Good thing nobody can hear you scream in space, I know I was doing plenty of it.
Alien Breed 2: Assault is the second episode of the epic story started in Alien Breed: Evolution and Impact last year on Xbox Live Arcade, arriving this year on Steam and Playstation Network. You play as Conrad, an engineer on the severely damaged spaceship Leopold which has crashed into a vessel of unknown origin. Your main objective is to follow the commands of an android named Mia and restart/fix various components of the ship's mechanisms in order to escape. Naturally, nothing's ever that simple and there are plenty of alien hordes to fill with a good measure of bullet spray. Alien Breed 2: Assault starts where Alien Breed left off: With the Leopold (that's the ship we're rooting for) joined at the hip with an alien ship, Conrad is desperately trying to dislodge his ship from the unknown alien vessel. Hilarity is bound to ensue.
It all sounds great, but in terms of gameplay, art, and general flow, things haven't changed much in the world of Alien Breed. Everything looks and acts the same, though the significance of that will vary in accordance with impressions of the previous games. Alien Breed 2: Assault does not stand alone as a true sequel, and similar to Impact, it requires some prior knowledge of Evolution to feel involved in the storyline; AB2 in essence is episode three, but the numeric misnomer plugged at the end of the title could misconstrue expectations. I think there are a lot of people out there who'll see the big number '2' and assume otherwise, so I'm just going to tell you straight away that any anticipation of revolutionary gameplay or graphics overhauls be met with disappointment. The mechanics of play are two-fold: the elements of a space thriller compounded with a big dollop* of run 'n' gun. The end product is something that appeals to the taste buds of even the most discerning gamer. Plenty of save points dotted around make it a game that's possible to be picked up and played for fifteen minutes or more, but they also give the player a false sense of security prior to unleashing hordes of hell upon them. Oh, and those hordes? Yeah. They just keep attacking, and attacking, and attacking - until you hear the distinctive “click, click” of your current weapon running out of ammo. Alien Breed 2: Assault thankfully seems to do a slightly better job than it's predecessor of handing out ammo and other items when the player is going to need them. On multiple occasions in the first game, it was not uncommon that I would resort to attempting to take down the enemies with just my wimpy pistol (which has unlimited ammo, so at least you'll never have to settle for pitifully pistol whipping the armoured terrors). Naturally this method was never successful and often ended with Conrad sprawled in one corner, his entrails in another.
Alien Breed 2: Assault constantly tells the player to return to areas from whence they came in order to disable valves or reroute power or something similar. It's an attempt to make the game last more than six hours (which it does, just barely). It's like being lost in the woods: I've seen this exploding door before, I've seen that carcass... “I've just been here! Why have you forsaken me!?” I would yell at the monitor. Sadly, Mia didn't listen.
Similar to gameplay, the graphics haven't changed much either. This only furthers my confusion at the decision to tag a '2' at the end of the title. Regardless, character models look OK from a distance, though the closer you get, the more they start looking quite angular and reminiscent of Unreal Engine 2, not something I've come to expect from the third iteration of the popular game. About ninety-percent of the game is played from an isometric viewpoint (seen in almost all of the screenshots), yet the few instances when the camera zooms in close enough that the model detail actually becomes annoying. More experience gamers will likely be spending most of their time staring at the radar, however, just waiting for one of those little red dots to pop up and panic to set in.
Alien Breed 2: Assault is a nice little game, and definitely worth the $10 (£6.99) from Steam. There's about 6 hours of single-player gameplay, then the multiplayer co-op option and the brand new 'Survival Mode' which, as the name suggests, pits the player against waves of an ever-increasing amount of enemies with the objective being to survive as long as possible. No, there isn't an astounding amount of content on offer, but for $10 it balances itself out. I just wish they'd named it Alien Breed: [Something Else] instead of Alien Breed 2. The title suggests updated everything, as is to be expected from a sequel, but in truth this game is nothing more than a new chapter in the continuing saga of Alien Breed. If you can get over that though, you're getting a good game that is enjoyable to play and exciting in all the right moments for a modest price point. You can't really go wrong: buy it, play it, then move on to something else. You'll find yourself coming back to it every so often for “just one more level” anyway. I know I did.
* = Editor's Note: Dollop is our very English writer's way of saying lump or amount.