After watching a vicious breed of extraterrestrials annihilate of platoon of hardened space marines, Private Hudson delivers one of Aliens most renowned bits of dialog- “Game over, man. Game over!” Whether director James Cameron had anticipated the forthcoming synergy between film and gaming is not known. However, the effect the 1986 movie had on interactive entertainment is undeniable, serving as an impetus for series as diverse as Halo and Metoid. Nearly a quarter-century later, the concept of battle-toughened warriors annihilating waves of malevolent creatures is ubiquitous.
Team17 (Worms, Stunt GP) has employed the popular archetype as the foundation for its action/exploration title Alien Breed 2: Assault. At the title’s comic-book paneled prologue explains, starship Leopold collides into a much larger vessel, causing the two craft to become disastrously intertwined. Protagonist Conrad is tasked with searching for any survivors, and getting the Leopold’s engine restarted in an effort to make a hasty retreat. Players view the proceedings from an overheard perspective and are normally given the ability to rotate the screen with the left and right bumpers. Inexplicably, this ability is rescinded from gamers, leading to a sporadic unseen antagonist siphoning a bit of health off of valiant Conrad.
Otherwise, Alien Breed 2‘s controls are effectual. Obeying twin-stick tradition, movement is directed with the left analog knob, while the right dictates a firing direction. To augment the level of tension, an illuminating flashlight field is projected in front of the player, which helps discern foes from the murky environments. Conrad is able to carry a mini-arsenal, and swap weapons or secondary item with a horizontal or vertical press of the directional pad. The top right corner of the screen hosts a minimalist map marked with the location of stations which present the opportunity to save your game, purchase essential sundries, and augment your weapon loadout. Optionally, players the map gives a waypoint for players to follow, indicating the direction of their next task.
Regrettably, Conrad’s ceaseless sequence of errands often feels perfunctory. From finding valves, fuses, and keys to activating power, computer, and water systems, assignments issued by the game’s AI overseer are often both brief and unfulfilling. Tedium is offset by the intermittent swarms of foes, which often materialize unexpectedly from beneath the floor, or as players are searching bodies for a extra health packs. Assault is at its best when players a players are emptying entire magazines at caravans of encroaching enemies, or midway through a rummage when the telltale cries of adversaries are heard. Although monsters show up as red dots on the game’s mini-map, I would have appreciated if the developers had mimicked the ominous clicks of Aliens motion-tracker.
Beyond Alien Breed 2‘s main campaign, players are also given three separate co-operative missions which increase the difficulty of the game markedly due to the scarcity of ammo. Additionally, the title offers a survival mode for one or two participants which pits players against an incessant onslaught of extra-terrestrials. Both components help add a bit a value to the game’s ten dollar purchase price.
Built on the third iteration of the Unreal Engine, Alien Breed 2‘s environments occasionally show an impressible amount of detail. Electrical currents offer a vibrant blue glow, while water realistically flows from control valves. Many rooms in the game exhibit the aftermath following a tumultuous alien attack, lending the game a slight feeling on uneasiness. Sadly, this attention to detail isn’t persistent, and gamers will notice a fair amount of tile recycling.
Elevated by intermittent shocks and moments of fretful tension, Alien Breed 2: Assault does a respectable job at recreating the menace and isolation of Cameron’s 1986 classic, Aliens. While the title can’t be recommended over the superior (and cheaper) Alien Swarm, recruits without a decent rig should find enjoyment within Assault‘s menacing maps.