Alien Shooter (PC)
A fun and entertaining isometric shooter.

Alien Shooter is a top down isometric shooter. You move with the keyboard and fire with the mouse. What I am reviewing is the Invasion Earth edition which is Alien Shooter plus its 2 expansions, Fight For Life and The Experiment, all in one. I will be reviewing all 3 with the 2 expansions having their own small section at the end.

This game was released in 2003 and by a small company, so the graphics actually arenít bad. Theyíre bright and colorful and not unpleasant to look at. The only problem is that they use the same tileset for the entirety of the game.

SOUND: 9/10
The sound is pretty good. The weapons sound right and the monsters make satisfying sounds when theyíre killed. The music is also real nice and can pump you up when enemies attack.

STORY: 4/10
There actually is a story in this game, but itís hindered by poor grammar, occasional misspellings, and inconsistent writing. At the start and end of the game there are a few static screens briefly describing the story. At the start of each mission there is a little mission briefing that tells you a little bit about the level and the characterís thoughts. The first time you play the game you might bother to read it, but then you beat it and realize it doesnít matter. The main problem is the poor grammar which makes it hard for me to read and take seriously in a commercial game. A small nitpick is the inconsistent writing. Sometimes the writing will go in depth into the description of something inconsequential, but doesnít remain consistent with this style. For example it describes two men getting out of a helicopter and how the blades swoosh their hair. Um, ok? There are no descriptions of the persons themselves or anything else like that so why bother describing something so silly? Oh well, the story isnít important, just shooting aliens.

There are 10 levels in Alien Shooter and your goal in each one is to kill all the aliens, and in some destroy the alien spawners using dynamite. The gameplay is simple and does not change at all. To some it can get repetitive but this is not the first time I played this game and it likely wonít be the last. This game is also reasonably challenging on hard. Finally, there is a survival mode which sees how long you can survive using one of the turrets before you die.

In most levels there are secrets where you can find things like weapons, upgrades, money, and ammo. Usually theyíre behind a crack in the wall which you must blow up, but sometimes money is hidden behind walls and you canít see it. You can also destroy certain boxes for cash and money, and enemies drop these at random as well.

There are literally only 4 enemy types in the entire game. The colors are palette swapped to indicate tougher versions. Later in the game 2 of the enemy types start wearing armor which makes them tougher and allows them to shoot. The enemies, while interesting, arenít original. The small guys are basically Shriekers from Tremors 2, and the taller ones are pretty much the aliens from Aliens. Itís still fun to shoot them though!

There are 9 different weapons with each one getting stronger than the last, and this is my problem. I wouldíve liked the different weapons to have more utility and be useful in certain situations, but for the most part they arenít. Sure rockets and the plasma cannon are good for hordes, but once you get the magma gun thereís no reason to use anything else except to save ammo. Some more variety and uniqueness wouldíve been nice.

At the start of each level you can use money earned previously to buy new weapons and ammo, as well as upgrades for your character. You can also buy armor, lives, and a few other things. Donít be too eager to buy new weapons and upgrades because you will find some of them in the levels. There are 3 levels of upgrades for your character. The upgrades are HP increase, strength which lets you carry more ammo, speed increase, and accuracy which increases your damage and accuracy. Itís not bad how it is now, but it could be better and more complex.

Beating the game on hard is about 2-3 hours depending on your skill and knowledge of the game. There are 3 difficulty levels so you can play on normal first to get the hang of the game then replay on hard for a challenge. To me the replayability is high because over the years Iíve beaten this game several times.

Thereís just something about this game that makes it so much fun to play. Iíve tried playing other games like this such as the Alien Breed trilogy (no relation), but thereís something about them that seems off. Maybe itís because in this game there are a hundred aliens swarming at you at once and you mow them all down. This game is very arcadey and I enjoy it for that. There is a demo so give this game a try. If you arenít real into the demo know the game doesnít change or introduce anything new except bigger crowds of stronger enemies.

FIGHT FOR LIFE (campaign 2): 6/10
This expansion introduces 5 new levels to play. Everything is exactly the same as Alien Shooter but the level layout is of course different. It uses the same tileset and all that. Because there are only 5 levels the difficulty ramps up fast, therefore this expansion is more challenging than the base game. I give it a 6 because it doesnít introduce anything new at all. The ďstoryĒ is continued but I already discussed the irrelevance of it.

THE EXPERIMENT (campaign 3): 7/10
This too has 5 new levels, and although it still uses the same tileset, there are 2 new enemy types. There are also a few new rockiní music tracks to listen to. And finally there is a boss monster at the end of the last level (the first boss in the series), and heís hard! This expansion is really hard as a whole as well. You will be tight on money and ammo up until around the end of the last level. My thoughts on the story are the same of what I said for the previous expansion.

As I said at the beginning I got the Invasion Earth physical copy which is all 3 of these games. You should be able to find it for pretty cheap. Alternatively you can buy the collection digitally on certain sites. Do not buy from the developerís site as it is grossly overpriced.

I overall really like these games and have enjoyed them for years. There are a lot of things they can do better which are addressed in future games but you canít blame these for that too much. A series has to start somewhere and this isnít some AAA developer. If you are into arcade shooters I think you will enjoy these.

Posted 7-1-12
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