|System: PS Vita*, PS3|
|Release: February 12, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence|
Playing the "enhanced" mode is a great relief. The game looks and sounds better—the visuals have been updated from 1991 to 1994 or so, with the "enhancements" maintaining a distinctly 16-bit aesthetic despite being in HD. The replacement of the title screen’s grating music with something more atmospheric is a particularly noticeable improvement. But more importantly, the game plays better. The twin-stick controls are excellent; reacting to an alien attack is just a matter of pushing the right stick in the alien's direction.
Some other changes are sure to be a little more controversial. For example, in the original game you were limited to buying weapons and supplies at dedicated vending terminals; in the new version, even if you're playing in "classic" mode, the shop is available to you at all times. You can even buy extra lives after you die, as well as a map for each level. This makes the game a lot less frustrating, but it also takes away a lot of the challenge and a good deal of the tension. Purists will almost certainly hate it.
Each level you beat unlocks the next one on the selection screen, and your weapon purchases are preserved, so you don't lose your progress, and you're ranked on your performance each time. Those who prefer to run through games without stopping won't have any problem, and those who prefer to get everything perfect will be rewarded with higher scores.
For those who have been following the Alien Breed franchise for years, it's worth noting that the developers did not hold back—everything Alien Breed is available in this convenient package, and then some. There's the original game, the new content from the expanded Special Edition, the Convergence and Valiance expansions (which were added in previous remakes), and an all-new four-level set called Synergy.
Synergy stays faithful to the classic gameplay model—perhaps a little too faithful, with a scrolling text intro, the same old aliens featured in the core game, the same exact look, and the familiar goal of locating the lift that takes you one level deeper into enemy territory. But it's always good to have some fresh content to spruce up an aging game.
Two-player co-op is also preserved in this remake, both local/ad hoc and online. If you'd like to plumb the depths of an alien-infested space station with a friend in tow, this is a great opportunity.
To be sure, Alien Breed can't fill the gaping hole left by the fact that Colonial Marines isn't what we all hoped it would be. After all, this is a 2D ripoff of Aliens from twenty-some years ago with a fresh coat of paint, not a brand-new 3D blockbuster with canonical status. But it's $10, and it doesn't suck. Surely that's some comfort?
Date: February 20, 2013