Does the 1991 Amiga game hold up in 2013?
Platform: PS3, Vita /Genre: Top-Down Shooter
Developer: Team17 / Publisher: Team17
Alien Breed, a Commodore Amiga game released in 1991, has been re-released on PSN for the PS3 and Vita. While I never played the original, I decided to give this “Alltime Amiga Classic” a go in the hopes it would satisfy my alien killing desires. I did kill aliens, but I was not satisfied.
The first thing you have to understand about this re-release is that it has everything from the original game (visuals, sounds, controls, gameplay mechanics, etc.), but also has an enhanced edition with updated visuals, sounds and controls. and keeps the original gameplay mechanics. This is where one of the biggest problems arise. In the original Alien Breed (and most top-down shooters of the time), you could only shoot the way you were facing. This means you can’t walk one way and shoot the other, you have to leave enough space between you and the aliens before turning to shoot them. The aliens in Alien Breed don’t have the great AI that games have these days. Instead, they just run- well, they actually walk- towards you. This is fine with the original controls because you are always on the lookout for aliens who might unexpectedly attack you, but in the enhanced edition the control scheme has been changed to make the game a twin-stick shooter; thus taking pretty much all the challenge out of the game. Not to mention there are only 3 enemy types, two of which just run at you. The other is a boss that also moves towards you, but is only present on a few levels.
Speaking of the levels, another element of the game showing signs of its age are the levels themselves. There are quite a lot of levels- there are about 30 levels all together- including about 12 new levels and all the levels from Alien Breed and its special edition. However, there is not much variety in the level design, or the things you have to do in each level. Every level is a massive maze that is filled with doors, environmental traps, resources to collect, and an objective to reach. The objective in most of the levels is to destroy or trigger something that will start a countdown. You then have a certain amount of time to leg it to the lift that takes you to the next level. The thing I noticed throughout my time playing Alien Breed was that I would either make it to the lift with plenty of time to spare, or not make it to the lift. After a while- I’d say a few minutes, actually- this process gets boring and most of the time I wondered why I was even bothering.
While on your time consuming mission, when you are not thinking about all the great games you could be playing at the moment, you will be finding resources. Money is used to buy weapons, keys to unlock doors, health and extra lives, and ammo. You can also find all those things on the ground. It’s best to save your money for buying extra lives and health though.
There really is not anything good I can say about Alien Breed. Death just means restarting a level with no penalty because you keep all your guns, money, keys and ammo. Giving players no penalty gave me no joy, or feeling of triumph when I finished a level, but that was mainly because I’d get bored of the level I was playing about half way through it.
If you have got some friends who have Alien Breed, or you have a PS3 with 2 controllers, there is co-op (online and couch). Co-op does not make things that much more fun if you don’t have a buddy because there is no one playing online.
Alien Breed is not a broken game, it is just showing its age. The game mechanics do not fit with modernised controls and the game in general just is not fun. If I had not had to review the game, I would have stopped playing a few missions in. I would only recommend this game to gamers who have played the original Alien Breed and want to experience some new levels and the nostalgia that comes with it.
+ Original visuals and sounds provide great nostalgia
- 1991 gameplay mechanics
- Only 3 enemy types
- boring level design
Nathan Manning is an Editor for AnalogAddiction. He has his fingers cross that Aliens: Colonial Marines will satisfy his alien killing desires. You can find him on Twitter and AnalogAddiction there as well.