I’m going to do the unorthodox thing here and begin this review with a personal story. As I was playing the final level of Team 17′s Alien Breed 2: Assault on Xbox Live Arcade, I remarked to a friend that it “feels like a game I might have played twenty years ago.” It was a silly comment mostly meant to express my frustration with the game. I wasn’t enjoying it.
But as I was doing a spot of research to learn how I could have missed the release of Alien Breed 1 (I somehow missed the release of Alien Breed: Evolution too, the first in this series), I came across this little nugget on Wikipedia:
“Alien Breed is the first in a series of science fiction computer games played in the form of a top-down shooter for one or two players. It was released in 1991 by Team 17 for the Commodore Amiga.”
Hey, wasn’t 1991 twenty years ago?
Here we are in 2010, a time where high-quality console games can be delivered to us in minutes. Downloadable releases get better seemingly with each month that goes by. The unfortunate byproduct is that each mediocre game seems that much worse in comparison, and it’s hard to forgive a game that seems so stuck in the past.
That’s the main issue of Alien Breed 2: Assault. Nearly everything about the game is either done poorly, or just seems to be bred from a different time, and not in that cool retro way.
On its most basic level, Alien Breed 2 is an isometric shooter similar to any other isometric shooter you’ve played. Your main foes include aliens that charge at you, aliens that spit at you from off screen, and turrets that shoot at you from off screen. None of these are particularly enjoyable to battle.
That’s mostly because the game’s offerings really stop there. There’s no enjoyment to be found in exploration, as every environment is as similar as possible without inviting accusation of copy and paste. There’s no puzzle solving; the closest you’ll get to having to think is “where the hell is that keycard” or “what the hell is going on?” It’s a corridor shooter in the strictest interpretation of the term. You walk down corridors and shoot aliens for five hours.
Sure, there are a few bells and whistles. For instance, there’s a survival mode with three maps that can be played either solo or online. It’s like any other survival mode, and considering the lack of variety in enemies, it just isn’t worth playing. Playing the story more can also be achieved with a partner, but it really doesn’t improve the uninteresting gameplay.
Honestly, though, the gameplay is far from the worst part of the game. I’m quite hard on game writing, and there’s more than one instance in which I’ve complained that a game had bad writing. But I can’t think of any recent game that approaches just how awful this game is written. Imagine this: your synthetic female companion is stuck in an elevator, and an explosion suddenly sends her plummeting downward. She exclaims, “Oh dear…”
Really? Oh dear? How could anyone think that was an appropriate thing for a character to say in that situation? It’s unfortunate that this continues in nearly every instance of written or spoken dialogue in the game. And the quality of the writing certainly isn’t enhanced by the voice acting. It’s just awful. As much as I wish I could say it was the campy “so bad it’s good” type, that’s not the case. It’s all just bad.
And aside from the terribly repetitive environmental design, the game isn’t much to look at, either. The lighting is pretty, but we’ve come to expect that now, and I can’t consider it much of an achievement. Otherwise, alien design is bland, character design is poor, and even the cutscenes suffer from some slowdown. It’s really rather amazing just how poorly everything came together.
There’s not much to say about this game except for this: you don’t want to play it. The quality of inexpensive downloadable releases has become so high that there are dozens of other, better choices for your gaming needs. This one falls short in every way.
The game has no flair or personality, and it actually runs poorly at times. Poor presentation all around.
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The game is basic but serviceable. Run, shoot aliens with different weapons, and open doors. That's it.
There's not much in the way of music, and the voice acting is an abomination. The guns do sound like guns, though.
The story mode lasts about 5 hours, and a survival mode adds very little enjoyment.
There's not much to say about this game except for this: you don't want to play it.