Alien Breed Evolution: review


  • Format: 360 (XBL) coming to PSN soon.
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Team17
  • Developer: Team17
  • Players: 1-2
  • Site: www.team17.com

Countless remakes or ‘remixes’ have been released over the last 5-10 years with each seeming to go out of their way to ruin what memories we have for their particular source of inspiration.

Our memories of Alien Breed on the Amiga are tremendous. It, and its sequels, had atmosphere which for us is on a par with that in a Resident Evil game. Tension; great sound FX; superb gameplay; involving maps, and superbly animated aliens. The game was executed superbly, making the most of the hardware of the day. The IP was originally set in a top down, 2D viewpoint which was perfect for the genre. The ratio between the character art and the amount of ‘map’ which could be seen was an effective balance allowing exploration and thinking ahead to move past certain aliens – but with a constant fear of possible dead ends if panicked.

Well the game’s premise is still perfect. The sounds are on the whole great, with some of the voice samples either being reused or being created to sound similar to the original. The game utilises the Unreal Engine to create a nice looking 3D environment – although it does say ‘Unreal Engine’ all over it and going 3D has allowed Team 17 to make the environment far more detailed and compelling, but at the expense of the camera. You can rotate the camera in ‘steps’ via the left and right mini shoulder buttons, and you will be doing this a lot. It’s way too easy to miss ammo, weapons, and the much needed door keycards. You rely on your wee torch so much that it’s easy to not notice a small object and hence you are constantly adjusting the camera which, as already stated, only moves in steps – why not give us a scrolling 360 camera?

This can result in a lot of going back to revisit areas, not once or twice, but again and again there is something in an area you need, but you just keep overlooking it.

Shooting is great, with one stick controlling movement and the other controlling aiming. Movement is, on the whole very smooth, but we found that every so often it got a bit clunky with object interaction being at times overprecise. However the action part (i.e. the shooting) is compelling and the sound design, especially for the shotgun, is very rewarding with lots of nice squelch sounds.

The game itself is a good length (further ‘episodes’ are planned) but the gameplay basically consists of pressing buttons, clearing rooms of enemies, and finding key cards. To liven things up Team 17 have added a co-op mode. Requiring that both players are near each other at all times helps add to the claustrophobic nature of the title. However it would have created an alternative and contrasting gameplay experience to have been able to separate and work collaboratively. We’re assuming that the way the game engine triggers events, such as waves of enemy attacks and explosions, would make this hard to implement. Shame.

This had the potential to be another Shadow Complex but falls short. That comparison aside, it is an excellent XBL title and offers good value for money. Additionally if you enjoyed the original Alien Breed this will not ruin your memory of it, and allows it to be enjoyed through the prism of current generation technology. We wouldn’t complain if they re-released the original though…


4/5

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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands. He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person 'free world', narrative driven and portable gaming. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

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