OK, let's get this out of the way ? I never played the first Alien Breed
. Nor did I play any of its follow-ups back in the olden days. Back when the first Alien Breed
came out, I was still discovering the joys of primary school and the SEGA Master System. I suspect that, had my mum found me with a copy of Alien Breed
, she would have denied me Friday sweets money for at least three weeks. I do understand, however, that it was quite good. The happy news is that, based on the time I've spent with Alien Breed: Evolution
, the next (download-only) outing of the series is quite good, too. In fact, I'm going to stretch to 'very good' and tell you I can't wait to get my twitchy thumbs on it when it hits Xbox Live Arcade later this year.
So, if like me you were still running around the playground with a coat on your head pretending to be Batman when the original came out, the basic premise goes like this: you find yourself in a maze of tunnels with ugly-bastard aliens crawling out of the walls. You have a gun. You need to survive.
The original was played from a top down perspective. Evolution
hasn't strayed far from this ? you get a nearly top-down isometric viewpoint, leaving the later first-person outings of the series behind. The upshot of this for the dual analogue pad is that the main controls are mapped much as they are in an arcade shooter like Geometry Wars
? your left stick controls movement, your right handles directional shooting.
There's a story in there, played out predominantly through comics-style cutscenes reminiscent of a ye-olde 2000AD strip. You're playing as the Chief Engineer (yes, by this point you could be forgiven for getting whiffs of Dead Space
) of your vessel, right after it's crashed into another, much bigger ship. That ship, unfortunately, is thoroughly infested with aliens. Those aliens are now your problem. Mark Baldwin, producer over at Team17, told me that the first of the three new Alien Breed
episodes focusses on the immediate aftermath of the crash and trying to separate the ships. The second has you dealing with the problems you're left with. The third... well, Mark wasn't saying. He did ominously hint that flooding will play a big part, however.
I played the game in two-player co-op, which the whole thing feels built for. Because of the isometric viewpoint, there's no need for split screen and covering each others' backs from the comfort of Team17's swivelly chairs as the alien horde descends (well, ascends from spawn points in the floor) is grand fun. Mark did a fine job of keeping me alive.