One of the sad facts about the premature axing of the Dreamcast is the number of games promised by Sega, but then cancelled by their European division. Alien Front Online looks like one of the games that will suffer, and never get a PAL format release. This opinion is based on the American import version which I picked up for $30 from an online store. The basics premise of the game is that aliens have invaded Earth and the army must stop them. So far, so unoriginal then. The twist comes in that you can play as either the heroic soldiers trying to save Earth or as the invading forces themselves. The game play is very simple. It all takes place on the ground, with you in control of a tank (or a slimy alien tank thing, if you feel like being the baddies) and your task is to destroy all the opposition on the map. The tank moves around when you push the analogue stick, fires with the buttons and strafes left or right with a prod of the triggers. Easy enough to grasp and slightly reminiscent of a 3rd person Quake 3 (in tanks.) The modes of play are “arcade”, “tactics” and “online”. Arcade is a get-as-high-a-score-as-possible blast a thon. Not very subtle but probably gives the game the most longevity, with the possibility of high score beating shenanigans later on. Tactics is a training and story style progression through numerous missions. After each one ends, you move on to the next. Which mission you tackle next varies, depending on how successful you are. The stories have different slants based on the side you are fighting for, but still take place on the same levels. At the end you get a cut scene that describes the outcome of the Alien/Army war (Sadly, not much more than “The humans were all eaten by the aliens. Game Over”) Online is, allegedly, the big part of the game, with real time voice chat provided by the microphone attachment that is bundled for f
ree. Unfortunately, I have been unsuccessful in connecting to the online section, which seems very strange as all the other online Dreamcast games I have work fine. As online mode is an important section that I have not got to work, I will update the opinion if I have any luck. However, my failures at connecting should maybe be considered if you plan to buy this, there is a chance that it will not work for you. Please add comments if you have any questions on this. Anyway, back to the game. So we have 3 modes of play, good honest shooting action and all the usual graphical frills that modern games should have. Sounds pretty good, right? Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to play very well, and the action feels like it is in slow motion. The tanks trundle along (as tanks do) but it never sets the pulse racing, or the brain thinking. Playing for more than 30 minutes soon leads to you wondering what's on TV, or if you should really should carry on with that Force character in Phantasy Star Online... If the online mode worked, and it eventually might (these things are naturally very temperamental) then I will update accordingly. As it stands though the offline modes are too shallow to warrant a purchase if you never plan to battle it out online.