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Opinion

Great Genes, But How Is Alien Breed On PS3 And PS Vita?

From 1991 to 2013, how has Team 17's legendary blaster fared over the years?

When Alien Breed first landed in 1991, its origins and influences were clear. James Cameron’s 1986 movie was obviously the basis for the game, although the developers, Amiga darlings Team 17, were careful enough to ensure that the top down scrolling blaster had an identity of its own. It did – there was more than enough to make Alien Breed stand out as an original shooter – but for me it was an excuse to pretend I was Hicks, running about on my own personal bug hunt.

Sequels and expansions followed – more maps, more weapons, and the game got better and better each time. There were some truly stand out moments (not least the Alien-esque power-off panics as you rush back to the exit under the threatening glow of the red emergency lights and the deafening siren) but it was a brilliant two player co-op experience regardless of the version.

When the game was rebooted for current gen machines, the viewpoint changed, the mechanics changed and the game, whilst pretty enough, ended up not being all that great, with the all-important shooting and survival mostly replaced by oddly tedious backtracking and heavy signposting that pretty much managed to remove all the tension.

The recent PlayStation Mobile version was a solid port of the original, though, although it suffered from a lack of multiplayer and the presence of in-app purchases where there used to be in-game terminals. This somewhat spoiled the flow of the game as players could buy the heavier weapons and ensure they were sufficiently protected enough to not really need to worry about the difficulty level, which, on the Amiga, was devilishly tough. When Team 17 announced they were bringing the game to the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, hopes were high that the studio would get everything just right.

The promises are there: multiplayer, more levels, online co-op, trophies. Has to be perfeect, right?

Well, yes, nearly. Playable, like the recent Mobile (and iOS) versions, in both ‘old school’ and newly revamped visuals (and tweaked control methods) Alien Breed can be both soaked in retro goodness or viewed in super crisp (but not quite as characterful) HD. Are the new visuals ‘enhanced’ as described? Possibly, but it’s well worth trying out both to see which suits. It’s also worth mentioning that the Amiga graphics retain the much trickier shooting (you can only fire forwards) whilst the new visuals let you use both sticks to aim where you want regardless of direction.

Curiously, on the Vita there’s an annoying issue carried over with the right stick – there’s no deadzone, so the slightest of movements will cause you to fire. That’s an issue when ammo is low, or when you’re near a door that’ll trigger if shot. Quite why this wasn’t fixed is anyone’s guess.

This version does feature more levels – the original six from Alien Breed, the updated set from the Special Edition (which came out in 1992) and three sets of four more levels created more recently. To be honest, the tilesets are largely duplicated throughout, and it’s the original set that are the most fun to play through – I also found the newer levels to be ridiculously easy – one ‘rush’ to the exit involved having nearly 40 seconds to spare, and I was hardly sprinting either. Ammo and cash wasn’t sparse, so there wasn’t much need for tactics.

The game feels slightly bitty too. In multiplayer, which once in a game works flawlessly, both players are booted back to the main menu after a single level – you can’t do a run of levels in sequence, and you can’t stick with the player you just played with. When we tried the cross platform chat we had to just let the game’s matchmaking pair us up – the option to invite and join a PSN friend failed each time, largely because the PS3 thought the Vita was offline.

A teething issue with the game being played before release? Hopefully.

The game supports local multiplayer though, which is probably better suited. On the PS3 this is on the same screen, on Vita it’s (obviously) Ad-Hoc. The developers have added a nice zoom out feature to the game so that players can be further apart, but you do both need to generally stick close together. Progress through the game on one platform can be echoed across to the other via Cross-Save, which is handy. The game also supports leaderboards and trophies.

So, how is the game? Well, it’s better than the PS Mobile version, and on PlayStation 3 it’s easily the best it’s ever been. Team 17 have done a solid enough job, although it’s not free from the odd niggle – the touch interface on the Vita is pretty much horrible, for example – hopefully any issues can be patched out down the line. For fans of the original this is a welcome trip down memory lane – especially if you play the game in Amiga mode – and nicely timed against SEGA’s Aliens: Colonial Marines next week.

Alien Breed releases in Europe tomorrow for £6.49 (with a 20% Plus discount) and next week in the US. It’s a Cross-Buy title, so you only need to buy it once to get both versions.

Copies of the game were provided by the publisher for testing.

14 Comments
  1. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    Wait. There is local multiplayer on the PS3 version? I coudlnt find it. Mebbe I be stoopid.

    Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 10:14.
    • Team17
      Member
      Since: Feb 2013

      It’s the third option across on the Main Menu, ‘Local Co-Op’ :)

      Once you’ve selected it, you can choose what level, difficulty and whether you want to sign in another OnlineID on the secondary pad or if you just want them to join as a public guest :)

      Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 10:51.
      • Tuffcub
        On the naughty step.
        Since: Dec 2008

        AH I think I was assuming it would be under ‘Multiplayer’ – will give it a spank tonight :)

        Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 11:15.
  2. avengerrr
    Member
    Since: Oct 2012

    I can’t see trophies and a few extra levels worth the fiver seeing as I have the PSM version already. Not really interested in the multi-player. I wished they had released this version primarily before as it would have been nice to be graced with PSN integration of trophies and ‘stuff’. bah.

    Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 10:19.
    • avengerrr
      Member
      Since: Oct 2012

      Although I dare say it will make a lot of people happy considering the PSM area coverage (the lack off).

      Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 10:21.
  3. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    FYI I had the PS3 copy of the game to play against Alex

    I agree with the new levels being far to easy and there are a couple of vey odd design choices in the ‘revamped’ version. One level features acid pools that hurt your character if you walk over them but they are the exact same colour as the floor. The game is no longer limited to 32 colours so why they didnt make the pools a different colour to highlight the danger is mystery.

    Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 10:21.
  4. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    At last i can play the proper Alien Breed game on my PS3, yay nostalgia!

    Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 10:23.
  5. Zephyre
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    1991? Damn, that makes me feel old

    Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 12:12.
  6. hazelam
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    anybody ever played the Doom style version of the game that got made right at the end of the Amiga’s life?

    i’m sure i played a demo of it, had to run it in a tiny little window to get any kind of frame rate out of it.

    Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 16:18.
    • Alex C
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      Yeah. On a 1200 it really struggled.

      Good idea, but just too ambitious.

      Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 16:20.
  7. FBZ1501
    Member
    Since: Jun 2012

    I was a massive Amiga Fan and have the AB Trilogy on PS3 and its pretty decent but not as much fun as the Amiga days.. I was made up to get the PSM version for my Vita, I am not sure if ill get this new one, other than trophies and multiplayer is there much more to the graphics and levels?
    I am glad T17 are supporting the Vita and cross play/buy features but kind of feel I’ve wasted my pennies on the Vita PSM version.

    Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 16:36.
    • Alex C
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      On the Vita at least, visually it’s 99.9% identical to the PSM version.

      Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 18:02.
  8. CR8ZYH0RSE
    Member
    Since: Sep 2012

    The Alien breed series are awesome,not tried this yet though but i will when i get a chance.I did manage to look at the trophy list i thought there would of been a platinum with this one like the others but alas no.The music on this is brilliant also co op is always welcome,looking forward to getting it.

    Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 17:03.
  9. freezebug2
    Member
    Since: Dec 2008

    I’ll be buying this for sure, some of my favourite Amiga games right there that I still own from the early release through to Alien Breed 3D Killing Grounds 2.
    And of course the more recent PSN Alien Breed games :)

    Comment posted on 05/02/2013 at 18:15.

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