ESRB rating: Teen
Release date: Available now
Review by: Remy Ransom
You can see a trend in the PlayStation Network that almost follows that of Hollywood: taking an old idea and doing what many fanboys call a “reboot.” We saw it with Batman, and it worked well; it most certainly must work well for games. A guilty pleasure here is Bionic Commando, and now Team17 does it’s very own reboot of Alien Breed, its classic game for the Amiga. Alien Breed: Impact is a new chapter for publisher Team17, and based on its success it should have follow-ups almost like those of a comic book.
When entering the world, a short panel-by-panel comic book begins, showing Chief Engineer Conrad receiving a visit from the ship’s Lt. Mia. During their brief dialogue, the ship known as Leopold crashes into what looks like a mothership of some sort. In the resulting period of chaos, aliens from the mothership begin to board the Leopold, dispatching Conrad and Mia’s shipmates. To save the Leopold from imminent doom, Conrad takes to the front lines (with Mia backing him on com) to shut down the ship’s core. Through minor explosions and computer warnings of danger, you embark on your quest, searching corpses and lockers for items. Everything seems to be going fine. Then the aliens start coming.
Impact includes a single-player mode or, if you have a friend playing with you, a co-op mode in a top-down shooter environment. While playing as Conrad, you find yourself mainly running and shooting through each mission, with Mia guiding you to your destinations. The over-prepared gamer can find computer-like vending machines with ammo, weapons and items in strategically placed positions. During your adventure you find multiple breeds of aliens coming at you from all angles, and thankfully Conrad can shoot every which way you’d like. When an alien is near, the radar at the top right-hand corner of your screen shows a red dot coming towards you. If you happen to miss it, worry not, as the aliens make peculiar noises letting you know you’re about to have an encounter.
Impact is friendly to most players who are unfamiliar with the original game, or with the genre in general. The controls are displayed before entering the world, providing a quick tutorial. Cruising through the Leopold is easy enough, and once you’ve gained the coveted monetary selection of credits, you can find terminals on the map to upgrade a weapon or buy items. A funny reward you can receive is a title for robbing items from corpses, which is worth a chuckle. If you choose, you can use the right stick of your controller to aim, or run and gun like crazy. Conrad also has the ability to pistol-whip aliens, though this isn’t very powerful against the larger ones that have razor-sharp teeth. If you take too much damage, a limping Conrad does his best to move through the Leopold to serve his purpose.
You can almost predict when you’re about to be attacked. The “aim” feature with the right stick seems to be almost at increments of 90 degrees, which becomes tiresome and almost forces the player to just use the left stick to turn. The labors that Conrad must perform have a hokey feel to them, almost as if they’ve been done before: Get a keycard to access this area, in which you must do that. The feel of the game is in the right spot, but the familiarity of the gameplay could very well lose players’ attention spans. The voice acting for the comic panels is very lackluster; it might push the story along, but it doesn’t captivate.
Alien Breed: Impact at times becomes as boring as a term paper you didn’t want to write, but it’s for an elective class you had to take so you could graduate and create happy parents. As a prologue more or less, it gives you a feel for the things to come from other possible installments. Fanboys will likely enjoy it, as it didn’t take away from the original, updating the graphics (with the Unreal 3 engine) and the score. If Impact can’t really keep you intrigued through its story, you could wonder what will happen in the future for the Alien Breed franchise.