“In space, no-one can hear you review” Alien: Isolation Review

Alien_IsolationThe first time I saw the Alien properly I was hiding behind a desk. Before then I had merely heard mention of it and had also seen someone dragged into darkness. I wasn’t being hunted then, but as I crouched behind the desk, holding my breath, as the Xenomorph scanned the room looking for me, I realised that now I was the prey. So began a long game of very tense hide and seek.

If you’re a fan of survival horror and/or the Alien film starring Sigourney Weaver then you’re probably going to enjoy this game. Up until now fans of the Alien movie franchise have been treated to some distinctly average games which borrow or recreate the science fiction lore that has influenced the genre in a big way; the worst of all being Aliens: Colonial Marines released by Sega in 2013. Upon hearing of Alien: Isolation’s development I sincerely hoped that Sega would make up for the abortion that was A:CM and that we would be getting the Alien game that fans really wanted. I wanted to feel almost helpless against a perfect predator. I wanted to be able to use my brains rather than my brawn to escape with my life and I wanted to feel like I had been plonked directly into a Ridley Scott film.

Straight off the bat this game looks gorgeous on PC. The atmosphere, sights and sounds have been beautifully recreated and stay true to the original movie. From the “woosh” of automatic doors to the distinct warning alarms, everything in this game serves as a vehicle to transport me to the Sigourney Weaver epic. The tech in the game stays true to the 1979 vision of technological progress which adds to the feeling that the game you are playing is an extension of the movie.

The character models are very well done (they even sweat) although one minor complaint I have is that the speech sometimes doesn’t quite match up with mouth movements outside of cutscenes. During gameplay I felt like the flapping mouths of NPCs resembled a cod gasping for oxygen, but as most of the time you aren’t interacting with other characters this complaint is minimal.2014-10-06_00004

Although during gameplay you never want to see the Xenomorph, when you do have the unfortunate pleasure, it looks great. It will stomp around corridors or stealthily crawl through vents, saliva dripping from its jaws. Up close it is definitely the same Alien that gave me nightmares as an adolescent. The fact that the vast majority of your encounters with the Alien are unscripted means that you are never sure when you will see it. It is this fact, rather than jump scares, that creates the most tension and fear. Ryan McCaffery of IGN stated that the fact you move around the same areas for most of the game is a fault however I disagree. You may move through one section of the game without the Alien even being close, but the way you move and experience that same section with the Alien being present changes it in a big way. In fact, moving through the same environments a few times made me feel more trapped enhancing my fear throughout the game.

You play through the main campaign as Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, who has been designed with Sigourney Weaver in mind. Her main objective is to seek out her mother (following the events of the original Alien movie) and this is the driving force throughout much of the game. The story takes you to the space station Sevestopol which has clearly seen better days. You are not alone on the station. As well as the Alien there are other survivors and “Working Joes” (basic androids that have turned against their programming and will attack humans). As well as avoiding the alien, it is in your best interest to avoid the androids and other humans. The station is a very hostile environment and humans will shoot first and ask questions later as a matter of survival.  Just because combat is discouraged doesn’t mean you are unable to engage. Along your journey you can pick up tools, a gun or even bombs to use in combat however you should be smart about how you use them. Playing on the hardest difficulty, combat feels very realistic in that Amanda Ripley is a survivor, not a soldier, and as such her attacks are primal rather than effective; don’t expect to kill a Working Joe without hard work and taking more than a few hits yourself.

alien_isolation_01Combat against the Alien will result in death. Tools and guns have almost no effect on it, save perhaps making it more aggressive. Bombs and flamethrowers will only give you more time by scaring it away. Those seeking a FPS experience may not enjoy this but the feeling of vulnerability makes every encounter tense and heart racing. Instead of fighting you’ll find yourself trying to use the environment to your advantage, triggering alarms to draw enemies away or turning off air filtration systems to create a gaseous cover to hide your movements. You may die many times but when you survive an encounter the sense of relief is very rewarding. Remember: Running away is OK.

The save system adds to the suspense as it is designed in the old school principle of save points. It takes a short while to save your game and often save points are few and far between. The fact that you could be killed from behind while you’re saving your game makes timing and saving crucial elements of gameplay. The distinctive beep of the save points will become your best friend.

