Alien Rage - Unlimited... wow, what a title! It is somewhat accurate though as I was enraged throughout most of the game. It's pretty hard to measure rage but I was pretty angry with the game from start to finish, and the multiplayer is complete bum, so I suppose one could say that the rage is unlimited. I also felt like a horrible alien monster for paying £14.99 of my own dosh for this steaming pile of poo. It may look nice, but Alien Rage is just awful.
There is some sort of storyline contained in Alien Rage but the opening cutscene failed to play for me, so forgive me if I can't critique it fully. As far as I can tell, you play as a Gears of War cosplayer who has enlisted himself to fight some evil aliens all by his lonesome and you have to stop them from obtaining some special resource called Promethium or some bollocks. Then just throw in some salty language, cheesy one-liners and a reference to Metal Gear Solid because... why not? Yep, you shouldn't play Alien Rage for its story but lets be frank, no one expected a game called Alien Rage to have a good story, did they?
The gameplay in Alien Rage is overwhelmingly mediocre. It is a sci-fi first-person shooter where you run down narrow corridors, blasting everything in sight and... that's about it. There are some boss fights, an extended turret sequence on a tram (like Quake 4) and a part where you get to pilot a mech but about 85% of Alien Rage feels exactly the same. All of the levels look practically identical. The bland, gray corridors are just such a chore to play through and any reasonable human being would stop playing the game after 15 minutes.
The developers have pitched Alien Rage as being an old-school shooter, but this is a load of nonsense. The game contains everything we see in modern shooters like regenerating health, extremely linear waypointed level design and aiming down iron sights. Alien Rage definitely resembles Call of Duty more than Doom but comparing to those two titles is giving Alien Rage far too much credit.
The difficulty is also a problem. Like in most games, there are three difficulty settings but instead of having easy, normal and hard options, we get "Challenging", "Hard" and "Brutal" options. I don't mind that there is no easy setting, though that may annoy some, I am bothered by the descriptions used for each difficulty. The "Hard" mode is pitched to sound like normal and "Challenging" is made to sound like easy. Naturally, I gravitated towards "Hard" because I don't like to play games on easy.
However, this difficulty really is hard. So hard in fact, I couldn't defeat the first boss. On "Hard", the first boss is easily more difficult than most final bosses these days. Naturally, I stuck it on "Challenging" and didn't have too much trouble finishing the game after that. I don't know how they cocked up the difficulty settings so bad. What is wrong with just plain ol' easy, normal and hard settings?
As much as I hate the game, admittedly it does work. Aiming and shooting does work well enough and it can be slightly fun to shoot an explosive barrel to wipe out a load of enemies. The weapons also feel pretty effective too, as headshots are extremely beneficial and it's always nice seeing gooey orange blood spew around. However, the weapon count is pretty low and nothing about the gunplay is particularly special. It just works, which I suppose is a compliment for this game.
But Alien Rage is one of those games that just feels bad when you play it. Your movement feels sluggish and clumsy, as your default movement speed is slow and your weapon bobs around in an awkward fashion. If you often feel sick while playing first-person games then Alien Rage just isn't for you. And while the guns do kill the enemies fairly quickly, they actually feel about as powerful as water guns. It is safe to say that Alien Rage is not a pleasant game to play...
The single-player campaign in Alien Rage is about 4 hours long which is about 3 hours too long for me. After that though, you can treat yourself to some multiplayer which is somehow even more dire than the campaign. There are hardly any modes, hardly any maps and hardly anyone to play the game with; which sounds about right.
To sum it up, you can play some Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch with up to 16 players on the same types of miserable environments that are in the single-player. The action doesn't work online at all thanks to lag, which was present in all of the matches I played. Most of the weapons feel very weak too, aside from the shotgun which felt overpowered compared to the other starting weapons. You can pick up other weapons scattered throughout the map like a sniper rifle and a rocket launcher but good luck using those with the lag. There doesn't appear to be any map cycling, meaning when a match is over, it just restarts again on the same level. Who on earth thought that was a good idea? The multiplayer is complete rubbish, go back to Unreal Tournament or Quake III: Arena if you want some simple Deathmatch fun.
The graphics are definitely the best thing about Alien Rage. The Unreal Engine 3 is put to good use as the game is well detailed, has nice particle effects and some lovely lighting. It's a shame that the overall art direction is so drab because it's clear that the developers know how to make a good looking product. The game did come out very poorly optimised, but a recently released patch did fix a lot of the problems for me, which is promising.
The sound design though is completely forgettable. Tinny weapons, weak explosions and stereotypical videogame voice acting all combine to make a very average sounding game. If there was any music in the game, I sure as hell can't remember any of it! I am sure it is great.
Alien Rage - Unlimited is a disaster. The core gameplay is functional but everything else about the game is just wrong. It is one of those games that is so plain and generic that it hurts. The game is less than the sum of its parts. The complete lack of variety and awful multiplayer further sink Alien Rage into being one of the year's worst. It may be only $20 but there are so many better shooters out there, why on earth would you bother with this? Even Aliens: Colonial Marines is better and that says a lot!
ONE OUT OF FIVE
(A terrible game whose positives aspects are practically nonexistent.)