Monday, October 20, 2014

Far Cry 4 : the only season pass I would consider.

I'm gettin' a bit tired of the whole games-as-platforms-for-season-passes-of-DLC thing.  Gettin' a bit tired of developers refusing to just put that shit in the box, but if there's one game I find myself scratching my beard at and going hm, it's Far Cry 4.

Press release:

Far Cry 4 Season Pass Brings Yetis, Prison Breaks and a New PvP Experience to Kyrat

Today, Ubisoft detailed the Season Pass for Far Cry 4, the highly anticipated first-person shooter for PlayStation 4 computer entertainment system, PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system, Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC.

The Season Pass extends players’ time in Kyrat and includes new missions that can be completed in either single-player or co-op. Content includes a Season Pass exclusive day-one mission, a prison break co-op mission, wild missions with Hurk and his harpoon gun, a new PvP mode that will have friends teaming up to fight opposing forces and a chance to encounter the rarest beast in the Himalayas – yetis.

The Far Cry 4 Season Pass contains

The Syringe – Available from launch exclusively for Season Pass holders, players must keep a rare and potent recipe from falling into the hands of Pagan Min’s forces. Playable in single-player and co-op, players will need to ensure that he does not use its devastating effects on the rebel forces.

Escape from Durgesh Prison – Ajay and Hurk have been rounded up and tortured in Yuma’s prison. Team up with a friend to escape and survive the hostile lands of Pagan Min’s Kyrat.

Hurk Deluxe Pack – Five missions, playable in single-player and co-op, including Yak Farm, Blood Ruby and Hurk’s Redemption are available. Access an arsenal of new weapons including a harpoon gun for Hurk.

Overrun – Team up as Rakshasa or Golden Path in this PvP mode and control a series of neutral locations across Kyrat’s countryside to protect them from being overrun by your opponents.

Valley of the Yetis – Ajay’s helicopter has crashed on an unforgiving Himalayan ridge. Explore the frozen landscape and find tools to upgrade your camp and protect it from a dangerous cult when night falls. With single-player and co-op options, players will not be alone, but in the darkest caves players will have more to fear than just the cult as the yetis await their prey…

Priced at $29.99 / £23.99, the Season Pass will be available at the launch of Far Cry 4 on November 18. Once purchased, the Season Pass enables the download of all included Far Cry 4 add-on content packs once they become available. Additionally, players who pre-order Far Cry 4 Gold Edition, which includes both the game and the Season Pass, will benefit from a discount over buying them separately. This edition is only available as a digital product on PC via Uplay and other PC Digital retailers, and on consoles via PlayStation Network (PS4 and PS3) and Xbox Marketplace (Xbox One only).

That might be worth thirty bucks just for Valley of the Yetis

A friend at work, today, was telling me how excited he is for November, and the release of Dragon Age Inquisition.

"Ehhh," I shrugged.  "I had a preorder down on it, but I cancelled it."

"What?  Why?"

"'Cause no Dragon Age has ever really been the game Dragon Age was promised to be.  The first one had uneven presentation and badly-designed combat, and the second one had a meh story and took place entirely in a single town.  People don't want to hang out in a city for their fantasy epics - they want to roam a world.  Dragon Age has never been the game it should be."

And Far Cry 3 was definitely the game it should be.  It sold me on Far Cry 4, and that's enough to put it atop my hype list.  Plus, there's just too much coming out in that little window.  If Dragon Age were releasing next Tuesday, I'd probably get it - but it ain't - and in the first half of November, I've got Assassin's Creed Unity, which is happening, Far Cry 4, which is definitely happening, and GTA V.

Wait, why am I getting GTA V instead of a game I haven't played before?

This requires some thought.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Video game vacation.

It was a helluva week at the office - my cold or flu or whatever it is continued to hang on, and I was coughing like a coal miner while juggling the needs of a half-dozen VIPs that had come in for a series of meetings.  When I got home last night, Kayla had gone to a social and I - physically and emotionally exhausted - wasn't prepared to dive back in to The Evil Within.

