It certainly packs plenty of atmosphere across its five or so hour campaign; but some control quirks, and drawn-out mission design make it hard to stomach in long stretches.
Alien Breed is a Team-17 classic. Released on the Amiga in the early-1990's, the game was a smash-hit for the British developer.
Nineteen years later, Team-17 are spearheading their switch to digital distribution with a franchise reboot. Alien Breed: Impact is a claustrophobic, breathless isometric shooter set on a Dead Space-esque space station. The game boasts single-player and co-operative multiplayer support. The game's enjoyable in co-op but sharing the experience seems at odds with what Alien Breed's all about.
The game's gritty and dark. Both tonally and visually. This is a dark, dark game fixated with the concept of shadows. The game's lighting is purposely subtle, and moderately impressive. The game wants you to question what's around the corner, and typically it succeeds.
While there's nothing particularly unusual about Alien Breed's setup - it's basically a rip of Aliens - the setting is genuinely eerie, and it uses the Unreal Engine to good effect. It's surprisingly slick for a downloadable title.
Sadly, the controls are less so. Aiming is handled with the right stick, which feels laboured in its movement. Likewise, the camera can only be rotated in 45-degree increments, and the mapping to the DualShock's L1 and R1 buttons doesn't always seem as intuitive as it should. After a number of attempts, we decided to leave the camera where it was. As an isometric game, it's not a big deal, but there's a sense that not enough thoughts gone into the controller mapping. Reload, for example, is on the Triangle button, and run on Square. It just doesn't feel natural.
Once you get over the control hurdles, though, you'll find a particularly straight-forward game. The design relies on running through long corridors and interacting with waypoints. Poor maps and similar looking locations can make it frustrating to navigate the space station; and unfortunately it all gets rather repetitive.
For all Alien Breed's atmosphere, it's a particularly disappointing affair, and not quite the reboot Team-17 would have hoped for. The game's certainly visually exciting, but the whole thing lacks variety and polish. The story is sewn together through a sequence of shockingly low-budget comic strip sequences, and the controls are a constant battle.
If you are a fan of the original Alien Breed, or retro shooters in general, you might find some fun here. There are better dual-stick shooters on the PSN though.