Alien 3 logo

Ellen Ripley is back, but so is the bitch, and something tells me it's going to get very bloody. Hudson, we are leaving...

When I first head about Alien3 I was excited as a pervert in a whipped cream factory. The battle between Ripley and the alien has raged on for 14 years now. You would have thought that a software house such as Ocean or US Gold would have signed up the licence.

The only piece of software I can remember is a dreadful and very sad attempt which appeared on the good old Spectrum. Thanks to Probe software Alien3 is now on the Amiga, so sit back, absorb the atmosphere and enjoy.

It does not follow the exact plot, the reason for being that the film would not make an entertaining bit of software. As fans will know, Alien3 doesn't feature any weapons because it is set in a prison colony and that in itself would make the game a bit boring.
A second reason is the fact that Alien3 only features one alien and even a super alien wouldn't last long against Ripley. What Probe have done is added loads of weapons - pulse rifle, flame thrower, and so on - and loads of aliens. The game is actually more like the original Aliens than Alien3.

The plot is very simple indeed: the aliens have taken over the colony and turned it into a breeding ground by using the prisoners as hosts for alien eggs.
Ripley has to rescue the prisoners - by putting them out of their pain and misery - and waste all the aliens.

This is basically a simple platform and blast-'em-up but it works much better than the average simply because you can already relate to it. What Alien3 has which most do not is atmosphere - and bags of it to boot.

Ripley can flick between four sets of weapons (see below for details) but unfortunately they are all rather limited. This means you have to be careful otherwise you'll be weaponless and helpless. You can replenish your armoury if you're lucky enough to find the appropriate icons.

Alien3 is a complete and utter gore-fest with blood and, in the aliens' cases, acid flying all over the place. Graphically it is quite impressive. The main Ripley sprite actually does look like the heroine of the film, but unfortunately she could also easily be mistaken for Irish popstrel Sinead O'Connor.
The alien sprites are just as impressive, very mean and menacing. The backdrops are well drawn and add to the dark and intense atmosphere.

There is a choice to be made on the sound front between music and sound effects - you can't have both! The sound effects are fairly naff apart from a nice squishing when you blow an alien to bits. The controls are easy enough, apart from the annoying fact that you have to press the spacebar to change your weapon.

It's not original by any means, but other platformers pale in comparison thanks to the dark moody graphics that generate such a spooky atmosphere.
Alien3 is as good as the Mega Drive version and any Amiga-owning Alien fan is going to want to rush out to buy it.

I would heartily recommend it to anyone, but as it's basically a bog-standard platformer it comes down to personal preference. If you want a cutesy platform game take a peek at Superfrog, but if you want a violent, dark and moody one, then Aien3 is definitely your cup of tea. Hudson, we are leaving.


Weapons detail
Alien 3: Pulse rifle
  • Pulse rifle - A machine gun type thingy. It's not very hard, but shoots a lot of bullets.
Alien 3: Flame thrower
  • Flame thrower - Good for lighting ciggies and even better for torching smelly aliens. A good close range weapon.
Alien 3: Hand grenades
  • Hand grenades - A good ol' couple of explosive eggs rammed down the alien's throat and Bob's your uncle. Excellent for fatal destruction.
Alien 3: Grenade launcher
  • Grenade launcher - Sort of like the hand grenades, but you shove them down the barrel of a gun. Very lethal, but slow to reload for a second shot - although get 'em on target and you won't need one.

Alien 3 logo

The three feature films in the Alien series offer film-goers three different genres: Alien is a suspense-thriller, Aliens is a Terminator-style shooting and explosion bonanza, while the third, Alien 3 is a kind of Ealing comedy set aboard a prison planet, where Ripley, the survivor of the first two films, crashes her spaceship. IT seems like an Ealing because: 1) it's full of chirpy cockneys, 2) - there are loads of slapstick routines; and 3) - there is no real violence or suspense at all in the film. That's not to say it isn't good, it's just different, and full marks to the director for making it so.

