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Friday, March 4, 2011

Review: Alien Breed: Descent (PSN)

Alien Breed: Descent does nothing new. It’s a direct sequel to the two previous Alien Breed games, with the same gameplay, the same visuals, the same settings, the same gameplay modes and the same flaws. Given that between the three of them, Team 17 is asking people to pay the same prices as a retail package, you’re going to want to be a huge fan to buy into the game again.

Here we go again...


That said, with a comprehensive plot summary at the start of the game, and the first half hour of the game playing like a tutorial (this is a little irritating if you’ve already played the previous games), Alien Breed: Descent makes sense even if you haven’t played the previous games.

Indeed, if you’re only going to get one of the games in the series, this is the best choice. The story is at its most intense in the third act, the threats bigger and unlike the first two games, when you finish this one you’ll actually get a sense of closure. It’s not really any more difficult than previous games, but it certainly feels more impressive to play. 

The game makes seriously good use of the Unreal 3 engine


At its core Alien Breed is a dual stick, top down shooter with a plot pulled directly from Aliens. As such, you’ll be wandering down sci-fi space ship hallways, killing stuff with an impressive array of guns, and completing objectives to put a stop to the alien threat.

While it’s a great premise, in execution some elements fall flat. The game has a terrible habit of asking you to moving to computer A to unlock door B which will allow you to access computer C, which will then unlock door D at the other end of the space ship. It’s basically a great big key hunt, and while the backtracking is never too lengthy, completing objectives is not really engaging and you'll eventually get tired of wandering back and forth from computer to computer.

The game also looks great thanks to the Unreal 3 engine, but is also hampered by a few annoying quirks – especially if you’ve played the previous two games. There’s not a whole lot of variety in the enemies, the weapons lack bite and the explosions are distinctly unimpressive. 

You've seen all this before


Aside from the story mode, a (very good) horde survival mode and online co-op return. Trying to beat your previous best score is always a compelling experience, and while in some survival games the earlier, easy waves of enemies are too easy and mean the first five-10 minutes of each game is therefore dull, in Alien Breed the difficulty ramps up nicely.

Like with the previous two games, the online co-op is dead, so the only way you’ll be playing this is if you can make friends with other PS3 owners of the game.

All said, Alien Breed: Descent is a difficult game to rate. It’s good (if simple) fun, but its hard to recommend to fans of the first two games, as the only thing they’ll get out of this release is a sense of story closure, and between the three games, it becomes a very expensive series for a style of gameplay that isn’t really worth retail price. 

It's hard to hate this game, but it would have been nice to see something different this time around


On the other hand, almost anyone who is interested in dual stick shooters or Aliens-style games would have already tried an Alien Breed, making it hard to see who would even want to play Descent. So, if you are one of the few people that find this kind of game intriguing, and haven’t played either prequel, then this is the one to start with.

And please, if you do have this game, pop on over to our forums and let me know. I’m keen to get some multiplayer gaming going. 

Review: Alien Breed: Descent (PSN)
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