As a gamer, I like to sink my teeth into all sorts of games. From RPGs, to sports, to puzzlers, to platformers and more – but there is one genre that I’ve been playing more of lately: first person shooters. They were a staple for me back in the days of Quake, Duke Nukem and the grand-daddy DOOM, but as time moved on, I felt the FPS genre changed and I lost interest. So when I heard about Alien Rage from CI Games, a game that looked like it brought that old-school style of gameplay back, my heart was a flutter – but did it deliver?
The basic story has you as a soldier sent to a mining outpost to shut it down before aliens – who you once had an alliance with – completely take it over. Perhaps not the most compelling of storylines, but I’m here for the action, not the story. I have to say the controls are solid, and the aiming is tight. You move and aim with the analog sticks, your right trigger to fire and the left to zoom in. All weapons zoom in to a certain point, just some more than others. Weapons also have a secondary fire mode which is usually better suited for dispersing large groups. You can also slide to help dodge enemy fire and to get behind cover quickly.
You can’t camp long behind certain objects, because they tend to get shot up and develop holes as they take enemy fire. Most other objects that are around you can try and hide behind, but I found that I would always take damage no matter how well I was hidden. Also, enemies will rush you too if you stay covered too long, so you’re always kept on the move. I cannot remember a game with such aggressive AI as this one has. I don’t mind that to a certain extent, but it became almost too much and found myself dying over and over again in the same spot. Sometimes I found myself restarting at a checkpoint just to be suddenly rushed by several well-armed enemies and overwhelmed, so I spent more time watching the reload screen than actually playing, until I got lucky enough to take out enough baddies to re-group.
Weapons in the game are rather fun, and although none offer anything I haven’t seen before, they definitely feel like they pack a punch. You are limited to carrying only 3 weapons at a time, which does force you to choose what suits the conditions. There always seemed to be weapons laying around, but there is limited ammo for the weapons’ secondary fire modes. You don’t have to worry about looking for health packs, because your health regenerates if you can manage to find a spot out of harm’s way.
As you blast your way through levels you will be racking up points, your current score displayed at the top of the screen. Not just for bragging rights, you use these points to unlock perks for your character. Your final level scores are all added up and once you hit 100% on the character screen’s perk slots, they unlock and you are presented with a choice of perks, ranging from weapons being able to hold more ammo, health bonuses, or making weapons do more damage. What I did like is that once you completely play through a level, you can go back and replay it to increase your score in order to get yourself closer to achieving perks. Unfortunately, some of the scores they want you to get are rather high. I did not get my first perk until almost the fifth level.
I did go back and replay some of the first levels to help my score. There are ways to get a better score, such as making headshots, blowing up containers near enemies (which seem to be everywhere), and going on kill streaks. For other bonuses, there are audio logs, and small glowing green pyramids that you can find that will add to your final score – so it does pay to explore a bit, but everything is a little too linear.
There were a few things that bugged me about the gameplay. For starters, the enemies seem to need a large amount of bullets to take down unless it’s a head-shot, and your player seems to have armor made out of tissue paper. (Also, who sends a soldier into a battle like this with no helmet, but wearing armor that looks like leftovers from Gears of War?)
Also, when one fires a grenade launcher into a large group of enemies and watches them ragdoll into the air and bounce off the environment – they should be dead right? Well, not in this game. I lost track of how many times this happened to me, just to have one shoot me in the back after walking past it, figuring it had to be dead by now. So I ended up wasting bullets re-shooting possibly-already-dead enemies to make sure they were truly dead. Often I’d shoot something that I thought would blow up, but it didn’t so the enemy started to charge me because of it. This also got frustrating!
Graphically the game looks okay, but still, nothing really stood out in my books. Everything looks high-tech and sci-fi-ish, but many of the levels feel similar to each other, with dark corridors, tunnels and walkways with splashes of colour from monitor screens and exploding barrels. The enemy design was well done, but I found myself fighting way to many of the same kind over and over again, which got rather repetitive. There were some graphical glitches too, with floating corpses and enemies that would become these standing ghosts of themselves with parts of the character missing or just a floating head remaining.
A bright spot in this game was the audio department. I really enjoyed the music score of the game, and the sound effects fit in nicely with everything. Voice acting was very good, and your character is voiced by someone who sounds a lot like Kiefer Sutherland. The writing for the voice actors had me chuckling now and then, with quips that seemed to reference other FPSs. However, I did notice that if you keep dying at a checkpoint you have to listen to the same pieces of dialogue over and over, which got old real fast.
Ultimately, Alien Rage is not necessarily a bad game, it just doesn’t break any new ground. With issues regarding the AI, graphical glitches, and a high difficulty, I just don’t see myself alien raging again anytime soon.