Do you like first person shooters with character depth, strong story-lines and the ability to affect how the levels play out? If so this game isn’t for you. However if you like run of the mill run-and-gunners with insane bosses then read on.
Based on the now legendary Unreal engine, Alien Rage sees you as a human in the mid distant future, fighting an alien race called the Vorus for a source of energy known as Promethium – located on a meteor no less. The Humans and the Vorus got along at first, and then they decided to take it all for themselves, massacring us in the process. Your mission? Revenge, and that’s it basically.
Okay, poor sci-fi B-movie plot aside I was actually quite looking forward to playing this game after being lied to sold on it by Xboxer head honcho Dave. Even the main menu grabbed my attention, with promises of player perks etc. Also the fact that the difficulty options were Challenging, Hard and Brutal left me quite excited. Sadly it all went a bit downhill from there.
The game seems pretty solid; Polish dev CI Games made a good choice with the Unreal engine, however the gameplay itself feels pretty dated. If this game had come out a few years back it may have turned a few heads. As it is, you seem to spend the majority of your time weaving through corridor after corridor shooting aliens with a variety of different weapons. Imagine first person Gears of War mixed with Halo inside an other-worldly office complex and that’s the sorta vibe you get.
Speaking of guns, you start the game with the standard fare – assault rifle as your primary and a pistol as your secondary. As well as being able to pick up alien weapons ranging from shotguns to full on mini guns, each gun has a secondary fire mode, usually resulting in an explosion of some kind. Other than that there isn’t a huge amount to say about the guns, there are no customisable load outs as per some of the AAA FPS games, but to be honest that doesn’t really bother me.
What does bother me about this game is the sheer lack of originality or diversity. The graphics and the in-game world are stunning for an arcade game, yet you can’t explore any of it except for the tiny corridor or room that you are in. The whole thing feels like a mish-mash of all the decent spacey type shooters from the past few years, and as such Alien Rage doesn’t really do a lot to say “Hey look at me over here, aren’t I awesome?”, which is a shame because after the initial launch hype it could very easily get lost in the background, much like most of the enemies which seem to share the same colour palette as the background. I mean there’s camouflage and then there’s just blending in.
A few ways it does stand out against most of the current crop of shooters though is the fact that bagging kills scores you points – and what do points make? Well, player perks in this case, such as 50% extra health amongst others, which unlock after you hit certain score thresholds. A nice way to boost your score up a bit is with combos. Kill a few enemies in the same way (5 headshots for example) and you’ll get a nice little point boost along with an announcer voiceover telling you. My favourite? DOUBLE KILL always brings a smile to my face.
If you don’t like dying a whole bunch or insanely hard bosses I’d steer well clear of this game. Most of you that have gamed with me in the past probably know that I’m a bit of an FPS veteran but by the end of the first level I had died – quite a lot. And that was before I eventually got to the first big boss, who looked like he had been breastfed steroids and broken glass since birth. Needless to say I again died – quite a lot. Your tiny health bar seems to deplete way too quickly, and although it does regenerate, hiding behind cover doesn’t seem to do a great deal to protect you from explosions, so as you can imagine Grenadiers manage to bag a fair few one shot kills.
My biggest gripe with Alien Rage is that CI Games haven’t really done a piss poor job, but they haven’t excelled either. My experience of this game can be summarised in three letters – “MEH”. If there was a Golden Joystick award for Least Memorable Game of 2013 this wouldn’t even make the shortlist, it’s that forgettable. HOWEVER if you like a more classic style of shooter, are up for a challenge and don’t mind being endlessly butchered over and over again it’s definitely worth checking the trial out at least.
Alien Rage is available on the XBLA Marketplace for £9.99.