After the events that occured in Aliens, The Company wants to make sure that the threat was completely eliminated from the planet where they had their failed colony. So they send a group of poor marines to go back down to what’s left with a mission to remove anything that remains.
Apparently the whole place getting nuked in the end just wasn’t enough to take care of these buggers, so that’s what leads to this game. Some may cry inconsistency, but AFAIK there is no documentary covering what what to the Aliens after the place was laid to waste. Besides, anything that leads to a bug hunt, whether it’s consistent with the films or not is good in my book.
Aliens: Extermination is the latest lightgun entry onto the arcade arena. Your mission is to mow down all the aliens that get in your way as you travel along a set path through four levels of alien splattering mayhem. From what I played, it did not seem to offer different directions of travel although you can select which mission to play between every level.
The action in the game is quite frantic from the get go. Aliens will get in your face and can use either their claws, jaws or tails to take you down. Simply use all of your firepower to mow them down. You do have a health bar which you need to watch – once it hits nothing you die and need to put in another quarter/token to continue (no lives). There are many health power-ups through the levels though, as well as many ammo reloads and gun power-ups. You do not have ammo clips – simply an ammo supply of 99 shots for the pulse rifle. You can see the amount of shots you have on-screen as well as a display on the back of your gun. If you run out of ammo they don’t leave you helpless – you then switch to a pistol which is effective against the aliens, albiet slow. Special power-ups include grenades, rockets and napalm and ammo reloads for all of them show up fairly often. Simply shoot the power-ups to grab them. Some power-ups lie behind destructible objects as well, so keep an eye out for that.
The special weapons are controlled by two buttons placed on front area of the gun. One red button on the left hand side and a yellow button on the underside front part of the gun (I’ll try and get some screenshots). The red button will first grenades and rockets, the yellow button your flame thrower. All of these weapons are great for clearing out lots of enemies at once, but of course the ammo is limited for each.
Even though there are only four levels, they are fairly long. Most of the it is running through corridors shooting aliens, eggs, facehuggers, those cyborg guys that have gone crazy and an unknown type of alien worm thing. one sequence has you on those tank like vehicles shooting aliens down as you race along wide corridors. Each level has an end boss (or bosses) you need to destroy with extreme prejudice. The game throws a lot at you so there is little chance to rest and they also have the obligatory good guys running in the crossfire that you’re not supposed to blast which means you have to stay on your toes even more so. Of course, if you are loaded with tokens, you may as well not worry about it and just mow away.
Overall the gameplay in Aliens Extermination is wonderful – fast-paced and splattery but not too hard that with some practice you can significantly lower the token intake on the game. The learning curve was nearly straight here – both my brother and I picked up on everything quite fast (even while holding a baby in my arm).
Admittedly the game doesn’t look that impressive when you check out the few meager screenshots that they bothered to post online – but it’s a completely different thing seeing the game live. It certainly outperforms the Xbox – in fact it’s graphics remind me a lot of Area 51 on the PC, which was a good looking game. The screen resolution is high, probably 1280×720 which would put it in HD territory – the game only lacks widescreen. The monitor is roughly 30″ in size – it almost looks like you are playing a PC game on a larger monitor.
The framerate is quite fast, never slowing down even when the action gets quite furious. The aliens themselves look greatly – easily being the best looking aliens seen in a video game so far. The textures are high-res and the lighting does the job although you won’t run into any effects like HDR lighting or super-ultra realistic water (at least from what we saw – we did not make it to level 4). There are a few sequences that use special effects like the sequence where you use ultraviolet vision (which is a little tough but it’s a nice touch) so the game is not devoid of any eye candy.
Typical Alien sounds that you have come to expect from games since AvP on the Jaguar. There is a soundtrack but it fades easily from memory when you are playing in a noisy arcade with all the games creating a sweet chorus of gaming sounds. It gets the job done nicely.
Cabinet and Presentation
The Aliens cabinet is eye catching from far away – they use green lighting around some of the edges combined with back-lighting on the quite large marquee and speakers lit up with an eerie blue. No CG artwork on the side – everything is taken from the movies, but it’s mostly shots of aliens. Overall, it’s a nice cabinet to look at although it does take up a bit of space outwards.
The best part of the cabinet are the lightguns – frankly these are the best lightguns I have yet used on an arcade game. Most guns are just the generically unimpressive blue and red shells that gamers have become familiar with over the years. Aliens: Extermination takes it up several notches by attempting to recreate the pulse rifles from the movie and the detail is impressive. First the guns are mounted onto the cabinet – which is best for the gameplay. This way your arms do not fatigue in holding the guns up. The ammo counter has moved from the side to the back of the gun for easier viewing – one hand uses the trigger for your primary gun and the other hand is used for the two secondary buttons which fire grenades and napalm. I didn’t notice it until after I was finished with my game, but they even have an element inside the upper part of the gun that causes it to light up red when you pull the trigger. I was only disappointed by the lack of real feedback. According to the brochure, the guns were supposed to be full-force feedback controllers, yet these didn’t do that. It is possible that the arcade operator deactivated the feature in interest of preserving hardware (such a thing is not uncommon in arcades). I will have to report on that when I pick this game up for my arcade in the future.
Is Aliens a game worth playing? Most certainly. I wanted to see if the game would be worth buying for my arcade and after playing it for about a half-hour, I was convinced. It’s fun, it’s fast-paced and it doesn’t require a lot of effort to put into – in other words, a perfect arcade game. And you will only find this title in arcades as GlobalVR has no plans to bring this game to game consoles. We were lucky in that the arcade operator only wanted 1 quarter per credit so it wasn’t hard on the wallet. I still would have used up all my quarters I had that day on it though to be honest – it is that good.