In space...
Anyway, this game is a tie-in with the latter of the three films. This would be a crackingly good thing, except that it doesn't follow the plot in any detail, apart from the fact that it stars Ripley and an abundance of aliens. Acclaim have spurned the chance of an excellent graphical adventure, capitalising on the unexpected humour of the film, and instead produced yet another platform shoot-em-up.

This has presumably got something to do with consoles which is a shame because the possibilities opened up with the power of the Amiga are tremendous. Also, we could mention the fact that the film didn't involve any kind of weaponry, and yet in the game Ripley is armed with a flame-thrower, a grenade launcher, a pulse rifle, and a set of hand grenades. Hardly ill-equipped, eh? Still, let's give Acclaim the benefit of the doubt, because shoot-em-ups are generally a little bit dull without any weapon.

The graphics are sound enough, with a good, dark use of colour of the backdrops and an excellent alien sprite, but what's happened to Ripley? Admittedly, in the feature film she looks a bit weird, but in the Acclaim version she's so thin looking she looks like she's been filmed in CinemaScope, and she leans forward when running as if there's a 70mph headwind.

...no-one can hear...
To the game's credit, the characters are quite well animated - Ripley runs, climbs and crawls realistically, with her legs moving in sync - but it loses a lot of credibility in the jumping and leaping stakes.

Alien³ offers very little in the way of atmosphere. For a start, there's no title music. Acclaim have wasted the opportunity of building up a tense atmosphere before the game by omitting to include a haunting, atmospheric title track, and instead have left it silent - which is unforgivable. Even the title graphics are rather dull, so there's nothing to hook you into the game.

In the game itself you have a choice of either terrible in-game music, or some good (but sparse) sampled spot effects. The doors open with a nice servo noise, the grenades explode with a satisfying boom, but Ripley emits a weak masculine grunt when hit, which really doesn't suit her at all.

The list continues: there's no 'blip' noise when the tracker is activated - which added an enormous amount of tension and atmosphere to the feature films. Also missing is the terrifying screech which the big-screen aliens give out when shot -why.

So what of the game? Well, it takes place over 15 levels, which are very large in size, and consist of dimly lit corridors linked up by narrow air shafts where Ripley crawls along - her guns still work in here - just as well because aliens patrol the shafts.

The two basic things to do in the game are shoot aliens, obviously, and rescue people which the aliens have been imprisoned. You are given one of three combinations of these tasks, depending on the level: Rescue, where you must locate and rescue the prisoners; Mayhem, where you must kill all the aliens; and Mission, where you must rescue prisoners and kill the aliens.

...you scream
When you have completed a level you must then attempt to locate the exit - which is sometimes quite difficult in itself, especially since you have to try and beat the clock. Yes, there is a time limit as well, which is quite tight, but not impossible.

Killing the aliens is quite easy, when you consider the amount of fire-power at your disposal. You only have a certain amount of ammunition, though, so you have to be fairly sparing. Your pulse rifle uses about ten shots to kill an average alien, but just one grenade from the 99 available will take him out with a flurry of acid and alien bodily parts.

This aspect of the gameplay is great, and this type of gratuitous violence gives you a bit of a kick. Again on the minus side, though, the aliens could do with a bit of intelligence. Instead of homing in on you, they follow set paths, so they are easy to dodge with a little practice; and when they run off screen they will disappear and reappear from their start position - a bit of lax programming, methinks. Also, in some places there seems to be some of the map graphics missing - on one of the levels you find that you can walk into darkness, until you eventually fall to your death. Maybe this is intentional, but I'm not completely convinced.

No, the whole game seems as though it has been rushed out to meet a tight deadline, which is a shame because with a relatively small amount of work it could have been a great shoot-em-up. There is a good game in here somewhere, but faced with the lack of variety, sound and overall atmosphere, it just won't leap out and grab you...


HEAVY ARTILLERY
Alien 3: Pulse rifle Pulse rifle:
Not very powerful, but does make bits of alien fly off in a satisfying manner.
Alien 3: Flame thrower Flame-thrower:
A little bit weeider than the wide-screen version, but pretty effective anyway.
Alien 3: Grenade launcher Grenade-launcher:
Incredibly powerful, makes a good noise when you fire, and you have 99 of them.
Alien 3: Hand grenades Hand grenade:
Comes in useful in the many air shafts. Drop one of these, and it's goodbye alien...

