My verdict: I liked it. Make no mistake: It neither fixes the original game nor is it such a stellar achievement that it makes you forget the original game. Let’s be honest: It would take much more than a DLC to fix this mess, such as a new AI and a new setting.
Alas, Stasis Interrupted sticks to the post-Hadley’s/LV-426 plot of the main campaign, but at least we finally get to hear Hicks’ story, this time the long version. Some people have complained that the cutscene where it is shown how another body ended up in the EEV borders on slapstick, but when I finally got to watch it, I didn’t find it that bad. What I consider even more important than learning how Hicks survived is that we FINALLY get an explanation how the Sulaco came to be infested in both Infestation (duh…) and Colonial Marines. What else… We get some additional logs that nicely tie in with the actual in-game events and locations, and both combined give you some nice additional info about the Origin facility, shedding light on its history and overall layout.
I applaud the gameplay and pacing. You actually spend a long time at the beginning without any weapons and have to evade enemy forces, which is A LOT more how an Aliens game should play out. It’s also not just a gimmick, as you encounter another “your weapons do crap, so RUN” situation later in the DLC. The campaign also has much more Lurkers in it, which heightens the tension and exposes you as the vulnerable meatbag you are. While it works, I kinda felt like a cheap trick sometimes. There’s also a cool little scene where you manually fire the Sulaco’s weapons on the umbilical, which is a nice change of pace – such special moments were sorely lacking in the main campaign. I also am pleased to say that you get a reasonable amount of bang for your buck. On Normal difficulty, I spent four hours with the DLC. Well, not entirely on Normal, which brings me to my last topic: The difficulty.
This DLC is a LOT harder than the main campaign. This is a good thing because I finally felt threatened by my enemies, especially the Xenomorphs. I actually used the motion tracker as it was intended, for chrissakes! The heightened difficulty is also a bad thing for mainly one reason: It cranks up to an extreme where it leaves “hard” and crosses the border into”unfair”. You felt that the original game was too generous in placing its checkpoint? Well, by the time I reached the lab in
the last level, I ached for a checkpoint. What was tense became unforgiving when there would be no checkpoint for ages, and every time you die, you would get set back to the very beginning of the section. The first time, I grudgingly acknowledged the challenge it posed. The third time, I was fuming.
I actually finished the lab section, only to watch the game crash just short of the next checkpoint. The graphics got all glitchy when it crashed, and repeatedly so in the same room, so I suspect that it wasn’t the fault of my PC. This was when I gave the game the finger and restarted the level on Easy. Oh, by the way, the game glitched again in the room, but by moving still, I actually got to the next part of the level. And the final battle was just insane. I barely survived it on Easy, and by “barely”, I mean the old “I reached the cutscene trigger within an inch of my life, with enemies breathing down my neck that would become inconsequential once I activated the final cutscene” trick. Look, I’ll be honest and say that I am a capable but not outstanding gamer, but this was just too extreme, especially compared to the “Rambo in Space” feeling of the original campaign. For the next Aliens game, please meet me somewhere halfway, okay?
If you liked Colonial Marines, you can do no wrong with this DLC. It certainly is not worse than the original campaign, and I actually think that it does some important things better than the main game. If you despised the main game, there will be no love lost for Stasis Interrupted. Some “hate triggers” like the Xeno AI and the outdated graphics are still there, but it would be unfair to lay the blame for this stuff on the DLC. Those are faults of the main game, and I think it would be unrealistic to expect that a single DLC would magically turn the whole mess into Half-Life 2.