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Jun 07 2010

Review of Alien Breed Impact

[rating=3]

We have our very first PC review today and it’s of a remake/sequel to the classic pc shooter series, Alien Breed. I’m going to preface this review by saying that I have never played the original games so there is a very good chance that some of the things I bring up about this game are just business as usual for this series. This title is made by the time-tested developer Team 17 who you probably best know as the Worms guys however Alien Breed Impact bears little resemblance to that game.

The basic premise here is your standard spaceship gone wrong set of clichés. An alien life force of some sort comes in contact with an unbelievably grungy looking human ship and then it proceeds to rip the witless space marines/truckers/engineers on board a brand new set of holes, you know the movie Alien but without the copyright infringement. The particular space story this game seems to crib from the most is Dead Space with it going so far as to make your main character an engineer but instead of him being a mute, he’s an asshole who hates technology (which seems like it would make him a crappy engineer). The story is presented in a motion comic sort of deal at the end of each level, which looks good and serves well to move the story forward. During these sequences you’ll see your ridiculously gruff player character (Conrad is his name by the way) interact with others and it is always a hoot. Conrad seems to hate everyone and everything around him, acting completely indifferent to any and every situation leading you to constantly think “why is he even doing this?”

To start with let’s talk about the visuals which look really good for a 15 dollar title, the easiest thing to compare it to would probably be Starcraft 2 (or at least what we’ve seen from the beta) as both share a similar aesthetic and high quality sheen. The only real problem with the graphics in this game is that despite the high amount of polish on display, everything feels kind of bland and repetitive, particularly the enemy designs of which there seems to be about five. While it is understandable for the environments to be kind of samey, what with it being set entirely on two large spaceships, it feels like they could have thought outside the box a bit more here. That said there are a couple of really cool environmental tricks you’ll get to see with the best one being a space walk you get to take between the two ships, in fact all of the space and everything outside the ship looks absolutely fantastic. This works well with the fact that the game does lighting really well with your flashlight illuminating dark corners in a very realistic looking manner. The only problem with the awesome lighting is that the game likes to show it off a bit too much by constantly causing explosions around you which not only drown out the HUD and screen but also tend to screw with the frame rate when more than one show up at a time.

The audio in this game is really nothing special, it’s a space game so you know the drill already; laser, laser, scream, laser, squish and you’re good, so let’s move onto the gameplay. It’s a top down shooter so the controls are already pretty much ingrained in anyone who’s ever owned a PC but there is a minor control issue. The only control issue is the camera which can sometimes change without your input and while that’s not always a problem, because your movement lines up with your mouse cursor and not the camera sometimes you end up running into something you shouldn’t because your mouse is somewhere the camera moved it. While this is deal-with-able it’s still very annoying when it happens.

The biggest problem with this entire game comes from its gameplay structure and that problem is pointless busy work. This game suffers from the same issue as Bioshock in that every time you get a step closer to your goal for that level, some random obstruction appears and you have to spend a half hour restoring shit back to normal before you’ll be allowed to proceed. This makes what should be a five minute task become a thirty minute task and at no point does that extra crap advance the narrative. Developers, I know you want your game to take some time to get through and make our purchase worthwhile but if it means going to hell and back through a labyrinthine level just to flip a circuit breaker for some random door for ninth time then I’d rather the game just be shorter. Beyond that, the actual game play is very solid with every weapon feeling useful (except for grenades but who needs those when you have a flame thrower), and enemies feeling smart, strong, and most importantly just a little overwhelming so as to provide a good sense of panic. Overall if the top down shooters are a genre you like than this game will not disappoint.

In conclusion Alien Breed Impact definitely won’t disappoint any genre or franchise fans but if this is your first foray into this type of game then you might feel a little lost. The game is a good economic choice though at the price of $15 and it provides a decent length at about 4-5 hours, though I played it on easy (I have a lot to review right now and on that note expect a Numen: Contest of Heroes review up later this week) so the average length is probably a bit longer. In addition to all that I’ve mentioned, there is also a two player co-op mode and though I never managed to find a game, it seems like an interesting feature. Alien Breed Impact gets a 3 out of 5 stars for its tried and true gameplay but lackluster story and I recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a cheaper space themed game right now.

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