Triple A Casual Review -Alien Isolation, American Truck Sim, Ark: Survival Evolved

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It’s been a while since I updated this page so to catch up with what I have been playing I am gonna do three reviews in one (revolutionary I know) in a more relaxed fashion. Coincidentally, all of the games begun with A making my job easy to make a title.

Alien Isolation

Alien Isolation came out on Oct 7 2014. Yeah, I am a bit late to the party, but I got it in one of the many humble bundles I accidentally pay out for every month. So if you haven’t heard of this SEGA game , I will give you a little overview. Alien: Isolation (A:I) is an Action-Adventure-Survival-Horror-Stealth-FPS and that still doesn’t describe it well enough. You play as Ripley, no not that one from the movies Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda. You get put into an abandoned spaceship port, Sevastopol, trying to investigate her mother’s disappearance, then find out that you are sharing this giant creepy space station with an equally as creepy Xenomorph. Now obviously, Creative Assembly had a task on their hand as they had to do justice for this famous series and I am glad to say I enjoyed the end result.

The visuals of the game were very impressive to say the least. Every object, every vent, heck every wall looked like it was taken directly from the films. It actually felt like an 80s level of props and special effects. The lighting in this game was especially daunting as by the end of it, I didn’t even feel safe to walk with my torch out in case I get a nice tail stab through your torso. As much I hate discussing graphics, the attention to detail was very immersive which is key for what Creative Assembly tried to do here. Whilst the visual had all the boxes, tick, so did the audio with a chilling soundtrack to go along with every vent crawl and disturbing clicks from every movement of the alien as you hide in a locker shivering.

 

 

Great, it sounds good, looks good, but what about actual gameplay? well, as I said before its hard to put a in a genre really, the game gives the player very little tools in the sense of surviving and more gives you a chance. The main event that occurs is you versus the alien. In the movies, the alien is terrifying, in this game, the alien is as heart-stopping as an unexpected tail turning you into a kebab, which was quite a common event when hiding. There’s also a nice crafting system which gives some urge to go explore around the Pretty space station. It doesn’t matter what strange sounds are coming from that corner or how visually disorienting it was, I needed that scrap metal.

Story wasn’t exactly the unique selling point of alien series, more the giant demigod creature. It’s pretty basic having a few memorable moments but nothing as scary as the situations you create yourself. However, there’s enough content to keep you intrigued to explore and find out more about Ripley’s story and the spaceship’s. There are plenty of twists on the way as well, so don’t expect it to be plain sailing. Mind you, the only plain sailing part of this game is when you are on the save terminal.

Overall, an enjoyable experience for anyone remotely interested in the Alien Franchise, the game gives you a unique time throughout and holds together well. However, the story lacks some places it makes up for it in the terrifying encounters with the alien itself.

American Truck Sim

Next on this wild ride is American Truck Simulator. I had heard a lot about its predecessor, Euro Truck Simulator, This was either due to it being a good game or it being a good game, compared to its competition so I didn’t really give it much looking into. However, come the 2nd of Feb I saw this trucking simulator had been released so I picked it up and tried it out.

Loading into the game (besides that obnoxious intro) I noticed the general tone was a bit boring. Now I don’t come to simulators expecting to be picked up and taken on a magical narrated fairy-tale but it felt like I entered an office of a suicide hotline company. After about an hour of making controls actually feel realistic (they did a great job by the way on customization) I jumped in with my first trucking mission.

Safe to say, driving is hard. On this first job alone I must have caused 70 fatal injuries to other drivers and my character. It’s not the controls, it was just me, I mean, who knew driving a 12ft truck at 80 mph would be so hard to control? As for simulating driving a truck, I can’t say myself since I have never actually driven one, it seems pretty accurate (?) but I didn’t fancy driving illegally to get some research. You can tell it’s not a finished game yet. For instance, you have the option for window wipers yet every state is as dry as a nun’s area, but there’s plenty to play with and definitely giving you enough content to work with.

I do feel like I am not the target audience though, which is fair enough since I don’t think there were many 17 year olds craving to cure their truck addiction. Though, it just seems overly complicated for the sake of complications. I see this when I can’t actually buy a truck in the game for a while, starting you off with no money and you take small jobs to make enough and when you go to buy a truck, you have to pick which dealer you want and which make and what engine and..urgh. Just give me a list of trucks with a price next to it and I am happy, well, as long as it has Orchid pink as a colour option.

