Tag: Aliens (page 1 of 2)

Alien Isolation

It feels like everyone remembers their first encounter with Ridley Scott’s Alien. My first encounter is the story of a naive four year old, a really cool neighbor and a futuristic laserdisc player. When asked if I wanted to watch Alien, I was so brave, not even phased by my first R rated movie and one that I wasn’t even supposed to be watching, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes.”  Afterwards, I went back home, proudly proclaiming to my mother just how mature I really was. Everything had turned out just fine, there was nothing to be afraid of, until that night at bed time, when the lights went out…

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The Problem with Synthetics

aliens infestation

RELEASE: 10/2011 | PUB: Sega | DEVELOPERS: WayForward & Gearbox | ESRB: T

It’s been a while since I picked up a Nintendo DS game or even the DS handheld system at all. However, Aliens Infestation was a must buy for me for two reasons: (1) it has a cover and in-game artwork was done by Chris Bachalo and (2) it’s Aliens. This little cartridge houses a 2D side-scrolling adventure game, in the vein of NES classics like Metroid, Castlevania and Bionic Commando. Play as a motley platoon of futuristic colonial marines in this all new chapter in the Aliens saga. Hit the jump to read my thoughts on the game, Aoo Rah.

Chris Bachalo is an illustration hero in the comics world; with work in top selling titles like the X-Men, the Avengers, Spider-Man and Sandman among his resume. In-game, his art is used for the static faces shown during dialog scenes, typical fashion for games of that NES generation. Some JRPG titles still use the text and a mug-shot-style dialog scenes. Chris’s ultra-detailed, gritty-style on the marine characters makes looking at the same faces over and over completely tolerable. There are allegedly 19 Marines total in the game — I haven’t found them all yet. There are a few of the marines mug shots hosted on Sega of America’s Flickr.

Aside from the promotional illustrations, the game is all retro style pixel art. There are pixel style renders of all your favorite Aliens are here too. From the classic facehuggers and drone soldiers to the Alien Queen. They are all tough little SOBs to take down and will have you scrambling for ammo. In addition to the Aliens themselves, Sega has done a great job capturing the “biomechanical” feel of the movies. Quite a feat given the graphical limitations of the pixel art style. Some nice touches are the cocooned soldiers in the walls and having to weld through select doors. The sound effects are very accurate. No one can say Sega doesn’t have the pulse rifle sound on lock.

Aliens Infestation provides five stages of game play over three areas taken from the films; The USS Sulaco and the xenomorph infested planet LV-426. All three areas have large maps that require careful navigation and some backtracking. Backtracking through areas is made easier with the use of maps and the ability to mark areas on that map using flares. Collect ammo, weapons and various explosives along the way while trying desperately to reach a goal or checkpoint so you can save.

Your platoon starts off with four marines at your disposal. You can cycle through them controlling one at a time. Choose which character to use can only be done at a checkpoint or if a marine falls in battle. Spending time picking out the marine you would like to use isn’t necessary, besides the illustrated head shot they all play exactly the same way. Occasionally you will find other fellow marines during a mission, if you have an open slot (less than 4) in your rooster the you can recruit them.

The dual screens of the DS are utilized in a basic but functional design. The action takes place in the upper screen while you inventory of weapons and tools is touch activated in the lower. Standard fair for games on this system.

This game is surprisingly challenging. Luckily, the DS is probably the one game system that if you throw it won’t instantly break (note: throwing not recommended). You will definitely lose some marines in the course of this game, just get used to that idea and you will be much happier. My one complaint in the fairly flawless retro title is the military lingo. The jargon is a little thick; it’s probably accurate, it just comes off as overzealous bravado. The dialogue is not a deal breaker though, I’ll fondly remember Aliens Infestation as one of my favorite DS games.

B
A little hold over before Aliens Colonial Marines Drops in Feb. 2013


mass effect 2

Traveling across galaxies trying to recruit a band of heroes for a “suicide mission” can be tough work. Commander Shepard, a trained human soldier, is on a mission to save the universe from the threats facing civilization. In Mass Effect 2 the latest threat is from the alien race known as the Reapers. The Reapers, working in conjunction with the mysterious Collectors, are causing human colonies along the fringe frontiers to disappear. In order to face the Reapers, Shepard and crew with have to use the the Omega-4 Relay to reach the Reavers part of space. It’s a suicide mission for one man alone; you will have to make valuable allies along the way both human and alien. Shepard will save the day, that is, before he dies. Because you basically start this action-oriented, role playing game floating in space, dead.
 
