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Back in 1991, Team 17 released the original Alien Breed for the Amiga and eventually MS-DOS. 19 years later they return with the latest installment, Alien Breed: Impact, for PS3 and PC. It’s your basic top down shooter where you use the mouse or right stick to aim in a direction, as well as wasd or left stick to navigate. Hitting two pre-defined keys will allow you to rotate the camera 45′ at a time, left or right. It was unique in it’s original form, but in today’s fast paced first or third person action world, it feels a bit archaic.
My biggest problem with the game is the camera control and character navigation. There doesn’t seem to be an option for anchoring the camera behind your character and rotating with your aim control. Who really has time to manually rotate the camera around to avoid randomly placed debris while running away from a onrushing hoard of aliens? Unfortunately this seems to be the only real difficulty in the game itself.
The game is full of random debris on the ground. A lot of the debris has a larger collision box than the model, which means lots of getting stuck, and usually at the most inopportune of times. The world itself is quite nicely designed, though. The graphics are par for the course when it comes to the Unreal Engine – lots of shiny metals and bloomy particle effects. Character designs are simple but unique, and the use of fire, smoke, gas, and other effects are great.
When it comes to gameplay, there isn’t a ton of variety. You’ll spend a lot of time going from A to B and being attacked by alien bugs that pop out of the floor or the walls. Using grenades is tricky, more often than not you’ll end up doing more damage to yourself than the aliens. Another key factor in the gameplay is the AI, which as far as I can tell, was programmed by a third grader during recess. Aliens will charge you and then occasionally pull an about face and run the other direction, before finally deciding to turn back around and attack. The AI pathing also has major problems with getting stuck on debris…
I will be honest here, I didn’t finish the game. I just couldn’t bring myself to continue doing the same thing over and over. Running from command console to command console and playing a never ending game of “wrangle the retarded aliens” just didn’t appeal to me. Suffice to say, if the AI had been better, and if the camera control wasn’t so clunky, I might have been able to finish it. I truly felt no real incentive to do so, as it was just too monotonous of a task.
I could tell throughout my time playing the game, it was doing it’s best to make me feel overwhelmed. I’m one man against a never ending onslaught of aliens, I should feel overwhelmed…but I didn’t. If anything I felt like a jerk. Like a bully beating up the developmentally challenged kid in his class. I can appreciate its attempt at bringing the ‘tense, trigger happy, jump at shadows, completely hopeless’ feel that games like Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil bring. It just fell flat, and felt more like an incomplete immersive experience that I couldn’t bring myself to understand.
I would have liked trying co-op mode, but my friends refused to even give the demo a try. I can’t say I blame them. I feel like I pissed away a perfectly good $15 on a half finished product. This however, is a fairly common feeling as of late. Perhaps Team 17 will release some patches to improve the AI and debris. If not, I’ll likely never play or think of this game ever again.