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Alien Trilogy was one of the flagship games for the doomed Atari Jaguar console, and was later ported to the PC. By the standards of the Jaguar it's actually a reasonably decent game, but that speaks more about the dire paucity of decent titles on the Jaguar than anything else. When compared to older FPS games like Doom, or even the original Wolfenstein, it just doesn't hold up.
Like Doom, Alien Trilogy has rudimentary 3d environments with 2d sprites for enemies and items. The game takes place in scenes from the films- LV426, a prison complex, and so on, and has you fblasting away at the usual Gigeresque Xenomorphs, dog-aliens, facehuggers, eggs, and also human soldiers who have clearl gotten their priorities very wrong indeed. The weapons are also taken from the game, including a shotgun and neat pulse rifle, but the gameplay is fairly sluggish and slow, and nowhere near as exciting or dramatic as in the mighty Doom. The level design is mediocre, consisting of endless repetitive rooms and corridors, and whilst the visuals are overally pretty good for the time, they were nothing amazing, even back then.
The pace of the game is surprisingly slow, rather than fighting massed hordes of enemies, a la Doom, you tend to be blowing a way slow-moving foes with no great feeling of tension or urgency. Ironically, the fan-made Aliens Mod that someone made for the original doom comes much closer to capturing the feel of the film, even if all it did was change the weapons and enemy models to pulse-weapons and xenomorphs. Alien trilogy tries to spice things up by giving you objectives, like locating and flicking switches or moving barrels to clear a path for your (never-seen) support crew (clearly a bunch of pansies too busy cowering in a cupboard somewhere to get their hands dirty) but this doesnt really do much to make the game any more immersive or engaging. Another annoyance is that when youw alk over an alien corpse you take damage, as their blood is acidic, meaning that you'll constatnly be having your health sapped just by trying to move around the levels.
AT is playable enough, but its just not particularly good. It was novel at the time to have an FPS set in the Aliens universe (a match made in heaven if ever there was one), but even that selling point was mde redundant by the infinitely superior Aliens Versus Predator game that came out 7 or 8 years later. Either play that, or track down the Aliens wad for doom instead.
Alien Trilogy is a 3D shoot-em-up that is loosely based on the three existing Alien films. Very loosely in fact. The rendered intro sets the scene for the game and bears some resemblance to the beginning of Aliens. Ripley, along with a crack troop of space marines heads into the colony on planet LV246, with the aim of finding out why communication with the colony has been lost. Of course, we know exactly why.. the Aliens. It'd make for a pretty dull game if you just went in, found out that the colonists were okay and then went home again.
And true to form the xenomorphs are out in force, viciously goring, maiming and generally being quite unpleasant to the marines. With all the marines dead, only Ripley and Bishop the android remain alive. Ripley decides rather foolishly to make her way through the colony and kick Alien arse, while Bishop gives her instructions from the Armoured Personnel Carrier outside. Lucky sod. Which is where you come in.. playing Ripley, you have to tackle a number of alien filled levels in order to make the universe safe once more. I say Ripley, but she doesn't sound an awful lot like Sigourney Weaver's Ripley. I didn't expect Acclaim to get her to record new speech for the game, but at the very least they could have used speech from the previous films. As it is, the Ripley in Alien Trilogy sounds more like Vasquez. And Bishop sounds disturbingly like Hannibal Lecter. It's true, I swear. I half expected him to say something like 'The Lambs, Ripley. Thththththth', and then launch into a monotribe about eating body parts.. with a nice kiante, of course.
'You play a good game, boy. But the game is finished.. now you die.' Oops, sorry. Wrong movie entirely.
But never mind the dodgy voices. What's the game like? In truth, it's not very good. It's not utter crap, but Acclaim could have made a far better use of the Aliens licence. The game consists of around twenty five levels, split into three parts. The first part take place in the colony from Aliens. The second part takes place in the prison colony from Alien 3, only in Alien Trilogy it happens to be situated on the same planet as the colony. And the prisoners have already all been dispatched by the time Ripley gets there. Yes, I know that in Alien 3, they had no weapons, but since when have game designers ever let continuity get in the way of a game? Besides, they'd have had to ditch the shoot-em-up aspect of the game if that were the case. The third part of the game takes place in the alien ship that the crew of the Nostromo discovered in the first film, and which is filled with alien eggs. Nasty.
At the beginning of each level, you are given an objective; these range from clearing a path through the level to collecting identity tags or activating lifts. Should make a change from just killing everything and getting to the exit. Except that it doesn't, because you don't actually have to follow them. You can make your way straight to the exit without completing your objectives, hop into the lift, and finish the level.
As expected, you'll have to deal with various different enemies, both Alien and human. The Alien enemies include face-huggers, chest-bursters , and both warrior and dog aliens; the human enemies are pistol and machine gun toting soldiers, evidently not happy with your presence in the colony complex. So they decide to try to kill you. So much for diplomacy. But there's a problem. One of the best things about the Alien films was that they were damn scary. Once things got going, you could feel the tension as the human characters waited for the Alien, or Aliens to strike. Take one of the scenes in Aliens; having lost their dropship and most of their comrades, the marines had retreated into the colony med-lab, and proceeded to seal up or lock all of the doors. The automatic sentry guns seemed to have stopped the aliens, but they were all but out of ammo. Suddenly, the marines picked up something on their motion trackers; targets moving rapidly towards them. Closer, and closer, until the aliens seemed to be inside the complex. But how? They'd blocked up the doors, and they couldn't see anything. Standing back to back in the centre of the room, the marines waited. They must have forgotten another way into the complex. One of them looked upwards, and the other marines' gaze followed. Standing on a desk, the first marine lifted a ceiling panel, and looked upwards.. to see hordes of aliens rushing towards him. Then they struck, wave upon wave, as the marines made a desperate retreat through the colony. Very scary indeed.
The entire film dripped with terror and tension, and remains one of my favourite movies to date. Unfortunately, none of the aforementioned scariness or tension has made its way into Alien Trilogy. The Aliens attack in ones or twos.. the most you're likely to have to deal with at once is three. And they amble towards you in full view, like they've got all the time in the world. You take them out with a few shotgun blasts, and move on, till the next 'encounter' when the whole dull process is repeated. There's never a moment when you feel the odds are really stacked against you. The game is more of a leisurely duck-hunt than a life or death struggle. And then there's the levels, which are pretty uninspiring. Despite bearing a passing resemblance to the sets of the Alien movies, they're not much cop. Completing a level involves wandering around, flicking the odd switch, then heading off to the exit. And Ripley can't jump, for some bizarre reason, so the smallest ledge becomes an insurmountable obstacle. Plus there's the Alien corpses; Aliens have acid for blood, so Acclaim decided to make you take damage if you walked through one. Which would be fine if you could jump over the damn things. But you can't jump, so you end up walking through them most of the time. It's flipping annoying when you keep taking damage from an alien corpse just because you can't step over it. And most of the levels are pretty flat, with boxy rooms and after a couple of levels, they start to look incredibly samey. Oh, and as that final touch, Acclaim have decided that Ripley should be able to look up and down. Well, that definitely makes up for all the game's shortcomings, I don't think. Especially as your character seems to be wearing a neck brace and can therefore only look up or down about ten degrees. Cock-up city.
This just doesn't cut it. It's boring, not particularly playable, and only the Aliens licence stops it from being an enormous steaming pile of cack. It's just a fairly big steaming pile of cack instead. Even die hard Aliens fans should give this a miss.
(review written by me and originally posted on GamesDomain)