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Act: Alien Shooter [by Sigma]

Game: Alien Shooter
Release: May 16, 2003
Genre: Action
Developer: Sigma
System Requirements: Pentium II 400 MHz, Direct3D compatible 16 MB 3D graphics card, 64 MB RAM, DirectSound compatible sound card
Price: $19.95
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If the purpose of a review is to help you figure out which games you should buy, then we can end this review right away.  GO NOW!  BUY THIS GAME! 

With a wonderful array of weapons, non-stop action, splendid graphics, eerie music and a wonderful adventure setting, Alien Shooter is a game that delivers on every front.  Another reason I suggest that you immediately buy the game instead of playing the demo is that this is a game where the demo just doesn't give you nearly enough insight into the game.  From the moment the freaky music of the full version came on after I fired the full version up, I knew that there was a lot in the full version that I hadn't even guessed on.  My original reason for wanting to try the full version was to check out the turret guns you get to sit in.  I wouldn't have guessed how much more cool stuff I would get.

Alien Shooter starts out as you enter a military compound where Aliens have invaded.  The idea behind the game is to destroy all the aliens so that they cannot get out and destroy all of earth. While the story behind the game doesn't set you up all that well into knowing what the game will be like, neither does the description of the game.  In Alien Shooter you run around with cool weapons blasting away and endless fronts of aliens.  So how does a game with a pretty common story line and game play that doesn't seem all that original turn into one of the best Indie games available?  That is a great question.  You could ask the same thing of Halo.  It has a little more originality in the storyline, but the reason people play is to blast away at things.  There are hundreds of games like this out on the market, but every once in awhile the game just works.  In the case of Alien Shooter, this is a game where everything came together perfectly.

The game occurs from the isometric perspective, with you seeing the screen the same way you would in Diablo.  You begin the game by choosing one of two characters.  One is male the other female.  Each has certain attributes, e.g. the male is stronger, but the female has better accuracy.  As you begin the game you have a couple of pistols with an endless supply of bullets.  With a gun in each had the character looks a lot like Bruce Willis in Die Hard mode. 

The game control is pretty simple.  Using the keyboard you move your character, the mouse is used for targeting your weapons.  This is very helpful in the game as it allows you to do impossible feats like fire backwards while you are running forward. 

Throughout the game there are other weapons that you can acquire.  The weapons will appear both in the levels and in the shop that you can use in-between the levels.  Each of the weapons is very cool, and gives you extra reason to keep playing.  My personal favorite was the minigun.  There is just something very rewarding about standing in one place and firing like mad at the enemies that keep coming while the shells from the gun create a huge circle around your character on the ground. 

Speaking of those coming enemies, boy do they ever keep coming.  There are only really a few enemy model types, which is somewhat disappointing on the early levels as you really only see color variations of each enemy.  However as you move on, you run into aliens with full body armor, and missiles and other weapons mounted to their suits.  For those who are used to making random charges to take out enemies you'll quickly find that doing so will only get you dead.  You must move patiently, gaining ground as you fight back the hordes of aliens, watching their green blood splatter all over the floor.

The game also offers a lot more than blasting.  Many of the first levels begin with the lights off.  You move about by either using your flashlight or night-vision goggles.  The initial part of each of those boards requires you to move around until you find the generator and get the lights back up.  This set-up makes the game have a very eerie feel as you never know what you might run into around the corner.  Dead corpses is the most common, but running into an alien and then trying to back pedal when you cannot see, while also trying to blast the thing is dead on excitement.  The music helps to set the mood as you carefully move through that portion of the stage, changing to heavy guitar riffs as the aliens become aware of your presence and begin to accost you from every direction. 

The more I played the game, the more I enjoyed it.  A key to winning is to spend your money well at the shops.  You typically will barely have enough money to buy the next big weapon at the shop.  However if you keep getting the big gun, some health, some continues and body armor, you won't get any of the cyborg implant improvements, which are KEY to winning the game.  For those having trouble getting through levels I suggest moving VERY slowly and spending a good bit of time playing in the "survival" mode.

Survival mode is the other mode of the game, where you just see how long you can go.  Playing through in that mode requires not just quick reactions, but a little planning ahead.  Every so often an end-boss like alien will come out.  You won't really be able to bead him unless you get it close to a gas barrel and then blast the barrel.

For a game that seems really simple in concept Alien Shooter packs a whole lot of punch.  Those who are looking for an INTENSE game that will keep you glued to your screen for days should definitely pick it up immediately.

Graphics: 9
Taking a page out of the Moonpod book, Sigma has gone lower-res on their graphics.  Your choices are 640 x 480  by 16 or 32.  However, just as was the case with Starscape, the graphics are wonderful.  Everything is very well detailed, and the weapon effects, a key area for a shooter like this, are just fabulous.  Watching the aliens freeze when hit by a blast of the freeze gun, and then shatter is something worth watching again and again.  Though you spend nearly every level of the game underground, the graphics never become tiresome or overly repetitive. 

Sound: 9
The sound effects were wonderful, with the aliens making noise that came from different sides of the screen.  The music was also very good, playing into how the game felt and increasing the intensity about 10 notches.  The only complaint I had was that I would have liked to have had about 2 more soundtracks.  The music, as good as it is, gets repetitive as you play the same level over and over, and each level takes about 10 minutes, and each level uses the same music.  That being said, I still gave the game very high marks for sound as the sound that is in the game is among the best in any indie this year!

Game Play: 8
I had a little difficulty getting used to the mouse and keyboard movement style.  I cannot tell you how many times I ended up running the wrong direction or missing a door as I tried to fumble with the keyboard trying to get my character to move the right direction.  However, once you get used to it, the game plays quite easily.  I strongly recommend a wheel mouse on this one, as switching weapons with the wheel is definitely the way to go.

Options: 10
Including the survival mode was a very nice thing for them to do and it helps you hone in on those destructive skills.  The game also has the option to turn on red blood.  That option is off by default as the game doesn't want to be too gory, but the password to turn it on is included in the read me file.  (Just another reason to read the read me file!)

Concept: 8
The game doesn't really cover any new ground but gets points for making it all work.

Fun: 10
Though I often had to replay the later levels several times to get through them, I never felt frustrated and wanting to quit.  The game is a blast to play, and each time I started playing it I ended that night's session liking the game more than I had the day before.  If you are looking for a good time, give the full version a week of your life.

Overall: 10
This is only the fourth game that I have personally rated a 10.  I do so for good reason.  Alien Shooter is clearly one of the best independent games yet released.  I go back to my original statement of this answer.  GO NOW!  BUY THIS GAME!  In fact I cannot believe you spent all that time reading the review...seriously this is one you must have in your collection.

Added: November 29th 2003
Reviewer: Russell Carroll
Related Link: Sigma Homepage
Hits: 53266
Language: english


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