Alien Breed Review
- Faithful recreation of the Amiga classic
- Good use of modern technologies to enhance original - revised graphics, online features etc
- Still great fun to play
Not so much?
- 1990's gameplay shows through with sometimes alarming results
- May not grab those not fueled by nostalgia for the Amiga classic
As an Amiga fan I’ve greatly enjoyed dipping my toe back in to Alien Breed and feel satisfied that Team 17 have done the memory justice (although the original intro would have been nice!). just be prepared that nostalgia fuels most of the enjoyment to this title – newcomers might not fair so well.
Alien Breed was one of my favourite titles back on the Amiga. Many, many hours were spent in the various titles in the series from the original to the ambitious 3D incarnations found in the twilight years of the Amiga.
Team 17 have taken the classic Amiga titles, along with a couple of sequels, and placed them together on these modern console consoles for our gaming pleasure… but is there really any pleasure to still be had from a 12 year old title?
The re-launched Alien Breed series of a year or so back was a mildly entertaining take on the classic series offering some pretty great visuals (Unreal Engine 3 powered) and marrying them to the Gauntlet style of gameplay from the originals. These titles were all well and good but didn’t capture the harsh and unforgiving nature of the original series.
Shoot forward to today and we have this package on offer. You have the choice to go at the game either using the original graphics or beefing things up a little with a slightly enhanced version. Both versions move well and look reasonable for the price and age of the game. The original Amiga graphics hold up surprisingly well for such an old game thanks in no small part to Rico Homes’ superb original design work. The enhanced version will be how most but the rose-tinted Amiga fan will play the game though. In this mode things look good enough, with all the jagged edges smoothed out and some nicer lighting used.
Sound has remained unchanged from the originals and this to hasn’t exactly aged too badly. The benefit of the later Amiga titles, especially the Team 17 ones, is that they used some top-notch graphics and sound artists of the time to bring the best out of the machine. Allister Brimble’s original sound work was superb and it carries through to this day. Sure it’s a little rough around the edges but it still shows good production values.
Gameplay remains firmly unchanged here and it’s probably the biggest sticking point for the package. At its core Alien Breed is a dual-stick shooter paying huge homage to the Alien franchise. The problem it in its original form it was a dual-stick shooter without the second stick. This means all aiming is positional and follows the player direction. It makes aiming tricky at times and leaves you feeling more than a little frustrated compared to how we expect modern titles to play. That said, as mentioned above, most will be opting for the enhanced edition which rectifies the 2nd stick issue and makes the game far less frustrating to play.
Throwing in cross-platform play from the Vita to the Playstation 3 is a great bonus and one that more developers should be trying to incorporate in their designs. Simply the game on the PS3, save then head out the door to work. Grab the Vita from your bag and continue the fight from the same spot. Adding in local, adhoc (on Vita) and online co-op play also extends the originals even further.
Alien Breed is a throwback to the golden age of the Amiga here in Europe. It evokes some pretty strong memories for me as a gamer and from my point of view does them great justice.
Sure the formula is a little tired now. The graphics are not the benchmark setting level they used to be and it can all get very similar and repetitive after a few hours of play. The balancing is skewed towards the higher end of the difficulty spectrum and several minor design flaws (like depending on keys that can run out and leave you stranded) all add up to remind you that this is a game designed back in the early 90’s.
As an Amiga fan I’ve greatly enjoyed dipping my toe back in to Alien Breed and feel satisfied that Team 17 have done the memory justice (although the original intro would have been nice!). Just be prepared that nostalgia fuels most of the enjoyment to this title – newcomers might not fair so well.