Aliens: Terror on Sigma 51-A
Mission Type:
Post Date:
David McHale
September 15, 2000
Level Review
Overall Score:
Date Reviewed:
90 / 100
October 17, 2000
79 / 100
93 / 100
96 / 100
First Impressions
I added a little more superfluous detail because the original plot is severely lacking. In fact, that's one of the few complaints I could find in this level. Unless you've been living in a cave for the past few weeks then you know the premise behind this level. However, I'll say again just to be thorough. What we have here is a crossover between JK and the Aliens universe, and I must say, what a great crossover it is (it's also the winner of our SP level contest). This level has all the star-warsy (inventing new words as I go) qualities that you could ask for, lots of new features, and of course the Aliens themselves. I think it's pretty safe to say that this level will scare you the first time you play it.
Review Screenshot 1
Review Screenshot 2
Design / Visuals
Even though this is the level's weakest part, I was still impressed at certain times with the overall design. The Imperial base is setup quite nicely. Areas like the two tram rooms, the entrance to level 1, and the room just inside the hangar bay are all done with a significant amount of detail. The author uses slopes, arches, pillars, beams, and varying degrees of elevation to keep everything unique yet familiar. The exterior shots were few, but were also well done architecturally. The rocky hills and cliffs added to the isolated feeling as well as provided the player with some nice visual shots. The only part that could have used some more work was about midway through the base. Some of the rooms were pretty basic in design, and needed more to them. The main room, the one that links levels 2 and 3, is one example. Texturing, was the worst aspect of the level (but that doesn't mean much when you factor in how cool the other parts were). On the plus side there were new textures (like the "no smoking" sign) that enhanced the overall atmosphere. On the downside there were several alignment errors within the base and even during the opening scenes outside. There were places where the rock just didn't match up properly. In the parts of the base where you fight the aliens, textures repeated themselves over and over again. Granted, you will be much too busy fighting the xenomorphs to pay much attention; plus the spectacular lighting obscures the dominant textures somewhat. However, it is noticeable if you stop and take the time to look.
Dynamics / Interactivity
"Game over man, game over!" More then likely you will be shouting this several times throughout the level. The reason: this mission is hard. The aliens are fast, can withstand multiple blaster shots, and pack a lot of punch. The stormtroopers are also well placed, as are the turrets. Usually, they'll be able to get off a shot at you before you get a shot off at them. In addition to the enemies, the author limits the amount of shield and health packs as well as amount of ammo. You start off with fifty shots in your blaster and the standard 100 shield, 100 health. Since the aliens don't drop ammunition (for obvious reasons), don't be surprised if you find yourself running dry at the end. I finished with twelve blaster shots and one rail charge. Overall, this mission will challenge even the best players. Of course, I wouldn't have it any other way. To correctly fit in with the Aliens universe, levels like these have to be hard. I would have felt sorely cheated if the xenomorphs were pushovers. In the movies you didn't hunt them. They hunted you. That statement rings true here as I move into the enhancements section of the review. As you might have guessed by now, this level is brimming with new features. There are subtle ones - like the new textures - and there are big, obvious ones - like the aliens themselves. The author also uses several new COG's as well as new AI's to get the most out them too. Like I said, you don't hunt the aliens in this level. They hunt you. This is thanks to a very complex piece of coding that allows the aliens to essentially wander through the facility after their release. They'll never be in the same place twice. Also, due to their speed you will have to move quickly or else they'll get the jump on you. Heck, they may still get the jump on you regardless. The first time I played this level, an alien jumped me in the ventilation duct near the power generators. Two hits later, I was dead. So I replayed the mission, and got into the generator room again. This time, I laid down mines in the duct. I blast the generators and wait for the mines to go off. They never went off. The xenomorph went through the door (not the ducts), and got the jump on me again. Two hits later, I was dead and had to replay the level. In addition to all the COGing, new PUP's and KEY's add to the visual appeal of the aliens. The new sounds that the aliens make can be downright creepy, especially when you run into one in a dark hallway. Of course there are other new sounds as well. My favorite was the frantic voice on the PA system, warning the base that the xenomorph specimens were on the loose.
Playing Experience / Atmosphere
Usually in my reviews the Level's Experience is where I say something like "This is where the level starts to unravel." Not so here. In fact, this is where the level shines. Firstly, the lighting is incredible. I can't think of too many others levels where I have seen lighting of this quality. In some rooms shadows pulse, increasing and decreasing in intensity. In others you get a strobe light effect or cascading shadows that stream down a hallway. Anyone who's watched the first two aliens movies will remember the dark, foreboding atmosphere that's greatly attributed to the lighting. This level does an excellent job recreating that atmosphere. Of course, the aliens themselves do a good job of heightening the tension throughout the second half of the level. Their realistic look, increased speed, strength, and bite easily make them one of the toughest enemies MotS has ever seen. The scenes that the author uses to setup the various fights were pretty impressive too. My favorite was the first intersection after the xenomorphs escape. The hallways are pitch black but there's just enough dull light that you can see where you're going. There's just enough that you can see an alien drop from the ceiling, blend into the shadows, and attack before you can guess its location. "Somebody wake up Hicks." Ok, so you don't get any help in the level. However, I did enjoy the one scene where the stormtroopers will assist you if you don't shoot them. They do a good job of distracting the xenomorphs. What needs to happen now is for someone to make a full-length (this level was kind of short) level complete with friendly characters. In my opinion, that would add another element to the gameplay. Semblance for the first three quarters of the level was spectacular. The very end is a bit too linear to be realistic; however, at that point you're just trying to escape the aliens. I don't think too many players will be wishing that they could explore around some more. Lastly, despite all the new features, I was amazed at how clean the level was. The aliens never got "stuck" so to speak, and the game itself never crashed or locked up. Framerate was also high, which is good considering the level's fast paced nature.
Review Screenshot 3
Review Screenshot 4
Final Thoughts
"I don't know if you're up on current events pal, but we just got our asses kicked." This is a level that kicks ass, and at the same time kicks your ass. It's hard, but ultimately rewarding. Hopefully, there will be another one of these crossovers with a bit more length, better texturing, and a good plot. Still, even with a few small hang-ups, there's no reason not try this level.
79 / 100
93 / 100
96 / 100