Tag Archives: Alien: Isolation

Redo from start?

I have been considering the games that are, that are soon to come and those we wish to see again. I feel that I am not unique, I am one of many who feels the same way many gamers feel. It all started with a simple pre-order notice I saw at JB-Hifi. The order was not for Mass Effect 4, but for Mass Effect, which seemed a little odd. Soon I found a few less reliable mentions of a possible upcoming re-release of Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3 for Nextgen (Xbox One and PS4). I got excited, because overall the Mass Effect series are nothing short of a marvellous achievement. Consider that Mass Effect is one of the earliest Xbox360 releases, it still hold a storyline that was amazing to play. Yes, we will replay and we will know certain key parts, but that is still not an issue for those who love Mass Effect.

The revamped version of the last of us seemed to have instilled a desire for games on Nextgen that should make developers happy. Is that because the lack of good games or is that because the new games are leaving us cold? I think it is a little bit of both. As studios tried to play the ‘marketing game’ they are now learning harshly that playing that game on gamers is a sure way to see your product get smashed. The outrage that Assassins Creed Unity brought is only one of the elements. I will go one step further, a relaunch with upgrades to the story of Assassins Creed 1, 2 and brotherhood would very likely be more successful than the next Assassins Creed. This for the simple reason that the makers seem to have lost their way (the fact that Unity is regarded by many as the worst Nextgen release does not help any).

Even a relaunch of System Shock (1+2) is likely to draw in a much larger crowd than the likely disappointments new PS4 RPG’s are going to bring. The added issues is not just the game, the problem is for the most the marketing division for these developers; a decent example is the Division by Ubisoft. My issue is that so far the game might look good and could even become great, but in their approach to feed the hungry hordes of journalists and to remain ‘visible’, the people at E3 2014 got to see something that is now not coming until 2016, even the Q1 part here is currently under debate, so as the gamer is promised a game that is now 19 months from its initial ‘presentation’ the people are wondering whether to trust the game because of the mental link we all make between presentation and delivery. It leaves many of us with the thought ‘how many bugs do they need to fix‘? Now, that thought might not be the correct one, but when 10,000+ people think it, some outspoken nitwit will scream it on YouTube, which results in many players moving away from what could be a good game. An example here is Elder Scrolls online, which is a marketing disaster, yet when we see the review from ChaosD1 (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=2082&v=csY7RYF4rKQ), which is excellent and might change the minds of those who walked away from Elder Scrolls Online.

We the players now want to move to games we know, we trust and believe in, which gives added weight to relaunched games. Let’s not forget that Borderlands, The Last of Us and God of War 3 were excellent games. There is however another form of relaunch, one that is not actually a relaunch, but a new evolution of the game. Elite, the legendary game from the BBC Micro B, might have made its fame on the CBM64, it is the upcoming console version which left some parts intact that is now the talk of many towns and even more gamer communities. It shows a new air and an approach to a ‘sandbox’ world many are eager to get onto. As Elite upped the game by mapping the galaxy, with the added wink to legendary science fiction moments, which they did by adding Vulcan and the Leonard Nimoy Space Station as well as Pratchett’s Disc Starport. It is still many years away (as he is in good health), but the moment will come when we will get a place like Badger’s station or the President Lampkin’s station of justice as Mark Sheppard joins the legendary ranks in Elite: Dangerous. You might wonder what does it matter, but it does! You see, as the gamer identifies with moments of his own ‘reality’, the things he/she is passionate about! The game becomes more fun and we will see that people connect more to a game. The danger is that when the threshold lowers and too many ‘legends’ are added, it could drive down the sentiment overall, but the sentiment remains! This will not hinder the upcoming No Man’s sky and both titles will very likely appeal to many players. In that same air we should see the upcoming Shadow of the Beast. What was a scrolling game with slashing on the Amiga/Atari ST, is showing itself to be a Nextgen blood dripping slice and dice extravaganza. This is a new group where the makers can relaunch their original idea and many gamers will love them. So, as the ‘new’ games don’t hack it, the gamers will get treated to a game that did and will do so again. The benefit here is that game makers will need to up their game by a lot to get out there. In the end the gamer wins no matter what! (Don’t you just love that?)

