Published on November 22nd, 2010 | by Cameron Woolsey
Alien Breed 3: Descent Review
Reviewer’s Note: This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
When we last left our hero, Conrad, the second most badass engineer in space, he was standing waist-deep in alien guts on a derelict ship that was plummeting through the atmosphere of a dead iced planet. Mia, his cyborg colleague and friend, had been mentally possessed by the rampant intelligence, Dr. Klein, and it was only a matter of time before the ship was due to crash onto the frozen wasteland below. Things weren’t getting any better, but did we really expect them to?
Alien Breed 3: Descent is the final chapter in Team17’s remastered Alien Breed franchise which first found life on the Amiga system many years ago. Not all that much has changed from Alien Breed 2. The game still utilizes the Unreal 3 Engine and Team17 has once again shown mastery over the tech. Graphics are sharp and clear and the lighting and special effects create the dark, frightening atmosphere that one would expect from a sci-fi horror film.
The game continues the form of a top-down shooter in which you can move Conrad while aiming and firing in a 360-degree angle, while two buttons control the angle of the camera. Conrad can sprint, melee, and use items such as health packs and grenades during the course of the game. The only time the viewing angle changes are during the moments in which Conrad must strap on a helmet venture onto the outer hull of the vessel. During these moments the camera shifts to eye-level and can no longer be rotated. Traversing the outer hull of the ship is a slow but fun sequence. You will really be able to understand the gravity of Conrad’s situation seeing the fragile ship violently tumbling through the atmosphere of the ice planet as chunks of the tattered hull fray and fly off. The lack of music and muted sound effects complete the surreal and scary experience. Sadly this really is the only thing that is added to freshen up the now familiar experience and it doesn’t last very long.
Like all things in video games must go, Conrad loses all his weapons and upgrades in the transition from the previous game to this one and now must lurk through the dark halls and find them again. Luckily the weapons are a little easier to come by and your arsenal will be back to full strength before you know it. The usual suspects, the assault rifle, shotgun, and flamethrower, make their welcome return and each one can be upgraded in three categories: firing speed, reload speed, and damage. Grenades also make their return and come in two varieties: frag and stun. While the usual set of tools would have been enough to stave off the vile alien horde, Team17 was just nice enough to offer two more little toys which, after a brief introduction, easily fit into the rest of the group just like old friends. The first is the Electro-Link gun which fires a bolt of electricity that stops any alien in its tracks and if one is nearby it will chain a bolt of electricity to that one as well. Large groups of aliens don’t stand a chance against this thing; one or two shots and the entire horde will be writhing in agony before becoming vaporized. Daddy likes. The other weapon which goes by the mysterious title, Project X, fires a large plasma missile which detonates violently on impact. It fires slowly but it hits like a truck.
As you may imagine, the new weapons are the most powerful in the game and therefore ammo is very scarce. But if you have the credits you can buy more ammo at the shops/save points scattered throughout each level. These shops are familiar to players of the previous games. They offer items such as medkits, turrets, ammo, and upgrades, and also allow you to save your progress. The bunch-a, munch-a, crunch-a human corpses also make their return as Conrad’s favorite decomposing source of precious goods. Searching bodies will often yield ammo or other goodies such as health packs and credits. Just don’t take that candy bar from the back pocket; it’s a little stale.
If you read my review of Alien Breed 2 you would know that I mentioned how the game slowed down around the middle of campaign and the slow trudging through dark hallways got a little dull after a while. Well Team17 must have felt the same and decided to liven things up some by making the final chapter of the series the most action packed to date. From the very start Conrad is constantly assaulted by waves of aliens and the heavily damaged ship rocks with explosions all around you. This certainly works to keep things exciting, sure, and I never got the chance to feel bored, but after about three straight hours of fighting while explosions ceaselessly detonate it started to get repetitive, which is the biggest issue behind the series. The problem with Descent is that because you are in the fight nearly all the time, things can get really predictable. If you see a dark room in front of you, good chance you’re going to fight aliens. Is there a dark hallway between you and your goal? Don’t expect a peaceful walk. It got so bad in some levels that I actually began to feel annoyed by it. I understand that Descent is meant to be the final desperate push, but the desperation should come from the plot development instead of taking the Michael Bay approach.
Each mission will take you 45 minutes to an hour to complete depending on your need to explore. This doesn’t seem like a lot of time for a $10 game, but Team17 has added a few extra game types to round things out. Survival mode will pit players against waves of oncoming enemies while they must gather weapons and use turrets wisely in order to survive as long as possible. Co-op assault will allow you to team up either online or offline with a friend to play several levels. Finally, Free Play will allow you to replay any finished mission from the single player campaign.
Despite the moments where things get too repetitive, overall Alien Breed 3: Descent is a pretty good game. It could have been better, but all the basic mechanics for a good shooter are there. I believe that Team17 was successful in bringing one of their beloved franchises into the modern era. If the thought of killing more alien bugs than an entire platoon of Starship Troopers sounds enticing, look no further this.
[xrr label=”Rating: 7.5/10″ rating=7.5/10]
+ Great graphics and atmosphere
+ Weapons fun
+ Multiple game types
– Gets repetitive