I finished the third chapter on Thurday, and the thought of subjecting myself to more pure tension was... unappealing.  Same with Don't Starve - I've made ends meet in my most-recent playthrough, but it hasn't been an easy road.  All of my needed resources are so spread out, I barely got my beehives together before winter came.  No farms, no bird cage, no pig village to speak of yet.

I'm just scraping by.  No, I didn't want to deal with that either.  I wanted something that was just purely pleasurable.

So, obviously.

And man, I am out of practice or somethin'.  I transferred my save to my PS3 to play a bit on the big screen (ohmyGodit'ssogorgeous) and made the mistake of jumping into my Amazon on Ultimate difficulty and heading into a higher floor of the Tower of Mirages.  I got my ass kicked, Son.  A boss-ified version of a goblin dangling in a metal thing to shoot crossbow bolts tore through two of my lives, and I had to pay for an extra one at the boss.

Still... parrying dudes, which turns me invincible and adds stacks of Berserk, which makes me attack faster and harder never gets old - but I was wanting something a bit... more mellow, so I switched over to my Sorceress, who's also past level 100, but still on the early levels of the Tower.

I kinda' wish Megahouse's Sorceress model was based on this.
I would also like an Amazon based on her Brandish animation, thank you. 

And, as always, it felt like coming home.  But another game's been on my mind a lot, lately.  I don't know why - it's a game I wish I'd spent more time with, a game I'm kicking myself for not picking up the strategy guide for.

South Park: The Stick of Truth is no less endearing on a second visit.  I considered rolling a Jew this time around, but then I changed my mind and went with Fighter (again), because I love that Roshambo is an actual move that you can do in the game.  Then I went with Thief 'cause why not?

I was worried that the thief's abilities, which require a lot of precise button presses to get the most out of, would make the game too difficult - but I guess I'd forgotten that the largest complaint most critics leveled at The Stick of Truth is that it was too easy.

It's not too easy.  It's fun.  It's a pleasant, entertaining, enjoyable backstroke of a game.

I want to get back to The Evil Within - not simply because it's what I should be playing, but because it's pretty damned awesome - but I'm also falling under the impression that I've been working too hard, lately.  I've been worrying too much about what's expected of me.

I should've called in sick last week, but I didn't 'cause there was work to be done that I had to do.  I should've just gone to bed and taken care of myself, but I didn't.

I don't want to worry about what I need to do next.  I don't want to play what I should be playing.

I just want to exhale.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Watch the Hatred trailer. A lot of people are gonna' be talking about it.

It's pretty... disturbed. 

Press release:

"Destructive Creations is an experienced indie team that, in times where a lot of games are heading to be polite, colorful, politically correct and trying to be some kind of higher art, rather than just an entertainment, wanted to create something against trends. Something different, something that could give the player a pure gaming pleasure. This is how the idea of Hatred – the team’s first game, was born.

Hatred is an isometric shooter with a disturbing atmosphere of mass killing, where player takes the role of a cold blood antagonist, who is full of hatred for humanity. It's a horror, but here YOU are the villain. Wander the outskirts of New York State, seek for victims on seven free-roam levels. Fight against law enforcement and take a journey into the antagonist's hateful mind. Gather equipment of the dead 'human shields', to spread Armageddon in the society. Destroy everything on your way of hunt and fight back when it's disturbed.

The game is planned to be released in Q2 2015 on PC."

We live in an age of mass shootings.  This is something that happens - something that has torn countless families apart - and when they raise pitchforks and call for the lynching of Destructive Creations, I can't feel they'll be wrong to do so.  What the developer is offering, here, is supernaturally insensitive.  The purpose of this game is to be the best Columbine shooter, the best Virginia Tech murderer, the best Sandy Hook monster. That's unbelievably offensive.

That being said...

