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Alien Isolation's reviews have begun to hit the web in advance of the game's launch. While reviewers don't agree on their overall assessment of the game, they seem to agree that Isolation's a lot better than the disastrous Alien: Colonial Marines.
Many Aliens games are shooters, with players mowing down dozens of xenomorphs with a pulse rifle. However, Isolation is a survival horror game that takes inspiration from the original 1979 film. Players have to run and hide from a xenomorph that has infested a space station. They have to use limited weapons and gadgets to distract or ward off the alien. They'll also have to contend with hostile androids or humans also on the station.
Several reviewers enjoy this new survival horror take on the series, citing the cat-and-mouse game between the player and the xenomorph as the highlight. The campaign isn't just a series of jump scares; the developers managed to keep the player tense for hours on end through the visuals and audio design. The unpredictable A.I. of the xenomorph worked on player's nerves as well.
Some critics felt that the 15-20 hour campaign outlasted its welcome, though. More negative reviews mentioned that the game teaches certain mechanics to you by killing you without warning. This, coupled with infrequent save points, led to some frustration. Backtracking and a thin story were common complaints as well.
On the whole, though, the reviews are fairly positive. Right now Alien Isolation's sitting at a 79 Metacritic rating on PC, with only 5 of the 19 reviews scoring below 80. That's a far cry from Alien: Colonial Marines, which had a Metacritic average below 50. It's great to see the series bounce back from that disappointment.
Here are a few excerpts from both positive and negative reviews of the game:
"Alien: Isolation seemed like the perfect Alien game on paper, and for the first handful of hours it even seems to deliver on its promise on the strength of its outstanding art and sound that faithfully recreates the ambiance of the classic horror film. Instead, what was the Great Xenomorphic Hope ends in another disappointment for a license loaded with interactive-entertainment potential. It’s a shame that Isolation doesn’t track stats, because I’d be curious to know how many of its roughly 15-20 hours I spent hiding in lockers, staring at the motion tracker, and, most of all, how many hundreds (yes, hundreds) of times I died without a chance to save myself." - IGN
"Alien: Isolation kept me coming back for more time and time again, even when it was kicking my arse. As a gamer who prides himself on being quite resilient to the tension tactics of your average horror title, when Isolation was at its best (which it was for most of the game) it had me doing things I’ve never done before. It made me look away. It made me cover my mouth. It made me close my eyes. It even made me scream on more than one occasion, and it had me in such a constant state of tenseness that I had to put my phone on silent as notification sounds were enough to make me jump." - AusGamers.
"There are a few frustrating sections though, mostly involving the presence of humans. Said frustration mostly stems from the no-nonsense save system, which only saves when you manually interact with a save point, littered randomly about the game's world. There are some sections that have very difficult stealth sections that are roughly five minutes long, and failure of any kind usually results in death. Old school PC gamers who remember titles that lacked a quicksave feature will likely be unfazed, but it's something to be aware of -- especially when the alien can always kill you instantly, leaving little margin for error." - Destructoid
"Alien: Isolation is a trauma machine masquerading as a video game. Only in the realm of horror could this be seen as a compliment, and only with horror games in particular is this worthy of nervous applause. Say this about any other kind of game and you'd mistake praise for insults: it's unpleasant, stressful and rarely merciful. Yay!" - Joystiq
"It's the endless meandering in between that proves troublesome, much of it intended to build tension, but most of it falling victim to a neverending sameness. I say neverending, but in reality, Alien: Isolation limps to its frustrating ending after many hours more than it can support. This is four hours' worth of a great idea stretched into 14-plus hours of messy stealth gameplay, creaky video game cliches, and limp exploration." - GameSpot
"There’s something beautiful about Alien: Isolation’s intensity, about the way it ebbs and flows, about how you learn when you’re a modicum safer than you were just a minute ago, and you can and should move a little faster, or risk waiting too long. It’s amazing how much it looks and feels like a film, translated into another medium, using that medium to make something similar and yet differently powerful." - GameFront