Game: "Alien Breed 2: Assault"
Published by: Other
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Review: It was with some trepidation that I took the news of a new Alien Breed game late last year. I had been a fan of the original series, but you can never be sure of what will happen with a remake. Still, I have been pleasantly surprised in the past (Bionic Commando Rearmed, I love you), so I decided to give it a shot.
Alien Breed 2: Assault picks up right where its predecessor, Evolution (or Impact, for our Stem/PSN users out there), left off: the spaceship Leopold has just smashed into a mysterious ship, only to be boarded by a swarm of killer aliens (an alien breed, if you will). Now, it's up to engineer Theodore Conrad to board the mystery ship and do what he can to separate the two vessels before they're both dragged into a nearby planet.
Further details can be found on logs within the game, but knowing the backstory to all this alien slaughter isn't really necessary. You know what the plot of the original Alien Breed was? You're a marine investigating a space station that isn't sending broadcasts anymore, and suddenly aliens appear. That's it, and it worked. The new games have made an effort to construct a honest-to-god narrative, but the end result is more or less the same. In between levels, you'll see some comic panels that slowly develop the story. However, during these intermissions, you'll be subjected to some pretty lousy voice acting, particularly from Conrad, who seems more annoyed than anything by the alien invasion and mass slaughter of his fellow crewmates.
As I said in my review of the original, however, what does the plot matter in a game like this? The Alien Breed series is about one thing: shooting aliens. To wit, you and Conrad will be facing off with all sorts of aliens, starting with the small, scurrying kind, and slowly working your way up through the ranks of screaming, charger aliens as well as more specialized varieties, like the healer and shield-bearing aliens. There are even a couple big boss aliens to fight.
The problem with all this alien killing is that after a while, it starts to get repetitive. The original game combated this problem by having fairly open levels, and also by having a campaign that was only around an hour long. Assault, while only weighing in at just under five hours of playtime, is still bit too long to sustain its gameplay elements: An alien pops up in front of you, so you shoot it. Another pops up behind you, so you slowly rotate the camera until you can see it, then you shoot. Once you've killed all the aliens in an area, you proceed along the linear level to the next bout. Occasionally, you'll be told to go fetch a keycard/fuse/etc in order to proceed, so you'll backtrack to a storeroom, grab the item, and then slog back through, in all likelihood taking a cheap shot or two because you were sprinting through it trying to get to the new area.
The action is parsed out slightly by the constant searching and scavenging for supplies, and money to buy more supplies from fully-operational space vending machines aboard the mysterious ship. Most of what you can buy is the same as it was in Impact: ammo, grenades, health, and a handful of upgrades. New to your arsenal are the Hyperblaster (a space-age gatling gun) and a rocket launcher. Though they are technically new, it's worth mentioning that these weapons replace a pair of weapons from Impact. "Replace" really is the best way to describe them, as they fill the same role as the weapons they replaced (namely, a high damage machine gun and a special super high damage weapon).
The remade Alien Breed games don't seem to have a lot in common with the rest of the franchise. In fact, they remind me more of Shadowgrounds, a budget series of 3rd person shooters that have remarkably similar plots about engineers having to fend off a sudden alien invasion. It's not a bad series to relate to, but neither is it all that great.
I had a few other minor complaints about this game: it uses the same screen shaking and blur effect for when you're attacked as it does for harmless explosions. Worse yet, at one point, I lost almost 20 minutes of game time when an NPC I was escorting became rooted to the ground. However, the biggest issue I have with the game is that it doesn't really add anything to the series, or even to the game that came immediately before it.
In short, if you liked Alien Breed: Impact, you'll enjoy Alien Breed 2: Assault. What's more, you'll probably get a kick out of Alien Breed 3: Descent.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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