|System: PS3, PS Vita*|
|Release: February 12, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence|
by Robert VerBruggen
The reviews are in, and it's official: Aliens: Colonial Marines sucks. Cheat Code Central's Josh Engen titled his own take "Mediocre for So Many Reasons," and that seems to be the consensus. As I write this, the game's Metacritic score is at or below 50 on all three platforms. Considering the effort that went into making Colonial Marines an authentic Aliens experience, this news is sure to bum out fans of the franchise.
But there's a consolation prize. Alien Breed, a well-received Commodore Amiga and MS-DOS action game from the early '90s, was rather shamelessly based on James Cameron's Alien sequel—and it's been re-released as a "Cross Buy" for PS3 and Vita.
This title comes fully loaded. It has the original game, its various expansions, and some brand-new levels. You can play the game as it was originally released, or you can engage the "enhanced" mode for some modest improvements in graphics and sound and a new control scheme. Best of all, Alien Breed will set you back only $10—not a bad price for an Aliens-inspired game that doesn't suck.
For the uninitiated—which included me until this re-release—Alien Breed plays a little like Hotline Miami, only with a survival-horror ethic, labyrinthine levels, and much less red on the screen. Using a top-down view, you need to find keys, health, and ammo as you secure various objectives and shoot everything that gets in your way. Once you've done what needs doing, you’ll find an elevator to the next level.
You're free to roam around each level at will, but enemies spawn continuously, so it's usually not a good idea to go exploring any more than you have to. If you don't have keys, you can open doors by pumping lots of bullets into them, and you find credits that will buy you supplies and new weapons. Overall, resources are scarce enough to be worth holding on to, but not so rare that every bullet seems precious.
The typical enemy is a blob of dumb alien rage, roaming around the map at random until you come close, at which point he walks into you, damages you, and magically disintegrates if you don't shoot him in time. You encounter stronger monsters, including some simple bosses, as you progress through the game. All of this makes for an incredibly tense experience, albeit a low-tech one with old school difficulty.
Unfortunately, nowadays, the original game is pretty much unplayable. You can only shoot in the direction you happen to be facing, which makes the controls incredibly clunky—it's not as bad as, say, an old Resident Evil game with "tank" controls, but it makes quick reactions incredibly difficult. It's only a matter of time before enough aliens run into you to deplete your health, and eventually your limited supply of lives, even though the levels are pretty short.