So they will pray at the ‘shrine of Pong‘ to replay System Shock, which does not hinder others either. When we consider Paradroid, or even some games for a chosen crowd like Sierra Entertainment’s games called Manhunter New York and Manhunter 2: San Francisco. They were well above average games then and could now get vamped into truly awesome games tomorrow. Perhaps we will actually live to see the conclusion of part 3 in London. It will be up to Activision to decide and as I see it, it just takes one visionary view within Activision to unlock that revenue! That same feeling is there for the Ultima series. Even though game 10 was an experience released too soon, the idea of an ‘Elder scrolls World’ that is Britannia could be massive. The fact that a developed ‘world’ is scanned and transferred to a first person environment complete with quests, side quests and upgraded storyline could give way to a new generation of gamers, let’s not forget that those who played the original are now regarded to be in the ‘old’ section (yes, that includes me), whilst the young section will experience something completely original in a new jacket. A world where you get Ultima 4, 5 and 6 in one game on the same world with the challenges to master is not only new and novel, pulling it off would raise the bar of gaming considerably. Something all gamers desire!

We became complacent in gaming as we played the Assassins Creed series, which for the most was just ‘more’ (specifically 2, Brotherhood and Revelations). Shadow of the Beast and Elite: Dangerous are now showing that ‘more’ can be an entire new range in evolution, a part many gamers (and developers) have not truly contemplated. As those behind the developers, learn to look behind them on what was and what can be great again, we learn, actually as I see it, it is the gamer taught the developer that games can be recycled.

Yet, we must also consider that it is not about the open world part, a trap I myself tend to fall into. The immersing part of being trapped in a house and surviving it, or as some will call it Alien: Isolation is basically redoing what was great and leaving the player with a replayable challenge. Which is the holy grail of gaming! I believe that more could be coming. I still regard Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2 (GameCube games) as one of the most amazing games Nintendo ever released, they did on 3” DVD what many developers could not achieve on a 4.7” Blu-ray, which is truly amazing.

On the other side we see the failures, the hype that was Watchdogs is regarded by some as a failure and a joke. I do not completely agree, but overall the game is not the titan it was heralded to be, but it could be the introduction to a second game that is really awesome (Assassins Creed 1 + 2 are evidence of that), I am just willing to see the glass half full in the case of Watchdogs and I am willing to give Ubisoft a little slack in this game, especially as they do not deserve any slack for butchering the Assassins Creed series (yes, I am slightly obsessed with that). On that same line I tend to set Thief! It was not great, but decent, I do not regret getting the game when I did.

What will come next? Well, that is the question, so as many stare at the horizon for Fallout 4 and Mass Effect 4, we should not hesitate to look behind us to see new (and hopefully improved versions) of Tenchu and Mega-lo-Mania. In my view as all the developers are focussing on multi-player and micro transactions, they forget that the bulk of ALL gamers need moments of escapism, where they need not weigh anything, but focus on just having fun. This is why Minecraft is so bloody addictive. Diablo again shows levels of fulfilment. It is basically why people on Facebook keep a game like Zombie Slayer around. It has no mental need (minimal) it has decent graphics (images) and it shows progress. I will take it one step further, especially as I am not that much of a zombie fan. It is in my view one of the reasons why some of these games will always survive, when we add Pokémon to the mix we see that part even further. It is only because of the technological flaw that Sapphire and Ruby could no longer be played, yet now, with the 3DS editions, we see the power of that formula. Those who played before still love what can be played again, so as some stare forward to the horizon of new games due to technology, do not forget about the treasures behind us. Now some do not feel that ‘vigour’ when they play Colonization, a Sid Meier masterpiece, because it is board like and turn based, but what happens when the mastery of Colonization gets blended with the freedom of play that Seven Cities of Gold on the CBM-64 brought? Evolution, re-playability and challenge all in one go! I would really be curious to see such a result. I believe that within 95% of all gamers is a casual gamer that just wants to have fun, which is why Diablo and Minecraft will survive forever, we will do the multi thing in Mass Effect 3 for periods of time (best multi player experience EVER!), yet we will always return to the games that mentally satisfy, the part that scripted games cannot deliver, a niche market with long term gaming fun many developers seem to ignore.

Let the games begin!

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A console surprise

There was an interesting surprise in the Guardian last Friday, on the day of good Friday, a religious day of doom, where someone got crucified almost 2000 years ago, Keith Stuart has his own anti-crucifixion on the games you should own, more precisely, the 14 games you should own! (At http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/apr/03/14-xbox-one-and-playstation-4-ps4-games-you-should-own). Now, I have had more than one issue with his articles, but overall, they are a good read and his view is a valid one. The first issue I had here is that the 14 titles are only achievable if you have both consoles. I know, just a minor issue, but a critical one. What I immensely liked is that NONE of the Assassins Creed games made the cut, which has to suck for Ubisoft. Even Black flag, which was not a true AC game, but a decent game none the less was absent.