At the time of writing I haven’t been able to try out the DLC, I may write another review of that in the future. However, the main campaign alone is very rewarding and will delight Alien fans. The game is clearly made with the intention of sticking as close to the source material as possible and I couldn’t recommend it enough. While I still haven’t forgotten Aliens: Colonial Marines as some other reviewers have, I feel like I have finally got the Alien game I have always wanted. It is definitely worth your time.

9.5/10

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NHL 15 Rant

fans-get-their-man-bergeron-as-nhl-15-cover-athlete-1111565That’s right, I’m back; your eyes aren’t deceiving you. You’re asking “but…why Monkey? Why come back after so many months away?” I’ll tell you why: NHL 15.

Before the release of NHL 15, the developers and EA Sports were bombarded by complaints from the fan base because information was released about the content of the game on Playstation 4 and Xbox One. A list (which I am putting below) was compiled by the Operation Sports community and fans of the series started cancelling pre-orders and voicing their disgust. 

Modes/Features

No GM Connected
No Online Team Play (when this is patched into the game later this year, it will use real NHL players and teams)
No EA Sports Hockey League
No EA Sports Arena
No Online Shootouts
No Live the Life
No Be A Legend
No Winter Classic
No tournaments or Battle for the Cup
No season mode (you can only play seasons in Be A GM, which is limited to NHL teams)
No NHL 94 Anniversary mode
No custom music support
No create-a-play designer
Cannot customize each team’s AI
No create-a-team
No way to edit individual players
Practice mode is now limited to one skater vs. an AI goalie
Gameplay

No custom camera option
No Action Tracker replay highlights
No Top 3 Stars at the end of games.
Be A GM

Yearly draft is fully automated by the CPU
Cannot play the AHL games for your chosen franchise
Players sent down to the minors do not accumulate any season stats
No fantasy draft option
No preseason games
Be A Pro

No option to sim ahead to the next shift
You only play in the NHL; you cannot play for minor league teams
The Memorial Cup tryout period is gone. You now begin by picking an NHL team, or by letting a random CPU team draft you.
No All-Star game
Ultimate Team

Cannot play against your friends
No tournaments
No mobile app1403557456-media

Before I bought the game this morning I was fully aware of this list of omissions but decided to buy the game anyway. I had skipped NHL 14 because after NHL 13 I was sick and tired of how stale the series had become. The commentary team had remained the same for years and gameplay was lacking. Goalies on player controlled teams were awful and the game just didn’t provide me with an authentic hockey experience. I bought NHL 15 because I wanted a hockey game on my PS4 and also because I play offline Be a GM more than any other mode.

After a few hours of playing I realised that on top of the omissions noted in the list, there were a couple more. I scored a hat trick with Bobby Ryan at the Canadian Tire Centre and yet no hats were thrown onto the ice (despite the commentator making reference to hats being thrown onto the ice). You can’t even edit a player’s gear, meaning that when I signed Brodeur he was resigned to wearing a boring, dull white helmet.

The game itself features unrealistic contact physics meaning that hitting once again this year is just bad. There is no other way of describing it.  Sometimes contact wouldn’t even register and other times a much smaller player would take out a larger player and fling them back a couple of feet. Does everyone remember the hilarious glitch from a couple of years ago where a player was flung into the stands by a hit? EA Sports made light of the incident but it’s not funny anymore. Already, after only a few hours of gameplay, I’ve seen players flung over other player’s heads only to land in a way that would surely result in major bone fractures. Goalies on player controlled teams were just as unreliable as ever and seemed to be fooled by every deke. The AI team doesn’t bother setting up plays in the offensive zone and “forechecking” is a concept seemingly alien to the players.

While the commentary and presentation are certainly new, it’s not “better”. The dialogue seems a little robotic and there is rarely conversation between the two announcers. It just seems like sentences strung together one after the other with no real flow, except for at the beginning of the games. Even then, the dialogue seems a little weird and suggests that the development team may have had grander ideas for NHL 15 than what has come to fruition. At the beginning of a game verses the Panthers, Eddie Olczyk makes reference to something happening in the media which sounded a little bit like an outburst. This never happened anywhere in the GM mode and left me very confused as to what he was talking about.

The worst part about the game is not anything listed above, but the crashes which result in lost games and anger from the player. I decided to write this rant after crashing for the fourth time, losing my game data. This needs to be fixed because the last thing EA needs right now is more problems with this game.

