Monday, 8 July 2013

Review: Alien Breed 2 and 3

I promised a few months back, when I reviewed the first Alien Breed game, that I would be making a combined review of 2nd and 3rd parts. So here they are...

Alien Breed 2 - Assault

After enjoying the first game, I went straight to the second. Although the games are quite simplistic and have a basic formula, they are fun. You walk through eerie dark corridors most of the time and shoot alien bugs. I was, however, sort of disappointed by the fact that this second instalment didn’t really introduce anything new to the series and is more like Alien Breed 1.5 than Alien Breed 2.

The environments are exactly the same as in the first game. I was hoping there’d be something different in that regard. Maybe an outside level for once? Or at least some noticeably different textures to the ones we’ve seen the entire time. And just as in the first game, the entire story revolves around simply going from one sector of the ship to another and activating various systems. I know it’s not the focus of the game, but still, a little more variation would’ve been nice. Plus also they overdid it on those alien eggs. I got sick of shooting them partway into the game. And way too many human corpses to loot too, which all require you to hold space and waste time rather than playing the game.

We still have 5 weapons, just as in the first game, except two of those are different. The first three (Assault rifle, Shot cannon, and Flamethrower) are still there, but the Laser Rifle and Ion Spike have been replaced with a Hyper Blaster (a heavy minigun-like weapon) and a Rocket Launcher. Not sure what to make of this change as I think the older weapons were better. Hyper Blaster is all right as it’s good for huge swarms of enemies, but Rocket Launcher is practically useless most of the time as most enemies are fast and always in your face, so using an explosive weapon is a bad idea (not to mention its ammo is extremely scarce). Once again, as in the first game, we can choose to upgrade the weapons, but the upgrades are still the same ones (rate of fire, reload speed, and damage boost) and the effects of most of them are hardly noticeable.

Perhaps the most annoying thing about this sequel though is the fact that in some areas the game takes a fixed camera angle and won’t let you rotate it, making it very hard to aim at the enemies, or to even see them on some occasions. I would understand that if the whole game was using fixed camera, but for a game that allows you to rotate your camera most of the time and then to take that choice away from you in some parts is just a pure design mistake.

I know I went heavy on criticisms here, but this sequel still delivers a good amount of tension as the first game does, and at times you get really swarmed with enemies. It also does have some minor improvements over the first. They actually have some small cutscenes now, allowing us to see our character up close. These mostly occur during boss fights, which I should say have been done quite well this time round. I personally quite enjoyed the Arachnomorph fight on the monorail.

Overall this game is pretty much the same as the first, except with a few little annoyances like those sudden changes in camera angles, and also it’s slightly shorter, so my overall score will have to be a bit lower than the first.

Alien Breed 3 - Descent

I think the series has seriously gone downhill. If the second game was more like Alien Breed 1.5, then the third game is pretty much like Alien Breed 1.5b. There have literally been no new additions to this third instalment. The only things that are different are either very trivial or are more of an annoyance than a feat.

Just as the previous instalment, in this one some of the weapons have been changed around too. Once again, the first 3 weapons are the same, but for the last 2 now we’ve got an Electric Link Gun and a Project X. Electric Link Gun is fairly useful. It fires electric projectiles, which upon connecting to the enemy paralyze them for a moment and then kill. Project X is not bad either, as it does large area damage. Despite these new weapons, I still found myself using the original 3 a lot more often, but it probably depends on the player.

The game also tried to do a little bit of gimmicky stuff. In some areas the game takes a more over-the-shoulder perspective. Those parts are quite nice for eye-candy purposes as they break the norm and make you fight in a slightly different fashion. However, most of these parts tend to have fixed camera angles, and hence if you change direction, you often don’t see where you’re going. It’s still a nice addition, but I just wish it didn’t restrict you with fixed camera angles. Fixed camera parts were introduced in the second game, something I thought was one of the most annoying additions ever, and they still persist in this game.

But what about the story? Well, it wasn’t exactly among strong points of the series up to now and it’s still not in this instalment either, as the player still walks through the same dark, semi-exploding corridors, from one part of the ship to another, activating computers and other systems. I would, however, point out that the main villain takes up a bit of a spotlight in this instalment and we get to find out a lot about him. In fact, I’d even say he becomes more likeable than our musclehead of a hero.

Overall, Alien Breed 3 is literally identical to the first two. In fact the quality of the entire series has gone down in my eyes simply because of the fact that each new part was the same as the last. Even Steam achievements are identical in all 3 games. If you want to get maximum enjoyment out of this series, then I’d recommend you to play only one of the games and not all three. Any of them will do, though the first one is probably the best.

My score for the whole series: 7/10

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