Alien Arena is yet another multiplayer shooter that tries to carry the torch of old games from the last century, literally. It strives to do the best it can, with its technology, and it does it rather well, but there is almost nothing spectacular about this title and this can be seen in the gameplay and the replay value.
Multiplayer shooters were a big thing a decade ago, but their demise was not entirely due to their lack of popularity or appeal. The rise of consoles, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and the release of simpler games like Modern Warfare and the Battlefield series, have made game companies concentrate more and more on direct approach to multiplayer titles.
There was a time when everyone knew about Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament and there were serious disputes on what is the best multiplayer game. The franchises evolved and more complicated, better games appeared, with the culmination of Unreal Tournament 2004 (there was also Unreal Tournament III, but it failed to rise to the hype and expectations).
A few remnants from that era, built either on Quake or id Tech engines (like Alien Arena, which is based on id Tech 2 engine), survived and even thrived. This is because they are cross-platform and run on Windows and virtually any Linux distribution, if users know how to configure and tinker with the source package.Installation
The developers, COR Entertainment, have provided a source package, which is roughly 367 MB in size. Users can compile their own copy, but beware, as it has a lot of dependencies and most likely, fans will need to install additional packages, mostly related to OpenAL.
We have encountered some difficulties while trying to compile and install Alien Arena. From what we have gathered, most of the problems users will face are related to missing dependencies. It's impossible for us to recommend what to install, but we can tell your for certain that the packages in questions are easy to find and are still maintained, as they usually can be found in repositories.
Once the game has been downloaded and unpacked there are just three simple commands. Open a terminal and go to the Alien Arena directory. Then run:./configure –prefix=/usr
sudo make install
It won't take to long to compile and install. For those of you who don't want the latest version and have Ubuntu installed, Alien Arena can be found in Synaptic Package Manager (or Ubuntu Software Center), but it's at version 7.40-2 and not 7.51. However, it's a lot easier to install, not to mention a lot faster because there's no need to compile the game, of course.
After compilation, users won't be able to find a shortcut to the game in the main menu. Although the game is based on id Tech 2, it's actually called the CRX engine. Hit the CTRL+ALT+T key combination and just type crx
for the client and crx-ded
for a dedicated server.The Game
Alien Arena is a standard multiplayer shooter. It features nothing gamers haven't seen before, but it's main attraction is not the gameplay (although is quite fun), but the stylish design of characters and various levels.
Everything has a cartoonish look and feel. The art direction is obvious right from the very first level where you face an alien-like creature that is resembling those from the parody Mars Attacks, not to mention the fact that his name is Beavis.
The interface is really clean and simple. Everyone can figure out what to do immediately after starting the game. Just pick a player, a name, tinker a little bit with the video settings to get the right performance and you're good to go.
Alien Arena features several multiplayer modes like Death Match, Capture the Flag, All Out Assault, Team Core Assault, Deathball and Duel. They bring nothing new, but the game has dozens of maps available from the start and hundreds others, made by fans, that can be downloaded separately.
Although the multiplayer mode is the core of the game, Alien Arena also features a single-player mode, which is quite simple. The user starts playing all the game modes, in a more difficult progression, against bots. It may seem a waste of time at first, but you will need the practice, as the human opponents are often really good, especially after all those years of practice.The Good
Alien Arena is based on an old engine, but it was updated regularly and it looks quite decent. It's not as beautiful as Unreal Tournament 2004, but the stylish textures and level design makes it stand out among other similar shooters.
The game also features a myriad of maps and there's always competition on dedicated servers just waiting to humiliate new players.The Bad
The hardware requirements are not really pretentious, but because of all the graphical effects that were introduced with the latest updates, it will require more GPU power that users could imagine. It's not a performance hog, but if you have a really old system, you will have to lower the video settings, which in turn will make Aline Arena a lot less handsome.Conclusion
Alien Arena is a solid shooter that does the job its supposed to do, but the fact that it doesn't have anything else besides its looks, makes it less appealing. It provides a lot of fun on occasion, but it's not the type of game users play on a daily basis.