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Developer: Totally Games
Sega’s Alien Syndrome for the Wii is a lesson in striving for mechanics that work in this style of action game and coming up short. In essence, the game’s main flaw is that pitted against other refined titles there’s no shortage of complaints. With that said there is still fun to be had and you would be surprised at the depth of combat in a simple isometric view shooter. A combining element of on the fly RPG upgrading and simple shooting mechanics offers more than mediocrity, but only slightly.
For your edification let me explain the detailed history of Alien Syndrome. It’s a classic top down shooter, and it’s been made into a Wii game using motion control. See how awesome that is? Far more than anything what the game gets right is the RPG elements. Players – up to four in cooperative gameplay through the story – choose from four starting styles, and throughout the game can attain high levels of destructibility and efficiency. Instead of having to return to base – or in the case of traditional RPGs, going into a town – you have access to a mobile weapon shop known as the SCARAB. Using this device you can scrap outdated items and upgrade to the best of the best. It’s a simple concept and allows a deep RPG element to seamlessly blend with a ton of shooting.
While melee attacks are available, and quite powerful in their own right, you will spend most of the game shooting the alien horde. There is little fluidity in the control of your character using melee attacks. A sideswipe of the remote causes a power attack that is slow, and if you’re facing the wrong way when starting up a combo you get to watch helplessly until it’s over. And that’s if you can get a combo to work. There’s a bit of lag between character movements, so it’s hard to get the timing for a stab and swipe combo down with any proficiency.
Of course when you’re shooting enemies you want the best control possible, and that’s where Alien Syndrome really breaks down. The IR aiming works nearly flawlessly, but if you’re not careful you’ll find yourself stopped constantly or moving at a snail’s pace. This is due to gameplay choices by the developers, not any problems with the mechanics. If you’re running in one direction and need to shoot behind the character will twist her torso and slow down due to the awkward angle. It makes sense, but until you get used to the mechanic it is quite annoying. What is truly aggravating is the camera control. You turn the nunchuck in order to spin the camera around, not unlike in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. Except you’ll find it unresponsive and most times you’ll have the nunchuck at 90-degrees to enable reorientation.
Let me be clear about this next point: Alien Syndrome for Wii is a port of the PSP game. This is yet another example of crap being shoveled onto the Wii because it’s selling like sugar at a fly gathering. A glance at the game reveals the truth that this is a PSP game with Wii controls. At best it looks like a low-end PS2 game, and even that is stretching things. “Cut-scenes” are made of single images with voice over, which is incredibly annoying when you know that full-fledged animated scenes are possible with the Wii. Enemy and level designs feature the most bland style since Spider-Man on Atari, they really are that bad. Nothing about the game’s visuals are appealing, and if you thought the enemy AI would make up for that (after all, gameplay is far more important than graphics) you’d be wrong. The aliens simply come to you in a general formation that is ripe for an unleashing of flamethrower ownage.
Alien Syndrome is a little better than most of the port titles that have drowned Nintendo’s system in sub-par games. But that’s little comfort when you finish a game and are slightly offended by a thrown together title that exists solely to make money. If you feel the desire to play ported games with little development resources, please give titles like Alien Syndrome a weekend rental. Or not, because this kind of crap will slowly turn the Wii into a joke.