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CowboyNeal Reviews Alien Arena: Reloaded

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the time-to-play dept.

First Person Shooters (Games) 33

CowboyNeal writes: "Last week I wrote about the fluid nature of modern game development and how that often impacts both game reviews and purchases. Given the recent announcement of the release of Alien Arena: Reloaded, I decided it warranted a fresh look, to see how the free shooter has aged. Read on for the rest of my review of Alien Arena: Reloaded."

What is Alien Arena?

First released in 2005, Alien Arena is a multiplayer sequel to two older single-player first-person shooters. Since then Alien Arena has had yearly releases which have kept the game updated with new features. The original game was based on the id Tech 2 engine from Quake 2, with many new features added that kept it looking modern. Alien Arena: Reloaded uses the CRX engine, which while still based on id Tech 2, has had several things from id Tech 3 folded into it, as well as other features. On the surface, it's pretty standard arena shooter fare. There's no single-player campaign here, instead the single-player mode has one square off against bots on the same maps one would play in multiplayer, as sort of a practice mode before going online.

Given its Quake ancestry, game play is fast and frenetic. Alien Arena: Reloaded very much feels like a Quake mod when playing it, but looks more like a modern game thanks to its use of improved textures, and added features like rain and water dripping on surfaces.

There's a healthy amount of Alien Arena servers up at any given moment, however there's not very much in the way of a competitive scene. There are still clan tournaments, but there's no tourneys on the scale of Warsow or even QuakeWorld.

Given the free nature of the Alien Arena's code and assets, it's available for most major modern operating systems. There's a handy Windows installer, and it's available for most Unix-like systems through the usual channels, such as MacPorts, various Linux packages, and the FreeBSD ports system.

What sets Alien Arena apart?

Alien Arena has a unique selection of weapons, including the newly-added Mind Eraser, that are designed around its retro sci-fi theme that showcases giant-headed aliens in space suits, robots and other '60s B movie favorites. There's a rocket launcher too, because that's required in the sacred laws of shooters. While movement still felt like Quake 3 to me when I first loaded it up, that was a good thing, as it made me feel at home, and is likely to do the same for long-time shooter players. Alien Arena also adds a dodge functionality, which the id Tech engines didn't have. It's also possible to chain dodges together to enable a "strafejump" sort of movement. While it takes a little practice to get this technique down, it's easily picked up for players who are used to double-jumping in other shooters.

Alien Arena has the standard capture-the-flag and deathmatch modes, including team deathmatch. There's also a Team Core Assault mode which is a control point scenario where a team must disable all of the other team's power nodes before destroying a central spider power node. Alien Arena also adds some new modes that are unique, which are Deathball and Cattle Prod. In Deathball, one scores points by killing opponents as well as finding a ball and shooting it into the goal. In Cattle Prod mode, teams try to guide the cows found in the middle of the map into goals which are located inside the enemy base.

Gameplay

Overall gameplay is a lot like any other Quake-based shooter, and as I mentioned before, it didn't take long for me to feel right at home. The single-player option, while not a full campaign, is designed to let the player jump into action immediately and face off against bots. Lower levels of the bot AI aren't very challenging to allow new players to get acclimated, and higher levels provide a much tougher challenge. It's worth mentioning that Alien Arena: Reloaded has improved the bot AI for capture-the-flag mode, which makes it both easier to practice or to have a bot or two fill in for lopsided teams.

Multiplayer offers more of the same, except with facing off against human opponents. Alien Arena comes with the Galaxy server browser that allows one to create or join servers, and uses an IRC-based chat system to set up games and chat with fellow players.

Conclusions

Alien Arena is a fun game, and its developers should be proud of having crafted such a unique shooter that draws on the best parts of its ancestors. In these days of tactical team-based shooters, it's refreshing to see a run-and-gun style shooter still deliver. However, the community is smaller than other free shooters, and the competitive scene is nearly non-existent. For a game based around online multiplayer, that doesn't really help. Still, I'd say it warrants a play if you enjoyed Quake 3 Arena, or if you like Warsow and are looking for a break with something a little different.

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33 comments

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Do I get to play alien arena .. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40689375)

even if I have a tiny penis?

(JK good review and good game. They have made a lot of improvements in the rendering engine)

Seriously. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40689707)

This is what /. has come to.

frosty, by the way.

Quake Ancestry? (4, Insightful)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#40689829)

Yeah I guess you could call it that. It's Quake. Reskinned.

Re:Quake Ancestry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40691033)

tried it, tried to be open minded (not easy, lol) but i admit, the game took me by surprise.
far better than what i had expected, reading some hate-posts here and there.
i say hate-posts, because whatever people seem to dislike and argue is not good with this game,
is exactly what i liked about it.
looks very decent for a free game, plays smooth and no lag.

Re:Quake Ancestry? (1)

CheatCat (2687279) | more than 2 years ago | (#40731813)

No, it is not Quake. It is a totally different game.

