Men in Black: Alien Crisis Review
Developer: Activision / Publisher: Activision / Played on: PlayStation 3 / Price: $60 / ESRB: Not Yet Rated
The Men in Black have the coolest jobs. They get to interact with every alien race out there, from gigantic bugs to squid-like humanoids, and they use the most high-tech gadgets and weaponry. I mean, yeah, there’s the constant threat of Earth’s imminent destruction, the danger of getting killed any given second, and the fear of some extra terrestrials going crazy and disintegrating you, but aside from that everything’s peachy. So why isn’t being in the MIB that awesome in Men in Black: Alien Crisis for the PS3?
You play as Peter Delacoeur with the game opening up at the end of a successful robbery. Peter has secured an ancient Egyptian tome that, upon further inspection, isn’t Egyptian at all, but an alien language (how this somehow got past leagues of scholars and doctors is not explained). It’s not long before aliens show up and, eventually, the Men in Black round up Peter and forcefully induct him into their ranks. Sadly, the story isn’t special at all and feels incredibly standard and boring. And without any ties to the movie franchise (aside from a brief reference to Agents J and K and Frank the Pug, as well as a usable Noisy Cricket gun) the game doesn’t feel Men in Black-ish at all.
Men in Black: Alien Crisis is an on-rails shooter wrapped up in the MIB universe. Each stage has you shooting a small arsenal of guns at aliens and bad guys in order to move on to the next stage. Each level falls under one of three categories: shooting levels, espionage levels, and boss stages. Shooting levels require you to simply clear each room of enemies before progressing. A few levels even have you in the MIB car, flying around the city and zapping baddies. Boss stages appropriately pit you against a massive creature that takes considerably longer to kill than a normal foe. Espionage levels have you moving in stealth, taking out cameras and guards from behind cover without getting noticed by either. Alien Crisis attempts to mask its gameplay shortcomings by giving you the sense of variance in these modes, but they are all plagued by the same issues.
The biggest fault with the game is how it controls. Since the game is on-rails, you don’t actually move your character around, but instead move around a cursor to point at enemies and shoot. For some reason, though, moving the cursor also moves the camera just a bit, making lining up shots harder than it should be. The cover system allows you to duck behind pillars and objects to avoid fire, but peeking out to aim and shoot just doesn’t work as it should. When I was starting the game I missed just about every shot and oftentimes ended up looking up at the ceiling when I meant to simply jump out from cover to fire.
The other big problem with the game is that there isn’t much to do to keep you entertained. You start off with a simple firearm and eventually unlock bigger and badder guns, like the aforementioned Noisy Cricket. On top of that you can utilize a few special abilities such as a freeze ray to stop enemies in their tracks, and an anti-gravity grenade. But no matter what you choose to use all you really need to do is just keep firing. The game presents no challenge (sans the final boss) that can’t be completed by pointing and shooting haphazardly. There’s an upgrade system for each gun and ability but this is almost completely superfluous because you’ll have enough points to unlock every upgrade in a couple hours (which also happens to be the length of the game).
Bugs are a problem with the game as well. No, not alien bugs, but actual bugs in the game. I experienced three separate scenarios where I could not progress forward and had to restart from the last checkpoint. I even had my game freeze while in the final boss battle. Overall Men in Black: Alien Crisis feels rushed. It coincides with the film release, yeah, but I’d much rather have a game that took longer to develop and was good than a game that’s boring and dull.
I said this before, but the controls are a rough. The controls aren’t intuitive and definitely take awhile to get used to. You move your character left and right to peek out and move from cover with the left stick, aim with the right stick, and fire with R2. No problems, yeah? Well, it’s from here that things get worse. To peer out from cover you press L2, to move from one point of cover to the next you press L1 and move the left stick, to switch weapons you press one of the d-pad directions, and to change your ability you press X before pressing a directional button. Nothing feels natural to the control scheme aside from actually aiming and shooting. To make matters worse, there is no option to change the controls that are set to default, so for anyone who plays shooters inverted (myself included) your S.O.L. Once you get the controls down though, the game becomes much easier, making the controller your biggest obstacle. I played the game on the PS3 which also supports Move compatibility, but since I don’t have Move I was not able to use this control method.
Graphics do not make a game good or bad, but they are one of the more memorable aspects to a game. That being said, Men in Black: Alien Crisis looks like a PS2 game. Characters, stages, and backgrounds lack any sort of detail and look muddy. The issues become particularly apparent when viewing any of the cutscenes. In these moments you can see the lack of detail in character faces and movement animations. The voice acting is decent (and exceptional compared to the rest of the game) as long as you can get over characters’ mouths not moving in sync with each word. The PS2 metaphor is really the best way to describe how the game looks.
Men in Black: Alien Crisis is a game that needed more time in development and was likely rushed out to release alongside the new film. Any excitement the game conjures up is instantly diminished by poor controls and repetitive, boring gameplay. Anyone looking for a story on par with the MIB films will be sorely disappointed. Anyone looking for a great game for that matter will also be disappointed with this one. If only I could neuralyze myself…
4.5 / 10