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Alien Rage review for XBLA, PSN

Platform: XBLA for Xbox 360
Also On: PSN
Publisher: CI Games
Developer: CI Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

There are a lot of first person shooters out there, and with each one, some things change while some things stay the same. A few of the more well known titles try different things with the genre to spice things up, but ultimately the core gameplay has seldom changed much. Alien Rage is a FPS with no interesting gimmicks to make it stand out from the others, in fact, it may be the most generic shooter released in the last 3 years.

The backstory is taken straight out of a direct to video movie. In the distant future, Humans discovered an asteroid that contained a renewable fuel source and of course since the future is out of fuel, we needed to harvest it. A huge refining factory is constructed on the asteroid and business is going great for many years, until another alien race decides they want the fuel too. At first the Humans and Aliens get along, but surprise surprise, the aliens turn traitor and take over the factory. Now it’s up to one hardcore space marine armed with 2 weapons to go in alone, and subdue the alien threat. This is a basic version, without all of the political and scientific plots that make up the entire story. You can find out more be collecting audio files that are scattered throughout the factory, if you desperately need to know everything, but chances are you won’t bother. Once you enter the factory, you are presented with a waypoint provided by your A.I. Companion and your wisecracking, yet unseen, partner. You will be moving from waypoint to waypoint all the while getting into firefights with multiple enemies. Once you reach the final waypoint in the chapter, you tally up your kills and skill points, and it’s on to the next chapter for more of the same.

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There is no backtracking, or searching for anything (unless you want find all of the audio files), it’s just move, shoot anything that moves, and complete the mission. As you take damage in a fight, the screen will turn red, alerting you that you are about to die. Backing off from the fight or hiding behind a barrier for a short time will regenerate your health, but it seems you can only take a few direct hits even when you are full. This means you will be dying a great deal of the time as the aliens seem to be expert snipers, and your warrior can’t seem to steady his aim. You can zoom in to get a more precise shot, or pick someone off with a quick headshot, but most of the time you will be trying to avoid gunfire from an unseen enemy. Shooting one of the millions of exploding barrels that seem to be scattered around can cause chain reactions with the environment and can take out a group of attackers, so with every battle, you constantly search for something to shoot that can explode. Strangely, this all seems to be a strict single player affair, with no online play or co-op of any kind to be found. Usually even a game as generic as this would have some kind of multiplayer mode included, but sadly there is none.

Graphics in Alien Rage are a mixed bag. While some of the environment is detailed pretty well, you do run into muddy textures scattered everywhere. There is a lot of random popup especially in the far background, but it also occurs in the foreground as well. The action stays at a steady 30 to 40 frames per second, while the random, unplayable cinematics run at 60. Why the entire game couldn’t run as fast as the unplayable scenes is a mystery. There are some generic heavy metal tracks that play when in a gun battle, but mostly your only audio accompaniment are the sounds of an industrial factory. Rounding out the audio department are your standard explosions, gunshots, and a very out of place “multiplayer type” announcer when you get a double or triple kill.

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Alien Rage has a lot going against it, but it’s not a completely horrible experience. Its generic story, visuals and gameplay, combined with the lack of any multiplayer are all low points, but some players may still have some fun with it. It’s definitely not the best first person shooter out there, and it’s also not the worst. Give the demo a spin before buying, knowing that beyond the single player there isn’t much else to get into. Maybe if this had been released about 5 years ago, it might of made a bigger splash.

Grade: C-


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