Alien Arena 2009 - Dark, morbid and a whole lot of fun

Updated: November 23, 2009

Alien Arena is a retro-futuristic, high-tech First Person Shooter, based on the CRX engine, a modification of the extremely successful Quake engine. It's a free, standalone deathmatch game, available for Windows, Linux and FreeBSD. We've had a taste of Alien Arena 2008 in my second article on Linux First Person Shooters. Now, it's time to review Alien Arena 2009!


The setting ...

Alien Arena sets a dark, morbid atmosphere by mixing sci-fi elements reminiscent of the 1950s movies with game characters that look much like the bottled-brain Martians from crazy Tim Burton's crazy Mars Attacks! On top of these, you get a wacky, nerve-grating music to set the mood for some very jumpy shooting matches.

The game has both singleplayer and multiplayer modes. The multiplayer mode is much more fun, as you play mostly against humans and they are rather unpredictable. Even so, if you're not in the mood for super-fast-paced actions, you can take it easy against bots.

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You can choose between standard deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, and several other modes. There is also the All Out Assault, with vehicles, and Cattle Prod, where you herd robotic cattle through goals to earn points for your team. I have not yet discovered maps running these two modes, but it sounds tremendous fun.

Playing in Alien Arena requires quick fingers and fast reflexes. It's also not very easy to distinguish friend from foe, as most characters look the same. What more, the maps are dark, with low contrast and cluttered with lab-style detail, which makes it harder to focus on the target.

Each maps plays its own tune, usually with a distinctive metallic techno note. This really adds to the game atmosphere, even if you don't really pay attention to the music. But after a while, it settles under your skin, making the matches all the more compelling. 

Dying is so easy. Speaking of dying and funny looking aliens:

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Alien Arena comes with a lot of handsome, colorful weapons. Each makes its own unique sound and a bright spectrum of colors. Some of the weapons will even distort the map around you, others will send you rocketing half across the map. Each weapon comes with two firing modes, invoked by left and right mouse clicks.

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And a small note for Windows users ...

This goes under Linux games, I know, still let's be courteous to Windows users. Anyhow, Alien Arena for Windows comes bundled with the Crawler toolbar. This is probably in order to help developers finance their project. You need to decide whether you want to use the toolbar. You know my stance on toolbars.



Alien Arena 2009 is a big improvement over the earlier releases. But even when you judge it from its own perspective, the latest Alien Arena 2009 is a good game. It may not appeal to everyone, especially people who prefer brightly lit or open First Person Shooters. But for Doom-lovers, it's ideal.

The game setting is morbid, dark, with lots of fizzling-green-bubbly-radiation symbols that characterized the early age of atomic/space research. I dare hazard to say that it may not be suitable for younger people. On the other hand, for those sane of mind and soul, Alien Arena is great fun. Lots of colorful maps and weapons, good music, fast, brutal, uncompromising action. Everything you need after a long, hard day at work.