Published on October 6th, 2010 | by Cameron Woolsey
Alien Breed 2: Assault – Review
Reviewer’s Note: This Game was Reviewed on the Xbox 360.
In the many years they have been around, Team17 has created a name for themselves as a popular underground developer known for addictive little games like the Worms series which they are most famous for. But back in 1991 they released a little title called Alien Breed for the Amiga which was well received and spawned several sequels. Last December, Team17 released the first new Alien Breed game in fifteen years. Now with another year gone by, Alien Breed 2: Assault has hit the online marketplace. Does it stand up to last year’s Alien Breed: Evolution? Read on to find out.
Alien Breed 2: Assault begins where the last game left off. Our hero, the hard-assed, trash-talking, he-man, Conrad, has just entered a derelict alien vessel which his ship had crashed and lodged into during the opening scenes of the first game. His goal: with the surviving crew of the crippled ship, Leopold, he must fight through waves of alien bugs in order to free his ship and escape. Story sequences occur between missions and are displayed in a comic book format using drawn panels and voice acting. The storytelling is fairly decent and features some good pacing, though the voice acting could have been improved.
The game is a topdown shooter in the same vein as Smash TV or Geometry Wars. The left stick controls movement while the right stick aims the gun. This control scheme is simple and familiar but feels solid and doesn’t falter when you have a dozen aliens bearing down on you. As you progress through the game you will come across many usable items such as medkits, grenades, shields, and deployable turrets and can use these by choosing them with the D-pad and holding the left trigger. With most items, such as the medkits, I found that this worked pretty well so long as you have enough time to use them before being swarmed again. However, I could never seem to get used to the grenades. In order to use a grenade, a player will need to hold down the left trigger to fill a bar which represents throwing distance. Now, this can work just fine when there is a group of aliens in the distance, but it’s slow and inefficient and it’s difficult to judge the right distance resulting in wasted grenades that either don’t land close enough or fly over the enemy’s heads. A better system would be to hold the trigger down and have a movable cursor indicate where you want the grenade to land, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. I actually ended up using very few grenades during the course of the game and eventually just stopped picking them up altogether.
Starting from just a pistol, eventually you will start upgrading your arsenal with all the usual toys you’d expect from a shooter title. Each weapon in Assault does not feel wasted. While I spent the most amount of time using the standard assault rifle, switching over to a shotgun requires little more than a quick strategy change and mowing down aliens is still as satisfying as ever. Even the flamethrower, a weapon I felt I wouldn’t even use, was amazingly effective and satisfying and I was able to cook up some mighty fine alien BBQ in the dark halls of the infested ship. Upgrading many of these weapons is a must. During the game you will find credits scattered throughout the ship and hidden on human corpses, which can also hold ammo and items. They’re like crusty treasure chests! Credits can be used to upgrade weapon damage, lower reload time, or increase the rate of fire. Increasing damage on these weapons is incredibly effective. The assault rifle goes from an ammo eating toy to an alien-mincing death dealer. Credits can also be used to upgrade medkit effectiveness and increase melee damage. To put it simply, the weapons in Assault are few but all of them useful and very fun to use.
The Alien Breed titles are heavily influenced by famous sci-fi movies and it’s easy to spot the references. A motion radar ala Aliens is featured as part of the HUD and trust me, hearing the radar blip and noticing that eight red dots are approaching your position fast will indeed get your heart racing as they’re coming out of the g–damn walls (and floors [“we’re screwed!”])! Team17 utilizes the Unreal 3 Engine to full effect and the results are nothing short of impressive; dark, shadowy corridors, churning mists, impressive lighting and particle effects; all of which successfully create a dangerous but frightening environment.
Most of the game is your standard dungeon crawler featuring dark narrow corridors and enemies that pop up from the ground or charge from a distance. Often times players will come to a locked door that requires some sort of object, like a keycard for example, in order to pass through. By the third mission of the game the process of “kill aliens, open door, kill aliens, search bodies, kill aliens, curse under breath about grenades, kill aliens” began to wear itself a little thin. The only thing that was really making the game more exciting at this point was the change in variety of the alien forces and the frequency in which they attacked. Though the middle of the game begins to slouch, luckily, however, after the third mission the environment began to undergo more visible and interesting changes. Both the fourth and fifth missions featured many exciting moments with surprising encounters and an ever-evolving environment that kept me on the edge throughout the final couple hours of the game.
The game isn’t that long–about five hours–but offers a couple different distractions for players who want to squeeze more time out of it. Hidden in the many halls are logs that give information for the various characters and aliens featured in the game and also tells a little bit of the backstory as well in case you never picked up the first game. There are also many secrets to search for and discover. Co-op both online and local is supported for two people just in case you don’t feel like marching through the dark halls alone. Playing the game co-op keeps the boring and repetitive parts of the game from being as obvious plus it’s a lot of fun too. For those who just can’t get enough of killing aliens there is also a survival mode to satisfy any leftover bloodlust.
Alien Breed 2: Assault certainly isn’t perfect but it is a fun little romp through alien-infested hallways and though it can get repetitive at times the game eventually pushes through the dragging spots and ends well. The graphics are great, the weapons are satisfying, and the atmosphere is as impressive as is haunting. Featuring about five hours of gameplay and online co-op, Assault promises a lot of play time for the money and most importantly, it’s also pretty fun. Plus the game also sets up the story to the next Alien Breed coming out soon.
[xrr label=”Rating: 8/10″ rating=8/10]
+ Great graphics
+ Impressive atmosphere
+ Online co-op
– Gets repetitive
– Grenades are hard to use