...there is a place for games like this.  For obscenely, mind-numbingly violent and grotesque games.  I'm enjoying one right now - the latest work of legendary creator Shinji Mikami - and as a young teenager, I loved the most vilified, shocking, literally-full-of-Satanic-imagery game of the nineties, DOOM.
"By now, you may be aware of this video game, whose effects have been highlighted on the CBS 60 Minutes program and the NBC Today Show. On both shows, a former Army Colonel described the game as a "mass murder simulator" that provides military-type training."
-Video Games Can Kill By Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid | May 10, 1999-
I played the fuck out of DOOM when I was a kid.  I played it so much that it became a sort of meditation - I was so good at that game, I could 100% every level without actually paying attention to it - and while I did, my mind would wander and I'd stumble across thoughtful solutions to whatever was bothering me that day.

We've all had fantasies of violence.  A co-worker told me about a particularly annoying bank teller she met this week, and was terribly proud that she hadn't punched the woman in the face - and video games offer a safe place to express that.

I feel it's worth noting, at this point, that I've never killed anyone.  Millions of kids and adults played DOOM, and our society has trucked on pretty well - in fact, North America is more inclusive, supportive and open-minded than it's ever been before.

It's not an accident, I feel, that the logo for Hatred bears more than a passing resemblance to DOOM's.

It's going after the same thing.  It offers the same fantasy - the fantasy a lot of video games offer, but no ostensibly mainstream game (if you're prepared to accuse Hatred of such) has been so... honest about what it's doing.

There are a lot of video games in which you slaughter countless nameless human analogs - Hatred is simply obfuscating that less.

If nothing else, it may just be some very canny marketing.  A lot of people are going to be talking about it.  A lot of people are going to get very upset over it - once they're made aware of it - and then you can bet they'll be talking about it, and I can promise that a lot of kids with gaming rigs are going to be playing it, regardless of whether or not it's a good game.

I feel there are arguments to be made.  That such games offer a catharsis that can't be found anywhere else.  That, perhaps, some disturbed individuals will be able to flex their darkest fantasies within Hatred, and won't feel such a pressing need to live it.

There's arguments to be made that it will inspire... terrible things.

Hatred may, itself, prove to be a force of evil in the world - but it may also simply permit discussions to occur which could not have happened any other way.

Destructive Creations are quite consciously attempting to skirt the more high-minded principles that have wound their way into gaming development in the past decade, but in doing so they may have unintentionally created the next game that will have a lot of people talking.  A game that will be drastically different things to different people,

It's been said that when two people look at something and come away with entirely different messages, it can then be considered art.

I'm reminded of that line from The Simpsons when Lisa goes to a military prep school and a student says, "truth is beauty, beauty truth, Sir!"

The teacher barks back, "but the truth can be harsh and disturbing! How can that be considered beautiful?"

I don't know.

But it's a question worth asking.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Excellent Model - Dragon's Crown: Amazon 1/7 Complete Figure by MegaHouse.

"What you saying about the Amazon trailer before the constable called and interrupted us?"

"Oh, sorry. That the Amazon's mechanics seem similar to Xian Mei's in Dead Island - she's a low-defense, highly-mobile, high-damage character. She's like... the kind of character I generally like playing in action games...

"She sounds pretty awesome. I never asked you to hate her or any of the other characters...just because I don't like it doesn't mean I will ever ask or tell you not to play it or anything else I don't like"

"I know. I just feel like I should dislike her 'cause of the Bat-kini."

"Ah. Well I imagine Amazons wouldn't wear much so the battle bikini might not be that far off. 

Try the game and then see how you feel about it."

-personal correspondence, May 2013-

If you're familiar with this blog, you're familiar with my position on Dragon's Crown.

There was absolutely no question, when a Japanese art house figure designer called Megahouse announced their Dragon's Crown figures, that I would get the Amazon.  She is my single favorite character from my single favorite video game of all time - but she proved troubling to acquire. flatly refused to list her for preorder, and I didn't - at the time - have much faith in any other company.  

That's when another heroine stepped up, and rescued me.  

Kayla laid down a preorder through Ebay with a re-seller in Hong Kong.  The Amazon was released on September 16th.  It got to the re-seller last week.  Last night, as I was playing The Evil Within, Kayla checked her phone and announced she was heading home for a bit, but she'd be back.  

