Alien invasions have been the premise for some of the best – and worst – games of all time. While these games have you primarily saving the world from imminent danger, they often provide the setting for some of the best gaming stories you can play. Here are three of my favorite alien invasion games.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
These grid-based squad strategy games are some of the most engaging and fun games you can play. While the type of game may not be for everyone, it’s a game that you can get into fairly easily, one that combines cover-based mechanics with an upgrade and base-building system that can make hours disappear pretty quickly. The story is memorable as well, and the characters can be renamed and spec’d to your liking. You really get attached to them, which makes the fact that they can die permanently in battle that much more devastating. You’ll find yourself playing and replaying missions to keep your favorite squad members alive – white-knuckling it when you’re down to the last enemy and an alien comes around the corner face-to-face with your best sniper, takes them down to one-hitpoint, then gets killed by their retaliation. I’ve actually cheered when that happens. Out loud.
Mass Effect 1,2 &3 (Kind of)
Mass Effect – and people that know me can confirm this – is both one of my most loved AND most hated franchises. Let me be clear, the only hate I have for this franchise is the fact that it was SO good until the end, where it dropped the ball so massively, it had an effect on my overall view of the series (see what I did there?). This trilogy gave us a compelling story that introduced some of the best characters in gaming: Garrus, Jack, the biotic prison-escapee, Mordin the scientist, EDI, the ship AI turned Joker’s best friend (Joker is awesome too!) …all of them really. The graphics looked great, and there were tons of areas to explore and navigate. My main gripe is that the story – described throughout the series as one where your choices would matter – ended in a way that made them irrelevant. Without spoiling it for readers who haven’t played, let me be clear: your choices throughout the series UP UNTIL THE END DO MATTER, they have substantial effects on characters and setting in the game up to that point. But when it comes to your choices actually effecting the ENDING of the series, be prepared for disappointment. That being said, the journey to the end is so satisfying, you need to play it anyway, regardless of the final hour.
Half-Life 1 & 2 (+ the episodes)
These are some of my favorite games ever. One of the most iconic games ever made, you play as Gordon Freeman, a guy who is woken by the G-Man to find the world has been taken over by the alien Combine. Characters like Alyx Vance and her dad Dr. Eli Vance are likeable and endearing, constantly reminding you that there is some good left in the world that has gone so bad. The combine is a really cool enemy, as they’re alien but most look like soldiers dressed in military-style clothing. They talk like humans, but in a more computerized tone, and their allies (the striders in particular) are scary and huge. You also get the gravity gun, one of the best weapons in gaming. You’re able to pick up objects around the world and use them as projectiles – and later in the game you get a super version of the gun, allowing you to pick up enemies and larger objects and fling them, resulting in hilarity and awesomeness. Do yourself a favor, play this game. Then play the episodes. Then, unfortunately, wait forever until the series concludes with Half-Life 3, a game that may never come. *sad face.
What are your favorite alien invasion games? Let us know in the comments below!