Alone in the Dark event

     On the 21st February 2008 which was a Thursday I was politely invited to the London Atari offices. The reason for this was to get a chance at playing a new game in the company’s cherished Alone in the Dark series. As someone who found the games quite late when A New Nightmare came out and played it on his Dreamcast I was quite curious.

In all honesty my interest on the game was already beyond even doubting a purchase of the game. However, in this preview of the game by two of the members involved in the production of the game I was deeply surprised. When I stepped through the doors I was expecting a game that focused on shooting as most xbox 360 games tend to nowadays. It all started off by the staff members letting us mingle a bit by getting to know everyone involved. There was this huge table filled with all kinds of food and drinks too which was super nice of them. But it seems all we cared most about was seeing the game in action.

At around two in the afternoon we were all guided to a room with the most comfortable chairs in the whole world. The demonstration started off by showing us some of the controls that Carnby could use. I did not know exactly how the item scheme worked but seeing it in action answered many of my questions. The way it works is very effective as you open up your coat and all items are visible. With this in mind any of them can be combined in the right way and easily equipped. The best part was seeing how it does not pause the game as it makes it seem more real. The next part was showing us how some of the puzzles and such worked. In this case it was quite simple and revolved around blowing up fuse boxes and such. The reason for this was that in real life people don’t go looking for keys and such when their lives are in real danger. I really like this approach as it made the whole experience much more enjoyable throughoutThe next part after this was to demonstrate how Carnby could interact with items around him. In a surprising twist just about anything can be picked up and manipulated in the most incredible manners.I watched in awe as the Atari staff member picked up a chair and put it near a fire. It is also worth mentioning that depending on the item’s position Carnby will pick it up just like anyone would in real life. The chair caught on fire and then the fire started spreading out until it turned it to charcoal! In further demonstrations another item was put on fire too and then it was used to spread that fire to many other objects! It is worth mentioning that these fire effects took about a year alone to get accomplished and it showed in this preview.

In other item usage demonstration it was made clear that everything could be used in many effective ways. For example a simple first aid bottle put together with a lighter could be used as a flamethrower! At this point it was also mentioned how the health system worked. In practise you will get physical wounds with every attack from enemies. In order to not die such health items as bandages and first aid alcohol bottles must be found and used on each wound. This was a true breath of fresh air and a true step forward to just the normal health kits found in other games.There are so many tiny details put into the game that we were shown which truly makes for a marvellous experience.

For the sake of making the game enjoyable for all I leave that to imagination and just want to add it all works really well. In the next section of the demonstration it involved the section of the game where Carnby was riding a car. Once again I was amazed by the innovative ideas that the developers put into this game. Rather than just get Carnby into the car it lets the players explore inside such as looking inside the glove compartment for items. At this point as the car started to be driven around I started to see the massive scope of the game. The whole of Central park and the areas around it used by the game were accurately designed from satellite images. As the car was driving I could see many locations and some familiar from movies made in New York.

Before this driving lesson we were presented with a section where Carnby was surprisingly not alone in the dark. At this point we started to see some of the more powerful enemies. The AI was not fully integrated but it was promised that the enemies would be a lot more deadly in the finished build. The whole idea is that enemies will be able to not only see but smell and hear where Carnby is located. For example if the player starts making a whole lot of noise and the enemy hears him not even a door can keep it out, if it is powerful enough to knock it down. The game brings a whole lot of strategies to playing it such as using dead corpses to lure enemies. It was very surprising to see that in possibility each player could solve a situation in a different way. This was shown throughout the whole demonstration in the way of progressing through the parts shown.

Just before going off for a walk in the Park with Carnby it was time to get the fantastic chance of asking our questions to the producer of the game. I did not think of writing down some of the fantastic answers given out but will try to describe a few of them here. The questions asked were mainly on the game physics and how the story progressed. The story questions were politely answered with a vague answer but then again that is what makes the game so interesting. In terms of the physics it was discussed that the game was fully planned in advance which made it easier to see what could be realistically achieved. Other answers included the fact that the game would have virtually no noticeable loading times and how its soundtrack was produced.

I found the soundtrack answer very detailed and it explained a lot about how it worked. The team wanted to make the music more interactive so that it would become a part of the game. To this effect sounds were recorded by an artist that was into gaming along with a full orchestra. The idea is that each move Carnby made such as getting a gun would produce a new music effect. With this in mind it means that no moment will ever have the same music due to the fact that each action triggers something new! I also found it impressive and a bold move to release the full soundtrack as part of the limited edition. After giving us some very valuable information and time the producer Nour Polloni had to go. It was most a appreciated unique chance to get some of my questions answered from the producer of such a high quality game.The last part of this demonstration revolved around going around the park as mentioned before. With this in mind it was not a long stroll but enough to see how open spaced it was and it was very detailed.

After this we were briefly shown a bit of the introduction which I will not go into detail. All I can say is that it just surprised me so much and that was just 5 minutes of it! As the demonstration came to an end I found myself seeing that three months was indeed a very long wait. I already wanted the game a lot but after this demonstration I cannot recommend it enough to friends,family,etc. Your probably wondering why I did not mention the graphical side of the game and how it held up visually. This was because of the fact that even though this was an early build the game already showed impressive results.When the xbox 360 was turned on and as Carnby came on screen every detail was just beyond most of what I seen in most games.

  I truly could not believe how it all looked so detailed and yet it would be improved on a lot in the next three months. It was a pleasure seeing the flames spreading through some wood chairs and tables while it lighted the room and then plunged it into darkness as the fire went down. I cannot describe every detail as not to spoil the game but let me tell that a lot of effort was put into this game. It just feels like a whole new experience that clearly sets the game apart from anything else on the current systems. It incorporates so many concepts and even caters to just about any gamer. A feature that lets gamers skip the hardest part might not make sense but will make those new to videogames interested in it. The most hardcore gamers can simply avoid this function and get on in the action. To sum it up it exceeded my expectations in many ways to a point that all I can say is to that it deserves a lot of success.

As the event finished and we were pleasantly surprised with these nice bags full of Atari items from the kind Atari members I was glad to have come. While looking at videos of game helps I think it is a lot better to have the people that are creating describe it to you. I really enjoyed listening to as the staff member went through the whole event describing it so well and gladly answering questions. It was a pleasure seeing how dedicated the team were on getting this game to its full potential, as it showed through the demonstration. To finish I would like to thank them for giving me and those that attended such a marvellous choice and I am glad to see such fantastic evolution in videogames in person.

The above paragraphs are my honest opinion on the game and this is considering it was not even half of the full finished version out in three months. This is a huge gamble that I believe will pay off as the game definitely deserves the success that I am sure it will get.

Thank you for reading this and hope it enlightened you more in how the game works and how it is a true next generation title.                

For more information on the game click here

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2 Comments on “Alone in the Dark event”

  1. Catherine Says:

    What was in the bag? 😀

  2. bluehero Says:

    Besides the bag inside was a tshirt, two arm bracelets and a key chain!

    The game is shaping up to be one of the best for this year already as it is!

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