Probably more famous for their wild success with Worms and its subsequent sequels, it would be easy to ignore the other titles Team 17 have produced. First released for the Amiga in 1991, Alien Breed was well received by gamers and now it finds itself resurrected in the form of XBLA title, Alien Breed Evolution.
Intended as the first part of a trilogy, the game is a top down isometric shooter set across five sprawling levels within the devastated space ship Leopold. The ship has crashed into a mysterious alien craft and this is where the story begins, presented in-between levels in a comic strip format, complete with voice acting, that all works surprisingly well at moving events on.
Playing a gruff character called Conrad, the player attempts to bring the damaged vessel back from the brink, rescuing survivors trapped in noxious gaseous areas and other tasks intended to put the ship back on an even keel, all with the help of the ship’s Synthetic Lieutenant, MIA. Unfortunately there is the slight inconvenience of finding out the ship is teeming with Aliens, all of which are intent on blocking their best efforts.
The action is fast paced and will keep you alert for the threats lurking around most corners. Sometimes it can degenerate into a series of fetch quests, with some not so subtle enemy placements intended to cause shocks but missing the mark slightly. This isn’t a massive problem, but when these scenarios do appear they feel slightly at odds with the balls-out action found everywhere else.
Controls will feel instantly familiar to any fans of twin stick shooters, with aiming handled with the right stick and firing with the right trigger. Secondary weapons, such as Sentry Guns or grenades, also help flesh out the arsenal at the players disposal.
Of course the original Alien Breed owed a massive debt to the Alien films, and Evolution is no different. From the neon blue glow that imbues the presentation and in-game style, to the look of the Assault Rifles, the ubiquitous Flamethrower and the pulsing radar, it will all feel very familiar to fans of the series. Though it remains a sense of homage rather than one of wholesale rip-off, and fans of the series will enjoy this hi-definition update as much as those who have fond memories of other classics like The Chaos Engine on PC, or Loaded on the PlayStation.
While the game might feel slightly short, clocking in at only five areas, the Elite difficulty will provide a stern test for those looking for a bit of a challenge and collectables add a further layer of replay value. There’s also the ability to play co-operatively via Xbox Live with a friend so there is still a lot to do once the credits roll in single player mode. This opening salvo for the new line of Alien Breed certainly sets up events nicely for the next in the series, and here`s hoping it delivers.