Classified as a survival horror/stealth game instead of an action shooter, Alien: Isolation differs significantly from last year's Alien: Colonial Marines in that there is just one Alien who can't be killed, requiring you to employ stealth tactics.
Although the game features some weapons, they will only be effective against the human occupants and android "Working Joes". Apparently the Alien AI has been programmed not to follow a predetermined path but rather hunt the player using sight, sound and smell, which should make for plenty of pants-wetting moments.
The game sounds like a blast if you're comfortable with soiling yourself but we're more interested in Alien: Isolation's performance when running at max quality and varying resolutions.
Creative Assembly has designed Alien: Isolation for five platforms (PC along with PlayStation 3/4 and Xbox 360/One) and the developer says that it has created its own in-house game engine, though there doesn't seem to be much information about it (we haven't even seen a name for it).
"Building a new engine is a really scary thing to do but it allowed us to build the technology around what we wanted to do," says lead art designer McKellan. "The lighting behaves the way we want it to, for example."
The engine is said to support multiple CPU cores (perhaps up to four) and the game uses many advanced rendering technologies such as tessellation, contact hardening shadows, BC7-compressed textures and HDAO+, which should be fun to test across a few dozen hardware configurations.
We used the latest AMD and Nvidia drivers on 34 DirectX 11 graphics card configurations from both companies covering all price ranges. Our test rig was outfitted with the Intel Core i7-4770K to remove CPU bottlenecks that could influence high-end GPU scores.
Although we usually rely on Fraps to record up to 90 seconds of gameplay for our benchmark data, Creative Assembly has provided us with an easier method that is also more accurate. The game features a hidden built in benchmark that can be enabled by adding the -benchmark command to the shortcut. By creating a batch file it's possible to execute multiple runs using different quality settings.
The benchmark features five stages which have been named tessellation, lab room flyby, volumetric light, large shadowcaster and lab room. For the most part, we found the frame rates very similar throughout and recorded the average from all five tests.
Anti-aliasing was set to SMAA T2x, texture filtering was set to Anisotropic 16x while the level of detail, particles, shadow mapping and streaming texture heap size were all on ultra. Additionally, screen space ambient occlusion was set to HDAO+, DoF was turned on, as was motion blur and multithreaded shadow rendering.
We tested Alien: Isolation at three desktop display resolutions: 1680x1050, 1920x1200 and 2560x1600 using DX11. Since Alien: Isolation is designed for consoles as well as PC we only tested with the maximum possible in-game quality settings.
Test System Specs
- Intel Core i7-4770K (3.50GHz)
- x2 8GB Crucial DDR3-2400 (CAS 11-13-13-28)
- Asrock Z97 Extreme6 (Intel Z97)
- Silverstone Strider Series (700w)
- Samsung SSD 840 Pro 512GB (SATA 6Gb/s)
- Gigabyte Radeon R9 290X (4096MB)
- Gigabyte Radeon R9 290 (4096MB)
- Gigabyte Radeon R9 285 (2048MB)
- Gigabyte Radeon R9 280X (3072MB)
- HIS Radeon R9 270X (2048MB)
- HIS Radeon R9 270 (2048MB)
- HIS Radeon R9 265 (2048MB)
- HIS Radeon R7 250 (1024MB)
- HIS Radeon R7 240 (1024MB)
- HIS Radeon HD 7970 GHz (3072MB)
- HIS Radeon HD 7970 (3072MB)
- HIS Radeon HD 7950 Boost (3072MB)
- HIS Radeon HD 7950 (3072MB)
- HIS Radeon HD 7870 (2048MB)
- HIS Radeon HD 7850 (2048MB)
- HIS Radeon HD 7750 (1024MB)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX Titan (6144MB)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 (4096MB)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 (4096MB)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti (3072MB)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 (3072MB)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 (2048MB)
- Palit GeForce GTX 760 (2048MB)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750 Ti (2048MB)
- Gainward GeForce GTX 680 (2048MB)
- Gainward GeForce GTX 660 Ti (2048MB)
- Gainward GeForce GTX 660 (2048MB)
- Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost (2048MB)
- Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti (2048MB)
- Inno3D GeForce GTX 580 (3072MB)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 Ti (2048MB)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 550 Ti (1024MB)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 (1536MB)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 460 (768MB)
- Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
- Nvidia GeForce 344.16
- AMD Catalyst 14.9