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Preview: Alien Isolation demo

Al Hope from Creative Assembly
Al Hope from Creative Assembly

Like most of the SEGA community, we’ve been incredibly excited for Creative Assembly’s upcoming Alien: Isolation. Unfortunately, we haven’t had the opportunity to get our hands on the game until now when SEGA and Creative Assembly representatives hosted a preview session in Mexico City on Wednesday.

A year or so ago, many gamers and media alike were skeptical that SEGA could do the franchise justice, what with all the damage “that Borderlands company” caused the franchise with the release of a game not worth mentioning anymore. But ever since The Creative Assembly has provided playable demos of the game, it has really changed perceptions and now it appears to be the most strong game SEGA will release in 2014.

Based on the gameplay videos we’ve seen so far, the game so far looks absolutely fantastic, but there’s a line between expectation and reality. And as I always say, you need to experience something before you can make a proper judgement on whether it’s good or not. We’ll reserve our final verdict until we play the full game, but I was really happy to get the opportunity to play this demo.

Al Hope from Creative Assembly
Al Hope from Creative Assembly

We were received by Al Hope, The Creative Assembly’s console creative lead, who gave us a briefing on the team’s inspirations and key elements they took to develop this game. It has a lot of research on elemental sci-fi, making the plot more about the characters, their interaction and conflicts within them rather than a monster flick, which in my opinion is a better and more interesting approach on how an Alien-related game should be.

The demo build we experienced takes place in the middle of the game. The first thing that was apparent was how well this Alien setting, models and universe is constructed. You can tell the team really put a lot of thought into recreating the movie’s atmosphere down to the smallest details, like the computer screens  displaying COBOL interfaces and even the buttons for electronics look like 1970’s stuff.

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Here’s some people playing through the Alien: Isolation demo.

As the demo progressed, I found myself wanting to explore more of the ship because the visuals and the setting look gorgeous, but, of course, I couldn’t do that because there was a huge, pissed-off Alien hunting me. I learned this lesson the hard way, when I walked into a control room that had a window looking out into space, the sight was awesome. I got completely lost in the moment that I stood there a few minutes taking it all in. That’s about when the Android skulked into the room and killed me in a particularly violent way. Oh well, it was totally worth it!

While the visuals and atmosphere is impressive, they both work perfectly to build an almost unbearable tension in the game. You feel like death is lurking behind every corner, and for good reason because it probably is.

For a game like this to be believable, it also needs strong AI, and as you might have heard before, the Alien reacts to you, and there isn’t a bunch of scripted moments strung throughout the game like in other similar games. As simple as this sounds, I know it must be incredibly hard to pull off, but The Creative Assembly has managed to provide a unique experience each time you pick up the controller and play Alien: Isolation. You really have to give thought to your actions and strategies to see what works best, and really, what keeps you alive.

Exploration, knowing were to hide, using the radar, and getting items was the key for more fun and enjoying this.

After my time with the demo, I can say I’m totally sold on Alien: Isolation. SEGA & CA you guys TAKE MY MONEY! *throws some bills to the screen* Man, The Creative Assembly has really done a fine job developing this game. I was impressed with the freedom of exploration, impressive visuals and eerie atmosphere they were able to create. What’s more, the controls felt great, which is usually something I have issues with in first-person games. I think it felt more natural and intuitive than Portal.

After experienced the demo we had a chat with Al Hope, which I recorded on video below. I apologize in advance for the lack of quality of my video, since my recording device didn’t work in the morning, so I had to improvise with my spare digital camera.

kopke

Graphic Designer and Illustrator, and of course a SEGA Nerd and Fan!

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