Welcome all to yet another pit stop on this never ending trip through yesteryear. This review is something that was a bit last minute, as it just bursted out to me!
With the recent release of a new iteration to the Alien franchise, I was struck with a question that seems to rear its ugly head every so often: Where are the good Alien games?
Sure, both Alien and Aliens have been the source material for a ton of games (Metroid, Contra, Alien Storm, and Halo just to start the list) it appears the actual source material is a bit of a hassle for developers. Yes GearBox, I’m looking at you.
I remembered playing games like Alien Vs. Predator at the arcade as a kid, and Alien Vs. Predator 2 on the PC, but that was it... Until I came across this.
For some strange reason, I cannot remember this game ever coming out, even though it also saw a release on the PSOne as well. Needless to say, I was a bit curious as to how bad this game was going to be.
Set up similarly to the likes of DOOM and Duke Nukem 3D, it is a first person shooter that starts us on the colony planet LV426 as Ripley, the main protagonist from the Alien trilogy (because Resurrection shouldn’t exist). The game take place parallel with Aliens, sharing similar settings and key characters. The game builds on the concept of the Company and their intent on containing and extracting a Xenomorph for their own diabolical schemes. The first briefing you receive during a load time, telling our fearless heroine to clear out an entry point for the Marines.
Yeah, Ripley needs to kill off Face Huggers and Xenomorphs for Colonial Marines. While the story is loosely based on the movie, the game isn’t really designed for narrative.
As I stated above, the game is First Person, which is honestly the only real way to experience an Alien title. Case and point? Well, Alien Isolation is the most recent game that comes to mind. The game offers an amazing atmosphere; dark, sprawling corridors, and decent music for the time. The enemies have a surprisingly good AI, especially the Face Huggers and Chest Bursters, as they will use vents and other openings to escape and travel to other parts of the level. It gives the player a sense of always being on defense, and being aware of the surrounding area, which is something I thoroughly enjoy.
Now, as far as weapons go, they give you every staple weapon for an Aliens game. Shotgun? Check? Flamethrower? Check. Pulse Rifle? You know it! While you start off with a pistol, it is the definition of a pea shooter as anything other than a Face Hugger takes nearly 30 rounds before they get injured. Hell, even explosive barrels will laugh off your puny 9mm bullets.
The further you play into the first few missions of this game, they will begin to add certain objectives that need completion. Built mostly on the premises of kill this and kill that, some missions turn into a gathering simulator, causing you to scour the winding corridors of the drab colony. One of the earliest examples of this is the 5th mission of the first section, where you are given the daunting task of exploring an the entire wing of a colony to collect ID Tags from the fallen colonists. Face Huggers, Chest Bursters, and Xenomorphs come out in droves as you go through room after room, counting every round left in your inventory. It was nerve racking at times, especially on just the normal difficulty.
The game is divided into 3 separate sections; Aliens, Alien 3, and what takes place between 3 and Resurrection. While it is interesting to play through different moments in the life of Ripley, the environments become a bit... Repetitive. Darkly lit corridors, filled with dark rusted walls, sprawling across dark buildings... It just becomes too mundane. Yes, it is the aesthetics of Alien, and it does a great job of representing it, but it made it to where I could only play this game in small bursts.
Each of the sections are roughly 12 missions long, all leading up to a final bout with an Alien Queen. These fights we’re definitely the highlight of the game to me. The music shifts to a more ominous, heart pumping tune of suspense as you are thrown into the chitinous coliseum. Eggs surround you, bursting with every step you take through the foggy musk of the breeding chamber, up until you come across her.
Vile, disgusting, and absolutely amazing all at the same time. She will remain there, attached to her breeding sack, up until you open fire. This towering Xenomorphic monarch will lunge at you through the dark arena, honing in on your position at all times. The fight is intense, as it requires you to constantly back pedal and lay into her thick hide. After you prove victorious from the grueling battle, you make your way to the emerging lift. Exhausted, you walk into the lit platform, listening to the rhythmic hum take you back to safety, if there is any such thing. Once you reach the top of the platform, you are graced with this beautiful cut scene, showing your triumphant escape.
Ok, so that’s a bit of a stretch. The FMV’s have not aged well, and looked mostly like a pixelated bitmap image blown up to a scrambled mess. The technology was still in it’s infancy during this games release, so it is understandable that the graphics would look muddy.
All in all, the game was very enjoyable. Nothing too extraordinary, but the inclusion of H.R. Giger’s creations made it into something more than just a DOOM clone. The game runs for roughly$30-$35 on the Saturn, but the PSOne version is only $15-20, making it a slightly easier pill to swallow.
That brings us to the end of this week’s review! While I thoroughly enjoy doing this little rants every week, time is becoming a commodity that I can’t seem to get enough of. Until further notice, I am shifting to every other week, while I spread my focus to other projects that I am beginning to work on. I’m hoping the extra time in between reviews will let me go over some more demanding games, and possibly some titles I haven’t had the chance to play yet. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read, and hope you stick around a little longer!