I was worried the game mighta' grossed her out too much - she doesn't even like scary movies. 

Kayla came back with pizza, and the Megahouse Excellent Model - Dragon's Crown: Amazon 1/7 scale figure.

I flipped out a teensy bit.  

Her hair begins platinum blond on the crown of her head, and fades to a translucent brown at the tips. Just like in the key art.  Her eyes retain that cool, bored, liquid pallor - just like in the key art.  She's like, 

This woman gives zero fucks.  She's is a coiled spring of muscle and violence with a six-foot axe on one end, and she uses it to kill dragons. 

It's... very meaningful to me, that this was a gift from Kayla.  It's the most... daring figure I own.  The least-clothed, I should say - by a very wide margin.  I love that Kayla gets why I wanted the figure.  I love that she poured fifty-plus hours into her own Amazon in Dragon's Crown (she's past level 100), and I love that when I put the figure up on the shelf and called her over, her response was

She does look awesome - almost as awesome as a girlfriend who would buy me a two hundred dollar Japanese PVC figure of a girl in a bikini, holding an axe, and then pronounce it awesome. 

Also, pizza. 

That's awesome.   And the figure's... perfect.  I absolutely love it - and I know, you might be thinkin' "Christ, Chance, how many Japanese figures does that make so far?"

Four.  It makes four.  Momohimethe Elf, the Amazon and Gwendolyn.

I knew it would be a slippery slope when I bought Momo last year - but well-read gamers will note that I have, thus far, successfully limited myself to figures of beloved characters from games by the luxuriously 2D-centric Japanese developer Vanillaware (Momo's from Muramasa, Gwendolyn's from Odin Sphere). 

Of course, I have one more to go. 

What?  The Sorceress is plenty awesome, too. And now, let us end with some hot, hot turntable action. 

Aw yeeeah. 

Thank you, Kayla.  This is probably the best birthday present anyone's ever given me.  The figure and the understanding.  Often, we gamers aren't used to feeling... so wholly accepted.  By anyone.  And I'm glad that it's you.  That's a helluva gift. 

Also, pizza.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oh my God, you guys.

Seriously.  You guys?  Seriously.

I just played the first two chapters.  Y'know what The Evil Within actually is?

It's Resident Evil 4-2 : New-gen and No Silliness.   It is creepy and way atmospheric and gory as fuck and you die easy.

Oh my God, you guys.  You guys?  Seriously.

The Evil Within launch trailer.

Eee!  It released today and I have it I have it in my hot little hands. Come, Shinji Mikami, take me away to terror town.

Far Cry 4 - Survive Kyrat trailer.

Swoon.  I love Far Cry 4 trailers.  So much.

Monday, October 13, 2014

REVIEW - Alien: Isolation.

Alien: Isolation is a first-person, pure survival horror game from The Creative Assembly, the developer responsible for the (quite successful, one should note) Total War series of strategy games.  Alien: Isolation, then, is a bit like if the folks who make FIFA suddenly turned around and decided to make a driving game.  What's weirder still is that Alien: Isolation is really, really good.

As a fan of good horror games - sci-fi horror in particular - as a fan of the Alien universe, as a fan of stealth, Alien: Isolation is a gift of a game.  It's a kind of horror game - a kind of experience - you've never had before, and it builds itself on a foundation of pure love for its source material.

It's more than just the inclusion of the drinking bird.  It's more than those Ikea-esque plastic containers half-full of Muslix-lookin' space chow - more than a sci-fi world you feel like you could reach out and touch.  The Creative Assembly understands the Alien universe with greater clarity than any Alien film that followed Ridley Scott's seminal 1979 work.  They get it.  They broke it down and got to the why of every choice made.

They get that the titular creature is only part of the tapestry of terror that blankets the entire affair.  It's the centerpiece, but not the only flavour of fear.

There's the creeping fear that the authorities we give power over ourselves to - that the people we trust - will abuse it, to our deaths, in the same way The Corporation was willing to sacrifice the Nostromo's crew, if it meant a thicker profit margin in fifty years.

