Review: Alien Breed 3: Descent

Alien Breed 3: DescentGame: Alien Breed 3: Descent
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Developer: Team17 Software
Publisher: Team17 Software

I think we will all agree when I say shooting aliens is fun; it’s one of the best ways to relieve tension, kill time and a good excuse to drink a few beers. But despite its appeal, inevitably it will get a little boring, repetitive and god damn frustrating at times.

Don’t worry Theodore J. Conrad, this is the final time you will have to don your glistening space suit of destruction, the constant back & forth between the gritty corridors of the universe’s most annoying space ship will soon be over and the truth behind the Breed will finally be revealed…you will never have to repair a broken door ever again.

I have really tried hard to enjoy this particular series of games, although now I think about it, I am not convinced there was anything there to love to begin with. I loved Alien Breed: Evolution, it was a well made remake with plenty of appeal, Alien Breed 2: Assault was pretty good too, it certainly kicked up the level of action and doubled the level of annoyance with relatively little to no new features. However, as the old saying goes, “third times the charm”.

Alien Breed 3: Descent is the final chapter is Team 17’s episodic alien genocide, closing the book on a rather uninspired story with a forgettable legacy. So it may come as a surprise then that I’m going to have to urge you to give the game a chance, because… well it’s a rather enjoyable ride.

One thing’s for sure; while playing Alien Breed 3 you will never be short of surprises or aliens to shoot. They have a nasty habit of bursting though every wall and every floorboard when you even so much as breathe. Just like the previous games in the series, the most prominent and welcome change has been to the environment in which you joyfully slaughter the alien horde, decorating the dark, damp and spooky sci-fi walls in a sickening shade of green alien blood. But in terms of graphical prowess, nothing has changed and nothing has been improved. If you enjoyed the visuals of the previous games in the series you’ll find it’s still just as entertaining for the eyeballs; just don’t expect any drastic changes.

Alien Breed 3: Descent screenshot

Descent shows no improvement in terms of graphics but changes up the formula with some new locations.

The inclusion of new enemies and some challenging new bosses to fall upon the receiving end of your very large, sexy gun (euphemism intended), are all new additions. But perhaps the biggest change comes in the form of two new additions to the anti-alien armory; the very useful and life saving Electro Link Gun, which paralyzes and disintegrates up to 4 or 5 enemies within range and the completely inane and useless Project X gun, which is what you would class as a plasma grenade launcher or BFG, I suppose. Whilst in the case of the Project X gun, ammo is rare, expensive to purchase and ultimately not as effective as the simple machine gun, both guns bring something new to the party, providing more choice to the weaponry at your disposal.

Another delightful addition is the way the camera angles adjust more dynamically, making the game feel a lot more engrossing. When coupled with the constant ambushes and surprises, it injects even more tension. Just like before, you have full control over which way the camera is facing by adjusting the angle manually. Upon reflection this feels a little bit clunky but practical nonetheless. Needless to say though it has given the final game in the series a more prominent sense of progression with sterling cinematics.

Alien Breed 3: Descent screenshot

The new camera system is a refreshing inclusion.

Despite being the third installment of the series, AB3 has its memorable moments, the climax of which is the space walk level, where you have unfortunately found yourself wondering around the outer hull of the ship, the worst built cargo vessel in the entire known universe, the Titanic of spaceships, and would you know it, you’re on a crash course to an icy unknown planet. The sense of panic and tensions is heightened by a few jumpy, scary moments and before you know it, all hope is gone and you come face to face with the half man, half machine, Klein, the thing responsible “f*cking up everyone’s sh*t”, prioritizing Conrad’s ability to even open a simple door, across the entire series.

Herein lies the best boss fight of the entire series because not only do you finally come face to face with a enemy that has bugged you over 3 whole games, but suddenly the action is ramped up to overdrive and whole thing gets even more exciting. There’s water everywhere, electrical circuits blowing out all over the place, elevators exploding then re-exploding, it’s just sheer madness. Success in your mission to destroy obliterate the man-machine responsible for all this and avenge your fallen comrades depends on your ability to adapt to the situation, conserve ammo when you can and spend extra cash on gun turrets or small health kits, adding a more tactical element to the game.

Alien Breed 3: Descent screenshot

The final encounter ramps up the action, adds tactical elements to the gameplay and offers a satisfying conclusion to the end of the series.

As for re-playability, AB3 has provided a wealth of secrets to find and unlock (apparently), which I couldn’t find any trace of, so in that sense they have achieved their goal of keeping them all a secret. But if you’re diligent in your investigation of the environment, you will undoubtedly uncover concept art, data logs to inform you on the back story, avatar awards and achievements providing some incentive to keep you coming back, but they’re not easily obtainable that’s for sure.

AB3 includes two co-op modes, including a Gauntlet Mode, but it doesn’t exactly boast many differences from the singeplayer. Survivor Mode is in there too, but it’s your basic stay alive for as long as possible scenario. With a friend the game does take on a more appealing demeanor, it’s just a shame Team17 couldn’t have included a co-op story mode, which would’ve added more variety and re-playability.

Alien Breed 3: Descent screenshot

Co-op mode gives the game some re-playability but so much more could've been done.

Alien Breed 3: Descent is by far the best game in the trilogy, but alas it is also the shortest. Thankfully it’s been a sweet ride along the way; one filled with suspense, action and imaginative environments to run around. You will be content but not entirely impressed and left with the feeling that this trilogy, despite being an excellent homage, was perhaps a little half-hearted.

Review Round

Gameplay: 3/5 Simple & effective, if a little repetitive & uninspired. But altogether solid, fun and intense.

Graphics: 4/5 Crisp, dark and atmospheric. AB3’s new camera direction is superb and visually impressive.

Sound: 3.5/5 The sound design remains unchanged from the previous episodes in the series but it still packs a punch, your eardrums will rumble with delight at the music and effects.

Longevity: 4/5 Value for money is questionable, you won’t regret checking out AB3 but you’re not going to be coming back for more anytime soon.

Overall I give Alien Breed 3: Descent 4 blood stained, space helmets out of 5.

[starreview tpl=16]

- Adam Radcliffe

Tue, November 30 2010 » PC/Mac, PS3, Reviews, Xbox 360

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