You know how it is. You've been stuck on your space ship, the Mombassa Oak, for flippin' ages. You've travelled hundreds of billions of light years across tons of galaxies to reach your destination, the mining colony Atargis. Then, just as you're about to make your rendezvous, the ship's computer goes barmy. Still, you plod on regardless and single-handedly land the ship at the mining colony. No mean feat, so you climb out expecting a hero's welcome, and what happens? Diddly squat. Nothing. All the miners are dead. Flippin' typical or what? But what happened to them? Who's killed them? Who cares?
All you want to do is repair your ship and head back into space again as fast as possible. In order to do this, you must cannibalise the mining colony computers to replace the broken components on the ship. This would be straightforward in real life, but as we're talking about a computer game, there are loads of hazards standing between you and your ultimate aim - including horrible aliens and defence 'droids.
The mining colony is spread over fifteen floors and each of them is absolutely massive. In addition to the size of the plant, there are also tons of puzzles and tasks that need to be accomplished before you get anywhere near leaving the planet. There are computers to be mended and utilised, passes to be found, armaments to be mastered, and bodies to be robbed. No doubt about it, Xenomorph is an absolutely huge game. But as we all know - size isn't everything...
Sean: Xenomorph is one of those games which, whilst first appearing fairly unattractive, grows on you over a few hours of play. (Rather like one of the aliens in the game, but more of that later.) The first thing that anyone buying this game should do is buy a Eurosize 10 Graph Paper Pad, because every time I tried to play without mapping, I got lost within five minutes and literally went round in circles.
As you begin, you're dressed in just a rather fetching pair of boxer shorts. Fortunately a rummage in the ol' backpack will reveal a boiler suit, some boots and a rather fetching helmet, as well as stacks of other goodies. A quick skeggy of the manual reveals that the bits found include a motion detector, laser guns, machine guns and a hairdryer. At least that's what it looks like, anyway. Get it all sorted out and in some sort of order so that it's easily accessible and carry a gun at all times. Otherwise the first baddie you meet will kill you while you're rummaging around in your handbag trying to find a gun that works.
The strongest feature of Xenomorph is its variety. Each of the levels has its own style and design of graphics and this enhances the atmosphere. It all moves incredibly fast - clicking to go one square in any direction will get you there before you can blink. The screen scrolls as you turn, rather than just flipping to another view, which makes for a smoother program.
There's also a tremendous range of aliens and robots to encounter. Each of them has different attributes - all are well animated and have been designed with loads of imagination - from the stomach-popping aliens of a certain movie to huge spiders and giant 'droids. Most of them go through various stages of growth and development, so even within one particular 'type' of alien there are even more forms and strengths.
The sound is fairly minimal - it's mostly sampled grunts and gunshot sounds, with the odd spot effect thrown in for good measure. Then again, sound isn't really that important in a game of this breadth and scope and anyone who buys it probably won't be looking for stunning sound effects anyway. What they will want is tons to do and loads of problems to solve. They will find more than enough in Xenomorph, that's for sure. Most of the ship will initially be inaccessible, so you'll need to discover how to get into these areas. Keeping yourself fit is also going to be difficult and that's before you've even began on the main task of fixing up the ship's computer
A little more interaction would have been welcome, to make a change from simply destroying every blighter that's stupid enough to step within range of your vast armoury. Even the ability to question the various computer terminals around the place would have added another, more sophisticated dimension to the game. Still, can't have everything.
As it stands, Xenomorph is still an epic game that'll have you playing for months. It's absolutely dripping with atmosphere and is exquisitely put together.
In addition, actually playing a sophisticated game like this that doesn't involve runes, staffs, wizards or daft spells is more than a welcome change.
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