Alien Breed Review


Ever play an older game that was popular and praised in its heyday only to wonder what the big deal was? How about one that is re-released with a new coat of polish, has a bunch more stuff to do and is still kind of meh? I sure have. Even stuff once loved has sometimes failed the tests of time and experience with me. For example, I loved the Thundercats when I was little but after watching the old show as an adult, I couldn't believe how stupid and obnoxious it was (they play that Thundercats theme every six seconds, and it is like nails on a chalkboard after only an episode or two). What does that have to do with Alien Breed, the resurrected top down shooter for the PS3 and Vita? When I played the game on my ancient PC in 1992 or 1993, I loved it. Now, having played its definitive version decades later, I'm starting to wonder if the game was always this blah, or if I just had terrible taste in games during my younger years.

First off, despite being a "refresh," Alien Breed looks and sounds EXTREMELY early 90's. The graphics are a little sharper than I remember, but they are still only drab spaceship environs and less than detailed characters. The sound is nothing special either, though it avoids the chiptune score popular around the time of its original release. The game was never a presentation knockout in the old days and it certainly isn't now, but it doesn't look any worse. That's a positive, right?

Alien Breed plays a bit like a mashup of Smash TV and Gauntlet. The object of each of the game's levels is to find your way to the next one by way of hunting for and using keys to advance. During the endless hunt for the next plateau, you'll be swarmed on all sides by endlessly repawning aliens, who get tougher to bring down the further you advance. You'll also be looking for pickups to enhance your arsenal and keep yourself healthy. I specifically wrote that last bit as dryly as humanly possible to convey the sense of blah you'll experience when playing this game. You wander up and down same-looking halls, fighting the same enemies over an over, and success only means you'll do the exact same thing again in the next boring maze. You will encounter a boss fight now and again, but these are just as yawn inducing as the rest of the game.

On the plus side, this version collects all the spin-off and sequels attached to the Alien Breed name. They offer small differences in gameplay, such as less linear level progression and cooperative multiplayer, but it all boils down to the same endless wandering and item hunting. Alien Breed might have been awesome back in Commander Keen's era, but today the game just isn't worth anyone's time, not even those with a deep thirst for nostalgia. Don't ruin the memory of Alien Breed by replaying it now; I wish I hadn't.

Final Rating: 40%. Some things get better with age, but Alien Breed is not one of them.