Alien Breed 2: Assault (XBLA) Review
Title: Alien Breed 2: Assault
Publisher: Xbox LIVE Arcade
Developer: Team 17
Genre: Action/Isometric Shooter
Rated: T for Teen
In December 2009, Team 17 released the first episode in their new Alien Breed series called Evolution. On Sept. 22, the second episode was released titled Alien Breed 2: Assault.
The game picks up with a short summary of what happened in the first game, with the Leopold crashing into the ghost ship. Conrad is in the ghost ship trying to restore power to stop from crashing and to also destroy the ship with the alien invaders on it.
The game features five single player levels for players to go through, along with a prologue to catch players up to speed. Each level takes almost an hour to beat, but the main reason for that is the repetitiveness, which I will touch on shortly.
Players control Conrad as an isometric shooter, I.E., the left stick moves him while the right stick aims and RT shoots. Conrad walks around from place to place as you go through the levels. He can run, but he only has a limited amount of sprint before having to rest for a bit. It can make going through levels even that much longer having to start and stop running.
There are six weapons you can use in the game, one of which, the pistol, has infinite ammo. Ammo can be picked up off the ground and from dead bodies, and can also be bought from save stations.
Save stations can also supply items, such as health packs, sentry guns and armor. These can be picked up off the ground as well. The final thing save stations can do is supply upgrades for guns. Each gun that uses ammo can have one upgrade, and there are also three general upgrades for Conrad.
Each level has players killing waves of aliens that spawn while trying to activate various switches and levers to make it to the end of the level. This is actually my biggest problem with the game, the repetitiveness. The same mechanics that you use at the very beginning of the game is the exact same thing you’re doing the last level of the game. There are a few boss battles to try and separate the gameplay up, but the battles end up just as repetitive and easy to beat if you have a powered-up gun.
Something else you’ll notice about the levels is that you backtrack a lot. You might go halfway through a level just to realize that you have to go back almost to the beginning to access a computer that wasn’t available before to go back to where you just were. It may be a way to extend a game, but it can just get aggravating to a gamer that sees the same corridors multiple times because you can’t progress any farther without backtracking.
For a few levels, you’ll also have to help guide the android Mia around the ship. While this is alright, the two big problems with this is that she can’t use any weapons and if anything touches her, she instantly stops moving. This even includes you. The slightest brush against her will freeze her for a few seconds before she starts moving again. I’m still not sure why this is.
There are a good variety of enemies you’ll face, with some shooting projectiles, one having a shield and one messing up your view with a projectile. However, many of the enemies end up just trying to melee you while you mow them down. The enemies normally spawn from under the ground or from the wall, and I noticed quite a few times that enemies would spawn right in front of me and get a free hit or two in while I tried to kill them.
After beating a single player level, the level can be played again in Free Play mode. The game also lets two players team up to go through three levels in co-op. In this mode, one player controls Barnes and the other Vance as they go through the ship trying to find Conrad.
The other game mode offered here is Survival, which lets either a single player or two players try to survive endless waves of aliens with limited ammo and health. It’s a fun to play for a while, but doesn’t help this game stand out from the many other games that have this type of mode.
Graphically, the spaceship can make the various corridors look the same, but the Unreal Engine 3 gives the game a nice shine. The game also is pretty dark, and power goes out quite often. Usually, your flashlight is the only source of light, but that normally doesn’t feel like enough light.
The engine allows for quite a bit of explosions to happen during the game and during the set scenes the game has. The explosions look good, but often make the screen shakes quite a bit.
Finally, I’ll touch briefly on how the story is told. Between levels, they are told though comic panels and voices. They look good, even if they are a green monocolor. In the levels, the story is told through subtext at the bottom of the screen of the characters speaking to each other. The main problem I had with this is that there is no talking. So, while trying to kill the aliens coming at you, you also have to try and read the text at the same time to get the story.
Alien Breed 2: Assault offers good isometric shooter gameplay, but is hampered by a lot of repetition and backtracking. The game’s fairly short, having only five single player levels, and does try to offer more replay value with Survivor mode. However, the mode has been done better in other games. Fans of the series that want to see the story ought to check it out, but other gamers may want to check out the trial before buying.