Team17 may most famously be known for their Worm series of games, but they also have another title with a cult following over the years. Alien Breed is isometric shooter with a three quarters view that first debuted on the Commodore almost twenty years ago in 1991. Some time has passed since Alien Breed has first been released and Team17 is attempting to bring back the series with an overhauled graphic engine (Unreal) and some new tricks up its sleeve.
Alien Breed 2: Assault (AB2A) is the second installment of the series' reboot in a trilogy that takes all the best parts from many sci-fi influences and wraps it in a surprisingly long jaunt in an isolated ship hurling through space.
If you played Alien Breed Evolution then you will be happy to know that the story continues and stars once again Conrad the engineer aboard the spaceship Leopold. The ships engines need to be reignited and fixed if you want a chance to survive aboard the ship; but like any good sci-fi space story, youll need to survive and defeat a slew of oncoming aliens that never seem to end. The story is mostly told as a comic style panel with the odd cutscene here and there usually at the start and ending of chapters. Youll be playing the exterminator with an arsenal of weaponry and you make your way from checkpoint to checkpoint.
You control Conrad who can freely move wherever he likes (thats unlocked), shoot in every direction, and you also control the camera angle that can be snapped at 45 degree increments to your liking. Youll need to use the camera moment button quite often as sometimes its impossible to see where to go or what to shoot without doing so. Also, you may like running from the bottom of the screen upwards, but hit specific checkpoints and the camera will sometimes whip around and completely throw you off in regards to your surroundings.
Youll learn almost from the very beginning that ammo must be conserved wherever possible as theres very little downtime where you dont need to shoot a wave of oncoming bad guys out for you. Luckily with all the cash you find lying around or from corpses, you can then buy ammo and even much needed upgrades from save points.
As I mentioned earlier, Alien Breed is almost two decades old and the way things were made back then for this style of game sadly still hasnt changed very much. The majority of all levels will go like this: use computer A to use computer B to unlock door C to flip switch D to go all the way back to computer A because it didnt work or because something was stuck. Follow the checkpoints, kill the bugs, progress.
Because of this old way of design, its literally a corridor shooter for the most part and sadly other than boss battles or the odd survive for X amount of time, just isnt all that exciting. Couple this with an inane amount of backtracking (sometimes almost all the way back to the start just to flip a switch or use a computer) and you have a very linear experience that seems to be very repetitive. Its not a terrible thing, as this genre of game has almost always been built this way, but dont expect much variety in missions.
Something new to AB2A is a new Survivor Mode. Yes, this is another mode where waves and waves of enemies come at you and you need to see how long you can stay alive. No, its not anything new but it is fun when you just want to not think about anything and kill hordes of aliens in single or co-operative modes.
Theres also a c-operative play mode where you and a friend can take on multiplayer specific missions that is customized for two players over Xbox Live or split screen. The issue I found with this (and Survival) is that I left a lobby open for 30 minutes two different times and not one person joined my game (nor could I find a match to join either). Beware that theres obviously very low community numbers for the game if you want to buy this for the co-operative experience on Xbox Live. Glancing the leaderboards as well confirmed this as you can see how many people are ranked per level (not even 3000 completed the first missions and less than a hundred have on the latter and harder levels). This doesnt weigh into the games rating, but more of an advisory if you dont have a friend also picking up the game.
Oddly enough, a lack of voice acting concerns me because its usually due to bad acting or whatnot; this stays true for AB2A as well. There isnt much voiced story, but youll be glad its that way once you hear how horrendous the acting and writing are throughout the few hours of campaign.
There are leaderboards, but they arent very compelling enough to keep you interested long term; though with the few amount of players, you do have a good shot at being one of the top players in the world if thats your thing. Its unfortunate the game has a low play population as its a decent title for the 800 Microsoft Points if you want to turn off your brain and just shoot a ton of aliens and I would have loved to get some more time in on the co-operative modes. If you enjoy the demo, then youll most likely enjoy the full game just as much because its going to be that same gameplay over and over throughout the campaign.