Gaming

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"It would be fair, I think, to describe these lockers as suffocating—intolerably so. Finding yourself relegated time and again to the Sevastopol’s invariable refuge simply isn’t interesting, let alone fun. The game is unreasonably, punishingly difficult, even on the easiest setting, to the degree that I frequently abandoned it mid-mission in frustration, returning only when I mustered the patience to soldier back in. And yet, as far as I can tell, this is all very much the point. It’s apparent that Alien: Isolation is frustrating by design. It is also unfair by design, oppressive by design, and perhaps even—frankly—unfun by design. This is a game whose chief objective is to authentically simulate the experience of surviving in the presence of a Xenomorph, the acid-blooded, razor-toothed, virtually invulnerable creature at the heart of Ridley Scott’s Alien. Fifteen hours and probably a thousand deaths later, I emerge from this simulation convinced of its accuracy: If I ever find myself alone with one of these things, it’s safe to say that I will die—swiftly and brutally.”

Alien: Isolation is a stunningly realistic locker simulator


"I’m immediately left wondering about the possible real-world implications of my action-movie fantasy. Are any of these people hearing me interrogate and kill these guys? How can they not? I imagine an innocent, fair-going child discovering the body and being scarred for life. Sam Fisher, in that moment, seems less a hero and more a maniac murdering people in the park. To be fair, I don’t think you’re supposed to sympathize with Sam much throughout this story. He’s at his most extreme and bitter, killing brutally and quickly. This amount of dissonance, however, breaks from the tone of the rest of the game and creates a lingering disturbance. It’s the intrusion of more realism than we’ve been trained to expect in this sort of cinematic action romp, while you yourself intrude somewhere you don’t seem to quite belong."

—Reality intrudes on Splinter Cell: Conviction’s action fantasy in unsettling ways High-res

"I’m immediately left wondering about the possible real-world implications of my action-movie fantasy. Are any of these people hearing me interrogate and kill these guys? How can they not? I imagine an innocent, fair-going child discovering the body and being scarred for life. Sam Fisher, in that moment, seems less a hero and more a maniac murdering people in the park. To be fair, I don’t think you’re supposed to sympathize with Sam much throughout this story. He’s at his most extreme and bitter, killing brutally and quickly. This amount of dissonance, however, breaks from the tone of the rest of the game and creates a lingering disturbance. It’s the intrusion of more realism than we’ve been trained to expect in this sort of cinematic action romp, while you yourself intrude somewhere you don’t seem to quite belong."

Reality intrudes on Splinter Cell: Conviction’s action fantasy in unsettling ways