WARNING: Slight spoilers on an older game ahead


The Normandy SR-2 that appears in ME2, the “successor” to the SR-1 from ME1

 Mass Effect 2 expands the cast of characters and groups in this already dense fictional universe. It’s the sequel to the first Mass Effect game (which was and is still, an XBox exclusive). The first group Shepard will meet is Cerberus, a militant organization with pro-human values. Cerebus has dealings in the black market and is responsible for behind-the-scenes work. That is, work outside the eyes of the Alliance, which polices most activity in the universe. Cerberus’s current project, “Lazarus”, is a radical, scientific process that revives Commander Shepard using the latest tech the year 2148 can provide. Shepard awakens during an attack on the Cerberus station where the experiment is taking place. Wasting no time he gets back work as the trained soldier he is. After being brought up to speed on the situation and the lingering threats Commander Shepard agrees to work with Cerberus to continue his mission to prevent the Reaper invasion. While he doesn’t agree with some of their methods they share the same motives to stop the Reapers.

Working with Cerberus does have its perks despite some of their more shady deals. They have reconstructed your starship the Normandy and located members of your old crew, some of which are already at their stations on the ship. Shepard must recruit and gain the loyalty of a diverse team to stand a chance against the Reapers. Cerberus provides you valuable intel in your mission against the Reapers. They have also supplied dossiers on perspective new crew members that will help you in your mission.

Sometimes dubbed a “Shooter-RPG”

The game itself is action RPG. The majority of the gameplay is a tight 3rd person shooter mechanic. There are well rendered CG cut scenes with dialog choices really allowing you to take control of your character. It’s up to your moral choices in conversation whether you are going to follow the path of the paragon or the renegade. Other forms of game play are short “hacking” scenarios in the form of puzzles, piloting the M-44 Hammerhead transport and mining planets for ore.

The developers of Mass Effect 2, Bioware are known for the sheer scope of the story they have constructed. Believable alien cultures with detailed worlds to explore. The individual characters all have rich histories. Shepherd’s own journey may be the the central plot but one can happily get lost exploring all the side quests and missions available. Of course, the longer missions are more fun, they generally test your skills against a boss type character. The story can really take some surprising twists during dialogue exchanges between Shepard and NPCs. The choices you make affect your experience. Choose between Paragon (good) and Renegade (bad) to determine how your Shepard acts. It is wise to commit to Paragon or Renegade throughout the entire game. Not only are you rewarded with additional dialogue choices, you will enjoy a better gaming experience. The Mass Effect 2 story really heats up when you achieve a romance with another character. I have eyes for a certain alien myself.

Do I want Purple or Green for this mission?

No soldier in the future is specialized in just weapons and melee fighting. Advances in technology and the study of mass effect fields have equipped beings with biotics, crafted to their bodies. All members of the crew, including Shepard, have a multitude of equipped biotic powers. Powers like weapons can be upgraded throughout the campaign using collect Element Zero. Before each mission you will select from your crew two members to accompany you, strategy is involved in picking crew members with appropriate powers. If you know you’re going into a tough fight you’ll want to a companion to have barrier powers or a concussion shot to the head, which can hit targets around corner. Other powers include advanced melee fighting, invisibility and force throws.

Running a ship like the Normandy with a full crew gets expensive fast. Luckily, the universe seems to run on some common elements found on different planets and moons. A lot of time will be spent mining. Mining is basically a mini game, similar to lockpicking or bomb defusing in other games. Scan the planetary orbs and launch probes at spiking element areas. There are four ores that you collect Platinum, Palladium, Iridium and the most rare Element Zero. The different ores are associated with specific upgrades be them weapons, shields or biotic upgrades. Not a very “green” feeling game, I did feel a little bad stripping the known universe of all of its precious elements. 

