Although I haven’t seen Aliens in the Attic the movie, I have seen the trailer, and I get the impression that the movie involves some invading aliens that start out nasty but end up being friendly. However, from playing the video game of the same name, it would be very easy to get the opposite idea. This game isn’t just bad – with broken graphics, uneven controls, and unfinished graphics – the game is disturbingly terrible. It’s like the universe is trying to tell us something about aliens.
The game begins like most movie-inspired, with a short cinema scene that sets up the initial level. However, I should have known something was very wrong with this game just from the opening cinematic. Once you hit the start button, you’re treated to a ten second animation of a spaceship crashing into a planet. No plot points are given to accompany this scene and there is no voiceover, you just see a random ship crashing.
You play as a little alien thing, and it seems that you are on a reddish planet with one or two plants left. The game doesn’t tell you who you are playing as, or how exactly that crashing ship sequence relates to the red planet of doom. You aren’t even told how to move around… you just go forward. As you move through the initial level, the game does give you some pointers about how to control your character (which you later find out is actually four characters-but more on that later), and you’ll be able to grasp the core mechanics of the game. However, this initial level also exposes all of the game’s flaws. And trust me, it’s not pretty.
The first, and most glaring, issue that I found in Aliens in the Attic is that there are substantial glitches. For instance, in one area I was required to double jump onto a platform. However, I found this nearly impossible to accomplish because the wall in front of the cliff did not render correctly. Even though it looked like a sturdy façade, upon walking up to it, my character fell through the wall into a blank orange abyss with no end. In fact, I had to restart the game every time this happened, as my character would just fall forever. Another memorable glitch was a reoccurring rendering glitch. If you tried to adjust the camera too fast around the alien’s face, the lips wouldn’t render correctly and the result would be a very frightening creature with big teeth staring back at you.
Aside from the constant gameplay glitches, another problem that I ran in to with Aliens in the Attic was the controls were very uneven. Particularly aggravating was the double jump function, which was needed to get on many of the game’s cliffs and elevators: it seemed to work differently every time I engaged it. For instance, there was one area where I had to jump onto a crystal structure and then onto a very high cliff that looked like it was three times my size. However, when I came upon a relatively small ledge (less than twice my character’s size), for some reason my double jumping failed to get me where I needed to go.
Even more egregious was the fact that the jumping mechanism didn’t make sense. One time I was on an elevator and needed to jump onto a ledge below. I figured I would jump from the highest point so I could coast down diagonally and land on the ledge below. However, as I coasted down I saw myself falling very short of my destination, falling to my doom. When I restarted, I tried to jump from directly across the platform, and my jump radius was instantly doubled and I was able to reach the ledge.
Yet another issue I had with the game was the character switching. Although there is only one character on the screen at a time, you can switch between four of the titular aliens in the attic to complete missions. These aliens all have different strengths and weaknesses, but the game does a very poor job of letting you know about this. For instance, there is only one alien that can double jump, and only one that can make grenades. There are two, however, that can use the grenades, and there is only one that can daze enemies with some sort of brain wave. Each character’s strengths and weaknesses seemed almost to be picked at random, and since all four of them look very similar, knowing which alien to use was more guesswork than anything else.
Unfortunately, these examples really encapsulate my experience with Aliens in the Attic. I wish I could tell you something about the story, but the game rarely gives you a glimpse into what is really going on when you go through the levels. I also wish I could tell you that some aspect of the game was at least passable, but it seems everything here from the shoddy visuals to the non-existent sound is just terrible. Adding insult to injury, the game has some egregiously long loading times as well (10-15 seconds per level).
Sure, it is easy to rail against a mediocre game for poor production values or boring level design, but it is something else altogether to experience a game where basically every aspect is broken. I’ve only experienced one such game in the past (the horrifyingly poor Ninjabread Man, also for the Wii/PS2 from 2007) and it’s just striking how both that title and this one get everything so perfectly wrong. There have been plenty of movie-based games released this year, from the exploration-intensive Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to the multiplayer-friendly Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. These are great choices if you want to play a movie-inspired game. Just leave Aliens in the Attic on the shelf!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 1.2 Graphics
With uncontrolled elements, one-note environments, and an incomprehensible camera system, this game is truly poor. 1.5 Control
Control is uneven and broken in some areas. The double jump mechanic is especially confusing. 1.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Background music is repetitive, and the voice over is non-existent. 1.5 Play Value
There’s only a single-player mode, and honestly, I can’t see why anyone would want to play this game for more than a few minutes. It really is that bad. 1.3 Overall Rating – Avoid
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.