I think that I may have used this opening line in a review already, but video game titles are often vague. Deus Ex – what the hell kind of game is that going to be? How would you know without any prior knowledge? You wouldn’t. Every now and then, however, a game like this one comes along. A game like Alien Shooter 2: Conscription. A game in which all it takes is a quick look at the title to determine that it’s a spin-off of Alien Shooter 2, which is, in turn, a sequel to Alien Shooter. And do you know what you might do in Alien Shooter 2: Conscription? You shoot aliens. Lots of aliens. With lots of guns. Resulting in lots of blood.
There is a plot here, I think. Something to do with aliens. I guess that you shoot them. Research (five minutes on Wikipedia) tells me that Alien Shooter 2: Conscription is set in the near future, with the player controlling a new member of the M.A.G.M.A. energy corporation (anagram/word names – so nineties, so chic), stationed in a military based. The base is attacked by hordes of exploding alien blood-bags, forcing the player to fight for his life before escaping. You then go to a secret bunker somewhere, which, from memory, is also attacked, and drive a car through more hordes of exploding alien blood-bags. It was at about this point that I lost interest in the plot and revelled in my sole duty in the game – puncturing the blood-bags. The only times you stop shooting blood-bags is to run them over. Seriously.
Alien Shooter 2: Conscription screams nineties. From the cheesy-yet-pure-awesome MIDI-guitar driven soundtrack to the low-resolution isometric graphics, you’ll immediately be swallowed up by your computer screen like in those campy tech-based films, before being vomited up again in 1999. Man, those graphics. That soundtrack. This is nostalgia at its finest. Pure nineties butt-kicking. There’s even one point in the very first mission at which an NPC’s text bubble reads “loosing” rather than “losing” – as alarming as it may sound, this isn’t even the worst of the grammatical errors strewn throughout the poorly translated dialogue. From neglecting to capitalise Sergeant as a title to simply broken English, I’m not entirely sure that it would be possible for Alien Shooter 2: Conscription‘s translator to have done a poorer job than he did. Or maybe it’s a joke? Yeah, that’s a good way of looking at it. A joke.
But here I am, first talking about the irrelevance of a plot in a game that’s essentially an excuse to click heaps and watch aliens blow up, and then moaning about the horrendously lousy job of the localisation of the (totally irrelevant) writing. AC2:C is an isometric action RPG – if you can imagine a science-fiction themed Diablo II, then you’re halfway there. Following the isometric RPG trend, killing an enemy results in them exploding in a vicious rupture like popping a pimple, leaving behind oceans of blood and the cash they must’ve had in their pockets at the time. There’s a ridiculous variety of weapons available in the item shop – which I think they justify by calling it military supply or something – but more than just meticulously selecting which brand of flamethrower you’d prefer, you also have to manage your ammunition. This might sound like a clever way to force you to strategically save your money, but you’ve generally got your pockets stuffed so full with wads of cash that you never really have to worry about saving for anything. Except maybe that mega-flamethrower-of-death that you’ve always wanted.
Combat is bloody, intense, and seemingly never ending. Unfortunately, this also makes it horribly repetitive. Oh, and this is Diablo clicking territory, dear reader. Wave after wave of alien blood-bags attempt to surround your poor character, leaving him with no option other than to fight the endless horde. When you create your character, you can choose one of eight power-ups, or perks as AC2:C calls them. This is essentially a class system, in that it can’t be changed once you’ve created the character; yet it has little effect on the overall gameplay, instead changing only one or two aspects of your character. Your choices are things such as health regeneration and hypnotism, each carrying its own distinct enhancements and pitfalls. It’s a clever, if not unique, system; the balance of the classes ensures that you won’t get stuck on an area because you haven’t got a specific perk, forcing you to start from square one.
Unfortunately, developers seem to think that, because their game is retro-themed, that’s reason enough to max the resolution of their game to 1024×768. To be honest, I can’t quite remember, but I don’t think AC2:C even gets that far, which is slightly disappointing. The user interface is horribly designed, unappealing and totally unpolished, but I guess it does its job, so I can’t whinge too much. That said, even the fonts are excruciating to look at. Who had the bright idea to make all the dialogue text fluorescent green? WHO WAS IT?
Yeah. Alien Shooter 2: Conscription does exactly what it says on the packet. It’s an unadulterated massacre of aliens who are constantly trying to gnaw your face off, regardless of their colour or number of limbs. And yeah, maybe the entire game is a whole bunch of clicking. Honestly, though, it’s fun for a while. Co-op would have been fantastic, even if just to have a friendly chuckle at the miserable broken English, yet this is strictly single-player affair. I think. There’s LAN support, but I can think of enough games I’d rather play at a LAN than this. Yeah, get used to playing this one alone, unless you’re one of those people who watches your buddy playing indie games over their shoulder, or you have a shortcut to Hamachi on your desktop. It’s unpolished, slightly broken, horrendously repetitive, and yet it manages to pull you in with its extra terrestrial finger with the promise of 90’s nostalgia and an ass-whooping soundtrack. What we have here is guts, gore, and guns. And aliens. Aliens full of blood. But with a name like Alien Shooter 2, and a developer like Sigma Team (who could forget their other classic Zombie Shooter? Or Zombie Shooter 2?), could you really expect anything else?
Select Start Media was provided with a review copy of Alien Shooter 2: Conscription by Sigma Team