ASH: Bring back life form. Priority One. All other priorities rescinded.
PARKER: The damn company. What about our lives, you son of a bitch?
ASH: I repeat, all other priorities are rescinded.
-Alien (1979)-

There's the fear of technology - of the prone-to-break systems on which we wager our lives, all flickering lights, and hissing steam and thrashing metal (see: Dead Space).

The Creative Assembly have woven their entire - generous - twenty-plus hour single-player campaign with so many beautiful touches that key directly in to not just the look of the original film, but the feel of it.  They understand the why of all the little choices that were made, in fleshing out that world - and so, are able to spin on it and iterate from it and remain entirely true to the spirit and purpose of the source material.

They appreciate that the folks who sign up for years-long interstellar jaunts aren't spiffy-clean Star Trek heroes.  They're space truckers - all they want is their pay cheque, and some earthly pleasures on the side.

An interstellar safe-sex advertisement in a tram car.
There are a ton of cool 70s-style ads in the game.

It's so well-researched and exhaustively thought out that the world you (slowly, carefully) creep through in Alien Isolation feels immediately authentic, believable and - here's the kicker - immersive.

Every computer is a great, chunky thing that you can hear whirring and clicking as you scroll through its rudimentary menus.  When lights switch on, they do so with a heavy thunk, reminding you that something, somewhere, just snapped into place.  Power is turned on with big, heavy handles and giant wrenches.

It all feels so grounded and physical - but that's only half the immersion equation.  The other half is that it looks (and sounds) incredible.

The music riffs directly on the film's score, from the eerie horns in calm moments to violin stings when an enemy gets uncomfortably close to spotting you.  The world itself is alive with noise as its sci-fi machinations whirr and humm around you - the alarms are the same alarm sounds - and the visuals are, for the most part, spectacular.  The lighting engine is wonderful.

Remember when you first stepped into DOOM 3?  The way the light danced, the way it cut through blinds and threw shadows in just such a way?  Alien: Isolation reminds me of that feeling.

It becomes deeply absorbing, and once the game's wrapped its reality around you, you find yourself taking it very seriously when a seven-foot killing machine from beyond the stars drops out of an air vent in front of you and goes hisss!

Wait.  Let's back up.

You are Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley, science fiction and action's first lady of badass and the hero of the Alien film franchise,

Kezia Burrows' performance as Amanda starts off shakey, but becomes great after about a forty minutes into the game.
The difference in quality is kinda' weird. 
After your mother went missing following the (mysterious, to you) events of the first film, you grew up, moved on and got yourself an education.  We meet you with a welding helmet down, finishing off a job in a workshop.  You're an engineer, you see, and are adept at fixing... well, anything (again, shades of Dead Space).

Some suit from The Company tells you that the flight recorder of your mother's ship, the Nostromo, has been found, and is awaiting retrieval at a deep-space station called Sevastopol. Sevastopol, you see, is not a Company asset - it's a free port - and it's been going down hill for quite some time.

After decades of slowing trade, the station's been decommissioned.  Everyone lost their jobs and their way of life, and the few that remain are only here to smoothly complete the dismantle of a soaring, three-towered free-floating cityscape before it's sold for scrap.

Then that flight recorder showed up.  And something else came with it.

By the time you arrive, all that remains of Sevastopol's former glory are three spires of increasingly-malfunctioning infrastructure and a slim population of desperate survivors, driven to near-madness by their situation.  There's no way off the station.  There's no way to call for help.  And something is out there.  It's in the vents.

The station's few human survivors don't trust you, and would sooner shoot than talk.  The AI core that controls Sevastopol's army of androids seems to be on the fritz and the creepy, calm-voiced, glowing-eyed Working Joes are just as likely to help you find that part you need as choke the life from you.  And then, of course, there's the creature.

Alien: Isolation is a stealth game, through and through, and I must admit, I'm not sure it would work, were it leveraging any other intellectual property.

