No One Can Hear You Scream
Alien³ is a standard, side-scrolling platform that tries, with mixed results, to be more. A similar thing could be said about the film, but I digress.
In the game you get to control Ellen Ripley through several levels set on the isolated, rundown prison complex. The game's animation, graphics, music and sound effects are all above average, but not really breaking new ground.
Ripley is actually a fun video game heroine to control. She is not a typical video game damsel in distress and the programmers wisely gave her more then just one weapon and an army of aliens to kill.
Their are different types of cool weapons that you need to collect in order to defeat different of aliens. You have to locate a set number of hostages in each level, with the aid of a tracking device (which can run out of batteries)
The game manages to create an (appropriately) creepy atmosphere. Its not quite "survival horror", but its darn fun (if you are a horror fan) to be given the chance to hunt down deadly aliens and rescue hostage inside a desolate prison.
Sometimes the game's difficult level can slide into the realm of pure frustration.
It is not always terribly kind when it comes to where it puts you (and your rescued hostages) after you lose a life. Having to find batteries for your scanner adds an element of sci-fi realism to the game, but it can become tedious.
Likewise if your character falls from a certain height, your character will lose hit points or die. Yes, its probably realistic (as realistic as sci-fi/horror can be), but it also can be frustrating (especially when faced with a time limit or a character that sometimes seems to slide a bit)
If they really wanted to encourage the player to explore levels, beyond kill aliens and locate hostages, they could have done something differently.
It is also worth noting that all of the hostages in the game look the same and their is not as much variety, as their could have been, in the aliens and alien bosses that you battle.
Last, but not least, the game has a pretty lame ending. Granted, the ending to the film was not terribly good either, (and having the playable character in a video game commit suicide might have generated bad publicity) but having finally beat the game (in my younger days) without Easter Eggs or Game Genie devices, the ending was a bit of a letdown.
The Bottom Line
Alien³ may frustrate and disappoint, much like the film that it is based on. Still, their is something truly enjoyable about taking out an army of blood-thirsty, acid-for-blood xenomorphs with enough firepower to make the head of the NRA blush.