Posts tagged #Alien

Alien: Isolation (PS4) - Thoughts

Alien: Isolation – Thoughts (PS4)

Alien: Isolation is a game I probably won’t be able to finish. Is it better than Colonial Marines? Is it scary? Are the negative reviews it’s been getting from some sites accurate? Find out after the jump!

From its initial announcement, I’d been excited about Alien: Isolation. I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the films (particularly the first), and it looked as though the game would be a pretty accurate representation of the world that Ridley Scott directed us through in his 1979 film, Alien. Now that the game has been released, and I’ve had a pretty decent amount of time to play it, I can say with all certainty that it is. However, that may be its biggest downfall.

Somewhat like the original film, Isolation has the perfect blend of slow, building tension and well-done payoffs to that tension.  The problem lies in the fact that the main campaign is somewhere around 20 hours long. While yes, that could be seen as a good thing, given that one usually wants to get the most out of his/her $59.99 for a single game, there’s only so much slow-burning tension that one can take before it becomes outright frustrating!

In a recent posting of the Penny Arcade webcomic, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins humorously criticized their opening hours of playing the game, and how you literally play for a little over an hour before you actually see the famously frightening, titular creature. As Holkins’ comic strip alter-ego Tycho suggests after Krahulik’s Gabe complains about this, “It's called suspense, Gabriel. And they are building it. Soon, you will know fear.” Personally, I’m fine with not seeing the Alien for that long, as it does lend itself very well to the feeling of the original film.
(To see the Penny Arcade comic, click

After said hour or so, the Alien makes his big reveal, and it’s done extremely well; he drops out of a ventilation duct and slowly rises to his feet, immediately beginning his hunt for you. Whenever he appears, the best thing – the ONLY thing – to do is hide. If it sees you, you can kiss your video game life goodbye and begin loading up your last save point, hoping that it was close enough to the point where you died. In other words, it kills you immediately; you can't hurt it.

The first couple of times that this happens really aren’t that bad. But when the game starts throwing objectives at you that are literally “go get the thing in this room and put it in the room next-door, so that you can open a door all the way across the level’s map,” it gets frustrating while constantly having to avoid the Alien and certain death.
In my opinion, a better approach would have been to design the game in such a way that the Alien doesn’t always show up and hamper your objectives. Instead, have him show up when you least expect it. The way it is, you can always tell he’s going to pop out when your objective is to get somewhere in a hurry, or when the objective is seemingly simple.

In all fairness, this kind of gameplay is what makes these kinds of games these kinds of games. Titles like Outlast and the Amnesia series all have that “constant tension,” but something about this type of gameplay for more than a few hours just becomes maddening. It’s probably the fact that, while slow-burning tension works very well in a two-hour movie, a twenty-hour game like that only makes you want to shut it off after two hours.

Is the game scary? I personally don’t think so, even though I’ve always considered the Alien to be the scariest movie monster of all time. And here, it acts exactly as you would expect it to - hiding and crawling through the station's ductwork, carefully seeking you out, etc. There are plenty of jump-scares, yet nothing that I was actually “terrified” over.
The Silent Hills (P.T.) demo on PS4 was frightening – this is not.
That being said, the game makes me extremely nervous, but only because I don’t want the Alien to kill me in one shot and make me start waaaaaaaaay back at the last save point I found.
And it’s for that reason that I probably won’t finish the game – I’m “on the edge of my seat,” but not for the reasons I’m probably supposed to be.

So there you have it – my thoughts on Alien: Isolation. In a sense, the reviews have been accurate, or at least they align with my own personal experience playing the game, and it's definitely a more polished effort then the last Alien game, Colonial Marines. However, I think IGN’s review in particular was pretty harsh, seeing as how they gave it a 5.9.
Through I don’t like reviewing games until after I’ve finished them, I’d probably give it a 7.5/10. The graphics are great (even though the PS4 version suffers from frame-rate problems during cutscenes), the controls work well for the type of game it is, and the game makes you feel as though you actually are living a part of the Alien universe. So in the sense of being a game which accurately represents the feeling of Ridley Scott’s original film, Alien: Isolation delivers. Unfortunately, it’s like watching Alien on DVD or BluRay 10 times in a row; it’s a great movie, but after the second or third time watching it, you’d probably want to watch something else.