So, is his view, or his list wrong? Nah! It is just a view, a valid view and I refuse to attack a person on any valid given view, even if I do not agree with it, I just thought it was lacking a few titles, a mere issue of calculus. So let’s take a look at some of the titles.

The first one is Bloodborne, which is immensely frustrating to play. It is relatively easy to get killed and then it is all back to square one. I lost two dozen lives, still in the beginning. You see, you get to kill, it goes smoothly and then you get just the tiniest moment overconfident and THAT gets you killed real fast. This game is about agility, tactical planning and slaughter in the most amazing graphical environment you are ever likely to see. The game is sublime in look and movement, but a better key location save point system (or a lot more of them) would have been really nice, in addition, clarity on equipping stuff and upgrading yourself would have been a decent help too. But let these words not fool you, the game is truly a challenge, whomever passes this game can call himself or herself a true gamer. The game is a challenge, you will love it or you will hate it, there is no grey area in this game, other than the grey of the streets. The game is an earth shattering experience, there is no denying it.

Minecraft made the list and the Last of Us remastered made the list, these are two essential games as I see it, but what was missing?

Well, this much remains a personal view, but as the list of 14 is not pure, let’s add a few titles. I personally think that Diablo 3 is also an essential game to have. Available for both, this game is the latest version of a legendary game that has haunted the minds of gamers for almost 20 years. Graphically the game is sublime and the added multiplayer mode is just unreal! It forces true teamwork if one wants to stay alive on higher levels in addition, the hardcore mode is more than just a small challenge, Diablo has always pushed forward and this third one is no exception with a good and captivating storyline. The makers have done whatever they could to make this game highly replayable. Thy pulled it off nicely.

There is one on the list that should get a mention. Life is Strange is one I have not played and know little about, but the part Keith Stuart wrote makes me want to check out this title sooner rather than later, which gives additional weight to his article. It is nice to see an article where you know all the player, it becomes a lot more when the article informs you on a game you missed out on, which is a reality we all face, so getting the nudge to check it out is always a nice thing.

So, his list gives us 11 PS4 and 10 Xbox 1 titles. Diablo 3 makes it 12, 11. In addition the mention of Evolve, one of the most ground breaking shooters I have ever see is also a must to have, be part of 4 or be the monster and kill as you go. The graphics, the scenery and the challenge. Evolve is more than just a new player. This game is upping the ante for shooters, which in this day and age and with the new consoles is quite the achievement. If you love shooters it is a must, if not, see if you can borrow it and try it, it will be worth the experience.

The next title in my view is Alien Isolation. It is horror survival, more importantly the game taps into the original fear that the movie Alien gave us. It is also one game that makes the oculus rift a serious consideration. I only saw that part online vie YouTube, but the idea that you look into the space, and in one direction makes you jittery like nothing you ever experienced, which is the feeling any good horror game should give you. It should push borders, Alien Isolation delivers in that regard. Together with The Enemy within, the horror survival genre is up for new life and the graphics and power of next generation consoles add to that experience, giving you my reasoning for adding this title.

Now it is time to add an Xbox One game. In my view the only title to add is Sunset Overdrive. I played it on the Game Show and the game is beyond amazing! I’ll go one step further. This game is so good that it is worth buying an Xbox One for. I chose the PS4 and this game is the only one that made me reconsider my choice. The graphics, the look and the gameplay makes Sunset Overdrive an absolute must if you have the Xbox One.

There we have the 14 games that are a must, but this year will show us a nice change as we get the Witcher 3 (May), Metal Gear Solid 5 (September) and No Man’s Sky (August). In addition, there will be the remastered Mass Effect (1, 2 and 3) in December (latest info) which will be a consideration too. The fact that both will get it only makes us desire Mass Effect 4 more. That title is still long away and replaying the trilogy will help us to overcome the sad delay. I only hope that they will give us the Multiplayer option of Mass Effect 3. That has been the most wonderful multiplayer experience of all Xbox 360 games (personal view), which is quite the achievement.

So, up to now there will be at least half a dozen games that tap into the gaming soul of the current players, with plenty of good games on route, for both consoles.

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The virtual reality of it all

Well, I would have expected my gaming ideas to come from many places, the Guardian was not one of them to be honest, but there you have it, we find information in all kinds of places. reason here is the other BAFTA, not the one eloquently mentioned by Stephen Fry (aka Reaver to gamers), but by the Gaming BAFTA, which will be awarded on March 12th (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/10/alien-isolation-2015-bafta-video-game-award-nominations). There are many titles that will be mentioned, many will become non winners, and remain nominees none the less and one will stand out. Let’s take a look at those categories and some of the games mentioned.

