Was fortunate enough to get some quality time on pingod and libtech ’s Alien machines at YegPin on the weekend. Played probably 10 games on Friday just hours after they came out of the box(es). Was especially awesome playing against friends during the late-night VIP party where the house lights were lowered, music was pumping, and beverages were flowing - lucky us!
Since these were just unboxed, being played uncalibrated on a show-room floor, ability to hear varied between a little to not at all (due to loud show conditions, not the game), and didn’t have the Xeno head installed, I will reserve final judgements until I can play the game in a controlled setting, fully equipped, etc.
I really like the cabinet, it looks and feels industrial strength. Side blade lighting and side cabinet lighting is really great in a darker room. I like the refined details like the recessed legs and the industrial looking plates. The glass bezel really frames the playfield and provides an extra level of security when you pull the glass against accidental shattering.
The game feels really solid, when the slingshots fire, for example, you feel it, but nothing like the cabinet thumping that you get from a recent Stern game. I would wager these cabinets may be virtually indestructible and are definitely built to last many years with different games installed in them. I get why traditionalists won’t like them at first, but I think playing on one would grow on most people, it feels really good to me.
The 27” backbox screen is completely extraneous from a player’s perspective, when I’m playing I rarely have time to look up and all the information is right there on the playfield, which is a great approach IMHO. However, for people watching the game, or if the game was on location, the large backbox screen is amazing! Feels huge when you are right in front of it, and really grabs your eye from a further distance out. Animations and effects are fantastic as well, they’ve done a great job of it.
But how does it shoot? I was able to make all the shots in the game while I played and once you get some flow going with successive shots it really speeds up fast. However, it is definitely a wide-body game and it is also easy to brick a lot if you aren’t on the mark. It actually reminds me of STTNG a bit, in that if you are off your game (or the game isn’t setup well) you will may have a tough go of it being unable to make the shots, but on a properly setup game and a little skill/experience on the game you will have an amazing good time. The game has a ton of shots from different angles. I think it would offer a lot of depth in a collection as it would take some time to master them all, which is a plus in my book. When I was playing well on Friday night I found the ball times quite long, actually, so not a real drainfest. It’s not looking to rob your ball at every turn like a GB.
What I really enjoyed about the playfield is the way the shots can be so counter-intuitive to most other games. For example, nailing the left loop from the upper right flipper instinctively feels like it will return the ball the upper right flipper, ala STTNG, ST, TS, etc., but instead it goes whipping behind it and down the playfield. That sucker surprised me everytime! Also, the center post is great for the same reason, you have to keep your wits about you to use it effectively, and not many recent games have one. I really like a game that has challenging shots and variety so this is a win in my book. Forces me to up my game, both physical and mental (do the right thing, at the right time, and not the same thing everytime). When you do string a combination together it feels really good.
Didn’t get much of a feel for the modes, but I did play a variety of them and a couple multiballs, but was hard to figure out what to do in the show setting. The Ambush (?) mode with the scanner is awesome, very adrenaline inducing to hit the incoming aliens before they reach you. Like a hurry-up mode on steroids. Find Jonesy was fun too, with the need to follow the orange insert “Jonesy” as it sneaks around the playfield, and avoid other shots at the same.
I’m looking forward to getting more time on this game in a controlled setting with the Xeno mech, etc. to truly experience it, but my initial impressions are mostly positive. It’s not perfect, certainly, needs some additional GI lighting on the centre of the PF for darker play conditions, several glitchy switches and sw, missing xeno, but I guess I discount a lot of that as being relatively minor stuff that will get worked out eventually.