We don't enjoy giving low scores to games we had high expectations of. Atari's Alone in the Dark appeared to be on the road to triple-A status, but it turned out to be a miss-match of ideas, awkward controls and gameplay clichés. All hope isn't lost however. Atari is planning to release the PlayStation 3 version of Alone in the Dark later this year, and we want it to be so much more than a simple port. After seeing the reaction to the Xbox 360 and PC games Eden Games has the chance to make the PS3 game the definitive version of Alone in the Dark. To help them out we've put together our Top 10: Ways to make Alone in the Dark best on PS3.
10. Iron out the glitches
We suffered from all kinds of glitches while playing through Alone in the Dark on Xbox 360 and PC. Among a long list are Edward uncontrollably gyrating on the spot, items going missing, objects in the environments becoming half stuck and jumping around, a fire that caused the frame rate to dive to single digits and items that refuse to be picked up until you've picked up all the others around it. In truth the glitches aren't the game's biggest problem, but they do need to be ironed out if the PS3 game is to be the definitive version.
9. Presentation tweaks
In parts Alone in the Dark on Xbox 360 and PC looks great, but it also suffers from an erratic frame rate and plenty of screen tearing. We'd like both of these blemishes to be ironed out for the PS3 release. The other graphical aspect that prevented Alone in the Dark from being a stunning release is the character and enemy animations. Neither looked especially natural, so we'd like Atari to blend animations into one another with greater subtlety in the PS3 game. Equally disappointing was the amount of unnecessary swearing in the game. If this is toned down it would give the game a more serious tone.
8. Pick up and instantly equip items
I can't remember how many times I had to empty the contents of my jacket in order to pick up a single health spray (hidden behind numerous other items that needed picking up first). Why can't Edward simply pick up a health spray in his right hand and use it straight away? It shouldn't need to be placed in his jacket pocket first. Please Atari, sort this one out for the PS3 port. It would save so much hassle and stress.
7. More rounded enemies
When you're driving along and see an enemy soaring through the sky as if sporting a rocket pack you know something is wrong. The enemies in Alone in the Dark don't behave as they should. The air warping that enables them to land on the roof of a moving car that's metres away should be sorted out, but that's not all. Considering fire is so deadly to them, why don't they react to it? If you pick up a flaming chair, they should be aware that one step too close will be the end of them so they shouldn't still try to attack you.
6. Sort out the aiming
The enemies in Alone in the Dark like to move erratically and this doesn't really fit well with Edward's twitchy aiming. A lock-on would help, allowing you to aim within a zone around the body. Enemies go down easier when you target the fissures on their bodies, but in the Xbox 360 and PC game this is far too hard to do. I realise that Edward might not be a crack shot, but this is a game not real life. It should first and foremost be a fun game to play.
5. Better driving model please
The driving model in Alone in the Dark isn't great. The developer Eden Games has clearly tried to make cars handle like they do in Hollywood movies, but the result is that they spin out at every opportunity. The race through a devastated New York should have been one of the game's most spectacular and exciting sections, but it was ruined by awful vehicle handling. Later in the game there's an awful lot of in-car action, so sorting this out would solve one of the game's most disappointing aspects.
4. Re-jig root killing
This is a slight spoiler, but towards the end of Alone in the Dark you're asked to burn a series of demon roots in order to increase your spectral vision power. This collecting serves to extend the game but soon becomes quite tedious. In the PS3 game these roots need to be woven into earlier parts of the storyline, so the collecting doesn't come as a shock when you think you're nearing the end of the game. A few of the roots present a far more entertaining challenge than others, so Eden might be able to increase their spectral value and remove some of the more tedious roots.
3. Edward the killing machine
Combat in Alone in the Dark isn't one of the game's strong points. This is down to the aiming and the fact that enemies require you to shoot their fissures with flaming bullets or set them on fire. You can't simply cap them in the head and be done with it. While using fire to kill is a neat touch, it makes for plenty of annoying occasions where you haven't got the right tools for the job. For the sake of the gameplay an alternative way to dispatch enemies (ideally via a headshot) in the PS3 game would improve these battles. When an enemy is downed some kind of curb stomp or melee weapon to the head would also be welcome.
2. Inventory re-think
Having the in-game inventory accessible in real-time seemed like a great idea - an idea that would help immerse you into the game world. In practice it's just a pain in the arse, with enemies attacking as you're desperately trying to equip or combine items. In the PS3 game there should at least be the option to pause the game when you enter your inventory. If players prefer to play without the safety of a paused game, give them that option, but some free time to tinker about in your jacket would help the game no end. If Atari could see fit to increase its storage capacity that would be great too - at the very least a permanent slot for near essential items like the knife.
1. Better camera options
One of Alone in the Dark's most awkward game design decisions that is forced onto the gamer is having to constantly switch from third-person to first-person. Nothing in the game couldn't be done entirely in either, so Atari should implement melee combat into the first-person view and gun-play into the third-person view. This will give PS3 owners a game that should be easier to play and feel less disjointed. The third-person view should also offer full camera control on the right analogue stick when not carrying a melee weapon.