In this culture of remakes and reboots there are, realisitically, very few things that actually merit being reintroduced to a modern audience. In reality the reason that most things are remade is because companies know they can trade in on our nostalgia, rather than because the source material is incredibly good.
Of those titles that might actually be worthy, there are even less that might actually benefit from the process and come out better than (or at least equal too) their namesakes. When all else is said and done, most remakes pale in comparison to their inspirations, or our memories of them. We can only think of a handful, in fact; Resident Evil: Zero or Prince of Persia: Classic, for example.
Alien Breed is one of those few, at first glance at least. The original, released on the Amiga in 1991, was a classic in every sense of the word and the core gameplay still holds up well to this day, provided you can look past the technology limitations of the time. It’s simple gameplay, which had up to two players rampaging through levels and killing aliens from a top-down perspective, could easily be enhanced by some new artwork. It’s perfect remake material, or so you’d think.
Flamethrowers: Don't leave Earth without one!
Unfortunately though, things haven’t turned out quite so well. Alien Breed: Impact, which is nothing more than a tweaked and expanded version of the previously released console version, Alien Breed: Evolution, instead does a lot to show just how much the games industry has changed in the last twenty years.
Firstly, the good news. Purists will be happy to know that Impact, like Evolution before it, stays very close to the run-and-gun premise of the original Alien Breed games. The spray-and-pray foundation of the series hasn’t been altered at all. Even better, Alien Breed: Impact retains the most important and appealing feature of the original too – co-op, available both online and offline.
Alien Breed: Impact is supposedly episodic too, which potentially brings a lot of benefits and room for expansion to the game – provided it doesn’t go the way of some other episodic releases, anyway. This first episode comprises the original five levels from the Xbox 360 version, plus a new prologue mission that’s supposed to serve as an introduction to the game for new players. Quick disclaimer; if you’ve played the console version of the game then don’t start thinking that the Prologue is worth playing again for. It’s not. Really, it’s just more of the same.
That outer wall isn't very thick, so best be careful with your shots!
The story casts players as Theodore Conrad, an engineer on a whopping big spaceship that drops out of lightspeed/hyperdrive/warp after accidentally colliding with an enormous alien mothership. Casualties are enormous and the damage is catastrophic – throughout the game walls will randomly and repeatedly explode for absolutely no reason, for example. As apparently the only person on the ship with a brain, you get assigned the job of fixing everything and defending your vessel from burrowing aliens that keep rupturing from every surface.
So, good. Fine. Nothing wrong with that story at all, especially when you consider what type of game Alien Breed is and take into account that this is only a single episode – so it’s not supposed to be a complete, finished tale. Where the plot runs into problems though is in the way it’s told, i.e. through boring, blue comic strips accompanied by the most monotone voices we’ve seen since Arnie got cast as the Terminator.
Really, we understand that nobody will ever play Alien Breed and expect the story to be on par with Shakespeare, but we did honestly hope for more than Team 17 has offered here. It seems incredible that we're expected to pay for a monotone comic overlaid with the recording of a man who hasn’t coughed in his entire life saying things like 'Hey, keep us alive'.