Alien 3 logo

Über die Qualität der Filmvorlage kann man streiten, darüber dass es für den Amiga bislang noch kein vernünftiges Spiel mit den widerlichen Biestern gab, herrscht Einigkeit. Hier kommt eines frisch vom Mega Drive!

Eifrige Kinogänger seien gewarnt: Acclaims Konsolen-Konvertierung hat mit dem Streifen eigentlich nur dem Namen und die außerirdischen Hauptdarsteller gemein. Klar macht man auch hier Jagd auf Aliens und befreit bedauernswerte Opfer, doch wo sich Ripley einst unbewaffnet dem Heldentod entgegen kämpfte, darf man nun munter ballern und stirbt auch nur, wenn Energie oder Zeit alle sind. Was übrigens bei den Alien-Geiseln eine schön eklige "Brustgeburt" zur Folge hat...

Die 15 Level lange Action-Hatz beginnt mit der Landung auf dem Gefängnisplaneten Florina 161 und führt alsbald in den Untergrund, wo Aliens in allen Größen lauern (Normal- Zwischen- und Endgegnern); ein paar exklusiv für das Spiel erdachte Monster gibt's obendrein. Sie alle dürfen mit einem reichhaltigen Arsenal an Feuerwerkskörpern in den Alien-Himmel geblasen werden. Manche Viecher wollen mit dem Flammenwerfer geröstet sein, andere zerlegt man besser mit dem Maschinengewehr oder wirft eine Grenate. Jedenfalls sofern vorhanden, denn Munition ist in den mit gefährlichen Ventilatoren und anderen Helden-Fallen durchsetzten Gängen Mangelware und muß, genau wie Pakete mit frischer Energie, erst gefunden werden.

Finden muß man vor allem auch die zahllosen Gefangenen, wobei ein Radarschirm gute Dienste leistet. Opfer und Täter werden nämlich farblich unterschiedlich angezeigt. Allerdings ist an viele Geiseln nur schwer heranzukommen, oft muß man kriechen oder klettern und dabei auch noch schräg nach oben bzw. unten schießen. Als schlimmster Feind erweist sich da immer wieder das Zeitlimit, weil es zudem lebenswichtig ist, in den verzwickten Abschnitten termingerecht den Ausgang zu entdecken. Na, wenigstens macht die tadellose Steuerung keine Schwierigkeiten, denn obwohl auch Sticks mit zwei Feuerknöpfen unterstützt werden, tut es ein Button ebensogut - die Waffen lassen sich dann flott und bequem per Tastatur anwählen.

Grafisch mein man vor einem Mega Drive zu sitzen, das Scrolling klappt prima, und die Animationen kommen sehr ordentlich rüber. Leider sind manche Sprites etwas klein geraten, und die düster-farbarme Optik mag zwar atmosphärisch sein, dürfte also nicht jedermann gefallen (schon gar nicht der BPS mit ihrer Blutallergie). Über die Klasse der gelungenen Musikuntermalung wird es dagegen kaum Diskussionen geben, und auch die Sound-FX mit den gruseligen Schreien sind okay, wenn gleich nur spärlich vorhanden. Wer also nicht auf innovativen Spielideen besteht, wird von diesem ausgereiften Action-Game sicher gut bedient. Ein wenig "Berufserfahrung" sollte man halt mitbringen, denn selbst beim leichtesten der drei Schwierigkeitsgrade ist Alien 3 kein Spaziergang! Und die fehlenden Levelcodes machen die Jagd auch nicht gerade einfacher... (mm)


Alien 3 logo

The atmospheric gore-fest finally makes it to the Amiga courtesy of Probe.

Those lovable Aliens have taken over prison colony Fiorino 161 (which is known as Fury because it's not a very nice place to live) and turned it into a breeding ground. Now the prisoners are being used as hosts for Alien eggs.

