With the rise of zombies, terrorists and robots as 'generic videogame enemies' aliens have taken a bit of a backseat. Thankfully the Alien Breed series exists then, bringing the Xenomorph back into light to be shot just like it deserves to be. Alien Breed: Impact, the latest release in a series that holds a lot of history, going back to the early 90s in fact. Previously released on the Xbox 360 under the title of Alien Breed Evolution, Impact's port brings with it a few upgrades. But will they be enough to do the genre of Alien Killing justice?
Players take control of engineer Theodore J. Conrad, who like most science fiction engineers seems to be extraordinarily good with any weapon he comes across. Aliens have attacked, the ship is exploding, and players will find themselves sent about to achieve a variety of sub-objectives in an attempt to clear a particular level. The storyline is really just there to give more reasons for any kind of alien to jump out and attack, and while in most cases this works out fine, Alien Breed: Impact finds a way to wear down on the player rather quickly.
The problem is that objectives can be met easily, and as a result tend to come in droves. Pull a switch, open a door, push a button, go back to the door, pull a switch. Players are sent on a series of extremely mindless tasks which have no real sense of urgency, as for example, the ship will never explode early if the switch isn't pulled. Naturally as the player makes their way from A to B aliens spring out from the ground and attack, which is where the tension is supposed to kick in. While fighting a large group of creatures one after another is fun for a while, it doesn't take too many waves before things are predictable.
A lone button in a room surrounded by glass windows? A hole in the ground that looks large enough for an alien to jump out? A long hallway that the camera won't be able to completely see the end of? The single player campaign dissolves into a grocery list of predictable puzzles and action, which is unfortunate because the game really does have some fun aspects to it. The controls are very easy to navigate, and extremely easy to just pick up and learn. It's very newcomer friendly, which is great because the game also plays at its best when played with a friend (or stranger).
Co-op mode features players going through the same campaign levels, only with a buddy. Ammo and weapons are appropriately fought over, and some of the trickier alien waves can be dealt with using a bit of teamwork. Unfortunately while co-op can let players engage themselves in a higher level of difficulty, and when ignoring the game's awful plot, it doesn't last very long. The levels themselves are relatively short once the general flow of the game is realized, and with two players the killing really does just move twice as fast.
Graphically the game looks fantastic, utilizing a very old school 'top down' camera angle that is reminiscent of games like Gauntlet Legends. If there was one thing Team 17 did great it was creating a proper atmosphere in the game, if only to annihilate the mood with boring and predictable story elements. Sound wise the game doesn't really bring anything new to the table, but there's not much one can ask from a game that's literally based around hearing a gun fire and aliens scream before they die.
Sadly Alien Breed: Impact could be so much more than it is. With a bit more action, more intuitive quests, and more interesting weapons, the game could really be a lot of fun to play. The game as it stands right now is still fun to play, but only for a limited amount of time and it only ever really shines in it's co-op (local or online) mode. Worth considering for anyone with a bit of time (and spare cash) on their hands, but otherwise perhaps it's best to just stick with fighting terrorists and zombies. Maybe the Xenomorph just isn't ready to be brought back into the limelight just yet.