Having made its debut on PC earlier this month many will already know what to expect from CI Games’ Alien Rage. This is a no-holds-barred action affair, a throwback to a time when QUAKE II was the leading light of the first-person genre, when gibbs were more important than an accurate portrayal of real-world war. If you like to see giant blue orbs go bang instead of overcooking your grenades in the hope of taking down a few troops hiding behind a bullet-hole riddled stone wall, Alien Rage is most certainly the videogame for you.
You enter the shoes of a lone marine sent to wreak havoc on the alien populace of a mining planet. See, it was your mining planet, but then the aliens turned up and things went south. Now you’re hitting them harder than they hit you; if humans can’t have these precious resources, no one can. It’s not exactly a lesson to teach you children, but given that all your mission entails is walking around with a big gun and shooting anything that moves, there aren’t exactly many morals to this story.
And that truly is the beauty of Alien Rage: its pure unadulterated fun. There’s nothing wrong with simulation videogames or po faced virtual military ‘experiences,’ but sometimes it’s good to forget all that and just strap in for some good old fashioned blasting fun. The levels are linear, the weapons have some impressive tactical uses and the enemy design is both frustrating to fight and pleasing to finish, exactly as id Software intended it to be back in the late 90’s.
Saying that Alien Rage is a reflection of FPS gaming from two decades ago doesn’t mean that it’s outdated however. CI Games is delivering a modern vision of such pure gunplay, ignoring the path followed by the likes of Call of Duty and even Halo, and instead showing QUAKE IV what it could have been. Players can employ tactics in the way they move, the weapons they carry and the use of the environment, rather than being forced to play a role dictated by character and objective.
The only complication in Alien Rage’s formula is the scoring system. Lying somewhere between Bodycount and Bulletstorm, the system rewards players by offering enhancements for accumulating a high score tally (extra ammunition, stun resistance etc.) but it otherwise utterly ignorable. The videogame doesn’t force you to play in any specific way, instead leaving it open to the player to decide how much they wish to invest in their high score.
Despite arriving later than the PC edition of the videogame, the console release comes without a multiplayer mode. It’s a strange omission; the occasional poorer texture or weaker enemy balance could be forgiven, but a key component of any console FPS is multiplayer gameplay, significantly undermining Alien Rage’s appeal to a large percentage of its potential audience. The campaign itself is a hugely enjoyable undertaking, but without a multiplayer mode to speak of one has to wonder about the longevity of Alien Rage.