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ALPHA PRIME
ALPHA PRIME REVIEW
Date Played Sept 2010

Alpha Prime is a first person shooter that falls into the category of being neither great nor terrible, but lands slightly more on the good side of the fence than the bad. It's certainly not as awful as the critic scores seem to suggest. Games like these are probably the hardest to review however, as there is neither much to praise nor much to complain about. Instead, it offers a few hours of decent enjoyment before it then fades off into the realm of been there, done that.

There is more than enough story to it, but there's also nothing very original about it. There are three main characters, Arnie and Warren who were best friends till Arnie's lover, Livia, chucked him over to take up with Warren. The proverbial love triangle.

The game begins in a bar with a fairly lengthy discussion about hubbardium, an element being mined on the asteroid Alpha Prime. Its unique property has the desirable effect of slowing down time, but some people feel there is something more mystical to it and have dubbed this property as Glomar's heart. As Arnie drowns his sorrows, in walks Livia, approaching him with the news of a disaster on the asteroid and that Warren has gone missing. She asks him to go to Alpha Prime and find him, a proposition he really can't refuse.

Once there, Arnie finds the general atmosphere unfriendly with security mechs and surviving prospectors taking potshots at him. In addition, there's a compliment of militia determined to get their hands on Glomar's heart, thus making his task of finding Warren a rather hazardous proposition.


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Game play is fairly predictable with all the usual complement of standard weapons; pistol, shotgun, machine gun, rifle, rocket launcher, grenades, etc. with a smattering of hacking thrown in. There is also bullet time in this game, which is dependent upon picking up refined hubbardium along the way. This feature, however, is very poorly rendered and I seldom used it, as it offered no advantage to Arnie. This is a bit of a surprise as the story revolves around the element hubbardium that allows for slowing down time. One would have thought the creators would have paid a little more attention to making this a stand out feature. This was an opportunity gone lacking.

Levels include the mining base, the asteroid surface (where you will need to keep replenishing your short supplies of oxygen) and the hubbardium mine, reached by driving a buggy across the asteroid's surface to the destination. Many people who have played this game have commented that it's hard, but I personally didn't find it harder than many other FPS games, although the rate of oxygen depletion, short ammo supplies, and tough AI special forces creates additional difficulty. However, in this game you can lean out from behind cover and this is often wiser than rushing into a room full of heavily armed soldiers. Much depends on your playing style.

One thing I always appreciate is an easy menu system and smooth controls and this game has both. It also has quicksave and quickload which is always welcome for getting past the tricky parts and there are lots of those. With 3 points of health and an army of militia after me, it got well used. Sometimes I think developers are downright sadistic about where and when they give you access to health.

The cut scenes are slightly too long with second rate scripting and the attempt at a plot twist is not very believable, but sometimes B movies can be somewhat entertaining. The acting just has that slightly amateurish feel to it. The graphics are fairly decent except for making everyone look short and squat. As to technical issues, during heavy gunfights I experienced some severe lag and a couple of crashes. This seemed to be confined to a particular portion of the game, however, as it behaved well before and after these few spots. I was unable to find a permanent solution, but managed to stagger through these parts and continue the game. There are several other minor issues like not being able to crouch on stairs and jumping skills that are inconsistent, but none were enough to seriously effect game play.

There are many other games much, much worse than Alpha Prime and I picked this game up during one of Steam's sales for a grand total of $1.24. Nobody has a right to complain about that, but we reserve the right to do it anyway. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this game as a very passable time-waster.

Game Issues Experienced
There seemed to be only a specific section of the game where there was stuttering, lag and a possible crash. Before and after this portion, the game worked fine. I did the following which seemed to help, but not solve the issue. It enabled me to get past the problem area though.
  • Make sure antivirus and firewall are off or set an exception to the program.
  • If computer has been on for a long period of time, restart
  • Turn off bloom
I have a gaming mouse and can configure the profile. This is what I did.
  • Checked "use OS native drivers"
  • Changed speed to 5
  • Changed accel to 1
  • Turned down dpi to 1000
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Other games in series:  None
GAME INFORMATION
  • Genre: First-person Shooter
  • Developer(s): Black Element Software
  • Publisher(s): IDEA Games, Meridian4
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows
  • Release: Nov 2007
  • Mode(s): Single-player
  • Media: Download, DVD
  • DLC Available: No.
  • OS: Windows XP or 2000
  • CPU: Intel PentiumZ IV or compatible 2GHz processor
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Hard Drive: 3GB free space
  • Video: DirectX 9.0c GeForce FX/ATI 9600 or compatible
  • Sound: DirectX compatible
  • Shader Model:
  • Input: Keyboard & Mouse
  • Internet Activation: No
  • DRM: None
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  • Version: Steam Download
  • OS: Windows XP SP3
  • CPU: Athlon 64x2 4200+ 2200MHz
  • Ram: 4GB
  • Disk Drive: DVD/CD
  • Video: ATI Radeon 4830
  • Shader Model: 4.1
  • DirectX: 9.0c
  • Input: Keyboard & Mouse
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