Developer: Sigma Team
Release Date: February 5, 2007
It's common knowledge that when aliens invade one's planet, there is only one proper response to such extraterrestrial aggressors: You shoot them. And shoot them you shall in Alien Shooter: Vengeance, a third-person alien-shooting action game with hints of RPG thrown in for good measure. The game is set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world where scientists from the M.A.G.M.A. Corporation have opened a gateway to another dimension, thus allowing hordes of aliens to assault Earth. Alien Shooter uses an isometric viewpoint similar to Diablo, although you control your character in a different manner. Instead of clicking on a location to move your character, you move with the WASD keys, and your cursor is a targeting reticle to aim your guns.
Alien Shooter: Vengeance has two modes of play: campaign mode and survival mode. In the campaign mode, which consists of 15 missions and has four levels of difficulty, you play the role of a mercenary who has been hired by M.A.G.M.A to clean up the mess after their experiments went awry. Along the way, you'll get to employ a large arsenal of weapons and several handy gadgets, and you'll also receive some help from various NPCs. Several of the missions allow you to pilot a vehicle, such as a jeep or a tank, or take control of a remote-controlled drone. Throughout the missions, you'll be given various objectives to complete, with some being optional. Dispersed throughout the levels are numerous secret locations; some levels have upwards of 20 hidden locations, so it can be rather tricky to find them all.
It can take anywhere from three to six hours to complete the full campaign mode, but it's quite replayable, and you can go through again on a different difficulty level, or you can opt to retry any of the missions that you've completed thus far. Whether you're trying to find all of the secret areas or just enjoying the massive amounts of shooting carnage, Alien Shooter offers an easy pick-up-and-play experience that people can come back to later.
In survival mode, you must fight off wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies, who randomly drop power-ups when they die. This mode quickly becomes difficult because you can be surrounded very easily. After losing all of your lives, your score is tallied based on the amount of time you survived and the number of enemies defeated. You also have the ability to submit your score to online leaderboards if you want to see what your ranking is and compete for top scores.
It doesn't take long before you get down to what the title is all about — shooting aliens. Shoot-'em-up action may not be your cup of tea, but for those who enjoy arcade-style hack-and-slash, Alien Shooter delivers. At first, the aliens come at you in small groups, but the numbers quickly ramp up until you're suddenly facing hundreds of extraterrestrial baddies; in the later levels, enemy swarms can number well over 1,000.
There are over 50 different types of aliens in the game, and they come in all shapes and sizes. The simple ones are basic crawlers that scurry across the ground and attempt to bite you, but you'll also encounter flying creatures that spit acid, giant crawlers with menacing claws, and bipedal creatures equipped with missiles and lasers, just to name a few.
You'll require big guns to take down big monsters, and Alien Shooter provides you with five categories of weapons with which to maim and dismember the hostile aliens: pistols, shotguns, machine guns, explosive weapons, and energy weapons. The game incorporates a basic RPG-style statistic system for character development. When you create your character, you can select one of eight unique perks that will bestow it with a special ability, such as increasing the rate at which you earn experience, or allowing you to absorb health by killing enemies.
When your character levels up, he or she will earn five attribute points, which can be distributed among traits such as vitality, strength, speed, accuracy, intelligence, armor handling, your "perk," or any of the five weapon proficiencies. Your character has a weapon slot for each of five weapon types, and your inventory capacity increases as you get stronger. Possible inventory items include attack drones, flashlights, night-vision goggles, radar, and health kits, among other goodies. Your character also has the ability to equip electronic implants, which boost your stats.
The graphics are fairly simple and straightforward, with numerous reused models and background images. This is perhaps the lowest point of the title, but the graphics still look fairly clean, and they suffice for this style of play. Your options to change the settings consist of a choice between 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 resolutions and a selection of high, medium, or low details. At such low resolutions, it's difficult to see a lot of detail in the models. The character movement and animations are decent, but sometimes they look rather strange, especially when your character is twisting its torso. The lighting, however, is pretty good, and you can see shadows react to various light sources, such as the flashlight you're carrying.
The music in Alien Shooter is an assortment of electronica and fast-paced metal themes. It switches from ambient background music to upbeat tracks when hordes of monsters attack, which adds a nice touch to the atmosphere. The sound effects are what you'd expect for guns, explosions, and aliens, and the campaign mode includes voice-acting for the NPCs. Most of the voices are decent, but they suffer from occasional technical problems that cause interruptions in the speech.
The multiplayer support for Alien Shooter is somewhat of a disappointment. It only supports multiplayer through LAN or direct IP connection for up to eight players, but it lacks a matchmaking service so it is left to the players to contact each other and set up the game. The multiplayer supports three game modes: career, stand firm, and deathmatch. Multiplayer career mode is deceptively named, as it's not really like the single-player career campaign, but rather a survival mode that includes the ability to choose how you level up as you fight through the continuous waves of aliens. This is slightly hindered by the game not pausing when you bring up the character screen to level up, as it does in the single-player survival mode. Consequently, you must frantically select what you want and continue if you hope to survive. Stand firm is essentially the same game mode, except you have preset stats that do not change as you progress. Six levels of a rudimentary PvP Deathmatch mode were incorporated into the game; while it certainly doesn't push the envelope, this mode is entertaining for a short while.
The production values are below par, but that's to be expected for a bargain title that retails for only $20. The game also suffers from some bugs and a few design oversights, such as areas in which your character can get stuck, thereby forcing you to restart the level. Despite its drawbacks, Alien Shooter delivers in the gameplay department and provides a solid and fun experience. The action is fast and fluid, and the animations of alien hordes being obliterated are very satisfying to watch. Their body parts and blood remain on the ground indefinitely, which creates a startling visual effect. The weapons have good balance as well, and in the later stages, you can select a weapon from any of the five categories.
Alien Shooter: Vengeance doesn't bring anything fancy or new to the table, and it certainly doesn't win any awards fro graphical realism. However, the game does present solid arcade-style gameplay that is relatively simplistic but pretty fun at the same time. At only $20, it's worth picking up — or purchasing online — if you enjoy evenings filled with some good hack-and-slash action.
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