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Two years later, I'm still playing Alien: Isolation. The Creative Assembly's homage to Ridley Scott's 1979 classic is a great horror game, but it's the urge to revisit Sevastopol and the Nostromo, and soak up that chunky retro-futuristic aesthetic, that always lures me back.
For someone as obsessed with the production design of the movie as I am, the opportunity to explore a painstakingly authentic recreation of that world is hard to resist. And today I decided to head back to take some 4K screenshots of what is, for me, one of the most beautiful games on PC.
Thanks to Cinematic Tools for the camera mod.
EVA suits in storage.
Ellen Ripley on the bridge of the Nostromo.
Marlow's salvage crew explores the derelict.
The Nostromo's computer, MOTHER.
Hypersleep chambers on the Nostromo.
KG-348, the gas giant Sevastopol orbits.
Marlow discovers the derelict's pilot.
A Working Joe android on fire.
A victim of a rogue Working Joe.
Computers on Sevastopol.
Lambert in the Nostromo's dining room.
Close up of a Working Joe.
One of Marlow's crew and the pilot.
Exploring the surface of LV-426.
Before my parents abandoned hope of me not growing up a degenerate and allowed me to watch murdermovies, I was fascinated by the local swimming pool’s Aliens arcade cabinet and Terminator 2 pinball table – Cool Things I couldn’t have. Ooh, the hours I spent watching bigger kids play or waggling the joystick as demo as I pretended to play the demo! This… isn’t quite going where I wanted to. Let’s skip ahead to the bit where I explain that an Aliens> table is coming to Pinball FX2 this month as DLC. Also coming are an Alien vs. Predator table (boo!) and an Alien: Isolation one too (ooh!).
There was much confused rejoicing earlier this month at news that the honest-to-God Alien (and also Leatherface, but whatever) was becoming a fighter in Mortal Kombat X [official site], but now there is even more confused snarling. It turns out that only the
konsole I’m so sorry, console versions of the game will be receiving the Kombat Pack 2 DLC which contains the new chaps. The PC will also be denied the Mortal Kombat XL bundle-o-pack. It’s an as-yet unexplained and perhaps unwise move from Warner, the publisher already accused of unduly mucking PC-folk around with that very messy Arkham Knight port.
This is the first entry in a new column called The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites a developer to help him put their game up on blocks and take a wrench to hack out its best feature, just to see how it works. It s about the sweat, grease and genius behind the little things that make games special.>
Alien: Isolation is an AI-driven science-fiction horror game featuring, for the most part, a single, unstoppable opponent. It s pretty much a game version of the first Alien film: confined to a space, all you can do about the xenomorph that s hunting you down is to distract, avoid or briefly scare it. And all around you lies terrible temptation. They feel like they ll solve all your problems. They feel like safety. They feel like places you should stay inside. But they won t; they aren t; you shouldn t. They are:
THE MECHANIC: Lockers
Oh boy, am I conflicted. Fallout 4 s main plotline requires that I do this thing> and as far as things> go, it s a pretty major thing> and a major thing> that you d expect someone with the maternal instinct of my character Halle to crack on with straight away. The trouble is, rather than doing this major thing>, for at least an hour now, she, and when I say she , I mean I , have been poking around Sanctuary, scrapping anything that glows yellow so I can salvage enough materials to build a house big enough for me and my Minutemen companions. I had largely avoided Bethesda s drip-feed of Fallout 4 pre-publicity but when I somehow found out that the game had settlement building, I think I might have involuntarily passed a little wind in joyous anticipation.
That’s because I ve felt a similar rosy inner glow while hanging around other hubs and houses in many other games I ve played. I think it s easy to underestimate the value of having a home base option, especially in open world games where there is a free-roaming element, but it’s a part of why I love certain games.
I had twin criteria for this. The first was ‘is it a decent game?’ and the second ‘does it meaningfully evoke the spirit, themes or characters of the movie in addition to having Quite Good Guns And Graphics?’ The second saw quite a few games which would otherwise qualify ruled out. This year’s Mad Max, for instance, was an agreeable murder-romp but it’s much harder to argue that it nails the desperation or oddness of the films it’s based on. Star Wars: Battlefront, meanwhile, is an OK online shooter with marvellous graphics, but it’s too mechanical to ‘feel’ like Star Wars once you get beyond the spectacular presentation. Ah, ‘feel’. That’s the thing, isn’t it? Does a movie game make you feel like you’re a part of that movie’s wider world, or is it just wearing its skin?
