You know what’s great? When we remember the past with fondness, and are allowed to relive those experiences in a refreshing new format. And no company lets us do that more often – or with more old-school quality – than Sega. The veteran gaming company has derived their latest project – for both the PSP and Wii – from an old IP, Alien Syndrome, and we expect to see a fast-paced, totally addictive title. The new game holds the same name, but it’ll feature updated graphics and a whole new adventure. If you’re a fan of the original, you’ll definitely be interested in this accessible action/RPG, which is coming fully loaded with a wealth of depth and feature galore. You can always count on Sega to bring the extras, especially for retro-style games that can appeal to such a wide audience.
You’ll step into the shoes of Earth Command Trooper Aileen Harding – kinda like Ripley in “Alien” – and battle your way through a futuristic environment complete with strange planets and alien life-forms. Throughout the quest, you’ll gain plenty of upgrades for your kick-ass female heroine, including specialties and skills that should greatly assist you in dispatching the baddies. On top of that, you’ll also be able to select from a wide range of melee and ranged weaponry, so that means we expect to see certain situations in the gameplay that would call for either/or. We expect the same sort of strategy and decision making to play a role in your character’s abilities, so perhaps we’ll see a dash of Deus Ex in this new Alien Syndrome incarnation.
“Alien Syndrome is a great update of a classic franchise that has been designed to fit perfectly onto both the innovative Wii and the portable PSP,” said Matt Woodley, Creative Director, SEGA Publishing Europe Ltd. “Alien Syndrome is the only fast-paced, sci-fi action –RPG for the Wii and PSP and brilliantly blends arcade-style shooter gameplay with elements from RPGs.”
See, this is what we like to hear. An interesting blend of arcade-style action with deep role-playing elements should lead to a truly unique experience. For example, you can select from five different classes for Aileen when you start the game (Demolitions, Firebug, Seal, Tank, and Sharpshooter), and you can always customize her abilities and proficiencies throughout the game. On the other hand, every battle will probably feel very Metroid-ish, complete with hectic firefights and super-crazy enemies and bosses. The developers seem to like this idea a great deal; what team wouldn’t relish the opportunity to meld two words together?
“Completely re-designed from the ground up for the PSP and the Wii, this new Alien Syndrome offers a refreshing blast-athon on a venerable classic,” said Larry Holland, President and Creative Director of Totally Games. “As well, it has allowed us to exercise our science fiction chops to the fullest to create a totally involving futuristic action-RPG game experience.”
The game will boast over 20 different weapons, so you’ll be able to lay waste to the swarming enemies with everything from flamethrowers to quad-barreled lasers. Now, depending on which class you chose at the start, certain weapons will prove to be more useful than others. After all, you’ll be facing more than 100 different alien hostiles in this game, so you’re going to have to choose your weapons wisely. If you select Demolitions, those incendiary grenades should be both easier to use and more effective, but if you chose Sharpshooter, perhaps you’re better off with those wonderfully accurate laser rifles. Either way, the freedom you’ll have in Alien Syndrome is both surprising and appreciated, especially because it won’t hamper the fast-paced goodness.
Strength, accuracy, dexterity and endurance are the four attributes you’ll seek to build up, and again, which skills you choose to enhance will greatly affect how you approach the game. Also, of those many weapons and pieces of equipment, there’s even more role-playing elements when it comes to looting enemy corpses. Just like in your favorite RPG, some of the most powerful stuff is likely to come from the enemies you defeat, and you’ll even be able to create a few original pieces on your own. Apparently, a cool little robot will follow you around everywhere, and he has the express purpose of crafting new equipment and items for you. Presumably, he’ll do this by using raw ingredients you give him, but that’s just a guess; we really don’t know how this little invention process is going to work just yet. …doesn’t stop it from being intriguing, though.
To add to the appeal, you’ll be able to see every weapon and piece of armor you equip on Aileen. When you’re wandering through the brightly colored environments, marveling at the detail (in either the PSP or Wii version), you’ll also get to check out the manually controllable camera. It’s designed to move in and get all up close and personal when you’ve got a melee weapon equipped, and zoom out when you’re using something that requires a bit more room to operate. And outside of the combat, you’ll probably encounter a decent amount of puzzles and a variety of different objectives, and that includes hostage rescues, escort missions, and in general, taking on both an offensive and defensive role at different points throughout the game.
Up to four players will be able to attack the adventure by utilizing the PSP’s ad-hoc functionality. Of course, you won’t have an easy time of beating the game just because you’ve got a buddy by your side; the enemies will be stronger and more numerous with multiple players. The Wii version should see a variety of other features, most of which should primarily revolve around the Wii-mote. Both versions are scheduled to release some time in May, and for now, Alien Syndrome is looking like a ton of fun. Aliens, sci-fi weapons, all kinds of character abilities, sweet-looking environments, customization freedom, all-out action…what more could you possibly ask for?
2/16/2007 Ben Dutka