Alien Breed 3: Descent Review

By Adam Ma on December 6, 2010

By now, anyone who has played the two previous chapters in the Alien Breed series should know what they're getting themselves into. A hero in space, a girl/robot in danger, aliens that attack from the shadows, the Alien Breed series has just about everything any Science Fiction gamer should love. Yet somehow this equation for success runs a little dry, almost from the very beginning. In some ways, one would like to think that such an absolute dedication to purism (in this case, never straying too far from the original product) is something to be admired. In the case of Alien Breed 3: Descent, it means that every single pitfall in the game is that much more painful, since the lesson should have been learned at best from Alien Breed, and at worst from Alien Breed 2.

The game starts off by picking up exactly where the last game left off, only it also includes removing all of the main characters gun/upgrades. The atmosphere is dark and spooky, the controls are still just as reasonable as they once were, and one would expect that around every corner there's an alien to be fought. Fortunately anyone thinking that would be absolutely right, almost to a punishing degree; around almost every single corner, dark alley, inside just about every room and sub-sector there are aliens to jump out. Anyone familiar with the first two games will already know where to look too: vents, floorboards, doors that may look half open, any room with a push-able button in it.

This represents one of three critical elements that make Alien Breed 3 such a disappointment, any and all of the tension that could possibly be generated is ruined by this almost river-like flow of bad guys. Yes, it is technically the climax of the game, but does that really mean the main character should be fighting non-stop everywhere? Worst of all, the aliens are still hilariously easy to kill, providing no challenge in most scenarios and only a minor setback in limited others. The result is pure mindless killing while the player works from objective to objective, strategy rarely changing as players get back their old guns with a few new extras.

The second hit that Alien Breed's atmosphere (which was amazingly well crafted in the other two games) takes would be explosions. They are everywhere, and unrelenting. It wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for the fact that anytime something explodes it shakes the entire screen, leaving the player in a constant state of motion almost regardless of what they're doing. Although Alien Breed does not openly pretend to be anything more than a top-down shooter, it's still disappointing to see all of these survival-horror style elements thrown right out the window.In fact, the best part of the game is when players are given the ability to move on the hull of the ship, which provides brief (but glorious) refuge from constant shaky-screen explosions. Slightly muted sounds, and slow movement makes every step forward more critical, a tension unlike any other portion of the game is realized for a brief but cruel moment.

Finally comes the weaponry, which sits hand-in-hand with the two other tension-killing moments of the game. Throughout the entire series so far the player is forced to gather up the same weapons they've mysteriously lost from the past section, and though the player receiving more weaponry is supposed to give the feeling that more intense fights will occur in the future, this is lost in translation. It's hard to ever imagine saying this in a game, but the weapons are simply too effective at killing. There is no challenge, and in case there was a challenge the two new weapons added (Electro-Link and Project X) are beyond overpowered.

These three elements come together to take what has been one of the most promising sci-fi settings and turn it into the gaming equivalent of a Made For TV movie. Awesome level design, creature detail, and graphical accomplishment are absolutely laid to waste by poor choices in the gameplay department. Between the constant flow of enemies, their lack of difficulty, and the overpowered arsenal at one's disposal, all effort spent on the beautiful textures and highly detailed environment is tossed aside. Worse yet, it's tossed aside in an attempt to add more 'action' or 'suspense'. It's hard to stay interested in a game that really does seem to believe that 'pulling out all the stops' roughly translates into 'add more explosions and bad guys'.

Final Thoughts

So where does this leave Alien Breed 3? Not in a very good position. However, anyone who is genuinely looking to purchase this title should already know what they're getting into if they've experienced the other two. Lacklustre single player coupled with disappointing multiplayer means that anyone looking for a challenge (for themselves or with friends) should look elsewhere. A predictable plot and genuinely boring fetch-and-repeat quests means that anyone interested in dynamic gameplay should go no further. Alien Breed 3 sends off a series that can be summed up in a single word: disappointment. Not because it's an inherently bad game, but simply because it never even tried to improve on the original. In fact, it probably just made things worse.

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