Enter rock-hard, fearless and hairless Ripley to save the day. She has to rescue the prisoners and waste the Alien scum into the bargain.

The plot is not exactly that of Alien³. Call it artistic licence. Call it a Godsend actually. If the film distributor, 20th Century Fox, hadn't given Probe permission to use any hardware from the first two films, Alien³ on the Amiga would have turned out rather dull with a weaponless Ripley running around.
Instead, what we have here is an almost excellent blend of blasting and platform action (the gist of which you'll get from the captions). Alien³'s biggest failing is that Ripley's ammunition is limited. When it runs out and you have nothing to fight with, you might as well quit (Alien Breed's the worst culprit for this). It's a cheap way of imposing restrictions.

I'd also like to have seen more periods of intense shooting, especially when the time limit expires after the prisoners have been saved. A fire-fest with Aliens galore running wild would be more fun than having Ripley simply killed off for failing to reach the exit.

Graphics-wise, the Ripley's character's a bit ropey (her animation's not at all bad though) and the scenery barely serves a purpose. The Aliens on the other hand look pretty good, even if they're lit by a completely different light-source from everything else.


There's nothing of a similar ilk that's as playable

JUST THE EFFECTS, MA'AM
It's a shame you can only play with music or sound effects. As good as the soundtrack is, it's not enough on its own, and there aren't quite enough sound effects (a few of them are a tad silly actually). Let's just say what's there is adequate. There are a few neat visual touches worth mentioning, such as Ripley's features illuminated by muzzle flash. (That's just one neat visual touch, Gary. - Ed). A two-button joystick is supported too, though I'd sooner have seen the weapon select key replaced instead of 'up' for jump.

Alien³ may be unoriginal but in its favour there's nothing on the Amiga of a similar ilk that's as atmospheric and playable. The maze-like levels aren't huge but they're well designed and that makes them appear larger. (It's often easy to miss prisoners under your nose and to lose sight of the exit, which all adds to the tension).

You could certainly spend your hardly-earned Christmas cash on a lot worse, so don't. Buy Alien³ and have a good time.


HARDWARE
Ripley's armed with a Motion Tracker and four of finest weapons money can't buy. Ammunition is limited, so be frugal with the firepower and keep 'em peeled for supplies.
Alien 3: Motion tracker Alien 3: Pulse rifle Alien 3: Flame thrower Alien 3: Hand grenades Alien 3: Grenade launcher
MOTION TRACKER
Stuck in the top right-hand corner of the screen. Aliens appear as white dots while prisoners are shown as yellow blobs. The Tracker doesn't blip (which is a pity as it should have done for extra tension) but it does run out of power and disappear from view after a couple of minutes so you have to pick up a token to get it back.
PULSE RIFLE
It fires armour-piercing bullets but is the weakest weapon. At least Ripley can shoot on the move.
FLAME THROWER
Its range is limited and it looks a bit weedy, too. Not a patch on one in the second section of Navy Moves - that was well 'ard.
HAND GRENADES
Ripley throws them (surprise). Grenades aren't the most practical weapons (they bounce), but they are jolly handy for lobbing down holes to destroy anything Alien below.
GRENADE LAUNCHER
A slow reload but explosive ammunition. Just the thing for blowing open Aliens and doors with a single shot.

GETTING STARTED
A map of each level is essential. Amiga Power will be printing some in the future, but in the meantime...
Use the EASY option to practice. You don't get a bonus for it, but at least you can hone your reactions to the Aliens appearing.
Ripley will be injured if she slides straight down a slope. To avoid this, jump on to the slope from the top of it.

Alien 3 logo CU Amiga Screen Star

What's eight feet tall, has acid for blood and needle sharp teeth? That's right it's... Mark Patterson.

IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM
Some people seem to attract loonies, others act as a magnet for viruses, Ellen Ripley seems to draw acid-spitting slaughter-hungry aliens. As the main character in the Alien films, she's outlived the crew of her starship, a platoon of colonial marines, and, in the most recent movie, an entire prison colony. The game starts in the nicest area of the penitentiary, although even then it resembles the kind of kebab shop a starving man would pass by. The aliens who are now residing in the colony have been very busy. Using their ability to secrete a noxious, tougher-than-rope resin, they've glued all the prisoners to various bits of the colony. Being a good egg, and not wanting the aliens to breed anymore, Ripley takes it upon her self to free them and slaughter every xenomorph that gets in her way.