Note: If you have the Nostromo Edition of Alien: Isolation (or want to buy the DLC), play the Crew Expendable mission and the Last Survivor pre-order bonus. You’ll be able to see pretty much all that the game has to offer in a much shorter amount of time, meaning that the slow-burn feeling the game strives for is much more effective. 

Note 2: Looking for a good Alien game? Go check out Alien vs. Predator for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC/Steam. It’s short, but it’s effective, doesn’t get boring, and you can even choose to play as the Alien!
Posted on October 15, 2014 .

!!! Ridley Scott Has Got Da Philosophical Skills To Pay Da Bills (MorePrometheus News) !!!

It's Prometheus Week Here In Cabo San Lucas! All You College Kids Grab Your Xenomorph And Get Down Tonight (Watch Those Facehuggers, You Don't Want A Bun In The Oven) !?!?

I'm Baaacck, with more Prometheus news for all you people who can't get enough of those wacky Engineers. I posted my review earlier, which you can view here, but I wanted to do a follow up to that and give you news that has come to light about what's next for this movie.

First, we already have preorders up for the eventual DVD and Blu-Ray releases (well... that was quick). You can head over to your respective favorite online store and drink the Kool-Aid right on up. To go along with that, Collider has an interview with Sir Ridley about what we might expect on the upcoming release (think "extended edition", Oh, and a little about that Blade Runner sequel). Click it and see!

Second, as Josh, Nic, and I sat in the theater after seeing Prometheus and the credits rolled, we were discussing the film when Nic noticed a web address show up at the end of the sequence. That's not unusual in and of itself (lot's of films do it), what was really strange was the date listed for the website, "10.11.12"?!? What the hay? That's not till October? So something is happening in October on the Weyland Industries website. The date also corresponds to the New York Comic Con, so make of that what you will. Also, you may want to check out the Weyland Industries Timeline on the official site to get an idea of what's happening in October. There's also a video that you can check out here. Go Crazy!!

Third, for my more deep thinking readers, I tried, in my review, to present my ideas of what might have been the thinking behind some of the choices made in the movie. I tried to present a convincing argument as to how I saw all these movies tying to together into a cohesive whole. Those were merely the surface of what was going on in Prometheus. I was looking at it with the vision of a fan of the Alien universe. It hadn't occurred to me to go deeper (in my defense, I would have gotten there eventually). Alas, someone has beaten me too it. Cavalorn over at LiveJournal posted a blog about what he thinks the deeper meanings behind Prometheus are. The man has certainly done his homework when it comes to the post, so I'll just say "read" and "discuss", either here in the comments or on the forums. If you are so inclined drop Cavalorn a comment or two and let him know what you think, I'm sure he would appreciate it greatly. My own thoughts are, that in the setting of a fictional universe, this is deep stuff (and I should know, I majored in Theology). The use of myths, legends, and historical facts to craft an incredible backstory to a simple horror tale made 33 years ago and set in space is mind boggling. If even half the things in this blog post were considered by Sir Ridley along with Spaihts and Lindelof, it is an incredible testament to planning and the subtle thoughts behind decisions that were made while filming this movie. If, the first time, we just went to see an Alien prequel, maybe we should all have to go back to college just to see it again.

Todd "Stop Your Grinnin' And Drop Your Linen" B.

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!!! Is That A Xenomorph In Your Chest Or Are You Just Happy To SeeRidley Scott (Prometheus Reviewed With Spoilers) !!!

I Have Seen The Alien And He Is Us?!?

Spoilers, Spoilers Everywhere, You Have Been Heavily Warned!!!!!

Sir Ridley Scott is one of the greatest directors working in the film industry today and has been for many, many years past. He has a vision and storytelling ability that few can match in terms of originality and sheer beauty. For all the great things that Ridley Scott is as a director, he is also something else that makes him either a complete genius or the most evil mastermind on the planet.

Sir Ridley is "ONE BIG LIAR"!

I'll say the again, Ridley Scott is "ONE BIG FAT LIAR"!

