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Alien Resurrection
Score: 68%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Fox Interactive
Developer: Argonaut Games
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ First Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:
The graphics in Alien Resurrection are fantastic, giving you the feeling of walking around in a spaceship-gone-to-hell better than any other game Iíve ever played. The hallways are dark, the lights flicker and go out, and blood drips from the ceilings. The flashlight, necessary if you want to keep your sanity as you play, ends up scaring you more often than not. It tends to run out of energy at the most inopportune times, throwing you into darkness just as an Alien rounds the corner. The models in the game are good as well, with articulated Aliens and Marines out to get you.

And if you thought the graphics were good, the sound is even better. Creepy music, evil ambient sounds, and the occasional scream all make you even more frightened than the graphics alone. Hearing someone scream ĎHelp me! Aaagh!í as you walk past an air duct is creepy in the extreme, and when you hear an Alien banging a door down in front of you, youíll know the meaning of fear. It gets worse when you have the motion detector -- some of the sounds, like computers and fans, purposefully have tones close to the detectorís ping, throwing you into a panic until you realize itís just the beeping console. And every time a door opens or closes, you get a ping as well -- often enough to scare you into thinking an Alienís right behind you.

I say this with all honesty: Alien Resurrection is the scariest game I have ever played in my life. Games like Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill have come close (Silent Hill scared me too, actually), but only Alien Resurrection had me peeking around corners in abject fear of my own life, much less the life of the character I controlled.


Gameplay:
Imagine my dismay, then, when I realized that, while Resurrection deserves a 100% for presentation, itís only worth about a 15% in the gameplay department. Horrible controls, a difficulty curve from Hell itself, and some serious bugs make the game damn near unplayable, which is a crying shame -- thereís so much atmosphere here that everyone should get a chance to experience it.

You take the role of Ripley at first, and later Call (Winona Ryder... mmm) and a few other folk from Callís ship. They each have unique load-outs, although weapons are shared between them as well. Unfortunately, most people will never get to play as the other characters (well, you play as Call in the second level), because the game is so damn hard.

The game itself follows the storyline of the movie pretty closely, although it adds enough stuff to the story to make it a whole gameís worth. Youíll find yourself running around the darkened corridors of the spaceship, being hounded both by Marines and the Alien menace. And, as always in these sorts of games, youíre underpowered and low on health.

The problem comes both from mechanics issues and difficulty/balance issues. Although they have their own sections, theyíre so integral to making the game unplayable that itís important to note them. The game is an absolute bear to control, and getting a bead on an enemy is well-nigh impossible. When two or more beasties come at you fast, you can pretty much be assured that itís ĎGame over, man!í And the game itself is hard as hell, not giving you the health that you need when you need it, or save points often enough to be useful. Itís a real pain in the butt.

And, once you think youíve got the controls of the game down, you turn to shoot an Alien and your gun goes through them. The shots come out the other side, not even hitting the beast. And you cry.

Folks, problems like these break a game. Shouldnít this have been noticed in play-testing? This game must have been absolutely thrown out the door, and it shows. It had a lot of potential, but it just never uses it.


Difficulty:
Impossible. Even on the easiest difficulty setting, Alien Resurrection is pretty much unplayable past the first level, and only people who donít mind memorizing enemy locations and patterns will get much farther in the game. Health is sparse, ammo is even sparser, and enemies abound. With the bad aiming, the problems are only amplified. And when your gun sticks through an enemy...

Artificial difficulty sucks, folks.


Game Mechanics:
First of all, Alien Resurrectionís controls are horrendous. Although I can handle the move-with-one-stick, look-with-another just fine, the looking around part never works right. Your character will undershoot, overshoot, and do everything other than look where you want them to. When youíre in the heat of battle, this is a crucial element, and it just doesnít work here. Thereís an option to have the aim auto-center, but many enemies are not straight ahead (climbing walls, etc.), which makes this option more than useless. Ugh. Add to this the whole gun-through-enemy problem and the sheer impossibility of the game, and youíve got enough mechanics issues for any bad game.

PS2: The PS2ís graphics enhancements were made for this sort of game. Alien Resurrection looks even sweeter in Smooth mode than it does normally, and thatís a Good Thing. And the load times are reduced with the Fast disc access option. Itís definitely an eye-candified treat to play this game on the PS2, but since youíll be dying too often to really enjoy it...

In the end, Alien Resurrection is one of the most painful games Iíve ever played. Not because itís the worst, but because it had so much potential that was just thrown away. Games like this hurt to play -- you see where things went wrong, where a little more time could have made a solid gem of a game. Instead, we get a rough rock that isnít worth the time to pick it up. If you donít mind playing an impossible game, Alien Resurrection is fantastic when it comes to scaring the crap out of you. But itís certainly not a purchase, unless youíre the type who actually likes games-as-torture. Steer clear, and hope that a revamped version comes out for a next-gen system with much tighter gameplay.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

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