Review: Alien Breed 3: Descent (PS3)

Review: Alien Breed 3: Descent (PS3)

Alien Breed 3: Descent, the final chapter of the Alien Breed series, is a fitting end to the trilogy. Although it is a largely mediocre game, it may have something to offer you.

The story is the standard sci-fi fare where the protagonist has to shoot his way through aliens to get off a spaceship that is going to crash. From the opening cutscene, done in the style of a comic book, you know you are in for a interesting experience. Throughout the game, these cutscenes progress the story, and do a decent job at it. The voice acting that accompanies them, however, is poor. The lines seem forced and are not all that engrossing.

The camera, however, either totally immerses you into the claustrophobic nature of the game, or is plain dumb, depending on how you look at it. It’s in a perpetual semi birds eye view, and makes it very difficult to see what it coming, or how you have to get to your destination. At the same time, it draws you into the creepy nature of the game. It all depends on your preference. Thankfully, the camera is rotatable, so you can move it around a bit  to see where your going, or to lock it into a view that pleases you.

The graphics and sound also do a decent job of setting the scene and pulling you in. PA announcements telling passengers to evacuate and various noises spurting from the machinery do a good job of creating atmosphere. The firing of guns and the screams of all the different breeds of aliens are also very lively. The graphics are above average, and do not pull the player out of the game, and so both sight and sound fulfill their part of the deal.

The gameplay, on the other hand,  is a mixed experience. There are three difficulties in the game: rookie, veteran and elite. I played through the game on veteran, and the game was either incredibly easy or very difficult. There was no middle ground. One can go through corridor after corridor and blast your way through the enemies without breaking a sweat, but at certain point of the game, you can die five times or more and be sent packing all the way back to a long passed checkpoint. As a survival horror game, this erratic difficulty does not help the atmosphere, as you are either cutting down all the aliens in your path, or are being swarmed to death.

Another problem with the difficulty is your radar, which picks up every enemy near you. In dark hallways and rooms, the player is supposed to feel suspenseful, wondering where the next alien will appear. Unfortunately, the radar tells you where they are well before they even enter your screen. For most of the game, I watched the radar, saw the enemies coming, and then shot off the screen into the darkness and killed my foe. Surprises were few and far between.

Another issue with the difficulty is the health system. You go around pick up health packs which replenish your health, nothing revolutionary. You can also buy health packs from the save points that pop up every now and then. The problem is you can only buy one or two health packs per save point. This means you can go through large parts of the game and not buy any health, afraid of wasting your money when you might need a weapon upgrade or more ammo. When you really need the health packs and you want to buy three or four to help in the maddening difficult parts, you can’t and you have to try and die over and over again to get past these hard parts. All of this could have been avoided if you could buy as many health packs as your credit level allowed you to.

The game has several more flaws as a survival horror game. The map in the upper left hand corner is constantly telling you where you have to go, so there is no suspense or mystery on your next move.  The same thing happens when messages scroll across the screen telling you exactly what to do. “Go press that switch. Walk over there and plant the explosives.” The player never really thinks for themselves, and they never have to question what to do next.

The fun part for games like this is figuring out what you have to do and then finding what you need to do it with. That satisfaction of solving a puzzle never happens in this game. For example,  you’ll approach a flooded room. The game then tells you the room is flooded and you have to lower the water level. A blip appears on your map telling you that’s where you have to go. You go there and lower the water level. Then the game tells you to press the button to open the door to the once flooded room. Then another blip appears on your map and you start the process all over again.

From this review, it may seem that this game is terrible, but that’s not really the case. It just does a couple of things really bad. The gameplay is repetitive and the game lasts way too long. A condensed experience would have gotten rid of the repetitive busy work (“Go to point A to get the key to point B so you can open the door to point C”) and made the game a lot more enjoyable.

If you are a fan of the previous Alien Breed games and need to see how the series ends, pick this up. You know what you are getting into. For everyone else, except the most hardcore survival horror fan, this game isn’t for you.

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