Earth is in peril.
ET is here, and Spielberg got it really, really wrong. Humanity desperately needs a savior in its darkest hour. Fortunately, we’ve got Angus. Angus is my kind of hero. He’s a redneck Rambo who isn’t into making grand gestures. He never goes off on some long diatribe about the evils of ETs. He doesn’t need to express in words how much he hates aliens; the galactic sized ass-kicking that he lays down speaks for itself.
Angus Hates Aliens was first released in 2015 for PSP, PS Vita, and PS3. More recently, developer Team-Stendec has brought the title to PC via a Steam release. This retro-style shooter features twelve levels filled with plenty of different kinds of enemies to explode and more than enough weapon types to explode them with.
The game begins when our hero Angus wakes up aboard a UFO with foggy memories of being taken prisoner. He’s quickly contacted by a pink alien hottie who, disillusioned with her peers, helps Angus to escape. When Angus breaks free from the UFO, he’s contacted by an army general who updates Angus on the situation; not only have the aliens invaded Earth, they’re using their alien technology to turn humans into zombies through mind-control. With the general and pink alien babe as his guides, Angus sets out to free the minds of humanity and rid Earth of the alien threat.
The mechanics of Angus Hates Aliens are easy to pick up. You navigate using the PC standard WASD keys while using your left and right arrow keys to fire in either direction. The ability to fire in one direction while running the opposite way is core to the game’s mechanics. Combat is all about keeping your distance from enemies while mowing them down with whatever the situation calls for. Though this sounds simple enough, the level design can make things tricky and adds some complexity to how situations are handled.
Your choices are paramount to your success in Angus Hates Aliens. You find out very quickly that having only nine inventory slots means you have to carefully choose what you’re going to take with you into any given encounter. Fortunately, you’ll regularly have access to a storage locker where you can keep your extra loot, and the game gives you hints before each level that tell you what weapons are recommended to clear the stage. There’s an in-game shop where you can buy and sell items and upgrade your weapons while listening to apocalyptic radio chatter. The ability to upgrade your weapons offers players the choice to go all in on their favorite gun (rotating shotgun always and forever) and increases replayability.
Graphically, this game looks great. Team-Stendec really hit the nail on the head in capturing the essence of the retro 16-bit style.
If your nostalgia nerves don’t start firing when you boot this thing up, then you never had a proper childhood and I pity you. The attention to detail (shell casings flying whilly-nilly, nice particle effects, satisfying death animations) and overall polish on display really pays off by making Angus Hates Aliens not only fun to play, but fun to look at. The other big winner in this game is the soundtrack. Seriously, the soundtrack is really nice, and though it’s not what you would expect in a 16-bit shooter; it fits and keeps everything flowing.
Angus Hates Aliens is definitely fun, but there were a couple of issues that dragged it down. I feel like I have to mention how short this game is. On Steam, it’s described as having six hours of gameplay, but I beat it in three. This wouldn’t have bothered me as much if the final boss battle wasn’t such a let-down. Without spoiling the ending, let’s just say that it’s pretty much the definition of an anticlimax, though the game makes up for this by letting you play through it again while keeping all the gear you accumulated the first time around. I also feel Angus should have had a little more dialogue, or maybe even some redneck voice-acting. The voice-acting on display at the in-game shop was really well done, and it left me wondering why Angus didn’t get the same love.
Satisfying gunplay, faithful throwback graphics, and a level of tactical depth make Angus Hates Aliens a successful retro shooter. If you’re itching to slaughter hordes of extraterrestrial enemies, then this game is exactly what you’re looking for - just don’t expect it to keep you occupied for more than a week.