Alien Breed: Impact – The PS3 Attitude Review
Alien Breed is a series developed by Team 17 that dates back to 1991. Since then, the long running top-down shooter franchise has received several sequels. Alien Breed: Impact is an updated version of a game originally released for the XBLA in December 2009.
Does this Alien Breed reboot make enough of an impact to revitalize the series?
The single-player campaign in Alien Breed: Impact is broken up into a prologue and five chapters. At the start of each mission there is a comic-book cutscene with horrible voice acting that poorly attempts to explain the situation. There really isn’t too much to the story. Apparently, your ship has been invaded by aliens after a collision with another space craft. You take control of an engineer named Conrad as he tries to survive and escape on his own. The storyline is forgettable and unimportant.
Each chapter is about 45 minutes long and plays out in the same way. There’s always a bunch of doors that need to be unlocked, power that needs to be regenerated, fires that need to be extinguished, and aliens that need to be exterminated. Throughout the game you’re pretty much just running through corridors following a marker that’s on a radar. It gets old by the time you’ve beaten the prologue.
The gameplay is standard for the genre, however, aside from aiming with right analog stick, the controls are awkward. L1 and R1 rotates the camera at a 45 degree angle, holding square allows you to run temporarily, triangle reloads your weapon, and circle is the nearly useless melee attack. Using the d-pad to scroll through weapons and items doesn’t feel right and can cause problems when you’re in a tough spot. The biggest issue is that shooting is assigned to the R2 button and this cannot be changed. The amount of times I’ve accidentally rotated the camera is countless. It doesn’t take long to get adjusted to the controls but you might find yourself pressing the wrong button during intense situations.
Team 17 did a great job creating an atmosphere that almost makes you feel like you’re playing a survival horror game. Think of Dead Space with an isometric camera and you’d have the right idea. I would have never imagined that a dual joystick shooter could ever elicit such emotions. The best moments in the game are when there’s tons of enemies, a timer, and nowhere to run, complete with cliché music playing in the background. The default difficulty (Veteran) isn’t too tough but Elite does make the game a lot more interesting.
The experience though is dampened by the repetitive corridors and environments. It doesn’t help that for most of the game you’re killing the same batch of aliens with little variation. All you have to do is mindlessly shoot while walking backwards and you’ll do just fine. The weapon choices are your typical machine gun, rifle, shotgun, and flamethrower. Part of the fear is ruined thanks to the default gun having infinite ammo. Sure, it’s weak, but it’s a weapon you can always rely on.
Similar to Dead Space, there are terminals that allow you to buy ammo, items, and make upgrades. Of course, nothing is free and you’ll need a good amount of Credits for the better gear. The upgrade system, which is new to Alien Breed: Impact, is limited and consists of increasing the rate of fire, power, and reload time of a weapon. You can also upgrade health packs, grenades, and the melee attack. Only one upgrade can be equipped at a time and previous enhancements will disappear. It’s a system that doesn’t particularly make any sense but it does add some variety to the gameplay. The Intex Terminal also acts as your save point.
Alien Breed: Impact never reaches its full potential due to a series of repetitive tasks. For instance, there’s a bunch of corpses all throughout the ship and tons of lockers to examine. A meter is attached to searching so nothing is ever instantaneous. There’s no reason why searching a locker should take as long as it does and sometimes the rewards aren’t even worth the wait. Holding the X button for a few seconds only to see “nothing of interest” is perhaps one of the most infuriating aspects of the game. This is especially true when you’re being ambushed by aliens. It might make sense for tasks involving computer activations (which can take up to 10 seconds) but not for nearly everything you do. There’s even a wait to use the save console.
Alien Breed: Impact concludes anticlimactically after defeating the final boss, which also happens to be the only boss fight in the game. After five chapters of build up you’d expect the encounter to be epic, right? Sadly, that’s not the case. The final boss is so pathetic, underwhelming, and just downright disappointing. It’s so sad.
The multiplayer portion isn’t very redeeming either. There’s only three co-op missions to play through and it’s nearly the same gameplay but just with a partner. While this doesn’t sound bad in itself, you’ll find yourself bored since you’re just going through another set of corridors shooting the exact same creatures. The enemies seem stronger in this mode so don’t be surprised if a single wave of creatures takes you or your partner out. There is a respawn system that allows fallen players to come back from the dead after a short wait. It’s only gameover if both players die within the same span of time.
Both characters share the same screen in multiplayer. This becomes annoying when you’re trying to explore and your partner runs off to get ambushed. All of the abilities from the single player campaign are present, including the Intex Terminal. There’s a problem though. Only one player can use it at a time. The person not using the shop can’t do anything but walk around the limited screen space. This results in an unnecessary amount of downtime seeing as both players will want to use the shop. You also have to be very cautious of online players taking all the credits, items, and weapons. While there is generally enough goodies for everyone, I did have an experience with an uncooperative player that insisted on being annoying. Your best bet is to get a friend to join you to avoid this issue entirely.
The game has online leaderboards but selecting it always made the PS3 crash. There aren’t many technical flaws but there was another instance where Conrad was unable to move after picking up an item. Reloading my save was the only solution and I lost about 5-10 minute of gameplay. It wasn’t that big of a deal.
Alien Breed: Impact has all the foundations of a great game but it ultimately falls short due to its overly repetitive nature. Running through the same corridors, shooting the same aliens, and doing the same monotonous tasks does get pretty boring. If you played the demo then you know exactly what to expect as the game never deviates from this formula. That’s not to say that this is a bad game, but it is pretty average despite doing so many things right.
Alien Breed: Impact is now available for the PlayStation Network in Europe for £11.99/€14.99. There is no release date in North America at the time of this writing. According to the game’s credits, a sequel titled Alien Breed 2: Assault is on the way.