Platforms: Xbox 360
Publisher: Mastertronic Games
Team 17's Alien Breed trilogy delivered some slick and attractive shooting action over the last few months... but since the first episode was definitely the weakest of the three, many gamers justifiably felt uncomfortable with taking the plunge. Luckily Mastertronic Games have bundled the entire affair onto a single disc retailing for around £18 at launch: providing a slight saving (£2.40 by my count) as well as a way of netting the whole adventure in a single purchase.
Right off the bat, let's spotlight the biggest advantage of buying the Alien Breed Trilogy edition over the individual downloads. Many gamers refused to buy into an downloadable episodic series, but the experience makes much more sense as a whole. We've already reviewed Alien Breed: Impact and Descent, but now that they're all in one place rather than seperate games, it's a different beast as well as a more worthwhile package.
When the Starship Leopold crashes into a mysterious "ghost ship" populated by extraterrestrial horrors, it's up to the heroic chief engineer to repair the stricken vessel, investigate the situation and attempt to purge the Breed from existence. To do so, players will guide him around a number of isometric maps, using a variety of weapons and the tried-and-tested twinstick shooting mechanics to get the job done.
And they certainly do get the job done. Alien Breed offers a selection of horrific, interesting adversaries who attack in increasingly intense hordes - as well as some truly satisfying ways of putting them down. The weapon selection runs the gamut from a machine gun, flame thrower, blaster and a rocket launcher; and they all feel pleasingly meaty and hefty to wield despite not being particularly inventive. You'll feel truly powerful and simultaneously vulnerable as the hordes pile in, which is a tricky balance to pull off. There's no denying that it's extremely repetitive though.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PS3 (PSN)
Developer: Team 17
Publisher: Team 17
The top down shooter genre is getting quite crowded on the PlayStation Store, so each new release is going to have to really work for our money. At over £10, Alien Breed: Impact is really going to have to work for it.
The game takes place on a huge space vessel overrun by aliens. Most of the crew are dead, you’re the only hope yadda yadda. The atmosphere owes a lot to Dead Space, but hey you might as well borrow from the best. You poke through many darkened tunnels with your torch, catching glimpses of crew members being dragged into vents and avoiding random explosions and aliens bursting out of the floor and walls. There’s even a level on the outside of the ship with similar space-vacuum atmospheric noises. The graphics are all well-detailed and lit dimly to enhance the creepy atmosphere.
Controls use the familiar twin-sticks to move and aim from the overhead angle. Taps of L1 and R1 will rotate the camera 45 degrees at a time, this can be really slow if you like keeping the camera behind you and you keep getting attacked from behind. An option to flip through 90 degrees at a time would have fixed this.
The shooting is solid enough though, thanks to some nice weaponry and a cool laser-sight for targeting. You have a pistol with infinite ammo that’s best used for small crawler enemies or against small numbers of larger beasts to conserve ammo for your other weapons. The assault rifle has a large magazine capacity to dish out the pain for large groups of enemies, the shotgun is great for close one-hit-kills and the flamethrower is good for, well, just fun really. Near the end of the game there’s a laser rifle (laser version of assault rifle) and the Ion Spike which is a badass laser that wipes out wide areas of anything you point it at. The pistol aside, all weapons can have their reload times shortened, damage enhanced or firing rate increased at the stores, where you can also buy health packs, ammo, stun/frag grenades or auto-turrets.Click here to read the rest of Brendan's review.
This week brings us a brand new incentive to sign up to PSN's premium subscription service (with a free game in the offing if you sign up for an entire year). What's more, the usual selection of deals provide major savings for a few downloadable titles. Cutesy and clever puzzler Aqua Panic is down to £4.79, and the immensely addictive Bejeweled is now a steal at just over three quid. Res Evil 5 owners who didn't pick up the gold edition will be able to pick up the Untold Stories DLC bundle for an impressive 50% saving.
In terms of new content, Alien Breed Impact and the last episode of Sam and Max: The Devil's Playhouse have been released today. The sublime Mech RPG Front Mission 3 has been brought screaming into this generation thanks to a £3.99 PSOne download.
Oh, and Minerva's Trials is also out today. It's the first storyline DLC for Bioshock 2 and promises to enrich Rapture's backstory and setting.
Thinking about buying a year's worth of Playstation Plus? This might just get you off the fence. Sony are currently offering a free copy of Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty to new subscribers... and in fact, to avoid complication, I'll let them tell you themselves.
Sign up for a 1 year membership between the 1st September and 5th October and you will get all the great features of Plus AND a copy of the great PS3 game Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty, completely free and yours to keep forever.
Check out the full details of the offer at the EU Playstation Blog.
(Available until the 14th of September)
Taking buckets of inspiration from Gauntlet and SEGA's Alien Syndrome and shamelessly, unofficially ripping off James Cameron's Aliens (frankly if you're going to rip-off a film about aliens that's the one to go for!), Alien Breed has always been about one thing: top down massacring of Xenomorphs. Impact takes the original premise and gives it a shiny lick of paint, some improved AI, a suitably epic story that you never really find yourself caring about at all because you're too busy mowing down gooey critters and, best of all, two player co-op.
As part of their Midweek Madness, Steam have cut the price of the game in half, down to £6.49. If you can find a mate to play with as well, you can purchase a double pack for £9.74, effectively equating to £4.87 apiece.
Impact is a lot of fun. It can be shallow and repetitive at times but it's also highly enjoyable in short blasts. The classic gameplay has lost none of its original attraction and it's good to see that the bullet-spraying action is a fast-paced and furiously frenetic as ever before. There's a fair amount of arcade style replayability thanks to the Free Play mode that lets you go back and attempt to beat the scores of you and your mates and some nice, if light, upgrade mechanics.
To be honest, I've always found games like these to be far more suited to the home consoles and the ability to play locally rather than on the PC, but with the weather looking patchy this week, you could do a lot worse than snaffling up a copy of this and beating back the alien swarm.
Plus there's a free trial so you can try before you buy. Seriously, check it out.