After Colonial Marines invented new ways to suck, it seemed like the idea of anyone looking forward to an Aliens game ever again was a ludicrous one. Then came Alien: Isolation, which is basically Five Nights at Freddy's... IN SPACE!
15 years after the disappearance of the commercial towing vessel Nostromo, the ship's flight recorder is discovered floating in deep space. Its owner, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, immediately dispatches a team of representatives to Sevastopol Station to retrieve it. Among their number is Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley, the Nostromo's warrant officer.
When the team arrives they find Sevastopol has been placed under quarantine and its skeleton crew is being hunted by an unseen foe; a monster that cannot be stopped.
Separated from her team, Amanda finds herself trapped on a station filled with desperate survivors, an implacable AI and the ultimate predator. The truth about her mother's fate is here somewhere, but first she must simply survive.
Amanda Ripley first appeared in Aliens, where she was "played" by Sigourney Weaver's real-life mother, Elizabeth Inglis (it was just a static photo). For the game she was visually based on Keiza Burrows, who has enough of a resemblance to Weaver that you could definitely believe the 25-year-old here would grow up to be the 66-year-old seen there. In fact, if not for having straight hair instead of curly, this figure could almost pass as Ellen.
The goal of Isolation was to be an "interquel," set between the films we know. To really send that point home, the art direction of the game did everything it could to copy the original Alien - the same kind of tech, the same kind of interior design, and even
the same kind of clothing. Character designer Calum Watt went back to the late-70s costume designs of Moebius and John Mollo as a starting point. Rip ended up wearing a brown jumpsuit with dark leather detailing over a dark denim shirt and a black undershirt. She was sculpted by Adrienne Smith and Chris Gawrych, and is covered in lots of very cool little details - zippered pockets on her shins, thighs and chest, rolled sleeves that button in place, and a complicated corset lacing up the spine to keep the suit fitted. She's got patches painted on her shoulders, and a Weyland-Yutani "wing" logo on her chest (the nametag on the other side is just black, with no lettering). She also has a headset with a flashlight and microphone, and the same kind of double-Casio watch her mom wore.
Amanda has as much articulation as the rest of NECA's Aliens figures, meaning a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows, balljointed wrists, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge knees, and balljointed ankles (presumably? I can't get mine to do anything but swivel, and I'm not about to force them). She's also got a balljointed waist, but unlike some figures we could name, you can actually use it - her jumpsuit is molded as two pieces, and it still looks fine. That's the same way the Series 4 Ripley worked, because, oh, hey, this figure is mostly a repaint of that one! Smart choice.
She comes with a flamethrower, which is also a re-use of the Series 4 accessory. However, the flamethrower in the game was a slightly different style than the one used on the Nostromo, making this just a bit inaccurate. Now, that doesn't bug me, but surely there's someone out there who is ready to go rant on NECA's Facebook page about how the company is cheaping out and screwing us over. Nerds.
Her motion tracker is new, because it's one she cobbled together herself from parts she found on the station. Design-wise, it falls in between the Alien and Aliens trackers, which makes sense. The screen is a little green CRT, and is currently showing all-clear. A molded telephone-style cord hangs loosely on one side, and there's a carabiner clamp wiggling around on the top. While the tracker is an invaluable tool in the game (when it's not fritzing out), you have to be careful with it: the loud beeping can attract the very enemies you're trying to hide from.
The final accessory is her backpack. It's
black and grey, with nylon straps criss-crossed around the body. It's got a drawstring closure at the top, and three loops at the bottom that are probably designed to carry tools or something. Speaking of which, why doesn't she come with her Maintenance Jack, which is a much more useful tool in the game than the flamethrower is? Or the noisemakers, Molotovs, or pipe bombs? [Because those would have required new tooling, duh --ed.] There's an American flag patch on the bag, and though the strap is molded close to the bag, there's enough flex in it that you can get Ripley to wear it cross-shouldered, just like she does in the game.
Alien: Isolation is a great addition to the history of the franchise, and not one that's likely to be written out of existence any time soon. Amanda Ripley may be 80% repaint, but it's a repaint that makes sense, and she still looks awesome.