|System: Xbox 360, PC, PS3|
|Release: November 17, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-720p|
by D'Marcus Beatty
Does this scenario sound familiar? You are a space engineer on a derelict space station where the former crew has been killed by some mysterious, rabid aliens bent on devouring and destroying humanity. If your answer is no, then you've likely been comatose for a few decades. If your answer is yes, you know exactly what to expect from Alien Breed 3: Descent.
Alien Breed 3: Descent is the last in the trilogy chronicling the saga of the Conrad, the engineer on the unlucky space ship Leopold that crashed into the even more unfortunate (and obligatorily derelict) space station. Immediately following the events of the previous game, Conrad must continue to strive against murderous, insectile aliens as well as a mocking, homicidal AI.
Little has changed from previous entries in the series, making this feel more like a continuation than an actual sequel. Gameplay is viewed from an isometric viewpoint, placing the player at a three-quarters perspective above Conrad a la Diablo. The camera can be rotated using the bumper buttons, giving you and Conrad the best view of the action. The game visuals are rendered using the Unreal 3 Engine, meaning the graphics are remarkably well done. The enemies animate fairly well as they charge blindly towards Conrad, hoping to turn him into their next meal. Despite the advanced graphics engine, however, the environments are repetitive and recycled, showing almost no differentiation from the locales of the two previous games. Playing through a single game would be an exercise in patience, but attempting all three titles back to back really showcases a lack of imagination in the scenarios.
The story isn't much more than an afterthought to provide little needed motivation for Conrad to exterminate hordes of alien monsters. In Descent, Klein, the A.I. antagonist, provides drive (beyond simple survival) for Conrad to endure the legions of monsters. Klein will provide constant taunting and discouragement through regularly informing Conrad that there is no hope, that Conrad faces an impossible task, and that Klein is invincible and undefeatable. Klein is the stereotypical overconfident computer, a form of GlaDos without the humor and charisma.
Descent continues the gameplay from its predecessors as well, with little to no deviation from the previous formula. Conrad will be guided to certain objectives by an indicator on his overhead map, but usually the tasks are rarely as simple as getting from point A to point B. If Conrad is tasked with going to a certain room, the player can be certain that the door is malfunctioning and Conrad will have to make his way to two separate power sources to reset them before he can proceed. Nearly everything is also performed by pressing a button and watching as a progress meter fills slowly. The progress meter, for better or worse, is one of the most prevalent aspects of the game and will accompany nearly every task in the game.
The majority of gameplay charges Conrad with getting between his varied objectives and battling the aliens while doing so. From the overhead perspective, Conrad will shoot aliens of different sizes and strengths through claustrophobic darkened corridors. As with the previous game, there is never a real sense of fear, perhaps because of the removed perspective. Aliens pop up from under grates and in egg sacs, overwhelming Conrad but never really evoking a true sense of terror from the player. While it should feel like survival horror, Descent feels more like a shooter, even with the limited resources and swarms of aliens.