I can probably count on one hand the number of times in my life where gaming had gone from enjoyable to a chore (collectibles, I’m looking at you!), but hands down the king of all moments, the one that really takes the biscuit, is having to play this buggy, glitchy, inconsistently difficult, flawed, broken, mediocre and boring game that goes by the name of Alien Rage. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t get very far into it. Even after forcing myself to play it for a couple of hours I physically, and mentally, could not take any more torture. Torture, that’s probably a good way to describe it. Just when you thought that they had finally removed the (theoretical) twisted knife from your chest and you feel like you’re finally making some progress with the game, they grab an even bigger knife and just dig it in again, and again, and again…..
Taking place on asteroid Deimos 875, the game centres around a ‘Gears of War’-esque space marine named Jack whose role is to finish the fight between the humans and an alien race named the Vorus. The asteroid is rich in deposits of a natural resource known as Promethium, a rarity which is wanted for harvesting by both races. They had both settled and worked coherently on the asteroid until one day the Vorus unexpectedly attacked the humans in an effort to secure the Promethium resources for themselves. How do the humans react? Well, they retaliate with a rather ridiculous strategy of ‘If we can’t have it, then nobody can’ and giving Jack a mission to blow up the asteroid. Pretty crazy right? Unfortunately, the background to the story is the only half-decent offering by Alien Rage. Quite frankly the game peaks during the opening cut-scene and then it’s just downhill from there.
The campaign is split into fourteen re-playable levels, with each one offering what seems like the same monotonous hallways, rooms and sequence of events as the last one, as well as nine ‘boss battles’ through the game. The re-playability is implemented by the way of a point scoring system. Killing one of the alien race with a headshot offers a bigger reward of points then if you pile twenty bullets into their torso, so those people who are looking to challenge themselves can head back to previous levels and try to better their previous score. Although, honestly, I can’t see why you’d even bother to put yourself through it all again.
The AI is horrifically awful. I’m not sure I’ve actually come across anything like this before. The enemies aren’t all that clever, sometimes they just randomly run towards you while firing wildly, strafe from their safe position behind cover to standing out in the open or even just struggle to wrap their brains around how to actually get to the area that you’re currently standing in. It’s crazy. Not only that, but the inconsistent difficulty makes it infuriatingly frustrating. One minute you can crash into a room and take out every enemy within a minute and feel like a badass, but the next room? Different story. Rock in there, same number/variety of enemies as the previous fight area, start shooting and dead……restart the checkpoint, run in there again, dead. This repeats over and over and over and over until you either give up or somehow get through it. I’m not afraid of taking on a hard game either, something like a Dark Souls is difficult because it is meant to be and feels like it should be, however Alien Rage seems to be difficult because it’s flat out broken and flawed.
The control system is a close second behind the AI in the rank of awfulness. It feels clunky, unresponsive and slow. I feel like I could probably have more control over JCB digger with just my two little fingers then I do over my character in Alien Rage. Aiming down the sights of the guns to shoot proved just about as useful as throwing spoons and forks at your enemy. I’d estimate that around 95% of my ammo was hitting the walls around the enemies and I’m a seasoned FPS player!
Without a true cover system other than kneeling behind waist high railings, walls, etc., and the aforementioned inconsistent difficulty and mechanics forcing you to find your own cover A LOT, the game seems confused as to whether it wants to be an old-school arcade run-and-gun FPS or a cover based shooter. The weapons are pretty standard of an FPS, and there are a mix of alien weapons and human weapons, but they don’t feel overly different and it seems like they’re almost exactly the same guns but with a different livery.
As well as struggling with the alien race, the biggest enemy to the player is the bugs and glitches. Items that are supposed to happen or be useable once you enter an area, or doors that are meant to be available to open, often aren’t activating therefore blocking you from continuing and forcing you to restart from a previous checkpoint. The worse of it all is that doing a restart often doesn’t fix it and you end up having to restart from the beginning and replay through the already mundane level just to get back to where you'd left off, hoping and praying that it’s fixed itself.
If I haven’t deterred you from checking out Alien Rage then feel free to give it a whirl, but I really cannot stress enough how utterly broken, flawed and downright awful it really is, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. Now if only I could get the hours back that I put into this game…..
Words by James Grantham.
(Version Tested: PS3)
- Poor AI
- Buggy and glitchey
- Bad controls
- Poor offering in an already crowded genre
- Doesn’t differentiate itself