Alien Breed: Evolution
System: Xbox 360 [Xbox Live Arcade]
Publisher: Team 17
Developer: Team 17
Release Date: December 16, 2009
Alien Breed: Evolution is the revival of an old Amiga video game series that spawned five games in the 90’s, the last one coming out in 1996. Set as a top-down isometric shooter, Evolution’s main gameplay consists of navigating around spaceships, finding key cards, restoring power and blowing away aliens. Despite this revival’s graphics overhaul, the methodical gameplay still feels dated. Repeated trial and error while attempting to open locked doors gets old after a while, even though the game’s map waypoint is helpful in directing you along the way. Enemy aliens break up the monotony, but they aren’t a very diverse group. In fact, the overall gameplay gets repetitive after a while. The game uses tried and true tactics, but even a fresh coat of paint can’t mask the 90’s feel.
The controls are hit and miss. The game’s usage of the analog sticks is great — the left stick is used to move around, the right stick is used to shoot. Using the analog sticks is smooth and fits the game very well. Unfortunately, the focus on analog translates to sloppy controls elsewhere. The left and right bumpers are used to rotate the camera, and sometimes it is difficult to swing it to the right view in the heat of battle. Also, weapons are switched using the d-pad which again can cause issues while trying to fight off hordes of aliens. These problems don’t break the game, but different button mapping would have been ideal.
I am perhaps being too hard on this game. Alien Breed Evolution is not bad at all, it just doesn’t try anything new. Fans of the original games may get the most enjoyment here, as the revamped graphics are certainly a welcome addition. The game’s inclusion of a co-op mode is a strong asset as well since it adds a new dynamic to the main campaign. With some tweaks here and there, Evolution could have been better. As it stands, it is a solid revival that rests on its laurels a bit too much.