Alien Breed Evolution – Episode 1

Space is a vacuum. Xbox Live Arcade is a vacuum itself, somewhat empty of quality, polished titles. We’re told that nature abhors a vacuum. If that’s the case, then nature fricking loves this. Alien Breed has been found, floating in the depths of space, and brought back to life for your enjoyment. It’s a lot like Alien: Resurrection but, you know, not shit.

Taking the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy firmly in hand, Team 17’s re-imagined Alien Breed captures the feel of the original as you make your way round your beautifully realised crashed ship, trying to find out what you’ve crashed into and staying alive in the process. One thing that Alien Breed has in spades is atmosphere – the ship is just the right side of dark and, once the blips start appearing on your radar, you’d be checking the shadows for movement before you’re turned into alien chow. One thing you may notice when you first start the game is that it’s quite sedate. Yes, your ship has crashed and parts of it are exploding willy-nilly but it’s still a quiet stroll through the ship, lulling you into a false sense of security. Once the aliens start coming – starting with the smaller, faster face-hugger-esque ones – everything changes. The game takes on a sinister new edge, you’re ever mindful of your radar, checking the radar for the ominous red blips while keeping an eye on the play area, just in case.

Play the game on anything other than Elite and, while not a walk in the park, it offers a reasonable challenge across the five levels in this episode. You’ll find you can make your way through most of the game using your trusty assault rifle and an ammo crisis is a rare thing. Crank it up to Elite, however, and it’s a whole different ball game. I jumped straight in on Elite mode, without trying the lower levels first. This was a mistake. Elite is brutal. Aliens come faster and harder, and your weapon choice really can make all the difference. You’ll want your assault rifle for the little ones, but when the bigger creatures come at you equip your shotgun sharpish. Ammo will also become your best friend. You’ll want to hang onto it as much as possible. Spray-and-pray tactics work exceptionally well on the lower difficulty levels, whereas Elite asks you to be more precise with your shots – if they’re not on target you’re wasting valuable bullets which could be the difference between life and death later on. You’re on a constant hunt for ammo, hoping each human body or locker will reward your searching with more instruments of alien death. If you do run out of ammo, you can fall back on that old reliable – the infinite ammo pistol. You really, really don’t want to do this unless you absolutely have to. Use it to blow up the explosive canisters and shoot out glass, saving your more important ammo for your fleshier foes. You know it makes sense. It’s the Elite mode that really makes this game for me. While the lower difficulties give you a nice top-down run and gun experience, Elite mode turns the game into something else. Where you may have sprinted at a lower difficulty you’ll move slower on Elite, ever cautious that something nasty is going to burst through a wall and rip your face off. While you may think the save points are quite closely positioned on the lower difficulties, you’ll find each and every one of them to be a welcome sight as you play through on Elite… and when it kicks off in the medical bay, well, you’ll know about it.

Jump into the game co-op and you’ve got a friend to cover your arse, which can be incredibly handy but you’re faced with the logistics of ammo sharing here. Play with someone you get on with or you’ll find that while they’re armed to the teeth while you have nothing to keep the aliens at bay. Nothing, that is, except that really crappy pistol. It’s strange because the game works well in single and co-op – although the atmosphere is different in a co-op game, feeling less about your lone struggle to find out what the hell is going on but it’s no less tense when the shit hits the fan.







4 responses to “Alien Breed Evolution – Episode 1”

  1. MrCuddleswick avatar

    You make it sound so appealing – I tried the trial, and enjoyed it, but I got the impression that the co-op mode only took place in closed-off maps, similar to a sort of horde/survival mode? Was I mistaken? Can you play the campaign through on co-op?

  2. Jake avatar

    I played the co-op two months ago at expo… my memories may be a little hazy here but it’s made up of modified bits same levels but with less back-tracking and working your way to the elevator.

  3. Kirsten avatar

    I’ve been playing my way through the game on single player after not enjoying it in co-op and I really love it. The atmosphere when playing alone is excellent. The graphics and their detail throughout the levels really help to fire the imagination.

  4. Jake avatar

    I enjoy the solo side more than the co-op – although my co-op experience was somewhat of a crowd-driven affair as a gaggle of people backseat drove a lot of the experience.

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