Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: February 2, 2001
In 1979, Ridley Scott, with the help of a then little-known surreal artist named H.R. Giger, managed to put a face to the word “alien.” With its complicated life cycle, parasitic gestation, acidic blood and deadly speed, the alien was a life form as different from, and as deadly to, humans as any film had been able to conjure up to that point. Since that first masterpiece of science fiction and horror, a series of films has explored the continuing saga of Ellen Ripley, the woman (played by Sigourney Weaver) who seems destined to forever battle this menace. Borrowing its name and much of its plot from the fourth film, Fox Interactive brings an infestation of these perfect killers to your PlayStation with Alien Resurrection.
At the end of “Aliens III,” Ripley discovered that she had been impregnated with an Alien queen. Realizing that its destruction would essentially bring an end to the menace posed by this vicious species, Ripley threw herself into a pool of molten lead as the creature was born, martyring herself for the good of humanity. Two hundred years and several failed attempts later, a group of scientists manage to successfully clone Ripley from blood samples taken while she was impregnated with the queen. Working outside of human controlled space, the scientists separate the gestating creature from Ripley’s body, begin producing the pod-like eggs and receive a shipment of test subjects from a group of pirates. Obviously forgetting the spectacular failures and high mortality rates associated with similar experiments, the scientists breed a group of Aliens with hopes of training them to be a type of deadly guard dog. As the game begins, something has obviously gone very wrong with the study, as the cloned Ripley awakens to distant cries of horror and the quiet urgings of Father, the ship’s computer, that all non-essential personnel should proceed to life boats.
It was Newt, the pathos-inspiring little girl from “Aliens,” who noted of the creatures’ behavior that they “mostly come at out night.” Fox is hoping its players will follow the same pattern when they sit down to explore the decks of the USM Auriga; to this end an insert in the retail case informs the player that this is one game best played in the dark. A special calibration feature has been included so that the TV’s brightness can be adjusted for an optimum experience. Why all this emphasis on the dark? Simply put, Alien Resurrection is not a traditional first-person shooter; instead, it walks a fine line between that genre and survival horror. Creatures leap out of the walls or drop from the ceilings, screams echo in the distance and just about every tension building trick in the book is thrown at the player in order to capture the unique sensation of being hunted that permeates the “Alien” films.
The gameplay mechanics, however, will be instantly recognizable to those familiar with first-person shooters. From the eponymous perspective, players will guide Ripley through her explorations of the doomed ship’s sprawling interior. At times it becomes necessary to scale ladders, jump down to lower levels and even swim through flooded areas of certain decks. In order to squeeze into tight places, Ripley can even move in a crouch. This degree of freedom proves necessary as she continues the hunt for new weaponry, ammunition and access cards that can open the various areas of the locked down ship. As with all titles of this sort, combat is an in-your-face proposition, and learning to keep a bead on the swift-moving enemies is as important as mastering the art of moving about the environments.