Alien Breed 3: Descent

Alien Breed 3: Descent is the final chapter of Team 17’s nostalgia-laced isometric sci-fi blast-a-thon. Fans of the series will find that, bar a couple of new weapons and a fresh boss or two, little has changed over the course of the trilogy. You’re still on an abandoned spaceship, your escape route is still a cruel metal labyrinth of locked doors and inactive command consoles, and squiggly aliens of various creeds and colours are still trying to turn you into a quivering heap of spilled gizzards.

While a sense of familiarity is usually welcome in a sequel, in Descent it only serves as a reminder of why this series has failed to live up to its glorious potential. My experience of Alien Breed: Impact, the series’ debut chapter, was not a wholly positive one. While the atmosphere was agreeably gloomy and the visuals were effective, I failed to gel with the control system.

By allocating character movement and aiming to the dual sticks, the camera is relegated to the shoulder bumpers, a decision that causes much unnecessary frustration. Combine the camera’s low angle with the fact it can only cycle through the points of the compass, and locating the least obscured view of the play space becomes a mini-game in itself.

The central problem with Descent is its failure to evolve. It features the same unwieldy camera controls as Evolution and Assault; the same awkward selection system that wants you to stop moving every time you need to switch weapons. The mission structure is as rigid as it is repetitive, consisting largely of door-opening challenges that are easily solved and feel cynically drawn-out.

Repetitive missions can be easily forgiven if the gunplay that glues them together is thrilling enough to hold your attention. Unfortunately, the control issues and single-minded enemy A.I. render combat occasionally enjoyable, but frequently disengaging. When you catch yourself cursing louder at the joypad than the alien horde bearing down on you, something has gone awry.

Descent even swaps-out the series’ best feature – its bleak, claustrophobic atmosphere – for a never-ending succession of explosions and pyrotechnics. While this is clearly an attempt to crank-up the drama for the big finale, the law of diminishing returns soon kicks in. The boss fights are challenging enough, and the big-momma alien looks the part, but somewhere between the tedious loading bar interactions, the unskippable cutscenes, the unsatisfying gunplay and crude camera, Descent fails to recapture the glory of its Amiga-based progenitor.







One response to “Alien Breed 3: Descent”

  1. Simon avatar

    Second caption…..yes…….

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