And the same goes for Damon Lindelof, for that matter, but we'll talk about that later. Sir Ridley has been saying for months and months that "Prometheus" is not a prequel to "Alien". He said in interviews that there are elements of what he called Alien DNA in this story, but that this movie will not directly tie into the first movie. Well, in a sense, he is correct, but he is selling his new film extremely short in terms of how closely the two are connected and that is a disservice to the fans as well as the movie itself. Does this make Ridley a bad guy? I don't think so. In a world (I'm using my "movie trailer guy" voice) where the entire plot and any surprises a movie has can readily be found online months, dare I say years sometimes, before a movie is released in theaters, creators have had to resort to extreme measures in order to insure the secrecy of their respective projects. I could write an entire column on the pros and cons of spoilers, so I won't really discuss it here (my main thought is that it is up to the individual to determine if they want to know everything about a film or remain ignorant to all types of information... you know, free country and all). Spoilers are now, for better or worse, part of our movie going experience. Scripts are guarded by security forces, non-disclosure agreements are signed, and, now, flat out lies and half truths are told all in an attempt to keep you from knowing what filmmakers have in store. We all know that this is an impossibility, all great secret plots eventually see the light of day (Oswald did not act alone, of that I am convinced... well sort of). Movies eventually get released and all secrets are revealed. I just don't know that they have to lie to me to keep me as pure as the driven snow so I'll put "my bum", as Ridley calls it, in the seats. Just come out and say what everyone knows from the images and trailers and don't be non-committal to the point of absurdity. This brings me to why Ridley Scott is a great honking liar.

Spoilers Ahead, Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here!

Prometheus is a great movie, anyone who says otherwise went into the movie with a preconceived notion of how they wanted it to be. It wouldn't match anyone's ideas for a prequel to Aliens (yes, you read that right). For all the evasive maneuvering and word wrangling that the creative minds behind this movie did, there is nothing like "seeing"to make you understand the truth behind the facade.

This Is A Prequel To Alien And Aliens!!!

Again, This "Is" A Prequel To Alien And Aliens!!!

From film structure, to scene dynamic, to sound design and score, to production design, to charater portrayal, to dialog choices, this movie is a true prequel to Alien in every sense of the word. For all the runaround we got from the filmmakers, once you see the finished film you would be hard pressed to try and convince me that this is not a prequel. Some of the choices that Sir Ridley made seemed to be done entirely with an eye toward tying this film directly into his previous one. I got the feeling that in some cases he simply walked into a department head's office (production design, sound design, score) and said, "Get a copy of the Alien DVD (or Blu-Ray if you prefer) and use that as a reference for everything you do on this film." He goes so far in that direction I found myself thinking I was actually watching Alien during some scenes. The most interesting aspect to this movie is that compared to Alien, Prometheus takes the original formula and reverses it. In Alien you had a straight up slasher flick packaged in a Sci Fi box. You could have taken that formula, gotten rid of the Sci Fi, and set it in a summer camp and you would have had Friday the 13th. Prometheus is the opposite of that. It's a movie that's straight up science fiction with elements of horror thrown in for effect. Remove the horror and you got 2001: A Space Odyssey. "Come on Todd, where did you get that preposterous hypothesis? Did Steve tell you that? Steve." Why no, fake Jermaine Clement in my head, that idea comes from the fact that both movies deal with the beginnings of life on this planet (although in a fictional sense). "But Todd, Prometheus is NOWHERE NEAR AS GOOD AS 2001!!!!" Hey calm down there, I know that you worship Stanley Kubrick, but there's no reason to shout. Both movies stand on their own in terms of thought provoking ideas and they were both meant to illicit discussion among the audience (and they are uboth movies that you should see for yourself). So once again to reiterate, Alien equals horror with a little Sci Fi and Prometheus equals Sci Fi with a little bit of horror.

