As usual, here’s my powerpoint slides from my presentation at the 2012 AAA conference:
I had heard a lot about how good Alien: Isolation was and I knew that it had won a ton of awards so I had high expectations for it. After playing it, I have to say I’m kind of baffled. I liked the game but, man, is it long and repetitive. How many times can you be sent on a fetch quest only to have that plan turn out not to work and then have to go on another fetch quest?
Some minor spoilers here…
To be honest, I’m most confounded by articles like this one by Danielle Riendeau because I have respected and enjoyed her work so much. (Am I so out of touch? …no, its the reviewers who are wrong.) So as much as I hate to do it, I think that digging into her post will help me to organize my thoughts on why I was so disappointed in the game (I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed)
“[Alien: Isolation is] a truly bold, risky, brilliant game that only fails when it remembers it’s a video game.”
My problem is that it never forgets it’s a video game. I will explain why I felt this way in my subsequent comments.
“There are other enemies in Isolation: devastated, scared humans with guns, creepy androids that kill you in brutal ways — but there’s really only one that matters. The one that hunts you down wherever you go.”
I found those other enemies incredibly irritating. People shooting at you. Robots that go crazy. They are felt like artificial reason to make you crawl into a vent and make a detour instead of going directly to your goal. I have to go flip this switch. Just get out of my way and stop bothering me you stupid robot.
“Isolation is a game where shooting a gun almost always means certain death. Where one singular creature — that cannot be killed — stalks the player, almost entirely unscripted, throughout the experience.”
While it is true that shooting a gun often means death because it will attract the alien, the second part of this is false. Maybe Riendeau didn’t want to give away things but you do in fact kill the Alien. Oh but guess what? It isn’t “one singular creature.” There turns out to be a hive and there are multiple Aliens.
“Make a woman hero that shows her character through actions, not cutscenes”
I recognize that a lot of this is about the main character being a woman. That’s great. That’s awesome. The more the better. However, the second half of this really confounds me. There are way to damn many cut scenes in Alien: Isolation. It really infuriated me. I’m sure that most of the cut scenes are to cover up for the limitations of the game engine but it was just frustrating when you get ready to go so something and you have to watch a movie. They even show animations of you crawling into vents or opening doors — which you do a lot and so you see them a lot. Ugh.
If the game was half as long, or had half as many fetch quests that end up failing or fewer cut scenes then I would have liked it as much as Riendeau did. I guess it comes down to what we focus on because I totally agree with Danielle when she writes:
“[Alien: Isolation is] way too long, with obvious filler content. I put in around 28 hours. Most playthroughs are likely closer to the 20-25 hour mark. This is way too long for a horror game that is 100% focused on being a tense, difficult experience.
Far worse is the inclusion of cheap, frustrating enemies in a few sections of the game. It’s tarnish on the better-designed sections. They’re a boring, rote, frustrating feature that belongs in a cheap haunted house.”
She still loves the game despite these things. I can’t love it because of them.
three thumbs up
I dislike disliking you
Need to cut it down.
I’ve been busy teaching so I haven’t done much blogging but I have managed to play some games. I thought I would post what I’m playing as a way to get a new post on here to prove this site isn’t dead – if only to myself.
1. Paladins – people say it is an Overwatch clone but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t bought Overwatch. From what I’ve seen Overwatch seems like Team Fortress 2.5 anyway – shots fired! Overwatch is entertaining enough. It is free to play so it has that going for it. It is in beta so they keep changing things which is kind of interesting to observe.
2. Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker – I have never been that big of a Nintendo fan. I had an NES but never an SNES. I got an N64 several years after it was out and never had a Gamecube. Now that the Wii U is nearly dead I decided to buy a Wii and softmod it. So I’ve started playing through the gamecube games I’ve missed. Wind Waker is the first one. I think the only other Zelda game I ever played was Link to the Past that a guy in the dorm in college had on his SNES so it has been an interesting experience. I’m currently at the part where you gether the triforce. It is getting a little tedious so I might give up on it.
3. Alien: Isolation – I heard a lot of praise for this so I was looking forward to it. I’m not quite sure what to make of it. The gameplay seems really straight forward and I don’t like the mini cut scenes that pop up or the pre-scripted story elements. Avoiding the Alien and other things can be quite tense but after it keeps coming back it gets monotonous (or tedious? I guess I should look up the difference between those! Hmmm… well this isn’t any help: “As adjectives the difference between monotonous and tedious is that monotonous is having an unvarying tone or pitch while tedious is boring, monotonous, time consuming, wearisome.” Merriam Webster states that monotonous means “used to describe something that is boring because it is always the same” while tedious is “boring and too slow or long.” So I guess I feel Wind Waker is becoming tedious while Alien: Isolation is becoming monotonous? One think I do know is that this post is becoming tedious!)
4. Candy Crush Soda – I guess it says something about my own perception of what counts as a “real game” that I didn’t originally think to include this or the other android games I play. I was playing Pokemon GO but they banned rooted phones so I can’t play any more. I would like to play Inkle’s Sorcery 4 but I know I would get too into it. Maybe over Thanksgiving. I’ve been thinking about how to use their Inkle Writer in my classes as a way to have students make games that revolve around a theme in the course. It looks more plug and play than twine. I don’t know that I’ve figured out what to use it for tough.
I meant to post this a while ago but I never got around to it until now (when I’m procrastinating instead of dealing with the stress of actually submitting a paper to a journal).
A little over a year ago I posted my idea for an analog keyboard. Well, I ran across a post on PCPerspective about a kickstarter for an analog keyboard. I’m poor so I didn’t back it. And I generally stay away from kickstarting hardware.
More interesting is that I wasn’t exactly the first person to have the idea for an analog keyboard (not that I really thought I was). As it turns out, back in 2012 the Ben Heck Show made their own analog keyboard and in the video they show it working basically how I thought it would:
Analog WASD Gaming Keyboard – The Ben Heck Show by BenHeckShow
Maybe some day one of these will actually be available in stores. Now we just need rumble mice…