Platforms: PC | XBLA | PSN (version tested)
Developer: Team 17
Publisher: Team 17
Descent, noun, the act or an instance of descending, or a lowering or decline, as in status or level. For example, Alien Breed 3: Descent marks the time when the newly resurrected series began its descent into mediocrity. Or does it? This is the final part of the new trilogy and after two reasonable attempts to revive the classic original series, Descent is attempting to finish things off with a bang.
The problem is, it's still suffering from the same problem as the previous two, which is that it's quite boring to play. Despite all the attempts by developers Team 17 to create a moody, apocalyptic feel to this final chapter, which sees our hero fighting to prevent the burning hulk he's battling away on from crashing into a planet, the general gunplay is never inspirational.
It's always competent, sturdy and all sorts of other words that mean “average”, which given its price tag isn't such a bad thing, but it does make this more of a damp squib than a fitting finale. There's also the ridiculous decision, yet again, to keep the co-op, a potential saving grace, as a separate entity, a small handful of standalone missions that don't even have the solo campaign's storyline to bind them together and give context.
Visually, it's reasonably impressive for a budget title. Using as it does the Unreal engine, there are plenty of hissing steam bursts, oozing alien pods and impressively grandiose set pieces to ogle, although there's nothing unique here. Grim sci-fi has been done plenty of times before, not least in the previous two games – and if you're interested in this third effort, you would surely have tried the other two before, and would therefore be sick of the sight of dingy metallic corridors by now.
But perhaps you aren't fed up and are indeed eager for more? In that case, you'll be in luck, as it seems little has changed, which is natural given the quick turnaround of releases for the trilogy. That includes the overly zoomed in camera angle, which can be flicked incrementally left and right to give you a better view of proceedings. It would have been better to move things out a bit, do away with the choice of viewpoint and just have it in a fixed isometric position. As it stands, you'll be hit from behind on too many occasions on later levels, which is obviously a problem when you're on a tough level of difficulty and you last hit a save point a long time before.
Let's face it – this won't be of interest to anyone who hasn't played the first two installments. If you haven't, it's best to go back to the first one, as it's pretty much the same. Episode gaming doesn't really work if there's no intention to genuinely improve things between each release, and while there might have been some minor tweaks or a rejig of the way things are paced – in the third one, you tend to be fighting more often than the second one, which had quieter sections in the middle – there's nothing to really separate each one.
It's very likely you'll be quite happy with the twin-stick shooting – left to move, right to aim – mechanic at first, but you'll have tired of the repetitive scenery and uninspiring storyline. Now, what they should have done is really push campaign co-op, having a sort of Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light approach, which would have given some better pacing – puzzles to mix up the action, for example. Instead, all we've got is some 'companion' quests that don't really provide any incentive to nag a friend into buying it so you can play together.
Should you buy Alien Breed 3: Descent? Not really, unless you've already got the other two and think “yeah, might as well finish off the series.” That's the only reason. If you've got to get some alien slaughtering in, buy the first one if you must. It's pretty much the same, as mentioned before, as inspired as this concluding paragraph was.
- Fans of the first two episodes will be happy enough
- Visuals are decent, plus the dual-stick shooting mechanic is solid
- Shite co-op
- Don't bother if you haven't played the first two
- Quite repetitive
The Short Version: Third game in the new Alien Breed series, but it doesn't improve upon the first two in any meaningful ways, and so should only be purchased if you have them and enjoyed what came before.