Men in Black: Alien Crisis

3 min

I so wanted to able to start this review by stating that Men in Black: Alien Crisis is a thoroughly enjoyable intergalactic romp experienced through the eyes of the agency’s best and brightest. Instead, though, I’m forced to explain why it took only a galactic standard week for me to want to have this shoddy excuse for a game neuralized from my memory. Being what I’d consider a fan of the Men in Black series and most of the material that stems from it, I wasn’t expecting anything too spectacular. Even my low expectations couldn’t save my current viewpoint of Activision’s interpretation of the MiB universe.

Where Alien Crisis fails the most, outside of the uninspired name, is in its attempt to portray an as of yet untold Men in Black story. Introducing new agents – and a new chief – wouldn’t have failed so if said new agents weren’t just a mish-mosh of personalities that have been portrayed a million times before in a variety of different genres. To combat the lame new characters, Activision was sure to throw in series favorites Frank and the quick witted “worm guys”, though neither felt like they belonged. Gamers take the reigns of Peter Delacoeur, former thief and conspiracy theorist, as he finds himself mixed up in the wacky world of the Men in Black agency. Though the start of the game somewhat mimics James Darrell Edwards III’s unexpected introduction to the Agency, Peter’s intro lacked the same charm and plausibility – though Activision was sure to incorporate Zed’s “We are the Men in Black” speech.

As the events of Men in Black: Alien Crisis started to unfold in front of me, I had to take a quick pause break to grab my calendar and check to see what year I was in. At this point in time, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the Nintendo Wii is graphically inferior to its rival systems. Despite this fact, in this day and age there is no excuse for gamers to be continuously subjected to sloppy, dull character models with off track lip syncing and a terrible collaboration of colors. Anything visual about Men in Black: Alien Crisis reads more like an early Playstation 2 title, coming dangerously close to the graphics found in Infogrames 2002 release, Men in Black II: Alien Escape.

Where Alien Crisis succeeds even the tiniest bit is in its gameplay. The bulk of the game plays out in action segments where you utilize the Wii-mote to aim a rather robust targeting reticule. The oddest part about the games mechanics is that your only mobility is on a horizontal plane decorated in conveniently placed cover points. Once behind cover, pressing the Nunchuk’s joystick will cause Peter to lean out of cover for a clean shot at the numerous on-screen foes. The variety of enemies in Alien Crisis come few and far between. Each foe may be built from a different 3D model, but their actions do little to separate them.

As you progress through the story, you’ll be introduced to the Men in Black’s iteration of standard first-person and third-person shooter arsenal. To add a little depth to the firefights, Peter will find himself in possession of several secondary attacks, ranging from gravity grenades to a freeze ray. During certain segments, you’ll be fighting amidst the public. if you cause too much damage or attack civilians, a small meter will slowly grow. Once the meter fills completely, the game will end.

Beyond the standard shootout segments, Alien Crisis will also pit Peter behind the wheel of an MiB standard issue vehicle. These chase sequences are similar to the basic shooting segments, save for the fact that the vehicle will follow your aiming reticule.  As stated above, when fighting in the public’s eye, the neuralizer is an essential tool. To work this gimmick into the chase sequences, neuralizer gates are spread throughout the level. Pass through one, and the public’s awareness level will drop.

To keep things from getting boring, Activision thought it necessary to break up the action with stealth and investigation segments. Unfortunately, rather than keeping the game from getting stale, these segments are the game’s biggest gameplay downfalls. Stealth segments charge Peter with neutralizing security cameras and alien baddies without being caught. These segments eventually boil down to nothing more than a sequence of destroying cameras before taking out the enemy. Investigations in Alien Crisis are slow points where Peter walks at an inhumanly slow pace to converse with several involved parties and utilize a a scanner built within his glasses to pull clues from the environment. Unlike games like Mass Effect where conversation actually changes the events in the game, different dialogue in Alien Crisis can be chosen, but it will only serve to open another set of dialogue until all options have been exhausted.

At the end of the day, Alien Crisis is a licensed title, and if gaming history has shown us anything it’s that even the most prolific movie franchises can find themselves the victim of poor development. Luckily, Alien Crisis can be loathed with up to 4 friends by your side in the games poor attempt to add multiplayer. You and your fellow agents will compete in a set of challenges to see who is deserving of donning the Agency’s standard black suit.

Surprisingly bad graphics, a boring new story, and completely uninspired gameplay all mix together to effectively create a game that not even the race of bugs would care to acknowledge.

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