It goes without saying that marketplace games have it a little tougher than retail games. They will never be placed on the same level as their tangible brethren nor will they ever be lavished with the development funds which generally means sub-par production values. Alien Breed 3: Descent is just such a game, from Team17 (the team responsible for the Worms series) and it’s the third and supposedly final game in the current generation. The reason I mention the lack of production values is the same reason why Alien Breed 3 majorly disappoints. To put it very simply; the game has a nice premise but is let down by a cavalcade of bugs and flaws.
Alien Breed 3: Descent is a top down shooter reminiscent of 1990’s games such as Splatterhouse or Smash TV. The graphics are obviously superior to those past efforts and the camera is significantly lowered so players won’t miss out on any action. The controls are simple enough and allow players to jump straight in without much hesitation. Holding A picks up items or checks bodies, one must hold A however as the game actively forces you to wait 4-5 seconds searching, and yes you guessed it if you’re interrupted by inconsiderate gunfire or mutant tentacles at this point then you have to start the search again. This may seem like a trivial flaw and it is, it still manages to grate after the hundredth time however.
Players can shoot but pointing the right analog stick in the direction they wish to aim and pressing the right trigger. Movement is the left analog and the left trigger throws grenades or consumes health products, depending on what you re holding at the time. The camera angle is changed by pressing the left and right bumpers and whilst this works in theory it opens a whole new can of worms but we’ll come to that later. The rest of the controls work perfectly well and compliment the fast and furious gaming Alien Breed provides.
At this point you may be thinking, “But Stuart you devilishly handsome reviewer, I don’t know about the Story! How can I be engrossed or even interested in the games events at all without a little background information??!” You would be right to worry dear reader but unfortunately the story fails to bring any real vestiges of interest to the game.
When players begin a new game there is a genuine attempt to explain the past events of the previous two games. For those who haven’t played the earlier titles this may seem ideal, but falls short. The comic book style visuals of the introduction don’t really help your understanding of events and essentially boil down to pointing at scary monsters and yelling, “See those? Well you need to shoot them with your massive gun!”
Oh and there’s a large alien lady controlling events on board a spaceship, a spaceship you find yourself on at the beginning of the game. You’re up a suspiciously brown creek without a rowing device but who are you? Players play the role of Theodore J. Conrad, chief engineer aboard the spaceship Leopold and when not mending machinery you’re a grade A alien killer.
Graphically the game doesn’t break the mould of the top down shooter. It’s definitely an improvement on the efforts of the 1990’s games but your opinion on the visuals will likely depend on your reasons for wanting to play the game. If you crave the nostalgia and inherent visual style of the past then this is right up your street. It’s not a game for those expecting a high caliber graphics affair.
Of course the real ‘meat and veg’ of any marketplace game is how it plays. It must be said that for the most part Alien Breed 3 plays just fine, the running and gunning gameplay is smooth and works well with the simplistic control scheme. The problems begin about twenty minutes in when players will likely begin to tire of the formulaic mission styles and samey enemy designs. As mentioned earlier it boils down to go here, shoot this, go here, fix that, and repeat until the credits roll.
There are plenty of weapons available within the game, from pistols to flamethrowers although you’ll only ever need the shotgun which is provided at the beginning of the game. The only challenge of the game comes from an influx of enemies rather than any singular powerful enemies to deal with.
Alien Breed certainly isn’t a bad game but it commits two nearly unforgivable crimes in my eyes. Firstly the inclusion of unskippable cutscenes, this is a personal hatred of mine but surely there must be a case for not forcing players to sit through the same tired dialogue over and over again.
The other crime is the camera which I mentioned earlier. The camera ruins much of the fun you’ll gain from this game and really drags down the experience as a whole. Being a top down game it’s important to see everything that is closing in on you but the angle taken by the in game camera blocks out much of the action. The controls do not help as changing the angle is annoyingly fiddly and hard to accomplish whilst attacking the oncoming attack.
In addition to the main story mode, Alien Breed 3 also offers up free-play modes, which basically allows players to replay levels to boast better scores or times. Players can also choose between three types of survival modes, these survival levels can also be played with a friend, which adds some interest to the other portions of the game.
- Controls are simplistic, fun and make it easy to pick up and play
- Graphics are reminiscent of the 1990’s top down shooters
- Plenty of weapons to use and things to do
- Camera is infuriating at best, inconsistent and hard to control
- Far too easy throughout the game, even bosses go down with little effort
- Formulaic missions make it boring on the second play-through
Overall it’s a fun experience for a short time but this wears off pretty soon. The simplistic controls will suit players new to the genre and the formulaic missions will only add to this. Those in search of a hardcore nostalgic experience would be advised to look elsewhere.