When contact was lost with the ISRC-4 Space Research Centre, the big cheeses at the interplanetary Corps got a little bit jumpy. After all, they’d all seen Aliens at least twenty times and were starting to get an acute feeling of déjà vu. So, better safe than sorry they rerouted two of their toughest marines from their earth-bound course to investigate. Having their voyage home interrupted to check out some stupid Research Centre did nothing for Johnson and Stone’s already violent temperament, and they docked with the station in a pretty grumpy mood. Disembarking from the shuttle they were greeted not by a gaggle of bemused scientists but by an eerie silence. They started to move into the tomb-like Research Centre, guns at the ready. Circuitry hung, torn from th walls, like entrails.
An acrid acidic strench hung in the air. The motion tracker started it’s haunting beep. After the flashy intro, it’s straight into the game proper. Taking control of a battle-hardened space mercenary, you’re set the task of exterminating the alien slime and preventing the brood from spreading to other colonies in the sector. There’s also a two-player option which adds to the fun as you can either work together as a team or try and get your opponent cornered and torn apart by the advancing alien swarm. There are six levels to blast though, each an intricate maze of rooms, corridors, utility ducts and elevator shafts. The gameplay isn’t anything new, but it’s done with such panache that it’s hard to fault.
The first level acts as a training ground where you can try out your standard-issue Uzi by blasting away at the assorted uglies that seemingly lurk behind every corner. These consist of small scuttling face-huggers and larger, full-bodied Aliens who sap you energy on contact. There are also valuable ammo clips littered around the level, as well as cash credits, electronic key passes and first-aid kits to pick up. The keys open the many locked doors, whilst the first-aid kit is essential to replenish lost energy. It’s best to make the most of these, as supplies become increasingly scarce on later levels.
Each of the remaining five levels require the player to carry out specific tasks, details of which are given at the start of each stage. Each level is made up of a massive 25 screens with hundreds of rooms to explore. Once you’ve collected enough cash you can access a number of strategically-placed computers. Power-ups include flamethrowers and three way shots, and laser fire which conveniently ricochets off walls and is capable of ripping into countless nasties before it loses its power. The game will take some time to complete. With scores of powerups, varied and atmospheric backdrops, superb SFX and a neat scenario, Team 17 created a winner in 1991 and its still superb in 2020!