Alien Resurrection

Developer: Argonaut Games
Publisher: Fox Interactive

Having played and thoroughly enjoyed Alien Trilogy I was looking forward to its pseudo-sequel. The first game was an early Playstation title, while this one launched closer to the system's twilight years. Unfortunately, as the old adage goes, better graphics do not make a better game and Alien Resurrection is a good example of this.

Launched a whopping 3 years after the movie was in theaters, this game adaptation was slated for the Playstation, PC and Dreamcast. However, due to poor sales on Sony's console the latter versions were canceled and we are left with a technically impressive title on a system that was slowly stepping out of the market.

Alien Resurrection's plot is loosely based on that of the movie. You play as either a cloned Lt. Ellen Ripley or an assortment of characters from the fourth movie as they attempt to save everyone aboard the USM Auriga, kill the xenomorphs and eventually escape the complex. Depending on each mission, players automatically switch between characters, though there is virtually no difference gameplay-wise between them.

Forfeiting Alien Trilogy's Doom-like pacing, Resurrection attempts a slower and more realistic approach to first person shooters. Your character walks very slowly and is easily outmaneuvered by Xenomorphs, so a careful approach to every room is recommended. This, when coupled with the bleak surroundings and distant sound effects one would expect from a game of this franchise creates an immersive experience, something which is very uncommon for First Person Shooters on the original Playstation.

Alas the game seemed to have bitten off more than it could chew. Alien Resurrection may have good ideas and even better intentions, but fails at executing them properly. Its main issue begins with the series' main attraction, the Xenomorph. To put it bluntly, they are dumb, easy to kill and the least threatening enemy in the game. Granted these same criticisms could also be applied to Alien Trilogy, but that title was going for a Doom-like experience which implies fast pacing and a constant supply of cannon fodder.

Here, you expect Xenomorphs to do more than to just blindly rush you only to see them getting mowed down in mere seconds by overpowered weapons. It doesn't help their deaths are accompanied by screams that resemble that of a chicken. If at any point in the game I found Xenomorphs threatening it all soon turned to laughter for that reason alone. The few times they attempted anything different were in scripted scenes, these always play the same and it simply becomes a matter of figuring out how best to approach each situation. I was also disappointed to learn players can walk over an enemy's pool of acid blood and suffer no penalties, something which even Alien Trilogy knew better.

Oddly enough it was the humans and face huggers that I dreaded throughout my experience. The first because they had guns and the latter due to their small size, which made aiming a chore. Although there's a good variety of weapons I often found myself scavenging about for ammunition, which added quite a bit of tention to my playthrough.

Graphically I was very impressed with Alien Resurrection. The models are above average for what you'd expect on the system and the environments are some of the best I've ever seen on Sony's 32-bit console. If the resolution were any bigger it could easily pass for an early Playstation 2 title. Exploring each room in a slow methodical way is engaging and immersive but I often struggled with the controls especially when climbing ladders. The room layout can be somewhat obtuse as well, often leading you down paths that seem forced and contrived, not helped by the fact Ripley can't jump, climb or even fall through most gaps without hurting herself. 

I am sad to say Alien Resurrection was something of a disappointment to me. The game gives you a message in the beginning stating it's "best played in the dark" though immersive it may be, scary it is not.  In fact I actually found its predecessor to be the scarier title. Alien Resurrection seemed to have lofty expectations which sadly are not met. Despite this it has a more mature take on the genre for the system it's on. At times it almost seems like it took a page off of System Shock 2, albeit with less polish, exploration, no RPG elements and a less interesting story. Still, for a game that apparently was stuck in development hell, the mere fact it exists and tries (but ultimately fails) to push the envelope is better than what we see with most movie to game adaptions.

Trivia: Did you know the studio behind Alien Resurrection is also the same studio behind Star Fox for the Super Nintendo? They even designed the Super FX chip.

- Graphically impressive environments
- Provides an immersive experience

- I now associate Xenomorphs with chickens
- Xenomorphs are the most non-threatening enemy in the game
- Controls are a bit hard to handle in places
- Room and level design feels forced and contrived.

Final Grade: C+

(excuse the sticker folks, they're a pain to remove)

I absolutely love this cover! This is the kind of image you want associated to an Alien product. 

The manual isn't too bad either, giving some back story and information on all characters and enemies. Text is often accompanied by in game screenshots, though I noticed some items seemed to be in a higher resolution than the final product. I assume this is a left-over from the PC/Dreamcast ports.

Not a bad packaging for a Playstation title, though I wouldn't mind some extras like a catalog or two.

Packaging Grade: B-

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