It almost feels like (and Josh pointed this out after we saw the movie) that Prometheus made Alien and everything after it insignificant. We find out that the Xenomorph was just a tool, a weapon if you will, and those people on the original ship died to prove that point. You can make the case that the company, Weyland-Yutani in the previous films, were looking for ways to supplement their gross profits by obtaining this weapon to use in their military contracts. Prometheus pushes this concept by showing the lengths to which Peter Weyland will go to further his own ends. It appears that his company continued to follow his lead in using aggressive (and very unethical) means to continue their existence. The idea of big corporations using employees as expendable commodities seems to be a recurring theme (hooray for you, Occupy Wallstreet, in the future of a fictional universe you were right). In Prometheus, the mission is not to acquire knowledge (like Shaw and Holloway want) but to serve the needs of a man bent on prolonging his own life (check out the crazy exoskeleton suit that old Peter puts on at the end of the movie). I digress for a moment to say that if you are going to an undiscovered, hitherto unknown, location, whether it be for exploration or not, always carry A WEAPON!!! I cannot stress that enough (even in Star Trek they carried phasers). From Birk (in Aliens), to Peter Weyland, to Gordon Gecko (yeah, I know, different movie), the saying holds true for those that are morally corrupt, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is "Good".

Let's go ahead and get this out of the way, shall we. The Xenomorph "is" in the movie, albeit in the last minute of the film and in an early stage of it's evolution to the creature we know today. The "Facehugger" is also in the film but it is nigh on unrecognizable in the form that you see (watch for the giant squid thingy that takes out the Engineer near the end). "But Todd, those two things were not even close to what we saw in the original franchise films." Sure, but isn't that the point. This film takes place in 2093, while Alien took place in 2122 (how do you know that? Some other dedicated people have made it their business to know, that's how). So we can see the progress (story wise) that could have taken place between Prometheus and Alien. There is plenty of time for the Weyland Corporation to buy out Yutani, find out what happened on LV-223, begin searching for another Engineer Bioweapon Facility, find the distress call of another Engineer ship (the one on LV-426), send their company mining ship, the Nostromo, down to bring back a specimen (Xenomorph), and the rest as they say is "history". Interesting side note for all you people crazy about connections and backstory, the star system that LV-223 (Prometheus Planet) resides in, is called Zeta 2 Reticuli (actual star system in real life space) and this is the same system that contains LV-426 (planet from Alien and Aliens). There is not much of a stretch to think that when the Engineers abandoned the facility on LV-223, because their Bioweapon had turned on them, that one of the infected Engineers then escaped in a ship and crashed on LV-426 setting up Alien. This is the reason behind Prometheus all along. Ridley Scott wanted to show you the importance of the giant in the weird chair they found in the first movie (and briefly seen in the extended cut of Aliens). He has always said that the real question of Alien was not what the Xenomorph was, but who this giant is and why he's there in the first place. If you haven't figured it out by now, the Engineer in Prometheus is the Space Jockey from Alien and this is his story (or their's to be more precise). We find out that the real evil behind the Xenomorph weapon is the Engineers themselves and that, while the Alien itself is terrifying (as any weapon of mass destruction is), they (the Engineers) are the real threat to unsuspecting civilizations, some of which they created (hence the shrinking importance of the Xenomorph later on). Some people won't like it that Sir Ridley has done this to their beloved movie (much the way George Lucas killed their childhood dreams of Star Wars, give me a break). But guess what, just because the movie is not up to your glorious fan fiction (see below):

"About Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) being a clone of a clone from the start of Aliens, after the events of the first film, in which she actually died, hence the clone, and everything that occurred from that point on is happening in the computer simulation the corporation is running in her head because they need to find a way to avoid the ingenuity she shows in defeating the alien, which she didn't do, from repeating in other people that they might send the Xenomorph against thus reducing the gross profit they can reap from the sell of this new creature to the military for use in containing uprisings in company run mining operations throughout the universe."

(Wow, I said it was your fan fiction, I did not say it was good) doesn't mean that Prometheus is a bad film. If you think you can do it better, by all means, go for it (see how far 20th Century Fox lets you get with that). For me, Ridley tells the story he wants to tell which is exactly the one I want to see. It's great to see someone take something that they started, to places you never expected. Well played Sir Scott, well played.