Artistic Achievement

This is the only place where we see Ubisoft shine, to be more precise their graphical teams, no matter how I spoke out against Ubisoft and how they neglected Assassins Creed, their graphical teams did not. These graphical gurus did show a level of excellence that has been from out of this world. No matter how many bugs we see in Unity, the graphics were unreal, as were they for Black Flag; it is a well-deserved nomination and a possible winner, although they will compete with their own title Far Cry 4 here.

Audio achievement

There is one title that stands out, more important, the title itself is an achievement that many will have waited for, for a long time. It is Alien: Isolation and it puts the SEGA logo back on the screen in a most wonderful way. This alien game is not about blasting, it is about staying alive. This is the one perfect horror survival game that places the genre in a new light whilst remaining true to the atmosphere of the original Alien movie. The Evil Within scratches the surface of this genre, Alien: Isolation breaks through the skin and leaves you sweaty with possible heart problems, just like the original movie from 1979. The game truly takes you to the nerve wrecking ordeal of sharing a spaceship with an alien in the most unwanted way. The audio is every bit as important as the graphics and the audio team delivered like nothing you ever faced before.

Best Game

Is always a hard nut to crack, many games stand out in their own way, for various reasons, SEGA is the strongest nominee here, but a truly exceptional game delivers on many fronts, as such all titles deserve to be there, personally Destiny is as I see it, the least likely title to win, as it depends too much on multiplayer events, yet, this does not take it out of the race, I wonder how the silent title in the back (Monument Valley) will do. It is a silent gem, the use of the masterpieces of M. C. Escher are not to be ignored. There is a mesmerising element in this game that is as addictive as a game like Minecraft ever will be. As I mention addiction, I must warn you to stay away from nominee handheld game ‘Threes’. what seems like a simple game of addition, will turn from one second into the next into a game of addiction and your next set of threes is only one little swipe away. I reckon that in this category it will be a fight between Monument Valley and Threes and either should be seen as a worthy winner.

 

I can go on but you will have to take your own look and see what you think should be the right one to win. The important element here is that we see two parts of gaming that are now clearly impacting business. The first one is quality, yes, I started with the good side of Ubisoft as their graphical teams truly deserve it, but overall Ubisoft bungled the ball and an event like this, where they should be in domination, they are only attending in the most minimalistic of ways. The critique on several levels for Far Cry 4 and the massive failure Assassins Creed: Unity has shown to be, should be a clear indication that Yves Guillemot needs to clean up his divisions and he needs to do it no sooner than 5 minutes after the gaming BAFTA’s have ended.

The second part in all this is originality in gaming. SEGA is showing that in no small matter, in addition, we see Minecraft mentioned a few times, but the stellar part is that silent achievement Monument Valley, developer Ustwo under guidance of fearless leader Neil McFarland shows that independent developers are the future in more ways than one. The Creative Assembly (those behind Alien: Isolation and the old EA sports games) are not indie as such, but they are a far stretch from a massive developer like 2K and Ubisoft, which in addition show those larger developers that the true gems are in the mind of a person and not in the massive visibility of a division.

It will be interesting to see who is elected winner in these BAFTA’s for the mere reason that those who decide might not be the group that largely play these games, the one part that will be interesting to see is that the audience might see the real Ellie (Ashley Johnson), it is always nice to meet the person you kept safe in a digital world, even if she looks nothing like the digital character, an issue Jonathan Irons who will be portraying Kevin Spacey won’t face any day soon. I am eager to see Cliff Martinez on the stage, hopefully for winning the BAFTA for Far Cry 4, which was an excellent piece of work. I have been a fan of his work since Solaris and Contagion, two of his many created master works. As a debut game, Hitman Go definitely takes a shine. They changed a shooting assassin into a tough puzzle game with pawns shaped like Sebuteo figurines, but in the style of Hitman 47 and the goons he goes after. However, in that same category we see Shovel knight, a true retro game, based on the best of the best old style console games, whilst looking new fresh and fun to play. It is a fun achievement for both the new and the seasoned gamer.

So we will all be looking forward, or in some cases dreading this awarding evening. The only worry might be that the people who casted their votes and enjoying a horror survival stealth game is too low, which might impact SEGA to get a decent amount of the 6 nominations it received. We will see it all on March 12th and no matter who wins, I feel certain that the winning views will entice several players to take a look into nominated and winning games they had not considered playing before, that in itself will make the gaming BAFTA a great event for nominee, winner and gamer alike

The full nomination list can be found at http://www.bafta.org/sites/default/files/uploads/baftagamesawardsnominationslist.pdf

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