This fast-paced, arcade-style shooter from Made by KIDDIES offers players a first-person perspective from behind a sci-fi battle station. Enemies come at an alarming pace, and explode in clouds of light and color. Power-ups are plentiful and boss levels are designed to regularly challenge players as their performances improve. Gamers may play alone or challenge friends by accessing a variety of multiplayer options thorugh the Internet. Alone, players must work their way through 45 different missions while attempting to defeat the enemy invaders.
The game's backstory is as straightforward as it is banal. It's the year 2060 and you're part of a human military force tasked with defending the colony planet Rexus from alien attack (we won't ask where NASA got the funding to make that happen; we'll be lucky to be on Mars by 2030). With no snazzy spaceships or land vehicles to tool around in, however, you must fend off these swarming creatures from several fixed-turret emplacements dotted throughout the planet's surface. Entirely on your own -- without even a turret buddy to help with the workload -- you'll face successive waves of ground-based and airborne alien attackers who share a common strategy: to overwhelm and overrun you with sheer numbers.
Your turret is equipped with a variety of weapons (some of which must be unlocked) as well as a short-range radar screen to warn you of approaching threats. You can rotate your "guns" in any direction -- or elevate them to pick off airborne enemies -- but, rooted to the spot as you are, there isn't a lot of battle planning involved here. Simply blast away at everything that moves and hope like hell that you don't run out of ammunition before the level ends. A hovering mother ship will drop additional ammo crates as the battle rages on, and these can only be collected by shooting them with your active weapon before a timer runs out and they vaporize into thin air.
Anchoring you to one spot clearly saved the developer (Los Angeles-based Made By Kiddies, Inc.) the hassle of creating proper 3D environments for Alien Blast, and this just reinforces the overall cheapness of this budget-priced title. The sky coloring and landscape around your turret are changed regularly to give the appearance of different locations, but little effort was expended here. The alien attackers -- represented as squealing, insect-like hordes, flying bugs and lizards, and even gargantuan mechs in some of the boss levels -- are equally disappointing. Their low-poly renderings give them a distinct 2D look when viewed up close, and the game's pathetic-looking pyrotechnics are shameful for a game of this type. When blowing stuff up is all you've got, then that stuff should blow up real good!
The single-player game consists of 45 levels, with each tier becoming progressively harder as you advance. After you've completed the first half-dozen or so levels, however (which only takes about ten minutes), Alien Blast's repetitious gameplay mechanics begin to manifest themselves. Instead of upgrading the enemy A.I.'s tactics (such as they are), the game simply throws more of them at you in ever-increasing waves. If you wish to survive the later missions, you'll just have to shoot faster and aim more accurately. Waste too much ammo and you'll be back at the "Failed Mission" screen preparing for your umpteenth do-over. The lack of gameplay variety is bad enough, but even more galling is when a developer tries to artificially extend the gameplay by cranking up the difficulty in the latter stages to unbeatable levels. A selection of cheat codes are printed quite openly in Alien Blast's paper-thin manual, and after devoting several unrefundable hours to the game, you'll understand why. There's probably no other way to finish it.
If you can look past its coarse graphics and uneven gameplay balance, Alien Blast might actually usurp a few hours of your valuable time before you come to realize that you're stuck in a Groundhog Day perpetual loop of uninspired and unfulfilling game design. Continue at your peril from this point, but you've been warned.
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