Isolation demo ‘pants-soilingly terrifying’ in Oculus Rift (Wired UK)

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Fear is a powerful emotion. It’s why humans love roller coasters
and horror movies; being scared elevates heart rate, increases
respiration and a host of other physiological responses that can
leave you feeling euphoric once the ‘threat’ has passed. That’s the
only logical response that can be given for why playing the
pants-soilingly terrifying Alien: Isolation on the virtual
reality Oculus Rift just makes you want
more. 


Alien:
Isolation
Alien:
Isolation

Being hunted by this guy is the future of
gaming

© 2014 Sega / Twentieth Century Fox Film
Corporation


Alien: Isolation is shaping up impressively,
channelling Ridley Scott’s 1979 tense, claustrophobic space-based
horror rather than James Cameron’s more action-oriented
Aliens. Playing as Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda, you’re
manipulated by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation into searching for
your missing mother, only to be (somewhat inevitably) trapped in
the hunting ground of the same creature that tormented the crew of
the Nostromo years earlier.

Like its inspiration, Isolation is almost painfully
atmospheric, with developers Creative Assembly perfectly recreating
the shadowy spaceship corridors and blocky, retro-futuristic
aesthetic of the source material. Tech is archaic, all blocky
monitors and green-black screens, leaving you feeling
under-prepared. Worse, you’re largely unarmed — beyond being able
to craft a few improvised weapons and tools, most of which are only
of any use against rogue androids or other non-Xenomorph shaped
threats — and the alien is constantly on the hunt for
you. 


Alien:
Isolation
Alien:
Isolation

In virtual space, everyone will hear you
scream.

© 2014 Sega / Twentieth Century Fox Film
Corporation


It’s heart-stopping stuff just playing it on a TV. Stick your
head into an Oculus Rift headset though, and the terror only
multiples. Already a first-person game, Isolation is even
more immersive when it’s literally your own eyes you’re seeing
through. The motion tracker Amanda carries, the only early warning
you have for the alien’s whereabouts, weighs heavy in your hand,
even though it’s not really there. An immaterial life-preserver
that you cling to regardless, you’ll bring it up with a button on
the controller (still needing one for the game’s physical commands)
and actually turn your head to look at it. It’s a subtle change
from the non-VR version, where the radar pops into view on the
bottom left, letting you glance with peripheral vision. On Oculus,
diverting attention to it could in itself distract you long enough
to become alien chow.

Blip. Blip. Blip-lip. It’s getting closer. You want to run, or
hide, and suddenly you realise you’re wanting to move your actual
legs to get to anywhere that might be considered safe. With the
headphones on, you’re equally immersed in the game’s soundscape,
hearing the alien scurrying through vents behind you, or through
the ceiling above. It’s disorienting and panic-inducing, but in the
best way imaginable. As survival instinct kicks in though, you make
mistakes — moving loudly and indiscriminately, or forgetting to
check the tracker. That’s when the creature attacks, and no matter
how many grisly deaths you’ve seen in the movies, nothing can
prepare you for one of those nigh-unstoppable monsters bearing
down, fangs gleaming and its grotesque second mouth darting towards
your skull. You WILL
scream. 


Alien:
Isolation
Alien:
Isolation

You’d scream too if this was baring down on
you

© 2014 Sega / Twentieth Century Fox Film
Corporation


You die. You remove the headset, catch your breath…. and
immediately want to try again. The sense of vulnerability, of
threat, of being prey is incredible, and unlike
anything else, even other games on Oculus so far. Although
only a proof of concept at present, the VR outing for
Isolation has incredible potential to elevate the very
concept of survival horror video games.

Even at this very early stage, the worst that can be said of
Isolation on Oculus is that it’s a bit too dark — even
accounting for the intended visual style — and that some of the
controls are a bit unpolished. Using the right thumbstick will move
camera, but so will simply moving your head, resulting in a twin
sensation of movement that generates a powerful but brief feeling
of nausea, or perhaps vertigo. The VR version is truly in its
infancy though, with Jonathan Court, Senior Producer at Creative
Assembly telling Wired.co.uk: “Some of us got our own dev kits or
had one at home. We mocked up a quick presentation and got really
excited so we pressed Oculus for their latest kit. We got it a few
days before E3 and the guys have been working weekends and in their
free time to put it
together.” 


Alien:
Isolation
Alien:
Isolation

The alien hunting you isn’t the only threat
you’ll have to deal with in Alien: Isolation

© 2014 Sega /
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation


While development on the ‘main’, non-VR version of the game is
entering the home stretch, don’t expect an Oculus release in the
short term. Not only would the full game need to be essentially
ported to the format — “You have to render the game
stereoscopically, to send the two images to each eye,” explains
Court — but there still needs to be a consumer model of the Oculus
hardware released to justify it. While both scenarios may be some
time off, Alien: Isolation could easily be the first
killer app for the headset when the time is right.

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Alien: Isolation launches on 7 October for PS4, PS3,
Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC. A release for the Oculus Rift version
has yet to be confirmed.

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20 June 2014 | 1:00 pm – Source: wired.co.uk
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