Lex Play: Alien Isolation – Mission 9: The Becon

*spoilers  for Alien Isolation – Mission 9 are contained within.*

This mission is one long flash back.  You play as Marlow as he finds the craft from the original Alien movie and a bunch of stuff that’s been left by the crew of the Nostromo.  The whole mission sees you walking after some of you crew mates in a wind swept gully.  As you walk there are a couple of jump cuts as you progress through the landscape which are a bit disconcerting.  The level finishes with you lowering yourself into the egg chamber from the original film.  It looks nice and I enjoyed the trip to the original film but I don’t really have much else to say about it.  Oh, OK the highlights are first setting eyes on the navigator ship and seeing the egg chamber.

Lex Play: Alien Isolation – Mission 8: Haven

*spoilers  for Alien Isolation – Mission 8 are contained within.*

This is a bit of a weird mission.  It seems to be a number of small scenarios stuck together and joined via the stations transport system.  None of the content was bad but I think that this whole section could have been cut to stream line the game.  First I had to restart the transport system which meant a quick trip to the control room and dealing with one human and one android.  I manged to stun the human and ended up shooting the android at point blank range, which makes him the first synthetic I have killed thus far.  Before you can leave the control room you have to pick up a new tool the gas torch.  This allows you to cut through panels and access parts of the station that had previously been blocked off.  It takes a long time to cut through the panels and creates a lot of noise giving a good opportunity for anyone in the area to attack me.  Fortunately the alien seemed uninterested in dropping into the control room which was far to small to provide any real hiding places.  Cutting through a panel I headed back to the transport station and then left the area I had started in.

The next part of the mission has you standing around waiting for another transport to come and transfer you to the next station.  While waiting I wandered around the station which was mostly empty.  Heading back to the station I found some looters hanging around the platform.  Deciding I actually wanted to use the items I had been hording for the whole game, I throw a noise maker at the looter which had the affect of causing the Alien to jump from a vent and run straight for them.  This left me to hide in a side office contemplating who was the real monster, me or the alien.  After a few minutes I headed back and grabbed the train to the next section.

The final part of the mission is set at the Solomons Habitation Towers.  Literally nothing game based takes in the Towers.  You wander through and experience some story beats, meeting Marlow the captain from the Anesidora who found Nostromo’s flight recorder.

Lex Play: Alien Isolation – Mission 7: Seegson Synthetics

*spoilers  for Alien Isolation – Mission 7 are contained within.*

I was expecting more frustration as I played another frenzied game of hide and seek with every ones favourite early 80’s monster, but no the game shifted gear right down to practically idle.  I found myself mainly pitched against looters, the first bunch were easily stealthed past and the second ended in bloody combat.  The Alien actual only turned up once to finish off the first lot of looters and I only had to hide under one desk to complete avoid the thing.  It was an enjoyable and short mission after what felt like a real slogfest.

I managed to find get pack to Taylor with my medical supplies.  Although now the game seems to want to get Taylor to a medical centre sent up elsewhere in the space station, so the plot has barley shifted forward.  Although I’ve found plenty of flavour text explaining why the station is shutting down.  It’s due to the failure by Seegson to secure  contracts for their synthetics.

Game Making: Episode 1

Every so often I have a stab at making a game.  One day I may actually create some kind of working prototype.  Anyway about a week ago I came up with an idea and I thought I might as well blog my latest attempt so you can one day stumble across my blog and read about my attempt to create a game completely fail.  Anyway onto the pitch.

My idea is to create a business sim that is loosely based on Bullfrogs early 90’s game Syndicate, not the newer Starbreeze game that I’ve never played.  It won’t really create any the gameplay but rather take the dystopian future full of malevolent corporations intent on world domination as a starting point.

The basic idea will to build up a corporation by buying strategic assets, bribing populations and taking aggressive actions against enemy companies and other nefarious actions until the world is under your control.

At the moment all of my ideas seem vague and nondescript.  I hope starting to get stuff down on paper a fuller idea of what the game will initial will become clearer although I’m already worried about adding too many features.

