Alien Breed 3: Descent Review (PC)

Game Review: Alien Breed 3:Descent
Release: 17th November, 2010
Genre: Isometric top down shooter
Developer: Team17
Available Platforms: PC & Xbox360
Players: 1-2 (Online/Offline)
MSRP: UK – £6.99, US – $9.99, Europe – €8.99, 800 Microsoft Points
ESRB Rating: T for Teen

The third and ‘final’ outing in the recent reboot of the Alien Breed series continues the battle against the aliens. Taking control of Theodore Conrad, chief engineer aboard the doomed ship Leopold, which crashed into an ice planet at the end of Alien Breed 2 players begin the final assault to locate the origin of the Alien threat. (trailer)

The game opens with an intro to bring new players up to speed on happenings from the first two games. This is a nice touch and one I was waiting to not see, as far too many sequels assume you have played the previous outings.  Thankfully Alien Breed 3 does this in the form of a comic book strip, and although it’s a good reminder for those who played the first two games, it is a bit too brief for new comers.

Initially you start off, still on the ship and the mechanics you experience in the first 30 minutes will give you an idea of what you will spend most of the rest of the game doing.  You shot anything that moves which isn’t you, you search for security cards etc and then retrace steps through the map to get access to that locked door that you thought you could get through, or that computer that was denying you access.  The game has roots in the 1990’s and this shows as it reminded me of ow frustrating games from that generation could be when I take off the rose-tinted glasses.  Some of the section require pinpoint timing to avoid flames, enemies spawn in the same places each playthough and lots of retracing to solve puzzles.

Being a PC game, the controls are the standard WASD movement keys and looking around is controlled with the mouse.  Controls felt solid and accurate.  the frustration was with the camera angle which could be rotated 90 degrees at a time but at all times the actual visual area was relatively limited and you didn’t see enemies until they were almost upon you.  OK, it adds to the atmosphere and suspense but also will annoy many gamers.

I was a fan of the Alien Breed games when they were originally released so when I analyse the graphics I’m comparing them to the game which is older than many of the gamers who will play this for the first time.  The graphics are good at the highest settings on the PC and most average PCs should be able to achieve this.  Detail on the aliens was sharp and the textures impressive.  Don’t buy this game expecting cutting edge effects and photo realistic textures as that is not what you are going to get.  The game remembers its root as an arcade style shooter and the graphics are suitable for this.  Sound is ok, although the taunting from the Queen grates all too often.  I may be alone in this, but for a game set on an Alien vessel/world where I may be the last remaining human, the only noises I want to hear are the background noises and the sounds of the Aliens scuttling around or being blasted to bits by my arsenal.

Now onto a major gripe I have, one that immediately knocks the score of any game down at least one notch, un-skippable cut scenes.  Unforgivable. After dying more than once, you’ll be sick and tired of watching and listening to the same scene over and over again.

You can replay any of the main story once you have completed it, in a free play mode which pits you against your best score and time.  The game is also marketed as having co-op which is a bit generous as there are three survival levels which you can play with a friend.  You can not team up in the main story at all.  Although it is a nice addition and something I would like to have seen used more.  As the story is based on a quest of a single engineer it would have felt tacked on, if Team17 had of tried to create a second character just for the sake of co-op.

Mark’s final say: If you’ve spotted a few similarities between this story and another one set in space, with the hero being an engineer then well done, as there is just a bit of flattery towards Dead Space at times.  The game itself is on the good side of average.  I would only really recommend this to those who have played the first two games in the series so that they can get closure upon completing the trilogy.  The game is a blast but after 2 hours you’ll be hard pushed to discover anything new in it, apart from new guns that come your way.

+ Story recap during intro
+ Solid graphics, sound and character controls
– Un-skippable cutscenes
– Gameplay mechanics feel the same throughout
– Sense of lonelinness broken up by too much radio chatter at times
– Camera angles very frustrating at times.
– Too much retracing of steps for puzzle solving

Final Score: 5/10

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