Team17 is back, bringing with them the HD re-imagining of their classic Alien Breed series, in the form of Alien Breed: Impact. Is this PSN title worth your hard earned cash? Let’s find out.
Alien Breed: Impact is a top-down, third-person shooter, where you play a Theodore J. Conrad, an engineer on the spaceship Leopold. All hell breaks loose when your ship collides with a ghost ship, causing not only severe structural damage, but a devastating infestation of alien life forms whose only goal is to wreak havoc and kill everything in sight… especially you!
As soon as you dive into Alien Breed: Impact, the first thing that will undoubtedly stand out are the gorgeous visuals. Team17 utilized Epic’s Unreal Engine 3, with phenomenal success we might add, making this one of the best looking games to come out on the PSN. Every corridor of the Leopold is highly detailed and beautifully rendered in HD, with the frame rate not missing a beat, even when action gets significantly amped up. The real graphical feast comes once you grab the torch (flashlight) attachment for your weapons
Considering the many dark areas in this game, the dynamic lighting is absolutely fantastic and only helps to add to the already eerie atmosphere. Alien enemies are highly detailed as well, which is tough to tell until you hit them with some light. The game’s story is told through static cut scenes between each chapter, with so-so voice acting.
The sound aspect of Alien Breed is pretty darn good, and very well comes close to creating the kind of paranoid sensation found in titles like Dead Space, at least until you become used to it. Which means you’ll only be hearing ambient sound, malfunctioning ship equipment, explosions, and the sound of aliens blasting out of every nook and cranny, attempting to tear you limb from limb. You’ll hear the very same shrieks coming from each unique alien (roughly six or seven in all), right up until you finish the game, and, while repetitive, never ceases to catch you completely off-guard.
Now let’s get down to what really matters… the gameplay. Alien Breed features a story mode and free play mode for single player, as well as local and online multiplayer co-op, which really is a blast. There are five chapters to trek through (three for co-op), where players are charged with the task of bringing their ship back online and saving the crew (most are dead anyway), while annihilating the alien threat in the process, which you will be doing a lot, and we certainly do mean it. Players will encounter alien hoards in essentially every hallway and corridor throughout the entire game. Additionally, the fact that alien attackers can immediately burst through the floor or out of walls, helps to add to the sensation that you’re never truly safe, although once smaller rooms are cleared out, they typically remain alien-free.
One challenging aspect about Alien Breed is that you really have to be quick with the controls to see what’s coming at you, and the controller layout makes things quite easy. Players control Conrad’s movement with the left analog stick, while controlling his aiming with the right analog stick. While some PC gamers might complain, this layout, combined with the accuracy of the Dualshock 3’s analog sticks, makes aiming a breeze.
All your weapon and item usage is handled by the buttons on the top of the controller, while the d-pad is used to switch between them. The camera can be turned 360 degrees with the L1 and R1 buttons to accommodate the player’s situation. Initially, players may feel a little overwhelmed by the hordes of aliens coming at them from all directions, but as you play more and more, you really start to take command of what’s going on around you, as you get comfortable.
The big make-it or break-it aspect of Alien Breed: Impact, aside from annihilating aliens, is that you will be doing a significant amount of exploring, searching dozens and dozens of dead bodies and lockers along the way, in pursuit of ammunition and supplies. Additionally, things apparently never seem to work out for Conrad. Nearly every single time you make it to a waypoint to fix something or complete a goal, something goes wrong, which requires you to complete two or three more objectives just to accomplish the initial task.
You’ll find yourself going through this same, repetitive cycle throughout most of the game; some won’t mind it, some will. It’s also worth noting that you’ll find the most repetition up until about the third chapter, but once you make it to that point, things start to get much darker and, in my opinion, significantly more fun.
Throughout the game you’ll come across Intex terminals, which basically serve as commerce points where players can purchase or sell supplies, ammunition, and weapon upgrades, by redeeming credits found throughout the game. The upgrade system itself adds an extra sense of strategy, as upgrading weapons or health items will set you back a significant amount of credits, persuading players to prioritize their spending. The way you spend you credits will definitely determine how quickly you progress through the game, as it certainly is tough.
All-in-all, Alien Breed: Impact is a really solid game. It’s a slow start for sure, but if players can get past the game’s somewhat repetitive aspect, there’s a lot to behold here. We managed to complete the story mode in about six hours, which really isn’t bad for a PSN title. Now we’re all the more ready for the second installment in the series, Alien Breed: Assault. Bring it on!
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Excellent level design and atmosphere
Repetitive gameplay can test players’ patience