About halfway through its development cycle, Alien Resurrection experienced a radical transformation. Fox Interactive decided to scrap the almost-done third-person adventure engine the game had been using up to that point, and decided to start fresh. This time around Alien Resurrection was going to be a first-person shooter. And finally, after multiple delays, Alien Resurrection is to the point where Fox Interactive is ready to show off a playable version.
Alien Resurrection loosely follows the plot of the same movie it shares its name with. As Ripley, you must shoot your way through the alien-occupied starship, and not only eliminate the alien menace, but protect your smuggler friends and stop the evil Dr. Wren from delivering his alien specimens to Earth. The game starts with an unarmed Ripley finding her way to the evacuation bays. After I wandered around a bit I found a few dead bodies and saw a couple aliens scurrying away from certain areas. I picked up a pistol, and found that I couldn't progress through any more doors without picking up some access cards. Some careful searching later, I was on my way. As a passed through the fourth door I found some human marines still hanging around, even though the computer kept calling for a complete evacuation of the ship. I walked up to the marines expecting to get a cutscene, but instead they started opening fire on me. I couldn't believe it - a game called Alien Resurrection, and the first enemy I stumbled upon was human. So I let the man have what he wanted, namely to get his wig split.
After all the soldiers had gotten their caps peeled back, I searched the bodies and found a medikit and another keycard. Through the next door was my first alien. Compared to the human enemies, the alien was liked greased lightning - he flew at me from out of nowhere and was chomping at me, even with that cool inner neck/mouth thing those aliens have. A quick bit later the alien was reduced to a steamy carcass and a pool of acidic blood. Moving on, I found Dr. Wren locked in a laboratory, and upon releasing him I found the game's first cutscene. Dr. Wren explained that it was his fault that the aliens escaped and that I was free to use the access card he had left behind in the room with only one exit. Prepared for the obvious trap, I backed into the room and grabbed the card. No sooner had I done that than another breed of alien jumped out at me. This time, instead of trying to eat my face, the alien was content with spitting acid at me. The effect was pretty cool and really motivated me to dispose of this new threat. I did, but not before he caused me some serious damage. A short while later I ran into some more marines, and their gunfire ended my game.
The game's controls are fairly intuitive and lend themselves well to the first-person shooter genre. You'll use the left analog pad to move Ripley forward and back and strafe left and right, while the right analog pad controls where you look. You scroll through your weapons with the left shoulder buttons and use your inventory items with R1 and open doors and flip switches with R2. The X button fires your weapon, the circle button crouches, and the triangle and square buttons cycle through your inventory. I found that the left analog stick was a little too touchy, and I would have appreciated the ability to invert the vertical-direction controls. Fox should be able to add that feature in and tweak the controls before the game ships.
The graphics are fairly good and feature some rather spooky backgrounds. From what I saw, the inside of the ship in the game looks exactly as in the movie. The scale, the look of the textures, and lighting are all spot-on. The dead marines are full of carnage and gore, and some ceiling vents even drip blood onto the floor. The live marines animate well and look pretty convincing, although they don't move their mouths when they shout at you. The aliens look awesome. The two aliens that I saw were instantly recognizable, but more importantly, they were scary. The soundtrack was tense and brooding, and the sound effects helped set the mood.
Scrapping the game that Alien Resurrection was in favor of this new game could have been the best move Fox could make with the Alien franchise. This new game seems to have some pretty solid gameplay centered around a fairly cool idea - namely, shooting lots of aliens with all sorts of freaky firearms while wandering around a doomed ship. Expect Alien Resurrection to hit store shelves this November.