Everybody loves turret-shooting, right? It's always a fun way to break up the standard action of your favorite shooters by climbing into some sort of big, gun-mounted contraption and then blowing the hell out of a slew of enemies with far more powerful weaponry than you'd otherwise have at your disposal. So why is it that when you play a game like Alien Blast: The Encounter (which, for all intents and purposes, is just one long turret-shooting session), you're liable to find yourself bored to the verge of tears? How could a game based solely on the concept of sitting inside a large turret while shooting nasty alien hordes manage to fall flat? Maybe it has to do with the game's complete lack of any gameplay variety whatsoever. Or maybe it's the ugly, muddy visuals and the laughably bad enemy designs. Or perhaps this brand of stationary shooter has just lost its luster in the modern gaming era. Whatever the reasoning may be, the simple, glaring fact remains that Alien Blast is just not fun in any way, shape, or form.
Like most shooters of this ilk, Alien Blast has a very simple premise. It's the future, and humanity inhabits planets far and wide. However, when an onslaught of unpleasant alien invaders threatens one of Earth's colonized worlds, it's up to you--the anonymous Allied Force soldier--to stave off these alien hordes by blasting them back to the cold depths of space. How, exactly, are you to do this? Essentially, you accomplish this by sitting inside a big, dome-shaped turret gun that is armed with one of seven available weapons (though some must be unlocked as the game progresses); then you shoot until every ugly alien in sight is dead. Sounds exciting, right? Maybe it does, in theory.
There are 45 levels in Alien Blast, and they're all pretty much exactly the same thing over and over again. You aim your gun by using the mouse, shoot until nothing's left, move on to the next level, lather, rinse, and repeat. While the weapons you're provided are fairly different from one another in terms of effectiveness, almost all of them suffer from an annoying habit of simply not hitting their designated targets when they seem as though they ought to be. This could be because the game's targeting reticle requires you to be extremely precise in your shooting, though there are definitely times when even a pretty careless shot somehow manages to take down a random enemy. So most likely, the game just suffers from some lousy hit detection.
During each mission, you'll see various types of evil aliens, ranging from flying batlike creatures, giant eyeballs with arms, and nasty little lizard life-forms, to some occasional aliens of the Serious Sam-inspired larger variety. No one enemy by itself is terribly challenging, but aliens in the game come at you in huge swarms, essentially challenging you only through sheer numbers. Some levels can be beaten in a single try, while others are so ridiculously hard that they border on impossible. There's just no reasoning with the game's difficulty, and more than likely, you'll find yourself frustrated and bored by the whole thing before you even reach level 10. If the single-player game does indeed prove to be too obnoxious for your tastes, there is a multiplayer mode in the game for LAN or Internet play where, presumably, you and up to three other people can engage in some alien-blasting action. However, in every attempt made to find a game online with other people, we were regrettably rebuffed by the fact that there was simply never anyone online to play against. Then again, after playing Alien Blast, it's hard to imagine that there's anyone else who wants to play it, either.
Further compounding the level of uninterest the game will inspire in you are its unpleasant-looking graphics. There are many different environments in the game, though most of them just seem to be color-scheme variations of the same basic one. In every single mission, the base you're supposed to be guarding never changes, so you'll constantly see the same, ugly building every time out. Textures are extremely low-res, and texture-tiling is plainly obvious--pretty much all over the place. Even worse are the incredibly derivative enemy designs, which look like they were individually ripped off from just about every sci-fi movie and game ever made. Maybe if the aliens did something cool when you blew them apart, this might be slightly forgivable, but sadly, they don't.
As for the game's sound design, there's really not much worth mentioning. Most of the weapon and explosion effects are reasonable, though they're not terribly well recorded. Beyond them, there just isn't much else to hear. Enemies don't really make any sounds, and there isn't much music in the game (and what's there is usually extremely quiet by default). The only voice work comes in the form of some guy who talks over your radio in between missions and after you die, occasionally providing words of encouragement. To be quite frank, his dialogue sounds as if it was written and recorded by a 16-year-old kid with nothing better to do.
Across every category, Alien Blast defines itself as the very epitome of boredom. The action is dull, repetitive, and in some cases, a bit broken. The game's graphics are pretty much a sad, underdeveloped joke. Its sound is best left with the volume knob turned completely down. And despite the fact that it features multiplayer, the game's pretty much useless if no one is ever online to play with. Every single aspect of Alien Blast is just supremely uninspired, and as such, there's absolutely no reason to play it.