In my local car boot copies of Alien Trilogy pop up all the time, and I always ask myself – is it just because the game was popular in terms of sales, or are people really keen to toss it away like an errant facehugger?
In all honesty I think it’s both. I recall my dad playing the game a fair bit back in the day, and getting annoyed at its difficulty and resorting to cheat codes to progress. Perhaps it was hated by most people, i’m not sure.
But playing it now, it’s not bad. No masterpiece, but it has its charm. It can be difficult sure, but that’s because of two main flaws.
First, the controls are tough to use with any grace. The game was made when precise aiming wasn’t really part and parcel of FPS games, and therefore you’re pretty much lumbered with a control scheme that makes you feel like a ham-fisted fool.
Think Doom and it’s ‘all shooting on one plain’ philosophy. You eventually adapt to Alien Trilogy’s control related foibles, but don’t expect to ever truly embrace them.
Second, the game is dark. Really dark. See the screenshot above? See how it’s hard to pick out much in terms of concrete objects? Expect to employ that level of squinty eyed-ness for the whole game.
That screenshot is one of the brighter I could find as well. The main advantage of this overpowering bleakness is that it helps to build atmosphere – but damn it’s dark.
Get over these two problems and you have a rather endearing shooter. Perhaps endearing isn’t the right term for a game which sees you working through gloomy corridors, ever aware of a lurking alien threat, but for me it sums up the game quite well.
Some elements of the game are surprisingly well implemented for example. The enemy tracker nestled at the bottom right of the screen tells you roughly where aliens are, with small bloops alerting you to their increasing proximity. This can result in some brilliantly tense encounters.
In fact, the game thrives on offering up small memorable moments rather than offering a completely captivating experience.
Your first attack by a face-hugger. The first time you see an alien zig-zagging it’s way to you emerging from the darkness. Small bonus levels which have you gathering as many collectibles as you can within a time limit. All great
Of course, you have a fair bit of drudgery, muddy design, dodgy weapons, and repetition to go alongside these spikes of excitement, but for an old PS FPS Alien Trilogy offers a lot more bang for your buck than you’d expect.
It probably sold a lot off the Alien license, but putting that to one side the game isn’t bad by its own merits. Set your standards accordingly and this is a game that deserves to be fondly remembered by more gamers.
So if you see a copy in your local car boot (and going by mine you probably should) and it’s a low enough price, pick it up.