Every foe in the game - the humans, the androids and the creature - employ standard stealth mechanics.  They can see you (but can't see you when your body is hidden and you press R1 to peek around a corner), they can hear the noise you make, and they'll try to kill you if they make line-of-sight on you - though the creature is much better at seeing and hearing you.

Humans are pretty decent shots with their guns, but are mighty squishy when the business end of your maintenance jack (see: large wrench) is judiciously applied.  Androids require a bit more planning and finesse - you can burn 'em to death, you can shock them into submission before you tear into them with the 'jack, or you can just blow them up - but any of those options make a bit of noise, and are likely to draw the creature's attention.

Step 1 : Android flambé.
Step 2 : Shotgun to the face - wait, did you hear something?

If the creature sees you, it will kill you.  And that... is a pretty unique concept - one enemy that you cannot hurt in any meaningful way, which will instantly kill you if it notices you and can get close enough, which follows you throughout the game.  It's been done in the past, but those games used such a foe in heavily-directed, pre-determined scenes (see: Pyramid Head).  In Isolation, the Alien is around all the time, and it's doing its best to find you.

That concept - the central idea the entire game is based on - wouldn't work without the Alien brand slapped on it, and would likely be plainly infuriating if we, the player, didn't buy in to the reality that this thing is basically unkillable and that yes, it would instantly eviscerate us if it had the chance.

I do buy in to that reality.  The game's world is so thickly, meticulously well-realized, it would be very hard not to.

Alien: Isolation, then, is not merely a survival-horror game set in the Alien universe - it's a survival-horror game whose core mechanics are directly informed by the pop-culturally-ingrained understanding that we, the player, have of the Alien creature - and what it's capable of.

While the humans are easy prey (if you wish) and the plodding androids are easily-avoidable (in calm, British monotone: "please come out of the vent," "I'm not going in there after you"), the alien and its seemingly-random behavior catapults Alien: Isolation from a run-of-the-mill horror game to something very unique and very special.

You'll never load up a save and be able to predict where the Alien will be, or what it will do.  The only thing you can count on it for is to come running when it hears the sounds of violence.  If a survivor starts shooting at you, the best thing to do is crouch behind cover and let him shoot - 'cause he's gonna' get his in about two seconds.

Sevastopol station is not a long walk down a linear hallway.  Its construction is like Rapture, if there were crawl spaces and vents that connected half the rooms.  The most challenging sequences in the game are those that take place (towards the end) in more-confined environments where there are fewer places to hide, fewer places to go - but for the most part, every area in the game is a veritable honeycomb of escape routs and hiding spots to slip in to.

Because the creature is so unpredictable, because the rooms are often so porous - there are always vents to slip in to and lockers to hide in - the gameplay never feels less than tense.  You can never anticipate what will happen when you load up your latest save, because the Alien will stubbornly refuse to replicate any of the five ways it just caught you - it'll do something new.

Isolation, then, becomes a game about learning the rules of its stealth - and your arsenal of toys.

Ripley's professional leanings permit her to traverse the entire station, repairing or destroying or hacking systems as she goes.  You'll pop open fuse boxes to switch off security systems, power up doors and turn off the air scrubbers - soon this area will be a haze of mist, the better to sneak through.
You'll find yourself taking stressful detours from your objective because there's an active computer terminal in a nearby room, and it may provide a bit of backstory.  You'll find blueprints, here and there, that enable you to MacGyver together an impressive assortment of improvised devices - molotov cocktails, pipe bombs, noise makers, healing syringes and EMP mines.

This not only means the world itself feels dynamic and vital as you push its buttons and manipulate it in your favor, but ensures that you're constantly scouring every room you enter for precious ammunition, batteries for your flashlight, story points, schematics and materials for crafting, all while listening intently for the sounds of the creature. The combination of its physically-open maps, interactivity, thick atmosphere, brilliant world design, general sense of despair and inviting exploration make the game feel a lot like BioShock, oddly enough - just with less shooting and more sneaking.