Compare to Xonotic? (1)

Skewray (896393) | more than 2 years ago | (#40689965)

A compare-and-contrast with Xonotic would be nice, if anyone has played both. I've played Xonotic, but not Alien Arena. Xonotic gave me nausea, so I had to stop. It also has a description similar to the OP.

Re:Compare to Xonotic? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40690929)

You can visit http://red.planetarena.org and http://xonotic.org and get a good idea of the differences/similarities. They are pretty similar overall, Alien Arena is prettier IMO.

Re:Compare to Xonotic? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40692673)

I know I get motion-sick when gaming on a widescreen with 90 FOV (which is usually the default for these types of games.) If you have a widescreen, try setting the FOV to 120 or 130.

Spyware abounds (2)

casings (257363) | more than 2 years ago | (#40690197)

Doesn't this tool come packed with a spyware toolbar?

Re:Spyware abounds (3, Informative)

archer, the (887288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40690585)

The Windows installer offered to install a toolbar. I declined.

Re:Spyware abounds (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695059)

At least the windows version comes with an installer and not source code which doesn't compile on major linux distros. I'll be sticking with quake live, thanks.

Re:Spyware abounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40696151)

RTFM. I compiled it on my bog-standard Kubuntu 12.04. Just make sure you read the README file that comes with it and apt-get install the libs mentioned in the README. After that it's just plain old ./configure, make, sudo make install, make clean.

Re:Spyware abounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40809005)

it compiles on every major linux distro actually.

Re:Spyware abounds (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 2 years ago | (#40690637)

Doesn't this tool come packed with a spyware toolbar?

I heard someone say that, I downloaded my copy from download.com and while I had a choice to install something else, I unchecked them and it didn't install anything but the game.

I'm pretty sure the people that got "spyware" probably user errored it on their system.

The game? meh.

Quake type games were fun back in the 90's, but I'm older now and need something more sophisticated.

Return of the ?OTD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40690471)

What is your favorite FPS?

(a) ...

(b) ...

....

(g) Cowboy Neal's Alien Arena Reloaded

Cowyboy Neal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40690495)

I though he died.

Um, download link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40690537)

Am I being dense (probably)? Is there a link to download the actual game? I followed the link to the story about the announcement which had a link to the page where it's described. I tried downloading from the big blue button that says "Download" there, but it only gave me 2 choices "I already have " and "Download for Windows", neither of which apply to me (I'm on OS X). I clicked on the download link in the menu at the top of the page, and it offers about 1,100 different games to download. The one with the name "Alien Arena" is a Moon Lander clone. WTF? How do I actually download the game described here?

Re:Um, download link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40690559)

Ah, found it! http://red.planetarena.org/aquire.html

Re:Um, download link? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40691821)

Wait - I have to build it myself? Seriously? No wonder I've never met anyone who has played this. I tried building it, and it required me to install libjpeg, libcurl, ogg, vorbis, vorbisfile, freetype 2, etc. Sorry, I wanted to waste time playing a game, not building it. It's like doing work, but less fun.

Re:Um, download link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40695107)

apt-get install alien-arena ...or whatever packaging system you use

Re:Um, download link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40809029)

actually every dep is listed on the AA forum and builds easily no "work" just a copy and paste

Re:Um, download link? (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40690869)

It's open source. Any decent operating system will have a package in its repository.

Great review, thanks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40690827)

This is a nice, well thought out review. The game has improved tremendously in the past few years, and now stands near the top of free arena-style FPS games. The minderaser weapon was a great addition! Love shooting out the mechanical spiders, that is something a little different than the standard Quake style weapons that most of these games have.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40691089)

He's still alive?!?

LAN is Where It's At (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40691397)

I can't speak for Alien Arena but back when I was in high school we would play games like OpenArena, not for the online community, but for the LAN capabilities (since online servers were blocked). The game was open source so we didn't have to worry about any DRM and the system requirements were low enough that they could run on our old hardware.

We did all this when we had a long-term substitute teacher. We would zip through our work for the day so we could play games. Learned a thing or two about networking too.

Cow herding mode? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695479)

Is this some joke I am missing?

Re:Cow herding mode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40695703)

It is no joke, i also was surprised first time.

Can't have an alien game without cows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40696177)

Look for "Cattle Prod" mode. It's pretty hilarious.

So uh, what's the requirements? (1)

JTD121 (950855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40696809)

I went on the site, even the ModDB page, through the forums they've got, too! What are the system requirements for this game? I understand it's based on id Tech 2/3, but that doesn't matter, being that they've added a bunch of new, modern, fun stuff!

Anyone?

Re:So uh, what's the requirements? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40697593)

It'll run on pretty much any Nvidia or ATI gpu with a reasonable CPU and memory. You can scale down the settings if needed in the video menu presets.

Poll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40700121)

What would make this more informative is some sort of poll where people could select why they like or don't like the game...maybe with an option for those that have no opinion either way.

Re:Poll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704367)

Or you could just download it and install it. Doesn't cost anything but your time.

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