Written by  :  RussS (819)
Written on  :  Feb 23, 2010
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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More fun than it has a right to be.

The Good

It's a pretty standard FPS. You fight your way through mostly linear levels activating switches to open doors, working your way to the exit whilst blasting anything that moves with a variety of weapons. The levels get progressively harder with more Aliens, ending with boss battles before finishing a chapter. All these things are pretty standard for a mid-nineties shooter game, and normally add up to some mindless distraction but Alien Trilogy manages to take these ingredients and create a fun game.

It does this by being fun and scary. The basic Aliens storyline is well known, a species of acid-blooded xenomorphs which incubate their young in host victims before bursting and turning into vicious killers. Trilogy never veers from this, or even expand the mythos - there's no new strain of Alien not seen in the films and even the weapons are all from the films. Instead the variety comes in the level design and missions. Rather than simply reaching the end of the level, the missions have Ripley (you) complete a relatively simple task such as collecting id tags or destroying eggs. Sometimes the level exit is deceptively close, but use it before you've completed enough of the mission and you'll find yourself repeating the level, so you're forced to explore - which is the scary part. Let's face it Aliens are scary, they may be pixelly representations here but when they come screaming at you or pop up behind you, you're sure to be touchy. The save system only allows saving between levels so you must make sure you're not overwhelmed, leaving you creeping around every corner keeping an eye on your scanner. I found the game almost terrifying until I cracked the system of bug hunting, and how to spot potential health and ammo stores. Even then I was always cautious, spending ammunition carefully. Each of the levels are quite short though, about half and hour a piece, so you're never far from a respite.

The Bad

The storyline is patched together from the films of the (then) trilogy, which have been mangled together into one continuous narrative. It feels like the levels in each chapter (there are three) were made long before the over-arching story. The three chapters correspond roughly to the films, the Colony (Aliens), the Prison (Alien3) and the Alien ship (Alien) with key locations being reproduced in the levels, so you get to play around in the lead mould from Alien3 and see the famous dead space jockey from Alien. Your missions in each chapter are roughly similar and involve working your way to the heart of the brood and destroying the Alien Queen. Each chapter is linked by a cut-scene, plus an introduction and epilogue video. These make very little sense. They show Ripley's (you) arrival at the colony from Aliens along with a squad of marines, who subsequently get wiped out by the Aliens leaving you to defeat them and destroy the colony. So far so OK, at the end of chapter 1 you clean out the Colony and set it to auto destruct. Rather then just clear off you decide to visit another infestation in the prison section, which happens to contain a foundry just like in Alien3. Why you don't just wait for Bishop to arrive in the drop ship is a mystery, but once you clean out the Prison Ripley decides she's not had enough and takes on the Alien ship, despite no chance of rescuing anyone there. Then the ending left my head scratching as to the point of my missions!

The Bottom Line

A fun, frenetic and fairly short game that seems difficult until you crack the level design to find the hidden caches. Alien Trilogy is worth a blast through, if only for that reason, it doesn't elucidate anything new about the films, or even tell a cohesive story missing the potential for search and rescue missions, and generally drama. It does give suspense though, and a fair chill, especially when you get a Face-hugger attached to you!