ALIENATION - HANDS ON PREVIEW

WRITTEN BY JAY TEE

THE BASICS

- Top down 3D twin stick shooter from the makers of Dead Nation and Resogun.

- Four player drop in / drop out co-op.

- Procedurally generated levels offer loot and destructible elements.

PLATFORMS

Playstation 4

PLAYERS

Offline - 1, Online - 4

CO-OP / MULTIPLAYER

Drop in / drop out for entire campaign, plus PvP via game invasions.

DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT

- Nothing has been announced at this time.


TAKEAWAYS

- The non-linear nature of the level I played was the first standout aspect of Alienation. There were stacked objectives that forced you to move through the environment to set locations, but this is a wide open place space. I barely scratched the surface.

- The default equipped weapon for the demo was a short range but very high rate of fire laser rifle than tore weaker enemies to shreds. This was immensely satisfying, and the inclusion of an active reload system (think Gears of War) worked well in the heat of combat. A second press of reload at just the right instance cut almost 1/3 off of the animation time.

- I can’t say enough good things about the combat. Fun amongst orchestrated chaos. Especially when your back is against the wall and you’re waiting for that grenade cooldown to tick over. I’m also happy to report that vehicles and other explosive objects still display a red “kill zone” circle before exploding.

- A lot has been made of the particle effects and rainbow esque colour palette, but I want to tip my hat in honour of the lighting design. I found myself awe struck by the thoughtfulness and detail presented here. Once again, Housemarque have outdone themselves.

- There’s a pretty deep character customisation suite, influenced heavily by loot drops and energy used for upgrades. It certainly appeared flexible enough to allow you to be specific with your chosen play style. It’ll be interesting to see how far it goes, particularly with cosmetic changes.

Anyone who has ever played Dead Nation will know there’s so much more to a Housemarque game than sheer mechanics and visual fidelity. There’s a tactile feel to their worlds, with a real sense of your presence within the environment. You only have to melee kick a fallen zombie or jangle a bunch of discarded soft drinks to know what I mean. The interactivity is everywhere. It is with great relief then that, after a hands on session with Alienation, these elements have been preserved. You still feel embedded in the action. There’s weight to your actions. Except this time, it’s not zombies. Prepare for the Xeno!

I got the opportunity to check out a very early level (which I completed) during EGX Rezzed. The character I used was the Tank class (one of three offered in the game), but still low level so it wasn’t a tricked out version for demo purposes. This left a lasting impression: the developers wanted me to experience this thing at ground level. The other two classes in the full game round out stealth and support options. I wasn’t aware of the difficulty setting, but this thing poses a challenge from the outset. And just like Dead Nation, I’m thrilled to confirm that there’s a dedicated melee attack. Which produces similarly outrageous ragdoll physics.

- You’ll be able to see from screenshots and video that there’s a lot going on visually. Initially, I was concerned this would prove distracting. Not so. In particular, the weather effects on display are additive without getting in the way of the action.

- In a surprising move, offline co-op doesn’t seem to be supported. At least, at this stage. Dead Nation was a cracking couch title, and although four player online support is appreciated here, I wish some love had been shown for local gatherings.

- There was also an issue with object vaulting that cropped up more than once during our hands on time. It was two-fold; some objects that looked low enough to be clambered were in fact too tall. On top of that, the button prompt indicating that the action could be performed didn’t appear consistently. Now, we’re a far cry from Battlefield 3’s woeful pre-patch player movement system, but it’s a niggle that was frustrating. Especially in the midst of battle.

Enemy variety is as you’d expect in a Housemarque title. That means every other level is going to have a new kind of monstrosity that shakes up the gameplay and makes you cry.

This game has ALL the particles. And ragdoll. Flamboyant, silly ragdoll. Mowing down hordes of the undead alien invasion has never felt so good.

JTGA

TAKEAWAYS KEY

- Something marked with the JTGA
Green badge is an extremely positive
and / or unexpected response to a
particular game or moment.

- The JTGA Orange badge represents
a mixed response. It’s normally
something that works in principle,
but could have been executed better.

- When you see the JTGA Red badge,
you know this is something negative
that’s either disappointing, frustrating,
rage inducing, or all of the above.

TARP BADGE KEY

- The BEST WITH FRIENDS badge is
earned if a game is significantly
more fun playing with people you
know, either in campaign or online.

- The PICK UP AND PLAY badge is
for when a game is better suited to
brief, impromptu sessions that
give a quick blast of escapism.


- The LONE WOLF badge tells you
that a particular game can only be
played, or is more enjoyable, when
you’re flying solo.

- The DEEP DIVE badge is a heads
up that what you’re about to play
is a huge undertaking, and best
enjoyed in extended periods.

- The KITCHEN SINK badge is an
indication of a game that is
bursting at the seams with
content (either on disc or DLC).


- The BAM! DONE! badge lets you
know that within minutes of
picking up the controller, you
can play this like a pro.

- The HOT POTATO badge makes
a really clear statement: this
game is making waves, and it’s
definitely worth a look.

- The LEARNING CURVE badge
is awarded if you’ll need to
allow a fair bit of time in
order to fully grasp the controls.


- The SCEPTICAL FACE badge is for
when a game doesn’t leave a strong
impression. Perhaps more time
is needed to decide?

- The LEFT FIELD badge is awarded
when a game surprises us by being
really good and we’d never heard
of it before.


BEST WITH FRIENDS

PICK UP
& PLAY

LONE
WOLF

DEEP
DIVE

KITCHEN
SINK

LEFT
FIELD

SCEPTICAL
FACE

LEARNING
CURVE

BAM!
DONE!

HOT
POTATO

BEST WITH
FRIENDS

PICK UP
& PLAY

KITCHEN
SINK

BAM!
DONE!

HOT
POTATO

LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS ARTICLE!
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW, TWEET US @JAYTEE_GA, OR E-MAIL: EDITOR@JTGA.CO.UK.

CONCLUSION

I was almost predisposed to liking Alienation, especially with my affinity for a great portion of the developers previous work. The Dead Nation influences here are apparent, and only serve to enhance an already proven formula. This is an iterative step, one that smacks of intelligence and restraint. They know what kind of game they’re making. And it rocks. Housemarque are sure to have a hit on their hands, and we can’t wait to play the full game when it launches exclusively for Playstation 4 on April 26th 2016.

For more information, check out: http://www.housemarque.com/games/alienation/
Or follow @Housemarque on Twitter.

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