Posted 03 November 2014 - 09:54 PM
Just finished. For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can't imagine a game better nailing the look and atmosphere of the Alien movies than this game does - it's spot on from start to finish.
A lot's been made of the difficulty and of the necessity of hiding in lockers. I'd argue if you spend any great amount of your time in lockers you're either playing the game wrong, or you need to man up a bit. The only time I found it necessary to outright hide was when I was in a dead end room and the Alien was outside. Otherwise, it's best to keep moving.
Incidentally, that's when the game is at it's best. I've found that in my experience, the key to a good stealth game is that even if you're just avoiding enemies, you're still doing something - splinter cell had its novel ways of moving about the environment, Dishonored has its powers, Deus Ex its nano abilities, and so on.
Ripley doesn't have any of those kinds of options aside from a couple of gadgets of varying usefulness, so the game rather felt at its weakest when you had to avoid large groups of AIs, particularly toward the beginning of the game, before the Alien is properly hunting you. It felt a bit hit and miss, a bit trial and error.
Once you have the opportunity to be on the move all the time, it's a lot better. Unfortunately, that leads to some of the other limitations of the game, and they're mostly AI related.
It seems pretty clear to me that the Alien is tethered to your position and is essentially spawning in and out of the environment near you, with a chance of popping out of a vent. Toward the end of the game, that chance becomes very high, but for the most part if you stay quiet he'll only come nosing about every couple of minutes. So it can feel rather cheap when having navigated an area with no sign of the Alien, you need to access a terminal. A check of the motion detector says all clear, so you access it, then the Alien pops out of a vent 5 meters away and kills you because Ripley hasn't mastered simply... stepping away from a screen before you get murderised.
The other thing is the bullshit Synthetic AI in Chapter 14 which renders those things an even more annoying version of the earlier chapters before the Alien showed up. Luckily you can just shoot most of the fuckers.
The volume of story contrivances was absurd and contribute to the pacing issues. Obviously we need to get players moving through the station, but please, don't just turn it into a switch hunt. And if you do, don't make me walk somewhere for 10 minutes, get there, break the switch, make me walk 5 more minutes to fix it, then come back to hit the fucking thing again only to find out it didn't really work. Chapter 18 is particularly guilty of this - when it should have been building up to the finale, it's going "oh, we could get on with the game... or we could just break this switch, make you backtrack all that way and turn ANOTHER fucking generator on. Yeah, lets do that".
Finally (and I'm not sure that the game could've done much about this), once the Alien started actively being a part of the game, it wasn't really scary any more. Given the nature of its AI, it rather loses the unpredictability factor that made it scary. You know it's just going to pop out of vents every now and then. I applaud the reluctance to rely on scripting, but maybe a bit of it was needed to mix things up and keep the thing scary - early on I didn't realise the Alien wasn't properly tracking me yet, and it was great as I had no idea when it would show up, but that wouldn't last.
I guess the worst thing Alien is guilty of is being ambitious. It achieves in plenty of ways, but isn't quite there in others. Still, a game worthy of the license.
I'll give it an 8.