Friday, 12 May 2017

ALIEN TRILOGY


It's been a long time since the Alien franchise was known as a trilogy. And with Alien Covenant hitting cinemas (not to mention Prometheus), we can throw away the made up word of "quadrilogy" too. But way back in 1996, Ridley Scott's seminal sci-fi horror was still three movies and this was when Acclaim Entertainment published a FPS decidedly known as Alien Trilogy.

This was a moment in time when a first-person-shooter was known as a Doom clone and that phrase was certainly banded about when talking about Alien Trilogy. It features labyrinthine level design, a menagerie of otherworldly beasts and a penchant for unloading masses of bullets. Nevertheless, there's still a fair amount that developers Probe Entertainment included that stood out.

More so than any previous FPS, Alien Trilogy oozes in atmosphere. It is not afraid to have huge sections of a level to be devoted to exploration. In these moments, the intense sound effects, ominous level design and moody colour palette will still keep you on edge. One level sees you rushing to the end within one minute in a tense mad dash that emulates a specific moment in the second film. Another is almost black as you explore a ship taken over by the xenomorphs. You have to gather batteries for a torch if you want to be able to see, and with live bodies mounted screaming to the walls, you may not want to.

The gameplay is standard fare for its time. There's an action button to open doors, an attack button to shoot, and numerals represent the selectable weapons. Pressing ESC will not just pause the game, but will also display a handy (if small) map of the area. It only shows rooms you've visited, but maps in their entirety can be found on many of the stages.

Each of the three films are tenuously represented. About 10 stages are given to each and do almost nothing to convey a coherent story, let alone the plot of the movies. For example, the Alien 3 stages set on the prison planet Fiorina "Fury" 161 have made alien-infested humans an enemy to mix things up a bit. And all of them have guns. If you've seen that film (which I will defend to my dying day!), you'll know the prison has no guns and the inmates themselves are not mercenaries in the least.

As you progress, it doesn't really differentiate which movie you're in. You may get an recognisable set piece that clues you in, but the game progresses as if it were one big storyline. It doesn't help that the order starts with Aliens, then Alien 3 and ends with the first. I've no idea why they did this, but my guess is to start off with action levels based on the action movie. The levels each have their own mission objectives too. Most are simply head to the exit, but sometimes you won't be able to if they're not completed. These can range from destroying all crates, shutting off valves or killing the Queen Bitch herself. This iconic xenomorph shows up multiple times and each time it's bloody scary.

There are 6 different weapons to collect. You begin with a standard pistol which is only really useful for dispatching facehuggers. It will take half of the maximum ammo to best a full-grown xenomorph with this. Thankfully, it's not long before you get a shotgun which will do it in 4 or 5 blasts. Shots can also explode gas canisters and boxes that may block your path, some of which will contain valuable health and ammo. A pulse rifle, grenade/grenade launcher, smart gun and the classic flame thrower round out the weapons, but I rarely strayed from the shot gun. The smart gun is perhaps more powerful, but ammo is so rare it's best to save it for more difficult encounters.

Actually, ammo is rare for all of the weapons, especially if you don't take the time to find secrets. It's all too easy to find yourself stranded with nothing and surrounded by facehuggers. To make matters worse, there's no melee weapon. My advice is to use the odd bullet to destroy any boxes you find. More often than not, they'll have goodies inside, though another facehugger may jump out and join the hoard.

Alien Trilogy is better than it has any right to be. It features a nice balance between the action bravura of Doom and pant-wettingly scary atmosphere of the movies. Like id's genre-defining classic, the graphics, gameplay and controls have understandably dated quite a bit but, like Doom, there's a simplicity that keeps you playing. Recommended.


To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual Included. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 202 Mb.  Install Size: 325 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download


Alien Trilogy (the game) is © Acclaim Entertainment
Alien Trilogy (the movies) is © 20th Century Fox
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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11 comments:

  1. Any chance you can turn off forward and backwards movement with the mouse?

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    1. Hello.

      Alien Trilogy is a game that was released before the mouse/keyboard combo became the norm. As such, the game is controled either entirely with the mouse (not suggested) or entirely with a keyboard. Because of this the developers didn't make it possible to turn off specific mouse controls.

      It plays pretty well with just the keyboard anyway.

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    2. I'm aware of all that. I use to play it that way. I was just hoping you had found a viable work around for stopping the forward and backwards inputs for the mouse.

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    3. Sadly, no. Unless there's a patch somewhere I don't know about.

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    4. Use the built in dosbox keymapper you can bind mouse movements to keys I believe

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    5. That's the opposite of what I'm looking for... and that's what i do already.

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  2. Actually there is a patch, which can be found here:
    https://archive.org/details/ALIEN3_201605

    don't know if it fixes the mouse thingy, though.

    On some occasions the game drops FPS like hell, making it almost running like a dia-show. Maybe the patch can be applied somehow. Anyway thanks for bringing back my childhood memories. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the link. I'll add it to a future revision.

      In regards to the FPS, I don't recall experiencing anything like that and I got pretty far. Was it only in a particular area? Could you tell me so I can check it out? The patch may fix it.

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    2. Well, mostly the FPS-drops are firing in, when approaching walls, or things near walls, like those door switches.
      I've increased the cpu-cycles via dosbox to approximately 75000. It went a little smoother from there.
      On less crowded scenes though it went too fast. Guess it's a little fiddling on these DosBox-Configs...

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    3. I've just done a quick test on the first level and not noticed much of a frame drop using 60000 cycles (what I set it as), at least not to the point that's noticeable to me. I have read that Alien Trilogy itself was a bit spotty in this area even in actual DOS. I guess it depends on your tolerance for aging game engines.

      Here's what I found from a quick Vogons search
      https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=36757

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    4. I surely can live with that. Guess it's just nitpicking, but wanted to point it out anyway. :)
      Thanks for checking this, though. I'll look forward to the revised version and of course the other treasures you'll share with us.
      Keep up the great work! :)

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