Alien Rage (PlayStation 3) review
"I believe its creators wanted to make a good game, and they succeeded in many ways."
Alien Rage is a pretty generic sci-fi FPS. The main reason I was interested in it is that it has a score system where you earn points for killing enemies in interesting ways. A high score builds up in the corner just like an old arcade game, which is pretty neat for a Halo-esque FPS.
Unfortunately the scoring system falls flat. The only incentive to get a high score is to unlock perks you can equip to your dude, and it's pretty obvious early on that you are going to unlock them all no matter what you do. There is no motivation to get a higher score (such as trophies or unlockables), and there also seems to me to be very little in the way of methods to get a higher score. I couldn't help but compare this game to another score-based shooter, The Club. The Club features multipliers and draining combo meters that keep you solely focused on the score (not to mention that the only thing you are trying to do is get a high score). The multiplier in the game gives you a concrete way to improve. Since Alien Rage doesn't feature any of that, it's just a basic FPS with a score system tacked on. And now I want to play The Club more...
I realized early on that the score system was a bust, and thought I was going to be in for a terrible experience. But then something interesting happened. While no part of Alien Rage is great, almost every element of the game is surprisingly not bad. It's actually kind of fascinating as the game gives off a vibe of being a slapped together Halo-clone, but actually has some thought behind most of its design elements.
The basic gunplay is solid and feels good. There are a lot of levels, and although you fight the same few enemies over and over, the different architecture and cover set ups make it feel pretty fresh throughout. The enemies have pretty good AI, with some who charge you (while invisible!), and some who take up cover positions and lay down covering fire or take pot shots. The AI is especially good at flanking you and sneaking up on you, and once you realize this, you will become paranoid and constantly stop shooting down your firing lane to make sure no one is sneaking down the side passage toward you. There aren't a ton of weapons, but they are fun, and each has a secondary fire mode with very limited ammo that balances out the encounters pretty well, giving you the opportunity to take out groups of enemies with rockets, or save yourself from a guy who gets the jump on you and would kill you otherwise.
The enemy, character, and environment, while, again, nothing special, are pretty nice to look at. The main enemies are mysterious guys in hoods, and the elite troops are more robotic and pop out of stasis pods the raise out of the floor. The aforementioned invisible grunts who charge you are pretty scary, especially as they stun you if the melee you. And the levels are large and functional looking industrial complexes and mining platforms that have enough background work on them to sell the illusion that you are in the middle of a truly huge mining operation.
The story is pretty generic. A super soldier is sent to sabotage an alien mining facility on an asteroid and stumbles onto a bigger problem. Pretty dumb little tale, but the constant chatter between your character, your support man on your ship, and the AI that helps you is actually pretty entertaining. It's funny when the AI acts goofy or makes bets with the support man. It really feels like an AI that has been smartly programmed to talk coloquially and make jokes and stuff, kind of like the robots in the movie Interstellar. I also really like the way you insult the bosses after beating them, it's pretty entertaining.
The game does have some big flaws, such as cheap deaths from enemies who spawn out of nowhere. Enemies teleport into each battle, and sometimes an enemy you don't see will hit you with a rocket and you die and there was literally nothing you could do about it except memorize that he will be there the next time you try. Also, there is one boss fight that is totally broken as you can die within seconds of the fight starting, and what you have to do to win is counterintuitive. That part took me 10+ tries and was not at all fun or interesting. The final boss also glitched out on me several times, freezing in place and becoming invincible while I could still run around and shoot it. I had to reload twice to fix this problem. The game also tells you to start on hard mode (it says you should start there if you've played shooters before), but that mode actually is pretty hard. It feels like a hard mode, not a normal mode. I actually enjoyed the challenge, but if you are looking for a typical “normal” difficulty, it will lead you astray into something more challenging than that.
While the scoring mechanic that lured me into this game turned out to be dumb, I still had a fun time with Alien Rage. It's a pretty flawed experience in basically every way, especially since there are so many sci-fi shooters out there with really high production values in all regards. But Alien Rage isn't the total garbage that many games turn out to be when they try to cash in on the success of games like Halo or Gears of War. It's quite a few steps above a cash in. I believe its creators wanted to make a good game, and they succeeded in many ways. It could be seen as pointless due to its obviously much better competition, but don't lump it in with generic shooters that just want to look like Gears to get you to buy them and then don't care if you have fun. It's a 3 out of 5.
Community review by Robotic_Attack (July 23, 2016)
Robotic Attack reviews every game he plays... almost.
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