I knew I was getting a bare bones game but on top of visuals it seems like no significant improvements have been made, not just on last year, but on NHL 13. I still have the same complaints that I did two years ago.

Insult to injury was a1403493488-mediadded to those in the community playing the game on the PS3 and 360 when it as revealed that the latest installment is pretty much a carbon copy of last years game, but with newer rosters and a new commentary team. Youtuber Domski made a really good video highlighting all the similarities (and no, it’s not fake): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xn5XHhd9zbc

EA Sports could have done a variety of things to make things better. For one, they could have delayed the release of the game. NHL 15 is clearly unfinished and the team should have been given more time to work on the title. The NHL season hasn’t even begun and I’m sure people would have waited a bit longer for the game if it meant getting an improved experience. FIFA doesn’t come out till the end of September when the big leagues like the BPL etc. have already started in real life, so NHL being delayed till the start of the hockey season wouldn’t have been that strange in my eyes.

They could also have reduced the price of the PS4 and Xbox One versions. I traded games in to get my copy but other people have paid upwards of $70 (CAD) for this game which is essentially a really good tech demo. The modes people love and play most often are not there such as EASHL and GM Connected. People are left wondering why when FIFA and Madden were able to get a complete next gen experience to fans when the new consoles were released, why the NHL development team has failed to produce similar results almost a year after?

If EA really didn’t waNHL-15-screennt to reduce the price they could at least answer their fans. I tweeted Sean Ramjagsingh, the producer of the series, numerous times leading up to the release of the game and I did not receive one reply. If you look on his twitter feed he only tweets positive things about the game (obviously because he wants the series to have a good image) but when the community is clearly outraged, it would look better for him to face his critics. I have seen the series stagnate and worsen in recent years and whether Mr. Ramjagsingh likes it or not, he is the face of the franchise. The Facebook page is similarly quiet, the wall being dominated by complaints from the community yet there is not a word in reply from the company. There is no dialogue and this is harmful to the series, especially as EA has such a bad reputation among the gaming community anyway.

As I write this the user Metacritic score for NHL 15 on PS4 is 3.1 and for Xbox One 2.4. Playstation 3 is even lower with a 0.8 and lower still for 360 users coming in at 0.7. The game should be seen as an embarrassment by the developers because it only looks worse when compared to the likes of Madden 15, FIFA 15 and (in my opinion) the current leader in the sports game market, NBA 2k.

If EA Sports don’t sit up and take note, things can only get worse for NHL 16.

Blog Update

Hey everyone,

This is just a quick update.  I haven’t produced any new content for a few days because I’ve been really busy and decided to have a week off to rest.  I will be back at it next week with a Divinity Dragon Commander review.  I will also be starting two new blogs so look out for those.

I’ve started streaming on twitch every now and again.  Last night I streamed Guild Wars 2 gameplay for the first time and I’m going to be starting League of Legends in the next week or so.  My twitch stream can be found at www.twitch.tv/simplymonkey

I’m also considering making YouTube videos as I’ve just picked up some video recording software.  The blog will remain my main focus.

So, look out for my videos, stay tuned for new content next week and be good to everyone.  Speak soon 😀

 

Watch_Dogs Multiplayer Walkthrough

Today Ubisoft released a short video showcasing what players can expect from the upcoming Watch_Dogs multiplayer.  Obviously we can’t draw a huge amount from such a short video, but I do like what I see in this taster.  It’s a different multiplayer experience than anything I’ve played before so I’m looking forward to trying it out and seeing if it will be something I will be into.  Check the video out for yourselves below and let me know whether you’re excited for this game!

Decent low level Hearthstone Deck

Hearthstone-logoHere goes, my first Hearthstone post!  I was apprehensive about this because I’m not exactly an expert on all things Hearthstone but I think I’ve made a pretty strong low level deck that doesn’t require you spending all your hard earned cash.  Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments below!

The trick with this deck is to keep control of the board and using the buffs at the right time (that’s kind of obvious though ha!). I’ve managed to buff a Stormwind Champion twice with Blessings of Kings for major damage. If you lose control of the board you might very well lose the game so use Consecration wisely.

First I’ll give you the cards that are in the deck, then see below for quantities.

257

499Leper-GnomeAcidicSwampOoze

NoviceEngineer47434

 

TruesilverChampion29260

 

35031326

 

280604325

 

283310

 

 


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