Overall Score 75%
Little furry things, you know, balls of fur with eyes, appear in all sorts of games by all sorts of game developers. In Alien Flux those balls have cutie names like 'Snufkin' and such and when I was confronted with them for the first time and handed a space weapon, the desire to kill them was overwhelming.
I had made a mistake. Your purpose in life, while playing Alien Flux, is to shoot things but NOT the little furry things. Instead you must fly your ship around and defend both yourself and the cute balls of evil from some pretty boring (but still attractive) looking enemies that can range from bubbles to blobs.
I was instantly impressed with the nice chromatic graphics. The bump mapping used on the backdrop really works well and the light that follows your cursor gives you a chance to shine on things, simply to make the world look nice. All of the graphics and graphical effects are gorgeous, as near to perfect as anyone could want.
The mouse control system works quite well. A mouse pointer can be freely moved around the screen and left will thrust towards it and right will fire. Shots do not fire through the crosshair but stop on it so you've got to aim just beyond your target which can take a bit of getting used to. It's all too easy to fire a volley at an enemy and not hit once because your shots die off when mere pixels away from your target, but with practise you can shoot enemies and avoid friends.
Space for smart bombs is logical and the less easy to use 'c' key for shields can be redefined. Dead players are reminded to press shields but I found it very hard to get used to holding 'c' whenever in imminent danger. The game can be frustratingly difficult without the use of the 'rookie' skill level added in version 1.3.
There are a few bigger ships every so often but like most shooters there isn't much there to keep you playing for more than a few minutes at a time. The 'defend the fluffy' element adds something extra but if anything it lowers the tempo. Alien Flux seems to lack that addictive spark somehow in the playability department and those enticed by the graphics might be a little bit disappointed.
It's easy to see why Alien Flux is a showcase for Java because in looks and presentation it's a top quality title that would not look out of place on a console. It looks, sounds and handles great but I didn't find the game fun enough to rate the playability above an average shooter from any other price range. The game as a whole however, is clearly above average for an indie by sheer weight of graphics, style and presentation.
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