Gil's Journal: Rage Against The Aliens.
Day 1: I raged against aliens today. It was tough.
I’d hate to wax poetic for a game like Alien Rage, the most recent offering by CI Games. It’s kind of a weird character in the School of Shooters. Whereas games like Uncharted and Bioshock are the varsity jock and valedictorian respectively, Alien Rage is that kid everybody is aware of and likes but no one remembers to invite to parties. It does nothing particularly wrong but also nothing to make it stand out from an industry clogged with shooters. So there, I used a metaphor. I can quit the profundity for the rest of this review.
Day 2: I raged against aliens today, too. They are mean.
I find it hard to fault the game too much, at the price point of $19.99, for the bugs I’ve encountered because I’ve experienced them all in games costing $59.99 on Day 1. I got caught in geometry, fell through terrain, glitched over barriers, watched enemies freeze in place, and ran around like a ninny because events failed to trigger. However, for the majority of the game, I witnessed capable shooting mechanics, encountered challenging foes and scenarios, often paused to look at nice scenery, and heard a decent action sci-fi score. Again, there’s little that makes Alien Rage stand out from other games with these features.
Day 3: Still raging against aliens. This is routine.
With a name like Alien Rage, you cannot expect much in terms of narrative any more than one would for, say, Medal of Honor: Warfighter. In fact, I’d contend that the one remarkable feature Alien Rage has going for it is how hard it tries to eschew telling you its story. There is what’s going on while you play—the aliens and the raging, if you will—and there’s the reason for the raging against raging aliens raging against you left in futuristic journal tablets by a scientist who previously resided on the asteroid you’re tasked with blowing up. The actual names of the protagonist and his cohorts took several chapter replays to even notice. (They’re not even listed in the credits.)
Finding the aforementioned journals is a total sidequest, though. When you do come upon one and play it, however, it will only play audibly while you are nearby, presenting a noticeably huge pause to the action in this action game. Unlike other titles that play journals in your ear while you raise hell, you are obliged to wait around. You can practically hear CI Games saying, “F that S. Go back to shooting up some alien mofos.” Oddly enough, the actual story is kind of interesting albeit also unoriginal and bearing a twist you’ll see coming a mile away, if you choose to listen to it at all.
Day 4: Maybe the aliens are raging against me. Whoa.
The sell sheet boasts 10 weapons and 21 enemy types, including bosses, across 14 levels. Yes, all those things are present and accounted for. You come across both earthly and extraterrestrial weapons, and all weapons also feature secondary firing options such as launching grenades and creating a short-range electrostatic barrier. Unfortunately, if you’re enjoying a weapon a lot, you’re S.O.L. because ammo and loadout reset at the beginning of each level.
Enemies run the gamut: grunts, cloaked melee, rocket launchers, heavies with chain guns, and elite soldiers near the end. Bosses are giant bullet sponges of varying shapes and sizes, but only the most annoying are remarkable. I defeated one who froze in place for a good while, and there was another overly long battle made shorter by the fully loaded chain gun I brought. Each level is extremely linear, and though there is variety among the environments, you’ll become all too used to metallic corridors with fluorescent computers and displays.
The real joy during battles is related to promethium, the story’s MacGuffin, the element humans and Vorus (not Volus) are warring over. Apparently, concentrated and unrefined promethium… blah blah blah, orange things are explosive. Whenever you set foot into a new room full of baddies firing against you, your eyes will do a quick scan for barrels and pipelines to shoot. Some of these actually destroy the environment, collapsing pillars or smashing bridges on enemies to glorious effect. Of course, if the AI didn’t always rush you, they’d be slightly more effective. Not that you can use cover much, but you’d think they’d give it a whirl more often.
Day 5: You know, I’m getting tired of aliens and rage.
For a game with an unremarkable, almost hidden story and commonplace shooting mechanics, you’d think Alien Rage was targeted towards the multiplayer crowd, many of whom are not in it for the mythology. But playing the multiplayer, which was not made available until it unlocked on release day, dispelled that notion. You’ve only got Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, where you rage as humans in blue or aliens in red across only four maps. Back to that sell sheet, multiplayer is not even mentioned, so it’s not clear if more is coming. Was it, dare I utter the words, tacked on?! Say it ain’t so!
So I don’t know who Alien Rage is marketed towards. It’s a completely capable and attractive shooter that does almost nothing special. I had fun playing it, but at this point there are other older games on Steam you can play for the same amount of money that I’d recommend many heartbeats sooner. With both single player and multiplayer doing almost nothing that says “Pick me!” during dodgeball, Alien Rage is going to get tagged out fairly early in.