Alpha Prime

13Alpha Prime is part Doom 3, Half-Life and just about every other mainstream first-person shooter you’ve played. It borrows and mixes elements from other better games, except it doesn’t mix anything very creatively. You have quintessential shooter cliches – restoring power, shooting crazed humans infected by some virus, extremely linear levels, bullet time, moody techno-dungeon corridors – it’s all there. But for a game with basically zero press coverage (it just popped out of nowhere) and not that great a budget, it’s surprising to report that Alpha Prime, as generic as it is, isn’t all that terrible.

The unremarkable plot revolves around space prospectors who’ve been driven mad by the stuff they’re looking for. This ‘hubbardium’ could be a safe metal, but could just be a mythical creature’s bones. Refined hubbardium has the side effect of charging up a bullet-time bar, which is bloody convenient for a modern FPS. The other gimmick, which is slightly more original, is a hacking tool that lets you control machines, doors and cameras. The trick is that some doors can be opened only when you go into the camera mode of your hacking tool, which offers a nice modern equivalent of hiding secret areas in the modern sci-fi levels.

But the action itself feels stiff and unconvincing. There’s little in the sense of movement. Sure you can do some of the more advanced stuff, like leaning around corners, but it’s so awkwardly implemented here that you never feel fully in control of your character as you navigate around. Enemies are deadly accurate, and can lower your health bar remarkably quickly even on the lowest difficulty. Their AI is competent but nothing to drool over. They do basic things like run for cover, try to flank you or run when you throw a grenade their way.

The game is remarkably short. Weighing in at only ten levels, the game can be completed in about two days or so, and with zero multiplayer, that’s pretty much it. In the end, Alpha Prime isn’t a game you’ll likely care much about, but coming from a small, obscure team with little experience, one can at least give it credit for being a half-decent shooter.

System Requirements: Pentium IV 4 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 1.5 GB HDD, WinXP

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