What does a spaceship accident, alien creatures, and running around collecting keycards and unlocking doors all have in common? Think Team 17’s latest game, Alien Breed: Impact for PC. After your spaceship crashes into a drifting space hull, your mission is to investigate the floating hulk for any survivors and, well, to collect keycards and unlock doors.
The majority of AB:I is spent doing just that — collecting keycards, unlocking doors, searching bodies, and trying to reach waypoints on your radar that are blocked by constant gas explosions and fallen debris. The first couple of levels are spent wandering dark corridors trying to figure out how to reach the first waypoint on your radar. The occasional alien creature will chew its way through the floor and attack, but the action doesn’t pick up until much later in the game. As a fan of the original Amiga computer Alien Breed series, I found the basic gameplay elements to be identical, but the arcade action that made the Amiga version a cult classic is missing. What we have left is more of a survival horror atmosphere with a lot of running back and forth.
AB:I seems to have issues with the controls. While the game does offer mouse sensitivity settings, they don’t seem to work as intended. The screen rotation – which is done by placing the mouse pointer on either side of the screen - causes the screen to rotate too quickly. There were times when I found myself being turned around in the wrong direction because of the camera / rotation issue; it leaves you feeling disoriented.
Walking is also affected by this. Sometimes your hero will walk into walls or have an awkward side-step walk because the camera refuses to rotate properly. Luckily, you can reset the camera by pressing the ‘E’ key.
Other elements of the game, like combat, don’t suffer from any issues. Combat is as simple as holding down the left-mouse button to fire your weapon; secondary weapons like flash bangs and grenades can be thrown by pressing the right-mouse button; and you can select weapons by using your mouse scroll-wheel button (if your mouse has one).
Co-op Assault gameplay is where Alien Breed: Impact shines the most, but finding players online through the Steam Network can be daunting, especially if you’re in the mood for a ‘Quick Match’. Most searches come up empty-handed, thus indicating that a very small online community exists for this game. You can create your own matches and invite friends from your Steam friend list, so this does balance itself out.
The original Alien Breed had impressive 2D graphics for an Amiga game. This new iteration offers shiny 3D graphics powered by the Unreal 2 engine. They look great; gritty, dark corridors, creepy aliens, and plenty of explosions will keep you peering around corners looking for more creatures to kill. The music is just as foreboding, and feels very cinematic.
AB:I is a good game that could have been better. Despite some of the issues mentioned prior, fans of the series will still find this well worth their time and money. As a fan of the series, I still found Impact to be an enjoyable experience. Hopefully Team 17 will improve the issues that plague Impact in their next sequel, if one is planned. Like so many gamers out there, we want nothing but the best for Team 17 and the Alien Breed series.
Alien Breed: Impact is available on Steam for $14.99.
Developer / Publisher: Team 17
|Dark, gritty, and very moody. They set the mood.|
|The music is cinematic, creepy, and it makes you think something is creeping up on you.|
|If the controls weren't so clunky, and the camera not so crazy, AB:I would have scored much higher in this category.|
|Fans of the series will still find Impact enjoyable despite some of the issues.|