Game Review: Alpha Prime

Let’s start of by establishing that Alpha Prime could possibly be the worst shooter in recent years. It’s not just mediocre or average, it’s bad.

The player plays as Arnold (Arnie) Weiss, a retired mining contractor, who is asked by the supposedly beautiful Livia (supposed beautiful because she looks like she’s in her fifties) to go to Alpha Prime to rescue her fiance who has been stranded there. Upon arrival Weiss discovers that the former inhabitants of Alpha have gone insane due to ill effects for the planet’s resource hubardium. The robot population has gone insane as well, and on top of that mercenaries have been sent to the planet to kill all the survivors. Of course there is some betrayal and deception as well.

While that story may sound interesting, and maybe it could have been interesting, in this game it is not interesting. Indeed, the mediocre voice acting, and bad sequence scripting make dialog annoying and static-like. Most of the dialog comes through radio transmissions, and there is a pause every time the subtitles change even if the character talking was in the middle of a sentence. The worst part of the story is the ending, which won’t be given away in this review, but it certainly isn’t worth it to play through 3.7 hours of this mess to get to it.

At first this game looks like Doom 3. The graphics seem to look pretty good for a deep space game. Shiny surfaces, interesting ladscapes, but soon the player will realize how static the graphics look. It doesn’t feature the real-time shadows that Doom 3 featured, there are very few animated surfaces. In fact if the player doesn’t move they might think that their computer had frozen.

Of course a bad script and unimpressive graphics don’t necessarily mean that the game itself is bad. What really makes this game bad is the gameplay. It simply isn’t fun, and it is frustrating. Enemies are far too accurate, and they do too much damage. The player will soon discover that they need to lean around edges in order to avoid taking damage, but being that a cover system was not implemented in this game it is simply an annoyance to lean around corners all the time. The placement of health packs and health stations is inconsistent throughout the game, sometimes they are plenty some times they are few, either way the player will constantly find themselves low on health, and desperately avoiding gunfire. It’s difficult to give justice to how bad the gameplay is in writing, the player really has to experience it to appreciate how bad it is.

The game has two features that try to set it apart from other shooters, a bullet time system, and a computer hacking device. The bullet time system is ineffective most of the time, and the player is more likely to die while using it than if they didn’t use it at all. The hacking system had a few uses, but in the later levels the designers seemed to have forgotten to add any hackable objects.

For the most part the game was bug free, but at one point if the player kills some guards before they get onto an elevator, the elevator will never get activated, and the player can’t progress. At the same elevator, if a guard is killed while standing in the doorway, the elevator door won’t close, and once again the player can’t progress. Imagine encountering both of these bugs, both times having to reload at the beginning of the level… This reviewer didn’t have to imagine that.

Overall, if you like games that piss you off and make you want to swear and yell at inanimate objects, try it out. But remember there is a reason why this game can occasionally be purchased for $2.49 on Steam (regular price $4.99). Frankly a milkshake is a better use of your money.

Grade: D-