Everyone at least once in their lives has played a twitch shooter. Games like Quake and Unreal Tournament paved the way for other titles in the genre, and as most people know, they can be a lot of fun to play. City Interactive’s Alien Rage gives off that feeling while still keeping the hectic game play at a minimum, and after spending some time with it, I can see how this ambitious shooter may bring fans of the FPS genre to its world.
Taking place on a remote asteroid floating in space, a human mining facility is under siege from an alien force. At one time, both races lived and mined in peace, but tensions grew, and the aliens decided these mere humans weren’t worth sharing the resources. The Earth elects to send specially trained soldiers onto the floating hell-hole to take out the threat. That’s where the player comes in.
In standard first-person shooter fashion, players can run, duck, slide and jump. Aiming down the iron sights will increase accuracy, and every single weapon comes with an alternate firing mode. Most of these are high impact, and sometimes explosive attacks. The alien weapons offer some pretty unique firepower as well. Some can launch enemies into the air and blast them away with pinpointed lasers. The weapons and their abilities are a highlight of the game. In order to use these powerful secondary attacks, players must pick up special ammo that allows the attacks. This ammo is universal so it works for every weapon.
The story is mostly forgettable. There are numerous audio logs spread throughout the levels, but it was never enough to make me sit there and listen to them. The voice acting has its moments, but Alien Rage will not be known for its amazing storytelling. This is a shooter in all the right places. Much like Bulletstorm, it utilizes a scoring system where double/triple kills and headshots offer up big points and with each special kill, a Halo-esque announcer chimes in to let everyone know just what they accomplished. It really adds to the arcade feel of it all.
Starting off, players will notice the default difficulty is “hard.” It even says in the description, that this mode is meant for those familiar with first-person shooters. Well, I had played a good amount of shooters in my day so I started with hard. In hard mode, get ready to die a good amount. I could take maybe four shots before going down so using cover and getting headshots became imperative for survival. Luckily, the decent checkpoints dying not so bad.
With 14 levels lasting around 20-30 minutes each, the experience can last well into the six hour mark, and for the most part, it’s a rather enjoyable ride. There are no flashy objectives or special modes to take care of, just shooting a lot of aliens. There is, however, one flaw to the entire single player experience. That would be the boss fights. These usually take place in a somewhat open arena with the player having to whittle down the boss’ health bar until it finally takes a dive. On hard mode, this is where things become frustrating quickly. Since the bosses are armed to the teeth, they could take me down in almost no time. However, if the difficulty is a little too much, players can change it at any time.
Finally, to go along with the single player and the score-based system, there are special perks that can be unlocked after a certain score has been achieved. These perks can be equipped to aid the player in numerous ways including more ammo in clips and better armor, to name a couple. These will not all unlock throughout a single play so going back and replaying levels to get a better overall score is encouraged.
The visuals are surprisingly very crisp. Utilizing the Unreal Engine 3, City Interactive has found a way to squeeze every bit of graphical integrity into the game and while the environments may all look like a standard “futuristic space colony” it looks pretty damn impressive in 1080p on my PC.
Finally, there is online multiplayer. This is where the twitch shooter feels really comes into play. There are deathmatch, team deathmatch and objective-based game modes. With other human players, it becomes a rather frantic kill-fest that is actually really fun to play. Of course, there will be times where players will spam the powerful secondary fire attacks, but that is combated with every player only starting with only one available and the extra ammo for these are respawnable pick-ups. I really had a blast playing online even with random people since everyone is pretty much on a level playing field.
For $20, Alien Rage is a rather fun little experience. It has its moments of frustration with the difficulty, but the weapons and score-based mechanics really make it shine over other titles in the genre. The multiplayer is surprisingly fun, and many FPS fans will find a lot of enjoyment out of the entire package. I suggest giving it a try if you enjoy arcade style first-person action.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.