It does have its fun moments though. It’s a great game to play whilst listening to some music  or a podcast as you trek along, just don’t get too into the song or you might get to see what the world looks like upside down.There’s also a nice parking mini game at the end of every job if you fancy wanting to pull your hair out. I have yet to complete a hardest difficulty because apparently they want to drop this cargo of plates between an oil refinery and a tractor. Graphics wise, meh. Simulator wise, its the best you’re gonna get for a while and actually looks okay at max settings. Normal-Game wise? pretty bad, I mean its good on a decent rig, but if you’re running on medium to get 60 fps don’t expect to be amazed by the view.

Overall, a decent simulator that still has work to be added, yet it does fill a void of that don’t require much attention and can waste any time on. Graphics could use some work and more content, but that will all come in time. For now, if you’re a fan of simulators, this probably the best game you’re going to get till you can get holograms.

Ark: Survival Evolved

So after everyone either getting bored with CS:GO or ‘testing’ their aim on each others heads so many times they got too many bans to count, we decided to look for a different game to play and with a simple look at the ‘Top Selling’ list we found Ark:SE. So we all dropped £15, installed the 3.2 GB download and booted it up for our ears to be destroyed by the extremely loud intro music.

Sadly, we are focusing on Ark at the moment. So Ark is a survival game where you craft bases, make friends and scavenge to attempt to kill the biggest thing. Good idea! if it was original, sadly the survival genre is pretty easy to replicate according to the thousands of games available. So the ‘gimmick’ that makes Ark:SE shine bright like a small house fire is the dinosaurs which we will get to later. For now, the game has no story. Although its charging as a full game which doesn’t sit well with me, with the £15 price it is on steam you can get many more that might feed your hunger for hitting trees with your fists like Factorio , a base building strategy game in a retro 2D isometric view; This War of Mine, a dark survival  truth into life as a war refugee showing drastic measures that need to be taken as well, providing an entertaining game; Don’t Starve, a 2D/3D puppet-theatre themed world with a unique art-style and tons of content and I can go on but Ark still manages to stay on that Top Selling list.

The game itself is pretty generic, the experience I had from it was spawned in, joining a clan getting loads of stuff, hitting trees and getting food for a pink-painted Triceratops to be able to survive a night. Sure, you slowly level up and can do more stuff, but the effort : reward ratio falls short for me. I can spend four hours hitting trees to be able to craft a shirt that isn’t made of cloth. You may argue that I cheated, but if that’s how easy it is to skip “the game” then surely that can’t be argued. I don’t know whether it was my PC or Ark but it didn’t run well. There would be many times I would just freeze with no indication why before being jolted forward into the face of a hungry plant that shoots acid. Its buggy, no questions asked which I wouldn’t mind if again it was charging £15. Graphics wise, it looks pretty standard for a the type of game it is, don’t be expecting to climb a mountain and be in awe of the view. The settings for the graphics is another issue, firstly changing them in-game is not a good experience, be prepared to go downstairs and make a cuppa whilst you wait for the change to happen.

On the other hand, even with all these reasons to hate it, I found myself really enjoying it. This could be because I played it with my friends (and yes they are still my friends, even though I might find myself swimming next to a great white shark when I spawned back in) or it was actually entertaining (?). Sure, the reward is normally pretty disappointing, but its pretty satisfying to be able to paint your entire base with bright pink. Playing in single player may be a better experience for the actual game ( I don’t know, I never tried) but in multiplayer it definitely boosts the entertainment value, just don’t expect to have your items long when you log out without a roof.

Although, if this doesn’t tickle your fancy, The Culling (The Hunger Games) sort of ticks the boxes for survival and I have been playing it a lot so expect something on it.

 

Thus concludes the Triple A review, which I think deserves more credit than it gets for a title, I mean come on, three games, all beginning with A that have little correlation? linking to a common phrase for a game? Gold.

-Sam Burdis

 

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Triple A Casual Review -Alien Isolation, American Truck Sim, Ark: Survival Evolved

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