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Alien Breed [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

As a reminder of the more simpler days of the shooting genre, Alien Breed holds up well today as it’s neither a dull shooter nor is it an arcade one that can be easily completed in twenty minutes. Combining the best of both worlds, Alien Breed has gameplay that’s accessible yet has a rather enjoyable grinding nature that encourages exploration.  With a nice collection of content thanks to two existing releases and the addition of eight new levels, Alien Breed is a welcomed addition to the PlayStation Mobile software library.

The Pros: 

+ Both the classic and enhanced visuals are nice to look at.
+ Gotta love the creepy OST and shriek of the aliens.
+ Controls are simple and totally responsive.
+New levels offer some nice variety alongside the more natural stage design.

The Cons: 

-  Not being able to switch between classic and enhanced visuals in between levels. Rating : 

There are some video games out there that are so good that they simply become timeless.  No matter how far certain graphical or gameplay leaps may be made, there are a select few games out there that simply remain good no matter how old they are.  Titles like Pac-Man and Doom can stand the test of time even if they don’t have HD visuals since at the end of the day what makes a good game is how good the actual gameplay is.  Now the classic shoot-em-up action of Alien Breed has been re-released for a younger generation and yes - the game is still that damn good.

Unless you’ve been gaming for a long time and are perhaps located in Europe you may not know a lot about Alien Breed as it’s a decidingly UK centric property much like how Judge Dredd or soccer is ever popular overseas while it has a meager following in the U.S.  Alien Breed is an old-school, at least when looking at it now, overhead shooter in which players need to explore a futuristic space station and survive the hordes of aliens that have infested the place.  With the arrival of Alien Breed on the PlayStation Mobile platform we have a release that’s a celebration since a few added bonuses are thrown into the mix.

A nice representation of the era in the games industry in which developers didn’t have a problem being unabashedly inspired by certain properties, in this case the Alien films, Alien Breed does indeed play out and look like a distant cousin of everyone’s favorite xenomorph property.  There may not be any killer androids, obvious phallic imagery, or mysterious alien gods with weird looking ships, but the tone of Alien Breed was clearly inspired by the first two Alien films and in the process such a thing makes the game fun to play.

With bit based visuals, Alien Breed doesn’t exactly rank high on the atmosphere scale since there aren’t a plethora of visual effects going on to create an uneasy mood. Such things are obviously fine considering the game was released in 1991, but I was still impressed with how everything looked. Not exactly groundbreaking in any sort of way, Alien Breed has a nice variety of locales and colors which does make each area seem more than grey corridor #28 with a random hall way thrown in.

Alien Breed has received a slight visual boost as the PlayStation Mobile release comes with the option to play with enhanced graphics which add an extra layer of details and colors into the mix.  Playing the game in enhanced mode isn’t as radical as going from Doom 2 to Doom 3, but the option does liven things up a bit and further makes the already sweet package that more sweeter.

The real joy of Alien Breed is that it’s a straight to the point shooter with a nice grinding element.  I know that these days shooting games, especially those of the twin-stick variety, are beginning to be frowned upon, but the action and design elements in Alien Breed hold up extremely well by modern standards.  With the action of the game taking place in various levels of a space station, there are only two things to do: shoot stuff and shoot stuff more to unlock items.

Featuring responsive twin-stick controls (don‘t worry as the face buttons can also be used for firing), Alien Breed gets the job done in keeping the action simple yet effective since aliens would suddenly surface out of nowhere to keep me on guard.  Shooting the various aliens within the game, who have a death shriek similar to that of the Alien films, is easy as there aren’t any surprise attacks or a brutal one hit and you’re dead system.  However, the depth in the game comes from exploring each level as there are various goodies scattered whether they be cash, ammo, or extra lives.

A bit of basic exploration may again sound simple but in the case of Alien Breed things are complicated since each door within the sprawling station requires a key, some of which can be found while others need to be purchased via the Shop menu. So yes,  there’s definitely an incentive to shoot aliens constantly as it not only allowed me to up my overall score but enabled me to fully explore things in addition to finishing my mission.

Plowing through certain levels in Alien Breed was relatively easy yet the game isn’t a simple one and done affair as there are four different campaigns - two of which are entirely new in the PlayStation Mobile release.  Each game doesn’t feel like a completely separate entity as enemy types are the same, yet the stages do differ so there’s some added variety in that regard.

Considering the amount of missions within the game and the promise of an entirely new chapter down the road, Alien Breed is a game that gamers fond of more old-school games should check out even if they’re unfamiliar with the franchise.  The action may be slow at times and isn’t exactly riddled with twitch gameplay, but the grinding nature of the game in addition to wanting to explore every nook and cranny makes for an enjoyable retro gaming experience.


A review code was provided for this game by the publisher.

Alien Breed
Publisher: Team 17 Digital Ltd
Developer: Team 17 Digital Ltd
Platforms: PlayStation Vita (Reviewed), PlayStation Certified Mobile Devices
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Price: $3.99