It’s that question which most informed this list. I don’t disagree that there are, in some cases, better games-based-on-movies if ‘game’ is the foremost criteria, but these, in no particular order, are the ten games which most understood and even grew my appreciation for their subject matter, rather than simply piggy-backed it. (Additional FYI: I decided not to include any superhero games, reasoning they’re really their own thing rather than innately movie-based).
Below you will find the 25 best stealth games ever released on PC. There are sneaking missions, grand thefts, assassinations, escapes and infiltrations. Stay low, keep quiet and we’ll make it to the end.
In this week's Mod Roundup, the Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2 gets its v1.0 release and a GTA 5 mod lets you buy additional houses and rent hotel rooms in Los Santos. You can also explore the fantastic environments of Alien: Isolation—without that damn determined alien chasing you around—and begin a new life in Skyrim as a skooma addict or traveling merchant.
Here are the most promising mods we've seen this week.
One of the best full-conversion mods of all time is even better. The Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2, which transforms Europe into George R. R. Martin's Westeros, has released version 1.0. It's been a while since I've played it, but there are lots of improvements in the latest version that make me want to dive back in. You can download it here.
Obviously, this isn't meant to be a true alternative way to play the horror game, but instead a way to explore Sevastopol and take in all the incredible details of the environment at your leisure and without fear of being horribly impaled by the dreaded Xenomorph's tail. Chances are, you missed something while you were busy creeping, hiding, and dying the first time through. Details and download here.
There's a great mod for Skyrim called Alternate Start, that lets you skip the opening sequence at Helgen and begin a new game as a homeowner, a guild member, someone living at an inn, a bandit living in the wilds, and so on. In other words, it gives you the chance to play as a simple citizen of the world instead of the fabled Dragonborn. New Beginnings expands on that, letting you start the game as a lowly skooma addict, a beggar, a traveling merchant, a prisoner in the jail of your choice, a vampire who was recently laid to rest, and others. You can find it here.
We know Michael, Franklin, and Trevor each have their own home in GTA 5, but why stop there? Let your millionaires buy a whole bunch of houses around Los Santos to serve as alternate save points and hideouts. This mod also allows you to rent rooms at hotels and create other savepoints around town. You'll find it here.
I love Alien: Isolation, and recently felt the urge to replay it—primarily to revisit that amazing retro-futuristic setting. But then I remembered the stress of my first experience and decided not to bother, until I had a thought: what if there s a way to mod out the alien and just explore the environments? And there is!
This modified file created by Steam user Thark alters the alien s behaviour so that it doesn t chase you around, leaving you free to explore Sevastopol at your leisure. It ll still be there in the world, but will never emerge from the vents it loves to hide in. Androids and humans can still kill you, though, so it s not completely safe.
And this got me thinking: is there a mod community for Alien: Isolation? I had a look around, and found a handful of files on Mod DB. There s nothing that majorly changes the way the game plays—or any player-made missions/levels—but enough small tweaks that could add some variety to a second playthrough of the game.
This mod overhauls most of the game s weapons and tools, making them more effective against the alien. Now the stun baton will stun it briefly, or even scare it away, and smoke bombs do a better job of obscuring your movements.Download
If you thought the alien in the vanilla game wasn t a challenging enough adversary, this mod mixes up its AI to make it more unpredictable. It removes the leash that keeps it near Ripley, giving it more freedom to scare the shit out of you.Download
Do you find evading the xenomorph too easy? Then try playing without the help of Ripley s motion tracker. This basic mod simply stops it from working, meaning you ll never really know how far away, or close, the creature really is.Download
A modification for the bolt gun, making it more powerful and adding secondary flame rounds. There s an acid version too if you d prefer. Interestingly, these mods also make it so that, when attacked, the alien s acidic blood damages Ripley.Download
This pistol mod is comically overpowered, but ideal for anyone who wants to make enemy encounters less stressful. It kills humans and androids in one hit, and damages the alien so much that it runs away, similar to the flamethrower.Download
Another mod designed to make the game easier, this time making your footsteps completely silent. This means you can sprint around Sevastopol and never alert the alien or other enemies, so long as you stay out of their line of sight.Download
If you want to make the game look prettier, try this mod by AngelGraves, which adds an extra super option to a few graphics settings. It improves, among other things, LOD range and reflections, and adds 4K resolution shadow maps. This, combined with supersampling, really improves the look of the game.
And if you want to take screenshots without worrying about getting impaled by the alien—and access to a free camera with adjustable FOV and depth of field settings—here s a Cheat Engine table by the Dead End Thrills community.