Lex Play: Alien Isolation – Mission 6: Outbreak

*spoilers  for Alien Isolation – Mission 6 are contained within.*

Ugh, ugh, ugh.  Ok I found Mission 6 a massive slog.  The level starts off with more of Alien hide and seek and then introduces some scavengers near the end of the mission and an android for good measure.  My first issue with the mission was with the Alien’s moments, which could at be best described as like a hyperactive puppy and at worse a teleporting monstrosity.  At one stage I ducked into a side corridor to avoid a scavenger who opened fire as I crept away, quickly the Alien was on him.  As the scavenger was torn asunder I tried to sneak away only for the monster to appear from the opposite direction and quickly run me down.  In another instance I saw drool dropping from an open air vent, cautiously I sneaked around the vent only to instantly see more drool coming from the next vent.  How did it move so fast? Did it know where I was? If it did why didn’t it just drop down and take my lightly armed self down then and there?  These tricks didn’t improve the atmosphere they just made the game feel cheap and unrealistic.

Another issue I had was with the save system.  While I understand that making you wait save at specific points is a deliberate tactic, near the end of the level the game play shifts.  I was caught by an Alien during a cut scene but just as it was about to pounce an explosion sent it scarpering away, leaving me alone in a room on fire quickly running out of air.  Quickly I ran down what seemed like an obvious escape route only to find myself trapped.  I died twice in the same spot only to resort to gamefaq’s to find the answer.  Basically you have to jump onto a ladder that’s basically covered in fucking fire, but anyway.  Each time I died on what felt like a side line activity I was dumped right back to my last save.  This meant that I had to sneak back through a bunch of stuff that I’d done to get back to the next final room section to have another try at what felt like a light puzzle.  Having a cut scene and game play shift made me feel like I was entitled to a save point and ramped up the annoyance attached to each one of my deaths.

That said I’m still not through with this game.  Yes I’m going to push on.  I think some of my issues have been caused by not utilizing any of the in game items I’ve been crafting as I’ve gone along.  In fact I’ve treated the whole system as a side show only making items to keep from maxing out my component slots. The atmosphere and graphics still feel top notch.  Also there was a slight reference to Blade Runner another Ridley Scott film that I felt I had to reference here.

Lex Play: Alien Isolation – Mission 5: The Quarantine

*spoilers  for Alien Isolation – Mission 5 are contained within.*

This mission is set in a hospital.  You speak to Samuels and Taylor, Taylor’s been injured and needs medical supply, hence the hospital.  The level has it’s own mini plot, Dr. Kuhlman wants to get some meds for himself and needs your help because he’s sick and Alien.  I  spent some time running around the abandoned hospital until the Alien decides to pop in for a visit.  Just before I left the Alien decided to finish off poor old Dr. Kuhlman. Actually he was a bit of a dick, he knew the Alien was on the station the whole time and had locked himself in his room to keep safe.  Horror games and hospitals feels a bit cliqued, especially as the ward was used for psychiatric patients, sigh.

This is the first level with a significant amount of Alien action.  It’s actually quite scary knowing that if it sees you, your doomed.  Although I found the aliens AI a bit stupid, at one point I slipped down a side corridor and the alien just walked straight past without a passing glancing my way, also it seemed a bit too easy to slip under a table or into a locker to hide.  Although it didn’t alleviate the atmosphere and I was killed a couple of times.  Not being able to check the motion tracker while in a locker was more annoying as it was impossible to tell if it was safe to exit or if the alien was about to burst into through door,because of this I preferred hiding under tables.  I’m slightly worried that this hide and seek game play will drag after a while but hopefully introducing androids and looters will keep the tension racked up.

As I finished the level I got dumped into the next section, more hospital.

