When I think about Czech game developers, a couple of famous PC titles come to mind, like Operation Flashpoint, ArmA: Armed Assault, the Hidden and Dangerous series or Mafia. Through these games, Czech designers have shown the world a great deal of talent when it comes to video games. Unfortunately, Alpha Prime, developed by Black Element Software, can’t be placed in the same league as the above mentioned titles.
The story, written by a relatively (un)known Czech Science Fiction author, Ondrej Neff, presents a future when humanity has discovered the secrets of exploring space, in the form of a rare mineral called hubbardium. As expected, this new resource becomes the most precious commodity for the human race but it’s also very dangerous; it can drive weak minded people mad if they come into contact with it. But the legend you will discover in the game will also tell you that hubbardium actually represents pieces of a mythological creature, and those who are immune to its side-effects can actually slow down time for a few seconds. The biggest corporation called “State Business Federation” holds almost all the production steps of the hubbardium and the story of the game takes place on the Alpha Prime mining asteroid. All is well until many of the workers become intoxicated with hubbardium and almost everyone goes mad.
The name of your alter-ego is Arnold (without any connection to the governor of California) and you are part of the mining detail on the asteroid. When all hell breaks loose, you and the rest of the survivors will have to find a way off the asteroid. And in a very silly romantic twist, you will be asked by your ex-girlfriend to save her current boyfriend, because she lost contact with him right after everything went to hell. At the same time, the SFB has sent its own men to clean up the mess and eliminate any survivors. Unfortunately, the game intro is very poorly executed and after a couple of minutes you’ll find yourself wondering if you shouldn’t just uninstall the game right then and there.
Alpha Prime is a First Person Shooter, so the main goal is to kill everyone who stands in your way in order to stay alive. If you’ve played Doom 3 or Quake 4 before, you’ll be thoroughly familiar with the gameplay. And don’t think it stops here, because Alpha Prime also has a form of bullet time, akin to the one in Monolith’s FEAR.
Since there’s no separate tutorial, you will be told while on the move that you can use objects in the world to your advantage. Upon hearing this I hoped that there will be a full interaction with the environment. Instead, I got to do some simple puzzles where the goal was to move a box from a point to another colored point. Personally, I found the hacking mechanic to be more interesting, even though you can only use it in predetermined locations to get past a locked door. At certain points you will also get to drive vehicles, but don’t expect too much in this regard.
The artificially increased difficulty (without any apparent reason) will prove troublesome, which is quite a surprise, considering that Alpha Prime doesn’t pretend to be a realistic FPS. The enemies you will encounter have a flawless aim and will inflict maximum damage regardless of the distance that separates them from you. To make thing worse, your weapons don’t have any feeling when used – when firing the assault rifle it feels like you are fighting with a pea shooter.