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Alien 3 is a nice-looking but rather dull platform game that bears next to no resemblance to the film of the same name- whereas the film makes a big deal of the fact that there are no weapons around, Alien 3 the game sees you playing as a skinhead Ripley fully tooled up with a pulse rifle, grenade launcher a flamethrower and handgrenades, wiping out Giger's nightmarish creations left, right and centre as you try and rescue all the prisoners that are stuck to the walls with alien goo before the timer runs out and they fall foul of the alien babies that are waiting patiently to burst out of their chests on cue. Quite how Ripley stops this from happening at all is not explained, but never mind, this is a platform game after all.
Alien 3 looks great for the time- the levels are highly polished and atmospheric and the aliens have a wicked, chrome-like shine to them, and the animation is convincing too, whilst blasting away at your insectile foes is hugely satisfying. The settings reflect the locations of second and third films, as you crawl through air-vents, climb ladders and run around huge industrial complexes and futuristic living quarters in your attempt to rescue the prisoners. Unfortunately, the gameplay is liner, repetitive and dull, and can be immensely frustrating when you end up going round in circles looking for an elusive prisoner as your timer slowly ticks down to zero.
You do have a rather nicely implemented motion sensor to help you, and you can also blast above and below you on ladders and diagonally up and down to kill aliens that are crawling along the ceiling or the floor, but all the same the gameplay is nothing special, with lots of dull moments of leaping from moving platform to moving platform not helping things either. Ammo, health and extra time can be collected along the way but the game still remains quite difficult, and on later levels you must learn the required movement pattern to reach all the prisoners in time via trial and error. The tinkly midi music can be rather annoying and incongruous with the game's setting too. Alien 3 is a game that looks great and is good for a very quick blast, but ultimately won't hold your attention for very long.
16-bit video game adaptations of contemporary films never made for the most memorable gaming experience, and Probes translation of Alien 3 lives up to the cash-in standards of the time by being largely irrelevant and unfaithful to its source. If anyone really remembers the third Alien film after all this time (the sort of film that creates quite a buzz when first released that soon dies down as audiences realise it really wasnt that good compared to its predecessors), it once again starred Sigourney Weaver as the sci-fi action heroine Ellen Ripley, facing her third attack of terrifying H.R. Giger-designed extraterrestrial menaces in a run-down prison complex out in the galactic fringes. Using only the limited, outdated technology at their disposal, the prisoners and guards alike attempt to track down the beast with the aid of Ripleys experience, before it inevitably kills them one by one.
The third Alien film was a disappointment after the excellent first film and the fun second outing, and the game version even more so. Released as usual across all the popular formats of the time the Sega MegaDrive, Super Nintendo, Commodore Amiga and less advanced equivalents of each system the game of Alien 3 was clearly designed, like many of these games with a fixed release deadline, with little knowledge or interest about the actual plot of the film, relying instead it seems on promotional trailers and photos to incorporate Ripleys commando look and the general idea of the setting. Produced, predictably, as a side-scrolling shoot-em-up, the player controls Ripley across a number of industrial and alien terrains with the objective of rescuing captured humans and proceeding to the exit to the next level. Evidently based much more on Aliens than Alien 3, Ripley is armed with an assortment of weapons in complete contradiction to the latter film, and the base is plagued with seemingly endless alien menaces rather than the solitary and different-looking adversary of Alien 3.
Of course, this is just a mindless shoot-em-up, and the target audience of children and young teenagers isnt going to care how faithful it is to the film, but the game still fails to distinguish itself from the overcrowded market of similar products. The gameplay is incredibly repetitive throughout, running from right to left, up and down ladders and ducts and blasting the emerging aliens along the way, and its frustratingly hard like most shoot-em-ups to prevent the player from completing it successfully and ending up disappointed. Using the example of the Sega MegaDrive version, the controllers A button switches between Ripleys arsenal of a machine gun, flamethrower, shotgun (or maybe some kind of bazooka, I cant tell), and hand grenades, each accompanied by a reminder of how much ammo is left, additional rounds being scattered liberally around the game area. The B button fires the selected weapon, and the C button performs a jump. The directional buttons perform as expected, moving Ripley left of right accordingly, while the up and down functions prove more useful than in many games by guiding Ripley up and down ladders, aiming her weapon in either direction, activating door opening panels and crouching.
The game screen is quite a jumble of information, most of which is essentially useless. Present as ever is the score counter, pointless unless playing competitively on an arcade machine or against a friend, and the usual counter of lives (automatically set at three, but which can be set anywhere from one to nine on the options menu) and energy, top-ups for the latter being obtained from medipacks. Most frivolous of all is the radar feature in the top right corner of the screen, which registers the presence of nearby aliens or captured humans only when theyre already in sight on the playing screen. This ridiculously limited range makes this feature entirely useless it was clearly the game designer showing off especially as any time spent looking at it tentatively will likely get you attacked by the blue dot that suddenly appears once the alien is on top of you. Each level also has a time limit of four minutes which is fair and keeps things moving, and a counter of the number of humans left to rescue, which simply entails walking in front of them to make them fall to the floor and vanish.
In terms of the graphics and sound, this is just another among countless games that fails to stand out from the crowd, entrenched firmly in the average range. You can tell the main character is supposed to be Ripley because she has a shaved head, and the aliens are obviously aliens because they look kind of similar, even if the proportions and details are a little off. Otherwise, the backgrounds, objects and collectables might as well have been borrowed from any of the similar games around at the time, and were likely modified very little from the generic templates used by the graphics team. The sound effects are bland, unconvincing and uninteresting, the most distinctive being the simulated shout of ugh! whenever Ripley is hurt that couldnt sound less like Sigourney Weavers voice. The music is the usual tedious background electronic stuff that largely goes unnoticed, apart from in the games brief opening animation (plagiarised completely from the original 1979 trailer for Alien), when a menacing thrum is replaced with a ridiculously out-of-place jazzy title theme. Fans of retro video game music will leave disappointed.
Probes adaptation of Alien 3 did its job to an entirely mediocre and minimal degree, providing a further piece of merchandise to benefit from the films profits. Very rarely were such franchising games worthwhile and enjoyable in their own right, and more often than not, as with this one, they bore very little resemblance to the film they were supposed to be imitating. Id recommend you avoid playing this no-longer-available video game, which ought to be a very easy task indeed in 2007.