Released originally back in 1991 for the Commodore Amiga by Team 17, this top-down shooter was an immediate smash hit and quickly became one of the all-time classic games on the format and it wasn’t hard to see why. Unashamadly based on the Aliens movies, it managed to capture the tense atmosphere of the movies superbly and put the player in the role of Commander Johnson, who been sent on a mission with his partner Stone, to investigate an Earth outpost that has gone mysteriously quiet… and discovers an alien infestation…
For those of you not familiar with the original, it’s a top-view shooter, and you’ve basically got to explore each level either avoiding contact with the aliens (or shooting them with whatever weapons you happen to have on hand), finding your way to the lifts on each level to explore the station or follow set missions on each level, picking up cash and health along the way. Some parts of the levels are locked off so you will need to collect keys to open doors and you need to watch out as you have a limited amount of ammunition…
Help is at hand as you can log onto a computer terminal to buy extra keys if you can’t find any, restore your health, get extra ammo or buy more powerful weapons to help you along the way. That may sound easy enough but with tight corridors, you’ll need all the help you can get when you are surrounded by a swarm of aliens all after your blood. Even worse, on some of the later levels, you’re in a race against time when you have to set explosives on certain parts of the station and then get to the lift to the next floor before the timer runs out.
There are two versions of the game – the original Amiga version and an enhanced version with improved sound, graphics and some minor tweaks to the gameplay although the level design and layout still remains faithful to the Amiga original. There have been some changes though and not all of them have been for the better… The controls have been subtly altered and rather that shooting in the direction you are facing, it’s now become a twin-stick shooter. It’s not a major change, but it does alter the mood of the game slightly. It’s not quite as tense now and it’s much easier as a result of the revised controls. Also, with the original version, to access the shop, you needed to find a computer terminal that were scattered around each level. This made the game more frantic as you had to conserve your ammo carefully and plan your route as best as possible with only a limited number of keys at your disposal. Now, you can bring up the shop at any time any with cash easy to obtain, you pretty much have as much an unlimited supply of both.
The cosmetic changes for the enhanced version have been well done and do justice to the Amiga originals without detracting from the overall look and feel of them so it still “feels” like you are playing Alien Breed and as a player you get a genuine sense that this is how the game would look had it been written from scratch today, a true sign of a good revamp. Sadly, all too often games have had the re-release treatment and all of the original’s identity has been lost along the way. The only thing that has been lost here in the conversion is the introductory animation.
In addition to the original game, this release contains three additional Alien Breed games – Alien Breed: Special Edition which was the 1992 follow-up that featured additional levels and some tweaks to the gameplay and difficulty settings (as was Team 17’s original policy with some of their earlier Amiga titles), Convergence and Valiance which are two new titles with new storylines and levels. Both the Amiga based games feature classic and enhanced versions, although the latter Amiga titles, Tower Assault and Alien Breed 3D are notable by their absence. More levels are promised in the future which I would assume will be offered as DLC from the Sony store.
The game has managed to retain all of the addictive qualities of the original and it has that “one more go” factor. As all of the contents of the locked rooms are invisible until opened, it adds to the atmosphere when you really have no idea what you are going to be up against. The tight constraints of the environment really do force you to think quickly and pay attention to everything around you. The action doesn’t let up for a second and at times is reminiscent of the arcade classic, Gauntlet.
Considering the price and the fact that this is a PlayStation Mobile release intended for use on PlayStation-certified Android mobile devices as well as the PS Vita, this is a superb game and a worthy addition to the collection, and not just for fans of the original who would no doubt have bought this already and if you haven’t it should be top of your list.
At A Glance
- Title: Alien Breed
- Publisher: Team 17 Digital
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 63Mb