Did you ever just want to shoot some aliens? Well then I have the perfect game for it. Alien Rage is about as vanilla as a shooter involving extraterrestrials can be. Picture Gears of War characters tossed into a world that looks like every other Unreal Engine game and plays like Quake and it becomes clear. There are no left turns or plot twists, no secret game mechanics or gimmicks, just hours of mowing down aliens for points and dying…a lot.
Alien Rage is a hard game, but not in that “I know why my corpse is laying on the ground, that was a dumb move” kind of hard. More in the “wow that enemy never misses and his gun whittles my health down way too fast” kind of hard. Each level funnels players down a narrow path of shooting and interactive objects, constantly interrupted by waves of enemies. Sometimes I was getting shot long before I knew about the cheap sniper on the catwalk, which usually also indicated that it was time to load a checkpoint.
Now I don’t mind challenging shooters. I cut my teeth on the likes of Unreal and Quake II when it comes to twitch FPS games, but Alien Rage is unforgiving and rarely enjoyable at times. Levels are longer than they should be for a game based on points, and the overpowered enemies make repeating sections over and over feel more like a chore. There is something to be said about the simplest of ideas, but not when it detracts from the fun.
So I spent most of my game running forward, guns blazing with little regard for my own life. Taking cover is pointless, taking it slow eliminates the fast-paced combat and attempting to spot enemies before they tagged me with two or three bullets was impossible. Sadly that is about all there is to Alien Rage. It does offer up a scoring system that encourages players to go back and attempt to achieve a higher score, which in turn unlocks new perks for my character, but I really never wanted to revisit any of the levels.
It also doesn’t help that the game is not exactly visually impressive. The stale environments and bland hallways start to bleed together quickly. Combine that with the massive framerate drops on the console version and we have one technically unimpressive title.
Another very weird omission is the complete lack of online multiplayer. The PC version has it, yet the XBLA release only supports leaderboards. Multiplayer might have remedied a lot of my issues with the game, especially the advantageous AI, but alas this is only a solo affair, making recommending it that much harder.
Alien Rage starts off with an epic cut scene showcasing humans and another alien race attempting to farm a new energy from this mysterious planet. I thought there would at least be an interesting backstory to discover along the way. Then when I realized most of the story is tucked away in hard-to-find audio logs, I quickly lost interest. I spend most of my time attempting to dodge ghost bullets, and putting hidden collectibles into a twitch shooter, especially ones containing pertinent story info, is just poor design.
I wanted to love Alien Rage. I tried to like Alien Rage, but at the end of day, the game made me not want to play it. Twitch shooters are one of my favorite things to play mindlessly and yet I couldn’t stomach this one for more than an hour or two at a time. No online multiplayer, bad frame rate problems and dying every five feet is not a recipe for enjoyment.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.