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Alien Breed review (iOS / Universal)

August 8, 2012

“I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care
I don’t care, I don’t care, care if it’s old”

10 word description: Sci-fi themed top-down shooter. Classic & Enhanced modes. Game Center.

Get to the chopper …. ah, wrong film

10 word review: Classic Amiga game becomes iOS dual-stick shooter. Pleasantly nostalgic.

Here’s one I made earlier … a side by side comparison of classic (left) and enhanced (right) visuals

You will like this if you enjoy: Dual stick shooters (or not quite a DS shooter in Classic mode). Retro games enhanced for iOS devices.

“Is this gonna be a standup fight, sir, or another bughunt?”

The good news: Enhanced mode is quite pretty, although I’d like the classic control method available in this mode too. There are plenty of missions spread over 3 separate campaigns. Lots of weapons in the shop – it doesn’t take long to collect enough gold for a couple of new ones. Level map (an upgrade in the shop) is very helpful. Gauntlet style action is still fun and does work well on the touch screen. IAPs are not needed in order to access all content and play the whole game.

“So, if they fire their weapons in there, won’t they rupture the cooling system?” – Some missions involve destroying things and then running to escape the subsequent Game Over scenario

The bad news: Initial ‘black screen’ load is very slow and made me wonder if the game was loading or had crashed. What is up with the computer/warning voice? “Player worn requires keys” … “Player worn requires first aid” … who is this “Player WORN”? And she sounds so bored. I wouldn’t complain if they changed this voice, that’s for sure. (Yes, I know she’s saying Player One but it doesn’t sound like it). Gameplay isn’t quite as intense as I remember; the constantly respawning aliens aren’t particularly scary or dangerous and the main causes of player death are mostly related to walking into environmental hazards that instantly kill you and then kill you again when you respawn in exactly the same place.

“I like to keep this handy… for close encounters.”

Arcadelife verdict: While Alien Breed for iOS hasn’t completely blown my mind, this port of a fairly old game has been done very well and the enhancements and additions are generally for the best. The IAPs are purely there for anyone who wants to unnecessarily throw extra money at the game; there’s no content locked away behind a real-money wall and the new weapons and upgrades in the shop are nice to have, but not essential for winning, and can easily be bought with game currency – I was able to afford two new guns and the level map upgrade after less than an hour.

“We got tactical smart missiles, phase-plasma pulse rifles, RPGs … We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks…”

It’s worth at least getting a flamethrower for the cool retro flaming effect and the related achievement. The Dalton Arc Flame (SE) is also rather cool as it flings a whole load of reflecting boomerang shots all over the place, killing most enemies with a single hit.

“I want you to lay down a suppressing fire with the incinerators…”

By evolving into a dual-stick shooter – because that’s what Enhanced Mode is – Alien Breed is joining a packed and competitive iOS genre. The link with Aliens is probably strong enough to pull in some players who never played the original Alien Breed games and may otherwise have overlooked this version, and I don’t think anyone is going to be disappointed with the amount of content. If you don’t include the female warning voice, the sound effects are very good; whether you prefer the sounds in Classic or Enhanced mode will be entirely down to your own choice.

Here’s a tip – keep the sticks “fixed” or they will end up somewhere that you don’t want them to be

Personally, I feel that the game lacks a bit of excitement and tension; the aliens are blundering bullet-fodder and mission challenges generally involve “find the exit” or “find the exit before a timer runs out”. However, what’s on offer is still a decent, playable shooter – just take into account that the gameplay, number of enemies and enemy AI haven’t been enhanced, which is a bit of a shame.

Levels are large and complex, but feel fairly generic while you’re running around. The map (shop item) is definitely worth getting

Overall, it’s still a solid game and it works well on touch screen devices. If you approach it as a Gauntlet style dual-stick shooter with some imitation Aliens, you should know what to expect. If you go in with your rose-tinted memories of how Alien Breed was the pinnacle of Amiga gaming perfection, you might come away slightly disappointed.

Arcadelife rating

Visuals – 8/10
Audio – 9/10
Controls – 8.5/10
Content – 8.5/10
Fun – 7.5/10
Final rating – 83/100

Rating categories explained here.
Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.00
iTunes link

Team 17 / Alien Breed website link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
4th gen iPod Touch (iOS 5.1.1)
iPad (iOS 5.1.1)

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