops start with a shotgun together with the snipers; they can easily upgrade to far more superior weapons. The game also features manning some helicopters for scorechains, which allow consecutive killing without even dying.

Medal of Honor may have plenty of elements that can make it just like any other online games; but the core gameplay and rich graphics are sufficient to make it stand out from the rest of the first shooter game crowd. Watch out for its official October 12 simultaneous release of Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC platforms.

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Posted:
2010-07-31

gerbil

Super Gamer Dude

8.1

Blur (Xbox 360) Review: It Gets Really Blurry Ahead.

I am not bragging about this; but I am considered one of the best gamers around. I’m saying this to put forward my credibility when I make my statement about BLUR, the new racer that Bizarre Creations created. I have played in almost any games and Blur is just one of the most difficult I have ever encountered.

The game features brutal A.I in the single player career mode. The A.I keeps attacking you and then you get caught off guard as it fires weapons at you. The game is not all about speed as in who’s the fastest; it’s more like a modern death match racing. The one who survives the onslaught wins.

There’s a point in the game where there are at least 20 cars that are poised to race. This can make the game chaotic with all the attacks and the dirty tactics that you encounter with every turn. If you talk about racing aspects and racing speed, this is one hell of a difficult game to play. You can even catch the AIs cheating; you can easily tell by how they can just effortlessly pass you while aiming all those shots at you. You can say that in so far as AIs go, these are not programmed to be dumb like ordinary AIs. Man, they are good – and tough!

To ease up the beating, I eventually converted the game difficulty to easy. But this in turn made the game too easy and the challenge and delight of defeating a worthy opponent is nowhere to be found. The easy mode is advisable when your aim and goal is to have fans. Fans let you do some stuff that enables you to perform some quests for them and in turn you receive new objects for your car - or even a new car after a while. But if you are more concerned about getting the upper hand against your opponents in a relatively matched environment, then the easy mode is not an option for you.

The huge problem of the game is the imbalance between your abilities and those of the AIs. They are so good that you get pissed off. It would have been easy to get addicted to this game but the glaring holes in the entirety of the game are just too palpable that it can dampen your enthusiasm.

Blur also has online feature that enables you to find and receive items that boost your car’s performance. This game is all about chaos as what I have said earlier; 20 players online is just simply asking for disarray. Simply put, this is not the kind of game that you would want if you are particular about racing games features. Still, it can be quite fun to try it sometimes.

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Posted:
2010-08-11

gerbil

Super Gamer Dude

7.2

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11- Move Compatible (PS3) Review: Still Doing It in Style but Nothing Much Has Changed.

The best player in golf is back in action in these new Tiger Woods game. Once again gracing the cover and just simply being the best in this successful games franchise ever created.

This is one of the reasons why gamers love this game. For many who are enthusiasts of the real golf sport (and probably for some who can’t really play in real), but couldn’t really play a great name – not the likes of Tiger Woods anyway – this game gives some sense of security that everyone can have a place in the golfing world.

The new Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 – Move Compatible game has improved some, yet there are things that practically remained the same, especially the downsides. The graphics of the game have seen much improvement; with the entire lush environment you can really appreciate the feel of the green as though you are actually in the golf course. The unrealistic feature that you can easily spot is the way the trees are so still and the leaves not moving even though the wind is supposed to strong – quite a clear example of the downside.

One of the great upsides you get with the Move Compatible PS3 versions of this game that is worth mentioning is that when you create your own player, the face selection is vastly enhanced and now provides better looking facial features. You can likewise “dress up” your golfer with the best and most elegant golf attires. However, when it comes to the Pro golfers in the game, the characters are so awfully crafted. They look foolish out in the field and move so awkwardly, they look like robots or cartoon characters at some point.

