Platform: Sony Playstation
Release Date: October 10, 2000 (US), December 1, 2000 (Europe)
Genre: First Person Shooter
Publisher: Fox Interactive
Developer: Argonaut Games
Alien Resurrection is a 2000 first-person shooter game developed by Argonaut Games and published exclusively by Fox Interactive for Sony Playstation. It’s based on the film of the same name and it was supposed to be released to coincide with 1997’s Alien Resurrection but the game had been in development hell for years.
The game follows the same plot of the film where a cloned Ripley is aboard the USM Auriga years after the events in Alien 3. Xenomorphs break free and Ripley and a group of mercenaries must escape the ship. Alien Resurrection is a first-person survival shooter game which contains ten levels, nine of which take place on the Auriga and one on the Betty spacecraft. You can play as four different characters from the film with Ripley being the main character in most levels while you can play as Call, Distephano and Christie in some levels.
Each character has their own unique equipment while some have different weapons. Weapons includes a laser rifle, double barrel shotgun, grenade launcher, Shock rifle, flamer-thrower and a rocket launcher. As you go through each level, the player must complete different objectives to progress. This might include dealing with clones or ejecting escape pods.
You’ll fight regular Warrior Xenomorphs who can crawl over any structure, as well as Facehuggers. If you get infected with a Facehugger, you must track down a device to remove it. The games ends with a fight against the Queen Alien and Newborn.
The game’s development began in 1996 with an order from Fox Interactive just to make any Alien game regardless of what it was so it would tie in with the upcoming film. Argonaut, best known for Star Fox, created a game engine with an overhead shooter format similar to Loaded which was released in 1995/1996 for Playstation. Fox Interactive liked the prototype and greenlit the game. Fox told the team to also create a game which would appear in the film. The game, Atom Zone, was made very swiftly and appears the start of the film on the Betty. After that, development moved to Alien Resurrection.
Fox later announced that Alien Resurrection would be released in late 1997 for Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn and Windows PC. Fox sent the team boxes of scripts, storyboards and raw video footage from the film so Argonaut could use it as reference material in the game.
Argonaut Games had worked on the game for about a year when they decided the overhead shooter genre from Loaded had become outdated and started development from scratch. The new title was now a 3D action-adventure game like Tomb Raider which had been released after the initial development had started on Alien Resurrection. At this point, part of the development team quit the project as they were frustrated that a year of their work had just been scrapped. To make things worse, the remaining team were invited to a private screening of the film in November 1997 and were disappointed with it and the game they developed for the film, Atom Zone, hardly appeared. (You can view many magazine article below showing what the third-person game looked like).
Around the film’s release, Fox Interactive started marketing the game, pushing out trailers and advertisements showing FMV sequences from the original version of the game. Argonaut were having issues of their own with the game because of the technical issues with their new 3D engine. AI movements were poor as well as the camera system. In late 1998, Argonaut changed the game’s genre again – this time to a first-person shooter. Most of the level design could be salvaged but the transition to first-person lost the actors’ voicework. Having the game in first-person solved a lot of technical issues they were having with Alien Resurrection. The game was finally released exclusively for the Sony PlayStation in late 2000, almost three years after the film came out in cinemas.
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Playstation Plus (November 1996) Zone (January 1998) Sega Saturn Magazine (February 1998) Gamepro (February 1998) Playstation Plus (March 1998) Playstation Plus (September 1998) Unknown [Italian] (September 1998) PC Zone PSW (February 1999) Total Control (February 1999) GameInformer (March 1999) PSW (April 1999) Total Playstation EGM (April 1999) PSW Play (Issue 50) PSW (June 2000) EGM (July 2000) GamesMaster (August 2000) Power (September 2000) PSW (August 2000) PSW (September 2000) EGM (November 2000) Video Gamer (December 2000) Play (Issue 67)
Upon its release, Alien Resurrection received mixed reviews with positives aimed the game’s scary atmosphere and gameplay but negatives were about the poor graphics and high difficulty level. Video Gamer Magazine scored it 7/10 praising the atmosphere but the control system was difficult: “It’s far from perfect but Alien Resurrection certainly gets our vote as the scariest (and possibly the hardest) game in the world. Highly recommended.”
Gamespot scored it 4.7/10 and famously criticised the twin-stick control scheme. At the time, Alien Resurrection was one of the first games to use it which has become the default control scheme today for first-person shooters. Summing up, Gamespot said “Beyond the control issues, Alien Resurrection is gruelingly hard. That is, it’s hard to the point where you’ll spend as much time reloading your save file as you will spend playing the game.” IGN scored it 6.5/10 praising the atmosphere but lamented the poor controls “For what it’s worth, the atmosphere created by the graphics and sound in Alien: Resurrection is second to none in creating fear and tension. The best moments of the game are spent exploring the halls, worried to death that an alien will burst out of the walls or pop out from under the floor.”
Alien Resurrection Review
The Making of Alien Resurrection – Great article about the problems during development.