Overall Score 65%
Space Invaders. That game was always going to come up whilst reviewing Alien Sky, and I may as well get it out of the way at the start. The premise of Alien Sky, if you've never heard of Space Invaders, is simple, stay alive by shooting down wave after wave of attacking aliens.
Alien Sky doesn't follow the formula exactly, but it keeps pretty close. The first nine levels are spent blasting the bad guys as they mull around at the top of the screen, edging left to right to left. Occasionally they try to kill you, swooping down firing bullets as they come, or firing large missiles in your direction, but this isn't anything that hasn't already been seen. But then you get to level ten - a boss - and suddenly you find yourself struggling to survive as you face something of a challenge.
Unfortunately, the challenge is actually quite a tough one, and it might have you cursing at the firing controls. For some reason, the game has a one bullet only firing system. So, fire a bullet and then find yourself helpless until the bullet has either killed something or left the screen.
All is not lost, as you do get a variety of secondary weapons to help with your quest. Homing Missiles, and circling drones help even the odds, and a range of one-off pickups such as level skips and time distortions often get you out of tight spots. The upgradeable shield is also a pretty handy add-on, if a little limited at times, since it only allows for a maximum of four hits.
Graphically, we can't really compare with Space Invaders. Alien Sky comes up with the goods at every stage and its nice to find that advancement is rewarded with new enemy ships and weapons. Presentation throughout is excellent and the in-game display is perfect for the genre.
Music throughout is good, but not outstanding. Sound effects however are a little more inspired than most other games in this genre. The scream of your ships pilot as you collide with an enemy ship always made me smile. Many of the enemies have their own distinctive sounds so it's easy to track your attackers.
Overall, I found Alien Sky to be fun for a short while, but ultimately it's too hard, a problem not helped by your lack of firepower. I completed the first three missions (30 levels), but I doubt I'd get too much further.
I did find some nice touches; the end of level bosses, the mouse control and the excellent graphics help raise the game above average, but you can get the same fun from the original Space Invaders, and you can find that for free.
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