Ramblings On… Alien Rage

Alien Rage is one of those types of games that you instantly know everything about. A simple glance at the artwork can tell you all you need to know. Your character, Generic Space Marine Number 12m (or some variation thereof), blasts away with an over-sized rifle into the stomach of some robotic-alien horror, so terrifying in fact, that it looks like every other enemy in every other game of this genre.

Doesn’t this front-cover just scream innovation?

It even has that strange kind of art-direction that I associate with modern sci-fi shooters but, mostly, with the Gears of War series and the comparisons certainly don’t end there. Right from the start, it feels like a game designed for a horde mode, or some kind of multiplayer survival mode at the least. The game is split into chapters, but within each chapter, every room feels as though it is its own level, with a certain number of enemies spawning in a certain order.  In fact, today’s top-tip, is that the game is a lot easier to play if you simply rush in, learn where everyone spawns, die, and then replay the room with that prior knowledge. I imagine the chest high-walls, which are spread around the game like used needles in a crack-addict’s bedsit, would be more useful if you actually had any kind of cover system. The trouble is; if a cover system was in the game, Alien Rage would simply become Budget Gears of War. The biggest downside to this lack of sticky cover is, in fact, that the act of taking cover rarely works. Most chest high-walls are at such a height that your character’s head must simply stick over the edge, whilst your camera remains firmly behind the blue-tinted metal. That is the only reason I can think of why enemies seem able to headshot you, when it appears that you are firmly behind cover.

Soulless, but very pretty. Sounds like (insert popular music reference here).

Perhaps a series more relatable to AR is that of Quake. It seems as though, judging by the ‘humour’ and characters inherent in the game, that CI Games have taken those things that made the over-the-top masculinity of Gears of War fun, the Lancers, the intense multiplayer and every character being so hyped-up on steroids that it starts to resemble something closer to an Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalike competition, and then simply removed them. Instead of chainsaws, we are back to a variety of under-slung grenade launchers, and in place of Mulchers, we are back to basic Mini-guns.

Oh yeah, it even has an Announcer telling you when you get headshots or double-kills. No game has EVER done that before!

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean the game isn’t enjoyable, but it is enjoyment of the kind you actually feel guilty about enjoying. There are some forms of media, B-movies in particular, that become so terrible that they are actually enjoyable. The worst part about this game, is that the gameplay is, surprisingly, pretty solid. It is not terrible enough to find something to love, like Alice Cooper’s acting in Monster Dog, but it feels as though there isn’t anything there. The game offers nothing in terms of either innovation, or an engaging narrative, but the gameplay is just solid enough to feel that it hasn’t been finished. It feels like the bare bones of a game, before some other mechanic has been introduced which would make the title stand out. With XBLA/Downloadable Games starting to become more interesting than retail titles, with examples like State of Decay, Wolf Among Us and Minecraft showing us how smaller titles can often be done with a much higher level of quality than larger projects, Alien Rage just feels as though it has traded any kind of soul it could have had for high-quality graphics and a general air of mediocrity.

I would definitely recommend at least downloading the demo, just so you see what I mean about how very standard this title is. I could not, in all honesty, recommend buying the title though, unless you thought Quake IV and Aliens: Colonial Marines to be the best examples of FPS.
I doubt the game will warrant a sequel, but if it does, I can guarantee it will be called Alien Rage: Resurrection. Resurrection, I have no doubt, being spelt with a Z. It’s that type of game.

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