With the vast improvement in the gameplay, your player gets the edge in doing better; there’s a real focus in the game and you can use spin, powerboost and putt to score better. The added feature of the True Aim option provides you with the golfer’s eye view of every single shot in the game. It gives you the distances of shots you’ve already done and the approximation of shots you’re going to make. Your shots may not be quite perfect but as you go along and gain more experience you can just enjoy a wonderful time playing and eventually see improvements in your swings, putts and accuracy. The A.I. feature is also one aspect that has seen some progress – from the point of view of the player, that is. Whereas before the A.I.’s are some kind of unbeatable force where it was impossible to defeat them no matter what strategy you use; this time they seem to be more realistically prone to mistakes and miscalculations of their shots. At least now you have a fighting chance to win your game

In addition to the gameplay enhancements already mentioned, the game is further augmented with the Ryder Cup feature where you get a chance to select your players and form your own team to participate in the single player game. You can up the level and bring your team in the online feature. This part is exciting. The online mode can accommodate at least 24 players that play match up per match up to win the Cup and bring home the glory. The players can constantly communicate their strategies with their friends in the online mode using the Play station network.

With the proactive controller of the game, the New Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 Move Compatible can give gamers the most sophisticated interaction in their favorite game of golf. Like everyone says, just swing!

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Posted:
2014-03-24

gerbil

Super Gamer Dude

7.0

Ever since Sands of Time - way back in 2003, I have already been a fan of the Prince of Persia installments. The high flying acrobatic actions are truly appealing to the fans of the franchise. The downside to this, however, is the constant release of sequels by its creators, UBISOFT. They have literally toned down the excitement and thrill of the series because of frequent repetitions made. They made the game boring because of the many titles already on the market. It seems that the character in the game needs a little break because of too much exposure that's not really doing him or the franchise any favor anyway.

The last Prince of Persia was released n 2008 and it was like an eye opener for the creators finally recognizing the need for change. Besides, the prince literally needed to rest before he can give another shot at being on top of the order for the best games ever created. The game and the franchise reached the point where they've done everything and there was nothing left to do. It came to the point of dullness for the franchise that the game has stagnated, regardless of the many sequels that have been released.

This dullness catapulted the re-creation of a new Prince of Persia and this is how the Forgotten Sands installment came to be. While some of you might think and say, here we go again, the new game establishes some points that balance out the reward and punishment. The creators made some magnificent changes in the mechanics, particularly in the combat system where it has really rebounded by holding its own all throughout, even towards the end of the game.

The gameplay in the Forgotten Sands lets you be the Prince of Persia. A highly acrobatic warrior with the trademark of handsome looks; but is also very much adept at scaling walls and fighting anyone of the enemies that get in his way. The storyline revolves around the prince being tasked to save the world. This may sound familiar to you as this has been the storyline of the past Prince of Persia predecessors particularly Sands of Time, which set the bar for all installments of the Prince of Persia games. Despite the non improvement in the storyline, the platforms for acrobatic moves that the game really managed to master can get you excited all over again. With the ability of the Prince to climb and scale walls, you can't help but think that the Prince might be a ninja as well. The game has actually given you more time to figure out what moves to make in every level through the game.

The first taste of this new game can possibly make you conclude that the game is easy; however, the game gets more laborious once the Prince acquires more powers. It goes to the point where the player has to combine all the powers of the prince to survive in the game. The creators of the game undoubtedly made a wonderful combination of platforms and action rolled into a single rhythm.

The caveat of combining the skills is glaringly obvious. It's because in the past, it has led to the death of many Princes in the game. The creators provided a wonderful twist to this by bringing back a familiar and favorite ability: the ability to turn back the hands of time. Watch out though; there are certain limitations to the usage of this ability. And you even need to collect more blue orbs before you can use the ability and once you have used it all up, it necessitates going back to the nearest checkpoint. This is the presentation of the risk and reward attributes of this game.

The platform of the game can perk your excitement instantly. But when it comes to the combat aspect, it presents quite a drag down because the earlier opponents were much easier to kill. The new game still maintains the feature of getting experience after experience of killing enemies. This projects the prince as a lot stronger and with even more powers.

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is alright but it has yet to match the bar that Sands of Time has established. Nonetheless, the new game itself presents a wonderful array of visuals and colors from its lighting effects down to its graphics. Be warned though, because some parts can be dull and boring at times; basically because you have seen it all over before. All in all, despite not being at par with its long time great predecessor, it's still an astounding game.