If you've seen the film (which I thought wasn't too bad), you'll probably have sussed that the game's plot differs somewhat. Unlike the film, where Ripley was armed with nothing more than a dangerous haircut, here she's really kitted-out for action. Her arsenal is made up of hand grenades, a flame thrower and a pulse rifle (complete with grenade launcher). Each weapon has a limited supply of ammo, which dwindles very quickly when you're faced with aliens that take several hits to kill.

She also has a motion tracker which pin-points the position of any prisoner or alien in the nearby area, although it only has a limited power supply and batteries have to be found to charge it up. The problem with this, though, is that by the time it picks up an alien, it's already making a determined leap at your throat. However, because there are so many prisoners on the later levels, it becomes an essential bit of kit.

THIS TIME IT'S WAR
There are 14 levels in total, all of which are set against the clock. If you run out of time you get to witness the aliens bursting out of the remaining prisoners, which is almost worth deliberately running the clock down to see. Obviously any sane person would do a runner rather than take on an entire alien race single-handed. What prevents Ripley from following suit is that the last doorway doesn't open until the final prisoner is rescued.

Ripley only has a limited amount of energy, which is depleted by contact with the aliens and long falls. She can also be a bit of a danger to herself. There are several storage rooms in the colony which contain cans of fuel that explode when hit by a stray bullet or grenade. Moving around the levels can be quite tricky, even if you avoid most of the hazards. There are loads of moving platforms which provide the only link between gantries, so Ripley's formidable leaping abilities are put to the test. Security doors also pose a hazard. Most can be opened by operating the controls at the side, which is handy as they can be closed behind you to lock out aliens. The alternative is to select the grenade launcher and blow it away.

TOO TOUGH TO BEAT?
Apart from the hazards with slavering jaws, there are plenty of other things to be avoided. Some levels have slippery ramps, and stepping on one of those leads to a very long drop. There are also spiked pits and gigantic fans which spell instant death. Plenty of long-drops have been placed under tricky jumps to liven things up further.

Naturally the prisoners are usually stuck in out of the way locations, and half the challenge of rescuing is finding them in the first place, Often you need to retrace your steps to find a passage or doorway you might have missed, which can be a little hair-raising with the clock ticking down. The prisoners are very heavily guarded after the tenth level. Egg-sacks are placed right next to them and they release a face-hugger as soon as you approach. There's one level that differs from all this though. The mayhem stage is devoid of prisoners but full to bursting point with aliens and facehuggers. The object isn't so much to find the way out as to survive. This sets you up with almost no ammo for the next level, which makes things tougher still.

One of the trickier features of the early levels are the networks of ventilation shafts. You can't tell where the passages lead to and aliens have developed a nasty habit of dropping down vertical shafts at high speed. The hand grenades come in very useful as they can be dropped down tunnels to clear the way before you crawl into the unknown.

THE BITCH IS BACK
Every few levels the scene changes and Ripley finds herself locked in a room with a queen Alien. Apart from being significantly larger than her offspring, she can leap huge distances and spit acid. It takes a ridiculous amount of ammo to finish her off, so you have to make each shot count. Like the normal levels this is time limited, so you can't wait for her to jump into your sights.

Face huggers start to appear on the later levels. These burst out of their eggs and make a spirited attempt at grabbing Ripley's face. If they succeed they'll slowly drain her energy. Only a large amount of joystick waggling will be capable of throwing them off (if only John Hurt had known that in the first film). The worker aliens also start dropping down the ladders, so it's nearly impossible to tell where you'll come under attack from next.