Stealth, in Alien: Isolation, is a far more potent option than any weapon at your disposal.  Because it's so effective, so intuitive, I found myself rarely in a position to actually need to use most of the toys Ripley had cobbled together.  I never threw a molotov cocktail, for example (for shame - the game's flame effects are beautiful), never used a flare, never used an EMP mine and I never once tossed the noise maker.

The only two items I felt naked without were the flame thrower and the iconic motion detector.

Too late, it sees you.

The motion detector becomes crucial when you're unable to get a visual bead on the beast - when you've shuttered yourself in a closet, or are crawling through some vents, or just cowering beneath a desk - but you soon get to know the tell tale sounds it makes, depending on its behavior.  The baritone thump of it leaping up into an air vent always means the coast is clear to move, and the sound of its inquisitive vocalizations signals a pressing need to slip into the nearest cover.

Again, all enemies in the game employ reasonable, universally-understood rules of stealth gameplay, and that can kind of end up... not killing the tension, but turning it a bit humorous.

For example, if you're crouched behind a waist-high box, and your foe is on the other side of that box, it can't see you.  Them's the rules.  As such, there were two or three moments in which the Alien could clearly tell I was around - could smell me, or something - while I crouched behind a supply crate, peeking over the box at it.

It would go left, and I would go right.  It would turn back, and I would match it.  We'd dance around this box for a minute or three before it got bored, decided I wasn't around and hopped back up into the air vents.  I was right there, man.  If Isolation were a movie, that scene would be played for laughs - I mean, it's still tense, but also a bit funny.  That, however, is the exception to Isolation's rule - a few moments out of a hundred curses hissed through gritted teeth as you peek around the edge of a door, hoping it won't come this way 'cause there's no desk to hide under in this room.

Back off!

There's also the flame thrower.

While the flame thrower can never kill the creature, it will get it to screw off for a minute or two (in exchange, I suspect, for it becoming a bit more aggressive in its searches).  When that happens - when the Alien charges you and you slap it in the face with napalm and it skitters away to fly into the nearest vent?  You feel bad ass.  You feel like Ellen Fucking Ripley.

This nameless woman is one of the only pleasant people you'll meet on the station.  "Nice to see a friendly face," she says.
I wish I'd spent more time listening to her.  Why does she stick with me?

And that's Alien: Isolation.  That is the entire experience of it - feeling like Ripley.  Feeling like you're inhabiting that world, that universe - and that you have an unstoppable ultra-predator drooling from both of its mouths at the thought of your tender human flesh the whole way.  It is the Alien game gamers have dreamed of, and Creative Assembly have given it to us.

Rare is the triple-A game that is so laser-focused on what it wants to be, and rarer still is the game that accomplishes it in such style - and Isolation is stunningly well-realized.  It's an excellent survival-horror-stealth-adventure, but more than that it's a first-person frayed nerve-dive into the universe, the style, the feeling of one of the defining science fiction horror tales of our time.

An instant classic.

Still sick arrglbarglgargl...

Aaaaaugh I spent the entire long weekend sick as a dog and I'm still sick and I feel like crap and I have to go to work tomorrow whyyy God whyyy...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

How to not starve.

I am sick as hell and I find I don't care enough about Driveclub PS+ Edition's delay to complain about it (doesn't hurt that reviews were mixed-on-the-negative-side). I am thoroughly absorbed in Alien Isolation, and I find myself well beyond whatever had previously shackled my understanding of Don't Starve.

What's beautiful about my new (kinda' vast) appreciation of the game's interlocking mechanics is that, even now, I am aware I've barely scratched its surface - because I have quite intentionally confined my exploration and survival to its literal surface.  I know I can mine these plugged sinkholes in the game, and they will open up into a new subterranean universe to be explored and understood.  I know if I walk through Maxwell's Door, I will embark on Adventure Mode, and I know that if I turn on the Reign of Giants modifier when setting up my game, things will get way crazier.

So much to learn, so much to do.  But it's enough that I feel I've somewhat mastered the "vanilla" game.

My friend, would you like to know how to not starve?  Here's how.  Gameplay spoilers.