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Posted:
2014-04-02

gerbil

Super Gamer Dude

7.9

Today's modern games have seen the development of first person shooters as they are well suited to depict the atmosphere of a man at War. From the popularity of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Call of Duty, it is very clear that gamers are rooting for this kind of game. Having a wide fan base out there, one would expect some very stiff competition among different game creators, and now EA Sports have jumped on the band wagon with its creation of the new Medal of Honor.

This is a remake of the long-running franchise but now in Afghanistan portraying the long standing battle American soldiers have had to fight. The multiplayer aspect of the game is under DICE, the creators of Battlefield, with the same packaging as that of Bad Company 2. Because of this, the Medal of Honor multiplayer game is may seem to some degree familiar.

It has the same layout but applies a different kind of approach with different titles and storylines. One of the differences is the kind that you can get killed easily by a single shot from a rifle of the enemy, the life expectancy of the player is not long while in the field. Thus, given this feature, the player's positioning strategy and awareness of the situation in a fighting situation must be of primary concern.

The game has two maps, the larger one of which is the Helmand Valley where US soldiers have to enter the Combat Mission mode through checkpoints, and are forced to defend themselves. The area is too limited and seems much too small for 24 players (12 VS 12) so that each one becomes an easy target for snipers.

This game is a lot different from Battlefield's conquest mode in that Medal of Honor is not a capture-based gameplay. The characters in the game, particularly the Americans, like it better to move forward and largely depend on their highly refined offense tactics. To ensure the fast-pace approach of the game there's a respawn feature that allow dead players to respawn fast and get back into the fight.

The presence of tanks is not at odds with the game's true gameplay. They merely support the main t6actics that rely on lightning reflexes and accuracy. It is advised to use the map efficiently and clear up the surroundings to have a plain view of the site and make it easy to look for snipers. Each player must know how to efficiently the available cover such as boulders and trees.

The scenes are so detailed, from the impact of bullets to the clouds in the atmosphere to the dust surrounding the soldiers as they move. Grenades, bombs, RPG's and high caliber rifles produce and perfectly depict the kind of battles that the game is trying to portray, war in its most destructive form.

The second map is right in the ruins of Kabul. It is a Death Match game in here, and the idea is quite simple: kill the other team before they get to kill your team. It presents entertaining actions that mirror real war.

The game offers three types of characters, the rifleman, special ops and sniper. Each type of character has its own specialties and features. For example, the rifleman starts with a basic assault rifle but can soon upgrade to much a more sophisticated and effective weapon such as the machine gun. The special ops start with a shotgun together with the snipers; they can easily upgrade to far more superior weapons. The game also features scorechains, which allow consecutive kills without even dying.

Medal of Honor may have plenty of elements that can make it just like any other online games, but the core gameplay and rich graphics are sufficient to make it stand out from the rest of the first shooter game crowd. Watch out for its official October 12 simultaneous release of Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC platforms.

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Posted:
2014-11-06

gerbil

Super Gamer Dude

7.0

When you hit the ice to play some hockey you want things to feel smooth. You want to be able to feel the ice glide beneath your skates as you dribble the puck toward the opposing teams net. You want to feel the sweat drip down your forehead as your try to beat out the rapidly approaching defenders. You want to hear the crowd cheer as your slapshot hits home. That's what NHL 15 does for gamers that decide to pick up the controller. The latest installment of the NHL franchise is as good as it has ever been. The puck glides between your stick as you carve the ice in search of a crease to push the pace and hit that go ahead shot. The game feels like the most competitive night of NHL competition. How does the rest of the game fare?

Any serious sport simulation will live and die based on how the action controls once the game clock has started. If the game doesn't flow right, if the shooting feels clunky, if checking doesn't really work then forget about it, the game is trash. Fortunately this is where NHL 15 really takes its time to shine. The controls feel like an extension of our arms in the game and you can make beautiful moves with the barest press of a button. Passing is an elaborately beautiful thing, if you are good at it, and it is pure chaos if you are poor at it. There is no moment in sports gaming more exhilarating than that frantic dash up the ice as you try to beat the last defender in order to take your shot on goal. My palms can get sweaty just thinking about it.