She’ll love you no matter what your wearing

Role playing games in general seem to always have the same flaws. Most of which are offset due to the detail and length of Mass Effect 2. That said, the usual culprits like broken dialog during cut scenes and choppy graphic glitches are present. Frame rate issues where some pieces move and others stutter. Almost expected with a game this big: game freezing. If this is your first RPG you may notice most gamers are a custom to this happening every once and again.

This is about as close to space travel as you are likely to get. If you ever dreamed of intergalactic battles or going where no man has gone before than this is your game. It’s basically a love letter to sci-fi crafted by a team obviously devoted to creating a quality game. The game leaves you with a lasting bond with the characters and is sure to make it onto your personal favorite games list. I do have some complaints, at times, I felt like I was organizing a field trip. Meeting a character and earning his or her loyalty basically equates to getting their permission slip signed. I’m all for all for team work but it’s time authors move past the Tolkien-esque “Fellowship” routine. Perhaps next time we start with a full crew, do their individual missions and try to keep them alive. A small grievances for a title which will go down in gaming history and as a Gamedae Favorite.

A
Commander you have received a new message at your private terminal

resistance 2

PLATFORM: PS3

RELEASE DATE: 11/2008
DEVELOPER: Insomniac Games
PUBLISHER: Sony
ESRB RATING: M for Mature
Progress: Finished

The Chimera are back! Or, have they been here all along? Insomniac Games fuels the cannons of war once again with the sequel to our Gamedae Fav Resistance: Fall of Man. Four years has passed since we blew up a key Chimera tower and the story picks up from where the after-the-credits cut scene left off. Our hero, Nathan Hale, alien-hater and super-soldier, is captured by some black ops soldiers. Nathan awakes to find his wounds treated and he has been given an inhibitor injection to fend off the Chimeran virus. Hale is quickly drafted into the ranks and sent back into battle. It’s time to join the front lines once again.

SPOILERS AHEAD (If you haven’t played Resistance 1)

The story in Resistance 2 hands out a few more morsels to chew on but not quite a full meal. In the last game, we found out that humans infected with the Chimeran virus are evolving into the four-eyed Chimeran soldiers. This time around, we learn more about the virus-infected Nathan Hale. A military experiment infected him with the Chimeran virus, a desperate attempt to give their soldiers an edge. With the virus inside him Nathan possesses extra senses and incredible strength. It’s controlled using inhibitor injections that need to be taken at regular intervals.

The graphics are better and the explosions are bigger. This campaign travels across the major cities in the United States. Sadly, I didn’t notice as many references to the 1950’s as the original had to the 1940’s. Perhaps this is because as the war continues, the landscape is being terraformed by the Chimera. One nice touch was listening to the stories of “Henry” on the radios found in some towns. While the cut scenes look great they could be from any heavy, armor-clad extraterrestrial shooter title and weren’t as welcoming or memorable as the first game. This underdog story feeds off your desire to learn what is going on.  After a hard battle, you are rewarded with a taste of the plot. You will discover more about our foreign enemy. There are some big moments and reveals but never quite enough.

Updates are in synch with other first person shooters on the market interestingly making Resistance 2 more like them and less like the original. There are no health canisters to collect; you can now regenerate by staying out of harm’s way. This regeneration is explained as a benefit from being infected with the Chimeran virus. With no weapon wheel, choose carefully which two weapons your going to hold onto. Having no weapon wheel means not being able to carry every weapon you want, however, I found the game tends be fairly lenient in disbursing the weapons you will need just as you will need them. Some fav weapons have returned like the new and improved Auger (an alien tech rifle) which can shoot through walls. The Auger’s rate of fire is much faster and more accurate, and really, a pleasure to use. Being able to carry less weapons also means having less disposable ammo which definitely increases the difficulty over the original game. This forces you to stragize which weapons you will carry into the next fight.

The levels feel a little longer and world maps larger. You will definitely find yourself in some heated scraps; fighting up to 20 or so enemies at a time. The boss battles aren’t all that difficult and basically involve finding the perfect set of moves to win. This can seem unfair as you continuously die until you memorize the right moves to survive. The new giant Chimera beast is something to see.

