Keith's Crappy Videogame Blog

Alpha Prime (PC, 2007, Czech): Beautifully Average
August 5, 2010, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Alpha Prime (PC, 2007, Czech)

There are probably only a few hundred folks (if even) in the US who have bothered importing the UK version of this game to play it. (I’m exaggerating, of course.) In “Alpha Prime,” as protagonist Arnold Weiss, you are sent to the titular asteroid (which is rich in deposits of hubbardium–used as fuel in interstellar ships) to investigate why the mining operation has gone rogue.  (Never seen that one before.) During mining, workers began to go mad due to exposure, and automatic defense forces (robots) have kinda taken over the place. Though you interact with some remaining humans (and some forces also sent to the asteroid for ulterior purposes), your main missions involve deactivating (read: shooting the heads off of) the robots defending the place. Kinda neat.

Personally, I had low-to-no hopes for this sci-fi shooter at the outset, but I’m always sniffing around for these underdog games (read: low-rent) that few others bother with (read: waste money on). [NOTE TO SELF: Come to think of it, all my media interests lean in this direction, probably because I have absolutely no sense of taste or style. Remember that next time I’m dressing for a wedding or funeral.]

Though the graphics in “Alpha Prime” were pretty slick, and the game ran like a champ—never stuttered, smooth as glass–the guns were sub-par, the sound has panning left-to-right issues (it simply fades out at times), and the game is WAY TOO TALKY!! Gab, gab, gab…all the blabbing during cutscenes does help to flesh out the storyline, but the characters are not quite interesting enough to have to listen to them talk AT each other for so long. Some of the lead voice acting is fine believe it or not—some of the supporting voice acting is, errr, not so good. As is the case with many of these games, voicing problems can be attributed to localization-to-English issues…but others just come down to lack of talent, sorry. (I understand that, with these smaller developers, any uncle/cousin/wife/daughter/neighbor of someone on the team who happens to speak even broken English will be dragged into the studio to do voicework. For some reason, that sounds completely plausible to me.) Having said that, I forced myself to continue playing it, and…well, I got hooked.

The lead character is an unsexy, bearded, middle-aged space miner-soldier (not some suave hunk like Nathan Drake), and this kept my attention; there’s a love interest involved as well, who may be in danger or may be in league with the enemy. Though I had to slog through the stiff and awkward beginning, the game seemed to pick up steam toward the middle and end, the storyline became a bit more convoluted (in a good way) and the action got more and more tense. (The few reviews you find of this game seem to complain that the difficulty level was too severe, with enemies [robots, usually] who had you targeted before even entering a room; lots of death–yours primarily–ensued. I have to concur. However, I did notice that a patch for the game was released not too long ago that “weakens the enemies’ health”–so apparently, we gamers were not suddenly losing our skills after all.)

When the game eventually switched from corridor crawls (which I never personally tire of) to driving a buggy on the surface of the asteroid, it actually became really good fun, dare I say at the same level as some of the outside Half-Life 2 scenes—not as much action, but a good sense of taking a dangerous journey in a strange, deserted landscape all alone. But as I said, I’m one of those loser people who like playing these somewhat underdog, underdeveloped, Euro-games that no one is paying attention to. (Anyone ever hear of Kreed, like an eon ago?) What can I say….I liked Pariah (Xbox, 2005) too , after all. “Alpha Prime” is definitely on my “I’m glad I stuck with it and played it through to the end” list.