Lex Play: Alien Isolation – Mission 4: Seegson Communications

*spoilers  for Alien Isolation – Mission 4 are contained within.*

I started the level with the Alien successfully left behind in the last section but entering communications I encountered my first Working Joe.  A Working Joe is a humanoid androids who acts as a dogs body for the sevastopol station.  For a second I mistook it for a human, but with a second to stare I noticed its lifeless lose plastic face and eerie glowing eyes.  I trembled slightly realising my mistake. Working Joe’s are decidedly creepy.  Fortunately they left me alone, at first.  My first interaction with a Working Joe was unfruitful but harmless as I was banned from entering the communication but after walking around a couple of corner, and past seemly hundreds of Working Joes, I got to witness one of the working Joe’s batter a guy to death.  The guy in question  had tried to make some off station calls. After sneaking around I managed to hack my way into a restricted area where they became decidedly deadly.  My first encounter with death in the game was at the Joes lifeless hands are I was dragged out of a locker and methodically beaten to death.  At first thinking I was up against a single Joe, I tried to fight back but found my pistol next to useless and the number of Joes quickly multiplied.  After two attempts at sneaking around I learnt about the Joe’s flaws, they are slow, stupid and easily out run.

At first I found the combat quite complex.  It takes two button to fire pistol, one to draw and other to fire, not knowing this I accidentally used my melee attack a few times by accident.    From the front the melee attack was useless as it was quickly parried by the Joes and only hastened my demise.

I was slightly saddened to see another potential NPC, Hughes, quickly killed off but later in the mission but I found that both my companions from the Torrens, Samuels and Taylor  had made it safe and sound, well sort of, inside Sevastopol.  There was also the first hit of Ripley’s more famous mum with a wiped black box from the Nostromo showing up.

I enjoyed the spike in difficulty that this level brought although thinks still seem to be building complexity by slowly adding game systems and look forward to more complex stuff ahead.  There’s still a long way to go.

Lex Play: Alien Isolation – Mission 3: Encounters

*spoilers for Alien Isolation – Mission 3 are contained within.*

In the middle of the cut scene Amanda’s new creepy chum Axel is murdered as the Alien pop’s his head in for the first time.  It was kind of obvious since he first appeared but still I’d quite like to see some characters having more time to be fully developed.

This is a short mission that involves sneaking around looters until there conveniently murdered by the alien.  After another quick sneaking session around the alien and then straight into the lift to the next mission and a couple of light puzzles interspersed between.  Door hacking is the main new puzzle mechanic it was fairly simple but I can see it getting racketed up as I progress.

The atmosphere is ratcheted up another level here.  Seeing the alien crawl out of the vent to kill looters and bullets bouncing around.  With the tension ratcheted up another level the game seems to be getting going.  Thus far I’m still having fun although it’s early days.

Lex Play: Alien Isolation – Mission 2: Welcome to Sevastopol

*spoilers for Alien Isolation – Mission 2 are contained within this post.*

In the cut scene between chapter one and two, two of the NPC’s who you started the game with are seemly killed in an accident crossing from the Torrens to Sevastopol.  Well Ripley seems to be still trying to find them, but the only way I can see them making a come back is as a frozen popsicle slamming into a window somewhere.  For once I was quite sad to see them go as they were well characterised especially Taylor the space sick lawyer.

Back to the actual game, mission two starts inside Sevastopol where something has very obviously gone very wrong.  Walls are scrawled with graffiti the power is down  and equipment is trashed.  Walking around you hear the space station creaking around you.  All of this works well to keep up the ominous atmosphere but as I walked around it dawned on me that this level was more of a haunted house than an actual game level as nothing can seemly kill you.  I think there may be one point near the end of the end of the mission where you can die but it was so simple I never felt threatened.  The lack of any real threat really worked against the atmosphere and I found myself getting slightly bored at points.

This level is more of training level as it slowly introduces the gaming elements.  Mainly the flash light, door opening tools and a bit of stealth.    I found the game builds very slowly and I kind of wish it could have thrown a bit more challenge my way.

Halfway through the level you run across  Axel, a crazy Scottish guy who holds you up before quickly changing his mind and helping you.  His appearance kept up my interest and overall I have to say I’m currently enjoying my experience.