Set in a futuristic world Alpha Prime is yet another Doom clone created by Czech developer Black Element Software. The story is a bit different but the setting seems more than familiar and the graphics closely resemble Doom 3’s, but don’t really come close to matching them. Black Element does a few interesting things with the game but ultimately, most will find it to be an average first-person shooter that lacks significantly in certain areas.
Hubbardium is the new oil of the day that fuels interstellar ships and the newly discovered asteroid, Alpha Prime, is rich with the element. As you might guess, mining on Alpha Prime goes terribly wrong leading to the slow intoxication of the human workers, and damage to the robots and computers. The multinational corporation that was set up to mine the “most precious substance known to man” sealed off the Alpha Prime facility, due to the dangers, and left. Similar to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s zone, the attraction to the vast supply of valuable hubbardium prompted prospectors to break the seal and bypass security measures to continue mining. Things took a turn for the worse for these illegal miners and they were forced to call for help. With a bit of persuasion, your character, Arnold, who is one of the few people that happen to be immune to the effects on Alpha Prime, decides to rescue an old friend; one of the trapped criminal prospectors.
The gameplay is standard for a first-person shooter and seems generic. I didn’t really like the feel of the controls as much as other FPS games. I’m not sure that I can pinpoint it specifically, but you should understand what I mean if you try the demo. The gravity is a little less than normal because of the location, but jumping especially seems a little hard to control. My lean right key also didn’t seem to be working correctly all the time and Arnold doesn’t appear to move with moving platforms. The weapons are standard and there really isn’t anything unique, other than perhaps the flamethrower. However, they don’t seem powerful at all thanks to the sound, which I’ll get to below. Most of the time the artificial intelligence opponents seem to always know where you are, even if you’re in another room; they’ll open a door and you’ll just get hit right away. This can be frustrating, but they don’t seem all that intelligent because at other times you’ll be able to sneak up behind them without them noticing. They also walk around rather awkwardly and obviously seem to run around in strict patterns. Hubbardium can also be manufactured into a powerful drug. You collect it throughout the game for this purpose and this is how Black Element worked the bullet-time feature into Alpha Prime. This feature seems to work well but again, it’s nothing new.
The game does offer a few interesting things including a basketball court with basketballs and a working scoreboard, a vehicle at one point, and there are several other more basic interactive features. Other than these things, however, there really isn’t anything that I would say makes you want to continue playing or keeps the game interesting.
|"...there really isn’t anything that I would say makes you want to continue playing or keeps the game interesting. "|
Alpha Prime’s graphics are mixed. Most of the character models seem fairly well done but then there are models, such as Livia, whose face looks like a manikin or a balloon with eyes painted on; no expression and not much facial structure. Animation is robot-like when it comes to the arms and hands. Enemy models are pretty good, for the most part, but the robots didn’t really do it for me. The environments weren’t bad and resembled Doom 3, almost too much, as I mentioned in the beginning. Alpha Prime does include the Havok physics engine, which is always a nice touch in any game.
One of the largest problems with Alpha Prime is the game’s sound. Voice acting is amateur and corny the majority of the time and the cut scenes are long. The weapons sound very weak and are not satisfying at all. The music was alright for the most part, but it overpowers the already weak weapon/footstep noises. It seems like most of the time you’ll only be able to notice that an enemy is shooting you by seeing the red flash on your screen, not hearing them approach or fire. This combined with the fact that the AI always seem to know right where you are, even if you’re in a different room, makes the game somewhat difficult at times. You can change the music and effects volumes in the audio options menu and it helps a little, but not much. Overall, Alpha Prime ends up sounding like you’re in a tunnel the entire time and doesn’t work well.
For the most part, I’d say that the weak points overpower the few positives in Alpha Prime and because there isn’t anything that’s really new or unique and the sound ruins the intensity, I find it fairly boring. You shoot enemies, watch a cut scene, shoot some more, interact with something, repeat. The game promises around 15 to 20 hours but I would hope that you could spend your time more wisely. I would predict that most shooter fans would have the same negative feelings and I am unable to recommend this game.