Upon booting up NHL 15 and actually getting into a game you will be presented with the classically beautiful view of an arena ready to rock out to some great hockey. The crowds look great, the players look awesome on the ice, and the logos for the teams are authentic. Upon entering competition you will get a pre-game set of commentary from Doc Emrick and the man himself, Eddie Olcyzk. Once you are in the game and experiencing the ebb and flow of competitive hockey the commentary will blend into a background of enjoyable, comforting, commentary. Don't worry about the announcers getting stale or annoying as it seems that the NHL crew went all out in recording their lines. You'll go quite awhile before you start hearing repetitions. The final cap on the presentation graduation is the fact that the crowd actually feels like a crowd. You'll hear cheering and ooh-ing and ahh-ing at all the right times.

While the classic game modes are all there for long term fans of the hockey franchise, there are a noticeable lack of features missing. Playoff Mode has gone the way of the dinosaur to be followed by the Hockey Ultimate Team and Online Team Play modes. While these are tertiary gameplay options at best, their absence is a head scratcher. Why nix something that so many people enjoy if you aren't going to replace it with anything better? The absence of these modes has lead many fans to believe that the game was shipped half finished but that will come down to personal preference. The other issue with the game modes made available is that there is no traditional 'season mode'. Seriously! It's strange that NHL 15 would hatchet this feature, due to how common and popular it is, but it's gone. In order to actually enjoy a season of gameplay you have to start a GM Mode campaign. It's a little bit of a bother to go through this extra step to play a mode that should have always been available, but that's the nature of the beast and you can play or let it go.

NHL 15 brings a whole lot of great things to the table for the modern hockey fan. The gameplay on the ice is borderline revelatory and the packaging of the whole thing is gorgeous. Hockey has never looked or felt so good. There are some noticeable absences in terms of game modes and that may turn many people off. If you are here for hockey, though, you will still find a lot to love in this game.

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Posted:
2014-11-11

gerbil

Super Gamer Dude

7.6

How much patience do you have? Does your leg jitter convulsively when waiting in line, or are you the type of person who imagined vast fantasy worlds in your mind to while away the time when your jerk stepfather was late again to pick you up from school? If you're the latter, you might really be fascinated by Alien: Isolation. If you're the former, the horror game based on the popular movie franchise might promote baldness as you tear your hair out.

In Alien: Isolation, you play as Amanda, daughter of the iconic Ellen Ripley character. Of course she's looking for hints as to the disappearance of her mother. After some brief exposition, Amanda boards the Torrens space vessel, and one is instantly struck by how clever the graphics designers were in appropriating a retro sense of what we used to think the future will look like. Creative Assembly's crew of designers did a knockout job recreating the color, tone and vibe of science fiction as imagined from that era, from the clunky green monitors to the delightfully tacky 70s-esque color scheme, right down to the assumption that we wouldn't have progressed as far as we have already in mobile device technology.

I wish the same type of talent could be ascribed to whomever wrote the plot. It won't be spoiling much to say that Alien: Isolation has one of the stupidest endings in the history of video games. It is insulting not only to fans of the Aliens mythology, but to fans of consistent character vision. Elsewhere, the writing supplies a list of groan-worthy reasons to halt the action, or extend the game longer than it should be. The only triumph it manages is its great premise of being alone on a creepy spaceship with an alien. It only half-manages that. At points the game decides to try for variety spice with idiotic human characters and a rather unsatisfying android threat. Oh, there are cryptic logs to find too. The writer packs in genre tropes where the absence of them would have been an improvement.

Alien: Isolation relies on patience. The initial few hours will see you solving environmental puzzles that have Amanda forage for supplies to open doors and progress in the space ship. There is a neat crafting system that contributes great tension. It undercuts every decision you make by limiting the sources and supplies for weapons and ammunition like early survival horror games did. This works wonderfully for weapons, and not so well for puzzles. It's really obvious that the developers did this so you'd have to wander across the ship, try to evade the alien when it eventually appears and find your supplies to open the next point forward. The problem is that it ends up being like a repetitive, annoying gatekeeper who keeps asking you what the password is, even though the password is inevitably some variant of what you were asked last time.

