This PSP version of the game controls pretty much like you would expect, you move and aim by using the portable's one analog stick. The good news is that when you start using your long-range weapon your aim will lock into one direction, so you can freely move around all you want while still firing your weapon. In order to make it anywhere in Alien Syndrome you are going to need to get used to manually adjusting the camera, while this is easy enough it can sometimes be a hassle when you're in the middle of a large fire fight. I can't say that the controls are bad (each of the buttons are responsive and moving around is usually not a problem), but they certainly aren't very inspired.
The game itself is actually quite long, Alien Syndrome comes packed with dozens of levels and a story mode that will keep you busy (although not entertained) for quite a few hours. The problem is that since you're stuck doing the same boring tasks level after level the game feels more like a punishment than a fun interactive experience. From time to time you'll be tasked with something different, like finding specific switches and getting out of an area in a certain amount of time ... but for the most part Alien Syndrome's levels all require you to kill a bunch of enemies and exit the level. While some may argue that this style of gameplay is the crux of all hack 'n slash dungeon crawls, but even the worst Diablo clones give you some variation as you go along.
The monotony of the game is only made worse by the dreadful level designs. Most of the levels look like they were designed at random, with just a few different kinds of corridors used to create every level in the game. You move around a world that is completely nonsensical, why anybody would want to create a world with so many confusing hallways and areas that are used for nothing is beyond me. To make matters worse, a lot of the levels tend to look the same. From time to time you'll run into a room that is a different color than the one you just got out of, but this slight pallet swap is hardly enough to make you excited about playing another repetitive level. There's no reason that this game has to look so brad and boring, this game could have been improved had somebody just gone in and made the levels look more appealing.
And it's not just the levels that look bad, the main character and enemies are equally terrible. The main character is so small that I'm surprised I didn't lose track of her as I fought through the game, and the enemies are never very interesting looking. The whole game runs at a solid frame rate, but who cares when there's nothing on the screen you actually want to look at? The original arcade game isn't the best looking game of all time or anything, but at least it felt like Sega was trying to do what they could given the technology they had at the time. This 2007 Alien Syndrome just feels like somebody phoned in the graphics, the words "half-assed" just isn't strong enough for this ugly pile of boring.
There is one bright spot amongst all this darkness, and that's the ability to play this as a four-player game. It doesn't support online play, but if you have three friends who own this game you can team up and make this a multiplayer dungeon crawl. Of course, the fact that this game is four players doesn't make up for the boring levels, terrible graphics, repetitive tasks and limited enemy types. At the end of the day this is just a very bad game with a four player option, the fact that this allows multiplayer is definitely not enough to save this from being anything but below average. And really, if you have three friends who own Alien Syndrome, then maybe it's time to find a better caliber of friends to hang out with.
Alien Syndrome is an all around terrible resurrection of a fun (albeit shallow) arcade game. If you like to shoot at aliens and enjoy playing with friends then chances are you're better served by one of the other games that does exactly that. The idea of fighting aliens in space is hardly a new concept for video games, so why bother suffering through a bad one when there are so many better examples out there? I like that Sega decided to support four-players, but next time I can only hope that they decide to throw in a great game with that four-player support.
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Alien Syndrome is ugly, boring, repetitive and hard to recommend. And worst of all, it's just no fun whatsoever. Not even fans of the old school arcade game will find much to enjoy in this half-assed resurrection.
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