Anger management of the extreme variety.
CI Games’ Alien Rage is now available on PC and will be coming to XBL and PSN once they manage to calm the raging aliens down. Offering and old-school shooter experience, Alien Rage will require the player to calm those aliens in a permanent manner, by shooting them into lots of little alien pieces. If you could offer them a cup of tea instead, things may be a lot less messy.
However, it is the future and the time for tea has passed. The story, because everyone needs a reason to shoot aliens in the first place, no matter how upset they are, is somewhat loose around the edges. Basically, there is an asteroid in space from which a source of energy can be mined. The problem is that the alien race who were quite happy to let the Humans get on with it have changed their mind, and now they are angry. It is nothing new, or particularly special, but it sets the scene and justifies the wholesale slaughter of aliens.
For those shooter players out there who want a little more from their story, there are audio logs hidden around the facility that further the tale and build up some more back story. However, the problem comes from the fact that first the player has to find them, and then they have to stand around like a space lemon, waiting for the audio track to finish, if they want to hear it all. It is not an ideal situation, but the story is there for those who want it.
In reality though, most players will be here simply for the alien shooting. It’s not complicated stuff, but that is not to say that it is easy. Oh no, this game sets the difficulty to hard by default, which I feel is a bit mean. Alien Rage explains that Hard is the most suitable difficulty level for those gamers who know their way around a shooter. I would argue that Hard is more suitable for those who want to be repeatedly killed by angry aliens who have access to more powerful weapons than the player, can appear at random to attack without warning, are occasionally invisible and need to be shot more times than the allegedly tough-as-nails, smart-talking hero of the tale. It is an uphill battle.
Or rather, a downhill battle, because things do get easier. The game packs in some 14 levels of alien-filled madness to work through, and the game operates on a scoring system. The more impressive the kill, the higher the score. This ongoing score allows the unlocking of perks that the player can pick and choose from as they wish, being only able to equip a limited number. These perks, with handy effects such as increased damage from certain weapons, really do make the game much easier, making the game seem less difficult as it progresses.
That is with the exception of the drawn out boss battles, which will require such an investment in bullets that they will be more bullet than boss by the end. There are a nice selection of weapons in the game, both Human and alien, that can be used to nice effect. All of the weapons have an alternate firing mode which is fueled by special ammo, and these secondary modes offer the most dramatic and impressive effects, making them a real highlight of the game.
The other highlight comes from the visual style, which is really impressive for what is a budget game. The colour palette and environments, which consists of blues and greys, and so many corridors, may not be very original, but there are some almost beautiful moments in the game, times when the player will just want to stop the wanton destruction and enjoy the view. The aliens and main character don’t look half bad either.
The main story will clock in around six to seven hours, but the player will want to go back and increase their score to get all of those lovely perks. However, the game does also offer a basic multiplayer mode to increase game time. Multiplayer offers simple deathmatch and team deathmatch experiences across a handful of maps, with the players taking on the roles of both the Humans and the aliens. But the biggest problem for the Alien Rage multiplayer will be finding other players to join, as the community is incredibly sparse at the moment.
Alien Rage sadly suffers from a lack of stand out features, ideas that differentiate the game from other shooter offerings. The more experienced player will find the strange starting difficulty less of a problem, and the score-based gameplay will appeal to the fans of arcade shooters. There is nothing really wrong with Alien Rage, it plays well and looks really good, it just doesn’t stand out. Pick up Alien Rage if you are a shooter fan who has run out of more “interesting” games to play.