Alien Hominid may not be as long as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It doesn’t feature the cutting edge online game play found in Halo 2. And its graphics certainly won’t be confused with Half-Life 2. But no matter how many multi-million dollar productions you play this year, Alien Hominid will stand out as one of the funniest and most entertaining games of the year. It’s the kind of game you pick up when you’re sick of stealing cars, fighting the covenant, and using your gravity gun; it’s the kind of game that makes you feel like a kid again.
The brilliance of Alien Hominid is apparent from the very first moment you turn on the game. This is a simple game, but there’s something infectious about it. You play the small yellow Alien Hominid, who is simply minding his own business joy riding in space when disaster strives, and his UFO is shot down by the U.S. government. The FBI has taken your craft and left you for dead, and it’s your job to get it back … no matter what gets in your way.
This quest to get his ship back takes the Alien all over the world, from the busy streets of the United Streets, to the snowy mountains of Russia, all the way back to the secret location of Area 51. In these levels the Alien runs from one side of the screen to the other killing whatever gets in his way. He’s already equipped with alien technology, and has a bad habit of jumping on people’s heads and taking a major bite out of them. This Alien is a killing machine, even if he looks sweet and innocent.
The game play is not all that different from the old 2D Contra games or even SNK’s Metal Slug titles. Avoiding bullets is the name of the game, and most of the strategy comes from simply memorizing where the enemies are in any given level. You can shoot in four directions, but if you’re jumping you can propel yourself up (or simply hover a little longer) by shooting towards the ground. The game play won’t win any awards for originality, but that’s hardly the point when you’re in the middle of a heavy fire fight against the KGB.
Along the way you will have the opportunity to drive vehicles and even fly your old space ship. The driving is handled much like you’d expect, with the Alien sticking his head out the window shooting whoever is in front of him. You can also pick up tanks and other larger vehicles, but the game play does not change drastically. You will also have a chance to fly your own spaceship, which reminded me of the classic Midway arcade game Sinistar. This variety, along with a number of other shocking moments I won’t spoil, make Alien Hominid one of the most refreshing action games of the year.
The Alien’s quest is not especially long, but it’s memorable with all kinds of cool boss battles and jokes scattered for you to find. In fact, the real charm of Alien Hominid is the way the game looks. Instead of going for the realistic approach, or even the highly detailed look we got from Metal Slug 3 (Xbox) earlier this year, Alien Hominid looks like no other game on the market. It looks like it was hand drawn … like they literally JUST drew it. The backgrounds are simple; the writing is often sloppy and slightly askew, and it never looks like they spent more than a few moments on each set piece.
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