To begin with the scenery is nice and recognisably human. There's the hospital, the abattoir, complete with corpses, and the cell block. As she works her way deeper into the complex, the background becomes more alien-like, with tubes and other organic bits adorning every wall. Here's where the game gets really tough. You have to move very quickly as the maps are complicated and the prisoners are stashed all over the place. In addition to that, acid drips from the ceiling and there are more Aliens than ever. There are also secret rooms, which can usually be found by running into walls. These often contain ammunition and medical packs, although on the last couple of levels they play host to prisoners. To begin with it doesn't take long to learn the levels, but later on they become so big that it's impossible.

LET'S ROCK AND ROLL
The sound effects are fantastic. Noises for the pulse rifle and grenade launcher have been sampled from Aliens and they sound terrific. Music plays throughout, although it's very subtle and you don't always notice it. The graphics are excellent. The Aliens are suitably spindly and, well, alien. There's some nice variation between the backdrops, although 1 think a little more could have been done with the Alien levels at the end of the game.

You can't really say that this does the film justice, mainly because most people will rate the game better than the movie. It also has so little to do with the movie's plot. What it is, though, is an excellent Aliens game. it's full of action and the variety of weapons offer Ripley plenty of death-dealing opportunities.

Alien 3 is definitely very challenging. There's plenty to shoot, lots to explore and the backgrounds vary enough to hold your attention. It has all the atmosphere of an Aliens film as you never know when one's going to leap out at you. This is one of the best movie-to-game conversions I've seen.


GUNNING FOR ALIENS
It's one thing having plenty of weapons, it's another knowing how to use them. While each one is perfectly capable of blowing an alien into very small bits, they also have specific uses.
FLAMETHROWER
Very powerful. It's put to best use when burning alien eggs and face huggers.
PULSE RIFLE
The best all-round weapon. It gets through ammo like nobody's business, though, so use sparingly. Ripley can point it at the ground when she runs, which is useful as that's where many of the aliens burst out from.
GRENADE LAUNCHER
This is very effective indeed, capable of destroying aliens before they come on screen, but it has as slow rate of fire.
HANDGRENADES
These are best employed in the elevation shafts as they bounce quite a bit when they hit a surface and take a while to detonate.
MEGADRIVE MEETS AMIGA
Alien 3 is already a big success on the Megadrive and rightly so. It's nice to see that Probe have converted the game almost exactly onto the Amiga, right down to the same level maps. The only difference is that it's slightly slower than its console counter-part, although that doesn't effect the gameplay.
The Amiga version of the game can also make use of the three-button Megadrive control pad. Because the Amiga isn't really built for this type of controller, only two buttons work so you still have to use the space-bar to change weapons, but it makes it a lot easier to play.

ALIENS, ALIENS EVERYWHERE
The Aliens are a little like ants, albeit eight-foot ants with a hatred of all things warm-blooded. All of them have several physical traits in common - they bleed acid, they have two sets of jaws, they like damp locations and are constantly dripping with some kind of slime.
In Alien 3 they take a new form, well the single alien in the film does. It now appears that an alien inherits some of the genes of the creature it bursts out of, in this case a dog. Whereas the aliens in the previous movies have been actor shaped, this one has a tail and scrabbles around all fours (although there are no embarrassing incidents with lamp-posts).
Although Ripley buys it at the end of the film, rumours abounds that plots have been drawn up for the next three movies in the series. There's scope for a Predator versus Aliens film, which was alluded to in Predator 2, where there's an Alien's skull in the big guy's trophy room.
THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE
There have been several other Aliens games on different formats before now. The first, which was a strategy-cum-adventure based on the original flick, was released on the C64 ages ago. It received some praise at the time, but never really took off. The came the Aliens movie and along with it two games on the C64. The first was a first person perspective exploration game with overtones of Operation Wolf. When an alien appeared you had to steer a crosshair onto it and blow its head off. Because most of the screens looked the same the game was a little dull.
Finally there was an Aliens US. It looked good to begin with, featuring what passed for colour digitised pictures in those days and with each level based around specific scenes in the film. What let it down was the lack of any talent on behalf of the programmers. The ventilation shaft scene was translated into a maze game which looked like a really poor version of Pacman, and the scene with the drop-ship at the start of the game just had you steering it through several white hoops.