Let's talk about the cast, shall we? Noomi Rapace is awesome as Elisabeth Shaw. Not a surprise after her turn as Lizbeth Salander in the Swedish version of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". Ridley has a knack for picking the right actress to play the strong willed female protagonist seen in a great number of his films and I don't think it is a coincidence that both Prometheus and Alien are alike in that respect. Michael Fassbender is spot on as the required (in an Alien movie, anyway) android, David. He plays the character in a way that embodies both Ian Holm's and Lance Hendrickson's performances as the synthetics of their respective movies. It is both subtle and grand at the same time. Might I also take a minute and state for the record just how awesome Idris Elba is. The man is God's gift to the film industry and a potential man crush for all who go that route (I'm looking at you Josh, with your man crush on Johnny Depp). Charlize Theron is great, especially after her motivations are revealed later in the film. You get the since that, she gives a much more nuanced performance with more emotion than you would expect in a character who is representative of the corporate monster sent to protect it's own interests. It becomes hard to say who the real evil is. Is it the Engineers, is it the Corporation, is it Peter Weyland himself (you can't blame it on David, he was just following orders), it's hard to say? Guy Pearce, in the little screen time he is given, is crazy old guy awesome. He is completely unforgivable as Peter Weyland and even under generous prosthetics that fact comes across. Logan Marshall-Green as Charlie Holloway really surprised me in the way he handled his character. He is the aggressive type, wanting what he wants on his timeframe. While not wholly unlikable, he could come off as a hot headed impatience sort sometimes, case in point, he says, when they land in front of these obviously man made structures, that he wants to get out there and get rolling on their mission at which point Idris Elba's character asked him why he doesn't just wait till the next morning to which he replies, "I don't like to wait to open my Christmas presents." (Note: it's the Christmas season when they reach the planet and the Prometheus begins to land.) Logan Marshall-Green also has one of the greatest lines spoken in the movie. When they are in what they call the temple for the first time, they enter a chamber that has a giant head in it, you've seen it from the posters and the trailers, to begin gathering some clues as to what actually happen to these beings. The area suddenly becomes beseeched by a dust storm unlike anything seen on our little planet. This problem urges them to make a beeline for the ship as fast as they can. As they are gathering their stuff, David decides that he needs one of the vases siting on the floor. All the others are hauling tail while David plays slow @$$ causing Holloway to yell at him to come on. Logan Marshall-Green says this line (I will try to convey as best as I can the volume, tone, and general stress in the words he says), "DAVID, WE ARE LEAVING!!!" Why is that your favorite line in the movie (when there are clearly other choices)? Because of the way it is said and the significance of what it means in the larger context of the films as a whole (a fact that people will come to appreciate down the road). This single line, whether it was intentional by Sir Scott, a product of the writer, or the homage from one actor to another, may never truly be known. But it serves as one of the most blatant example of Prometheus tying itself back to the original movies, and doing so not just to Alien but to James Cameron's Aliens well. When the colonial marines are in full retreat from their first encounter with large quantities of Xenomorphs under the atmospheric processor, Cpl. Hicks is trying to get everyone that's left alive into the APC so they can get the H.E. Double Hockey Sticks out of dodge while they still have a chance. To do this, Hicks yells out a single statement: he says, "MARINES, WE ARE LEAVING!!!" While the recipient of the message is different, the tone of voice used, the urgency in the way it was spoken, the emphasis on the exact same words, vocal cadence, and the fact that the words are spoken by two characters who's names begin with an H (I might be pushing it with that last one but it is mighty strange, and as I heard on Fringe, that there are no more coincidences) points to some thought of the connectivity between Prometheus and the films that came before it. Michael Biehn and now Logan Marshall-Green are the Lizard Kings!!!

An Open Letter To Damon Lindelof

Dear, Damon (can I call you Damon?)

