Game Name:Alien Breed Evolution Episode 1
Platforms:Xbox 360
Publisher(s):Team17 Software Ltd
Developer(s):Team17 Software Ltd
Genre(s):Action
Release Date:12/16/2009
ESRB Rating:T – Teen (Blood, Violence, Gore)
Price:800 MSP
Demo:Add to Download Queue

I would first like to say thank you to Team17 for providing the review code, you can check out more of the games that they make at www.Team17.com

Campaign

The game starts off in space as you are introduced to a running screen of computer log detailing the events of what has happened. You are on the spaceship Leopold when it crashes into an alien ghost ship. You play as the main character Conrad, the lead engineer who tries to find out what has happened to the ship and what damage has been done. The cinematics of the game are presented in a comic panel art style with each event taking up a panel and the words are in bubbles with voice over’s. As you go and investigate the ship you quickly find that there are tons of things on the ship that are broken, thrown around, and on fire. As you progress through the game you will find the dead bodies of your shipmates, which just so happen you can examine to find ammo, health packs, or weapons. The ultimate goal will be to repair the ship to try and remove it from the ghost ship without being killed by the alien presence that has invaded the ship and saving as many lives as possible.

Gameplay

The game is close to a top down shooter where you will be using both analog sticks to move and aim your character. With a quick look at the HUD you will notice in the bottom left corner your health, weapon, and item selected. A quick tip that I can give to you is to look at your character and the lights on the body suit will change in color depending on the amount of health that you have. In the upper right hand corner you will find your radar with the objective marker and the ability to see incoming enemies as red dots. While different areas will need you to look around you can press the bumper buttons to rotate the camera either left or right. You switch weapons and items with the use of the d-pad and use the items by pressing the left trigger with the right trigger set for shooting. The majority of the game will find you traveling through corridors to access doors, pushing buttons, searching bodies, and searching lockers.

You will quickly find that as soon as you get near an objective two things generally happen, the button you just pushed did nothing leading to you to find another way around to fix it as it broke or you will be attacked by aliens that pop up from the ground and surround you. The main objective of the game is to reset the failed malfunctions of the ship like the engine, air vents, power cores, and more. You will easily get into the rhythm of the game after the first level of the 5 levels that the first episode contains. As you search the ship to complete the objectives you will come across fallen friends, lockers, and random weapons and items scattered throughout the level. The enemies that you will encounter throughout the game will vary from little face hugger type aliens all the way up to aliens that can slow down time or even give health to other aliens making your fight even harder. One of the things that you will probably encounter is not having enough ammo to fight off the hordes of aliens throughout the game; luckily you will have a pistol with unlimited ammo, but falls short against too many enemies at once.

The best way to conserve ammo will be to use your melee ability against the smallest aliens and save your big guns for the bigger aliens as they attack you in groups. The best part for me was about halfway through the game with a mini boss chase sequences that had a big alien charger chasing you down the hallways as you tried to escape it. One last thing to collect through the game is the logs, which will give you more information about the enemies you will be facing. With this being the first episode of the game you can look forward to more adventures in the future and see the outcome of the ship and Conrad. Each level will roughly take players from 30 minutes to around an hour, on the normal difficulty. There are 3 difficulties that you can choose from with the hardest difficulty being elite, I played the game on the normal default difficulty and it took roughly 6 hours to complete the game.

Graphics

Using the Unreal 3 engine for the game, the graphics are top notch. The ability to create debris when the aliens pop up from the floor, great explosions and fire make this game a mini retail game. Some have compared this game to a Dead Space equivalent for the arcade. With the aiming system using a laser pointer it will help you in the long run for pinpoint accuracy. When it comes to the lighting effects, the game is phenomenal as you will be using a flashlight to help find your way through the dark corners and corridors, which does a great job of helping hide the alien enemies. The detail that is put into this game is top notch and it is the little things like small bugs running away from dead bodies as you approach them, propane tanks being able to explode, breaking glass to enter blocked off paths, and the ability to use steam and wind for effects. There were some funny moments to find in the game when you will see random character being taken out by aliens either it being sucked into the floor or being knocked off of a bridge.

At one point in the game you will find alien pods and goo on the floor of the ship which seems to move and creates a strong sense of invasion from another life form. At one point during the game you will be getting an environment suit to explore the space outside the ship while things are blowing up and causing blockades as you run from one ship to another. The environments that are created seem to be well organized as you will go from medical bays to greeneries with plants and even sewage piped areas. To say the least the use of the Unreal Engine has proven that the advancement of games on the arcade have gotten better as the technology grows. With this game I hope it isn’t the last of its kind, we need more games of this caliber.

Audio

They say no one can hear you scream in space they are wrong. You will hear the screams of the aliens as they attack you and they react to being shot. One of the best uses of audio is the notification of when enemies appear on the radar, which should give you enough time to prepare yourself. The music that starts to play when hordes of aliens start to swarm you is amazing; it is a loud thumping sound to really get your heart rate pumping giving you that sense of danger. I found myself playing and screaming towards the screen as tons of enemies would ambush me into a corner and running down the halls with my foot thumping to the beat of the loud bass music. I think the audio did a great job of setting up an atmosphere for the player, so make sure to play this game loud.

Co-op

There are 3 different levels to play in the co op section of the game. Each level will have you going through different objectives and goals to complete with your partner. While in the single player game you can rotate the camera by pressing the bumper buttons, but not in the co op game, which really narrows down your view as you try to progress through the level. The co op is a little hard to play with not being able to determine which character you are at times, the only real way to determine which character you are is the color of your laser pointer as one player is red and the other is blue. The co op is a good way to bond with a friend as you will need to provide cover fire as one person might be checking a body or searching a locker. Teamwork will be essential as you need to share both ammo and health packs. The best tip I can give is to assign one player to one weapon and let them pick up all the ammo for that weapon when you come across it. The co op will add some time to the overall replay ability and life to the game.

Achievements

The achievements pretty well distributed though the game as there are a few given achievements as you play the game for completing objectives. There is also some co op achievements that are available for completing one of the levels and also one for completing a level without each of the players not dying. The game also provides some more challenging achievements like complete the last level without using a health pack, or finishing the game on the hardest difficulty. Overall the achievements are well done with not being too easy or too hard, with time I am sure people would be able to get them all if they wanted to.

Overall thoughts

So final notes on the game would have to include some small issues of getting stuck on objects in the game, which was the only problem I encountered. There were also some issues in reading the text that was presented on the screen as it was in a blue color, with no voice over to explain what was happening got a little frustrating. With the amount of predictability in the game, made it a little stale and the fact that everything you do requires you to do something else, say the engine is working, the power grid is offline or needs something to be fixed for it. The game had very few and minor problems that I can easily recommend that if anyone liked the game Dead Space or the movie Aliens this is one game to get for sure. As this is going to be an episodic game, there will definitely be more to evolve the story and the gameplay elements for people to enjoy.

Final score for the game is a 4.5 / 5

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