While I think I enjoyed the first game slightly more, there is nothing wrong with R2. None of the changes in style should be deemed as bad, just different then what you may have expected. In fact, I’m looking forward to diving back in and playing through the co-op campaign; something that wasn’t available in the first Resistance. I do think the story is very interesting and could be pushed further. I get keeping the mystery, seeing from the characters point of view but sometimes I just want to know more.

B+
Loved me that weapon wheel but this works

resistance: fall of man

PLATFORM: PS3
RELEASE DATE: 11/2006

DEVELOPER: Insomniac Games
PUBLISHER: Sony
ESRB RATING: M for Mature
Progress: Finished

I don’t really want to over-use the term “Gamedae Favorite” but this is a recent addition to the alumni. It has been a long while since a first-person shooter (FPS) has held my attention as sharply as Resistance: Fall of Man has. I’ve passed up purchasing Resistance until now because it wasn’t a co-op game but also because I didn’t own a PS3 when it was first released in 2006. With all the hype surrounding the newly released Resistance 3, I got excited and picked up the Resistance (parts 1 & 2) PS Dual Pack. (Side note: Big fan of the dual pack idea–keep’em coming Sony). Seven days later I have trudged through the war-torn European landscape of Britain, defeated the ravenous Chimera, and damn, if it wasn’t an awesome game.

The scene is the 1940’s, about the time when WW2 would have started, however in Resistance: The Fall of Man that scenario plays out just a little different. Hitler never rose to power; alternatively the world has been invaded by a ruthless alien race called the Chimera. Their goals and methods allude the allied forces, all we know is that they are exterminating the human race at a rapid pace. Only a few strong willed soldiers stand in their way. That’s where our protagonist, Nathan Hale, comes in. An American soldier sent in to find out what is going on “across the pond” and becomes swept up in the human resistance against the Chimera and the key to bringing them down.

The campaign takes Nathan traveling across different locations in Britain. The graphics look like nostalgic old photographs only foreign and eventually entirely alien. The rubble of buildings and 40’s style military gear (that you will recognize) keeps the game grounded into the time period of the 40’s. The characters like Hale and the supporting cast are interesting and believable. Although don’t count on the NPC soldiers helping you out too much. The animation is top notch (I would expect nothing less from the creators of Ratchet & Clank) and has aged very well since 2006.

I sometimes find FPS’s disorienting. With Resistance, the controls feel very stable and grounded into the game’s environment. Rarely, did I find myself walking into walls or aiming in the wrong direction. That said the campaign is completely linear, which I didn’t mind, with the occasional NPC instructing you where to go. Without spoiling too much, I’ll also mention that there are some vehicle levels as well. Playing the game brought back fond memories of early shooter games like Perfect Dark and Turok. Both of which, I’m willing to bet, were influences on the developers.

This is FPS game mechanics at their best. The fine controls feature a very smooth radial weapon selection that you can easily navigate while keeping the game paused. It also allows you to eventually carry up to eight firearms. FPS staples such as lining up your shot, running and gunning and throwing grenades all work very well. Most weapons allow you to zoom in while aiming for further accuracy even offering a secondary discharge such as tracking bullets or an energy shield. Insomniac games must pride themselves on weapon creation because there wasn’t one gun I didn’t want to use and they just get bigger and stronger as you accumulate them. Start off with your military issue rifle and later acquiring Chimera tech like the Bullseye and Auger (which lets you shoot through walls).

Overall, I wouldn’t consider Resistance: Fall of Man to be a very difficult game. It would be a good recommendation to someone interested in FPS but scared off by some of the harder more intense offers on the market. There is a multiplayer element which has your standard “deathmatch” and “capture the flag” type games. Obvoiusly, I wasn’t playing in the heyday of this game, but there are still plenty of people online shooting each other. Particularly interesting, the multiplayer? No, not really but it works just fine. The true hero here is the campaign and the amazing new world Insomniac Games has created. The story is a glimpse into the lives of these military characters and the war from their point of view, if your into getting a lot of answers from your story Resistance may disappoint you. Intrigued by the alternate reality, I felt the need to rise up for humanity and that feeling carried me through to the end of the game.

A
Long live the Resistance

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