Players: 1 - 6 via Lan [2 player via direct link]
Developer: Sigma Team
ESRB: Mature [Language and gore]
Simga Teams’s Alien Shooter franchise returns with a Vengeance. Yeah, so the name isn’t all that original, but the game is an adrenaline-pumping experience that has non-stop thrills and top-notch action. With vehicles, aliens and more bullet shells than a John Woo movie, this is the one action game that deserves attention for early 2007.
The story is a loose combination of elements usually found in B-movie sci-fi flicks. It all starts with M.A.G.M.A., a corporation that’s tied to the cornerstone of the war against the aliens. The corporation hires in mercenaries to help resolve the issues they’re having, and that’s where players come in. There’s more than a handful of male and female mercenaries to choose from – as well as a special trait to pick, which ranges from health regeneration, intelligence, vampirism, and several other abilities.
The game works just like your standard isometric action-RPG. Players will shoot, and shoot, and shoot some more until their experience meter is full and they get a level-up. After it fills up they can designate attributes for every level...enhancing different characteristics that range from shotguns, pistols and machine guns, to armor, HP and accuracy. Sigma did an amazing job of ensuring that every attribute seems like an attribute worth having maxed. Just when you think you could do without some intelligence, you’ll find that there’s a wicked implant that might boost an attribute considerably. Or maybe it seems adequate to pass on leveling your armor stat, only to find a rare (and very necessary) armor upgrade in a stage. The same applies for upping a specific weapon category. Players will be inept at using a specific weapon if the character’s stats don’t meet the requirement.
Speaking of weapons...the game has more gun variations than a Rodriguez flick. When you start the game there’s about a handful of weapons per category, but by the time you get to stage 4 or 5 in the campaign mode, there’s more than a page full of different guns in each category. Hence, players will have a good variety in pistols, sub-machine guns, assault rifles, shotguns, rocket launchers, flame throwers, energy weapons, and even a welder that does massive damage in close combat. Sigma infuses the weapon categories with standard RPG flair, so any high-level weapon from either category is only as effective as the player who has it equipped. A player’s choice in weapon selection is entirely up to their preference...insofar of how they want to mutilate aliens with a projectile.
Now the real fireworks in Alien Shooter: Vengeance come from the insane shootouts and vehicular combat sequences. The game’s starting levels give players a brief sense of empowerment by having them take on large but controllable waves of aliens. But as the game progresses the hordes of aliens become too relentless to handle sometimes, and the action is almost uncontrollably intense. Sigma has segments in the game where soldiers will team up with your character to try and get a handle on seemingly unstoppable forces. But even the soldiers become over-whelmed at times. The action is literally unrivaled by any other game on the market, and that’s what keeps the action fun.
Vehicles are also present in the game. When you first get to climb into the driver seat you may find that the armored car (complete with a rotary mini-gun) seems unstoppable. But in one mission – where you have to drive down a highway to get to a M.A.G.M.A facility – the unending onslaught of aliens becomes too much for the armored vehicle to handle. I had to bail out of the truck and make the rest of the trip on foot..using the trees and back-roads to avoid the horde of aliens. The multiple ways of approaching the completion of a stage really adds tons of replay and intensity to the overall appeal of the game.
A multiplayer mode is also included, which features the single-player survival modes, as well as a career mode and a deathmatch option. Up to six players can go head-to-head...but with every game out there featuring a standard deathmatch, the whole purpose of playing Alien Shooter with friends is for the coop modes. You’ll be glued to your seat for hours trying to keep the aliens off your friends’ backs, while trying to stay alive yourself.
Graphically, Alien Shooter has a sleek, post-apocalyptic overtone with the textures and models. The isometric perspective is also handled really well, especially with the eerie lighting effects and visceral blood smearing. Seriously, you should see how the vehicles look after you get done rolling over a bunch of aliens. For that matter, you should see how the ground looks after a massive shootout, it would make Tom Savini blush.
Overall, Alien Shooter: Vengeance is a grade-A shooter that takes action to the next level. A kick-butt soundtrack, vehicles, multiplayer modes, and the added RPG elements definitely make the game worth the $19.99. Only the squeamish will want to avoid the gory likes of this title, but action fans will find it a blast.