Still, the little hacking mini-games you play to manipulate devices can add some real tension when you know the alien is near from sound and visual cues. It's basically like playing a Gameboy while swimming away from sharks though. At least it is until you procure the flamethrower or notice the alien has incredibly stupid AI you can exploit. Afterwards, all the tension is sucked out into the vast loneliness of space.

Alien: Isolation really should have been a smaller game with less repetitive puzzles, less effective late game weapons, no other humans to play their slasher movie deaths, no android threat and a better ending. (Oh, there's an extra time trial mode where you compete against a leader board to see how quickly you can escape while accomplishing objectives, but it only has one map until you buy more, which is like cutting off somebody's leg and telling them to get by on the human potential for overcoming adversity: pointless.) If you're patient though, the long and drawn out fight against the alien, utterly alone and helpless is a great piece of game design. It may be worth waiting for the jerk stepfather of the rest of the game to get its act together and deliver it to you.

avatar name

Posted:
2014-11-11

gerbil

Super Gamer Dude

7.6

How much patience do you have? Does your leg jitter convulsively when waiting in line, or are you the type of person who imagined vast fantasy worlds in your mind to while away the time when your jerk stepfather was late again to pick you up from school? If you're the latter, you might really be fascinated by Alien: Isolation. If you're the former, the horror game based on the popular movie franchise might promote baldness as you tear your hair out.

In Alien: Isolation, you play as Amanda, daughter of the iconic Ellen Ripley character. Of course she's looking for hints as to the disappearance of her mother. After some brief exposition, Amanda boards the Torrens space vessel, and one is instantly struck by how clever the graphics designers were in appropriating a retro sense of what we used to think the future will look like. Creative Assembly's crew of designers did a knockout job recreating the color, tone and vibe of science fiction as imagined from that era, from the clunky green monitors to the delightfully tacky 70s-esque color scheme, right down to the assumption that we wouldn't have progressed as far as we have already in mobile device technology.

I wish the same type of talent could be ascribed to whomever wrote the plot. It won't be spoiling much to say that Alien: Isolation has one of the stupidest endings in the history of video games. It is insulting not only to fans of the Aliens mythology, but to fans of consistent character vision. Elsewhere, the writing supplies a list of groan-worthy reasons to halt the action, or extend the game longer than it should be. The only triumph it manages is its great premise of being alone on a creepy spaceship with an alien. It only half-manages that. At points the game decides to try for variety spice with idiotic human characters and a rather unsatisfying android threat. Oh, there are cryptic logs to find too. The writer packs in genre tropes where the absence of them would have been an improvement.

Alien: Isolation relies on patience. The initial few hours will see you solving environmental puzzles that have Amanda forage for supplies to open doors and progress in the space ship. There is a neat crafting system that contributes great tension. It undercuts every decision you make by limiting the sources and supplies for weapons and ammunition like early survival horror games did. This works wonderfully for weapons, and not so well for puzzles. It's really obvious that the developers did this so you'd have to wander across the ship, try to evade the alien when it eventually appears and find your supplies to open the next point forward. The problem is that it ends up being like a repetitive, annoying gatekeeper who keeps asking you what the password is, even though the password is inevitably some variant of what you were asked last time.

Still, the little hacking mini-games you play to manipulate devices can add some real tension when you know the alien is near from sound and visual cues. It's basically like playing a Gameboy while swimming away from sharks though. At least it is until you procure the flamethrower or notice the alien has incredibly stupid AI you can exploit. Afterwards, all the tension is sucked out into the vast loneliness of space.

Alien: Isolation really should have been a smaller game with less repetitive puzzles, less effective late game weapons, no other humans to play their slasher movie deaths, no android threat and a better ending. (Oh, there's an extra time trial mode where you compete against a leader board to see how quickly you can escape while accomplishing objectives, but it only has one map until you buy more, which is like cutting off somebody's leg and telling them to get by on the human potential for overcoming adversity: pointless.) If you're patient though, the long and drawn out fight against the alien, utterly alone and helpless is a great piece of game design. It may be worth waiting for the jerk stepfather of the rest of the game to get its act together and deliver it to you.


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