Damon Lindelof, oh Damon Lindelof, you Ridley Scott enabler you, what were you thinking? After all the things that you went through with the finale of your TV show "Lost", after all the hate mail and harsh criticism you took after daring to end a beloved TV show in "that" manner, after all the shots that were taken at you for "screwing up" (not my words) Star Trek, you must have some weird, misogynistic condition that compels you to take on projects that will elicit extremely heavy criticism from the very outspoken fan community that these things are aimed at. My heart goes out to you. I hope, I might convince you that those people are in the minority and that you have consistently lived up to many people's expectations when it comes to your work. You have all the respect that I can give you to be able to produce great content under lots of stress when you are being held up to the rose tinted lens of the past. And to your credit, even though you are a gigantic liar, you are a team player and know how to work it, in the "Spoiler" era we live in. I can only assume that you learned this trait from J.J. Abrams (an incredible boss and a saint to all) after spending large amounts of time in his circle of secrecy. You certainly know how to dodge a question, just like a politician who got caught attending a Secret Service party in South America. You must continue to do what you love and keep fighting the good fight as the vice president of the anti-spoiler league. Oh, and Prometheus was really good and yes, I understood "Lost".

Yours Truly, D. Lindelof

The other name in the credits connected to the story is Jon Spaihts. I have read in interviews he's done that the script he wrote was way more heavy on the Xenomorph and Facehugger aspect than the current incarnation we have today. I am glad that he is a fan and he and Lindelof have said that a large piece of that script remains in the finished film. But, I am also glad that those things were toned down considerably in the final product because, in my view, it would have made it less original and just a rehash of the same old story I've seen in the past. We may never know how much of Spaihts' original vision remains but even if it's just the broad strokes of the story we see, then I would say that he succeeded in his mission.

The music in Prometheus is fantastic. Marc Streitenfeld has set himself as Ridley Scott's personal John Williams. With a little help from Harry Gregson-Williams, Marc has created a score that not only is full and powerful, it's also the right fit for a movie set in the Alien Universe (Oh... I also like to name drop film composers wherever possible). Everyone will be glad to know that pieces of the late, great Jerry Goldsmith's original score for Alien makes their way into Prometheus and shows us another connection to the previous film.

A few minor things to think about and discuss before I go. I made the comment after the film that I was wondering why the Engineers would want to destroy their own creations. The answer could certainly be, "because they can," but I find that hard to believe in the complexity of a story like this. My thought is, "what if we were intended to be the perfect weapon and earth was just another bioweapon facility on a grander scale?" We became to sentient to be allowed to continue our existence (we, as a race, are very good at finding ways to eradicate large numbers of people in the most efficient way possible, much like the Xenomorph). The Engineers needed a way to completely remove us from the planet without creating an equally sentient weapon to accomplish that mission, hence the Xenomorph (or something similar). That begs the question, "Are we the real alien of these movies and are we really the ultimate threat?" Things that make you go "Huh". Feel free to discuss below or in our forums.

The entire cast and crew did a wonderful job putting this movie together. They should all feel very proud to be named among it's creators. That brings me to my final thoughts (What...huh...What's all this then, I wasn't finished with me kip (British word for "nap") yet, Oh... You're at the end, eh? Well bully for you old chap, it's about bloody time if you asked me. Well.. Get on with it). Thank you random British guy I will, Prometheus is great science fiction movie, it's also a great movie in general (from a pure entertainment stand point), but first and foremost it "is" the perfect "prequel" to Sir Ridley's master creation that is Alien. You could not have made this movie and have it be just like the first Alien film. It would have immediately fell flat on it's face. What we have in Prometheus is the backstory we never got in Alien (or knew we wanted for that matter) and it's sequels and that give this movie a reason to exist beside all the others in this shared universe. This movie is beautiful to behold (if at all possible see it in IMAX 3D because it's the only way to go) and the 3D is some of the best I've seen since Avatar (shared universe? Come on Ridley and Cameron, make it happen). Prometheus boosts some impressive visuals due to the use of Red Epic cameras with 3D rigs, so no backend conversion for this baby and it shows. I'm not trying to tell you how to see this movie (yes I am) but your doing yourself a disservice if you miss this movie in an IMAX setting (fair warning). Again, don't take anybody's word for it, go see it yourself. Oh, and have fun, that's what films are for (did anyone else sing that last part like Dionne Warwick? No? Ok, just me then, but I bet you can't read it now without thinking that...Ha, got ya!).

Todd "Game Over, Man, Game Over" B.

Also check out the viral site for Weyland Industries, here. You will find all kinds of cool stuff that connects the movies together. Have fun.