Alien Breed 2 is taking shoot'em ups to a new level. Now Team 17 have released the non-AGA version, and, surprisingly, it's actually a better game. My only problem with the AGA version is that it is far too hard, and this version is just that little bit easier. Why? Well, the fewer colors (but very cleverly used - can you tell them apart?) mean that the screen moves around a little faster, and there are actually fewer aliens on screen at any one time, so there's slightly less chance of you getting totally obliterated in the first few seconds.
Other than that, the game is identical. You still have to travel out to Colony Alpha-Five to wipe out an invading alien horde, running around a top-view maze taken from games like Gauntlet, logging on to huge supercomputers located all over the base where you can buy extra weapons and power ups. It still has glorious graphics, with some of the most realistic fireballs ever seen.
The sound has changed little too, although some of has taken out in favor of some more standard spot effects. There is so much going on at any one time, though, that you don't miss it.
Alien Breed 2 is a massive game, with dozens of extremely challenging levels. It's still not easy and you're still going to be pushed to finish this one in an afternoon. But what the hell? It's just so much fun to play that you don't really mind wasting a week of three on it.
Paying homage in both title and style to three of the most memorable films of all time, Team 17 have returned with a bang. Or should that be a splatt? Fancy taking the role of a hardened space marine, dropped onto a hostile alien infested world? Well now's your chance.
As the sequel to one of the most successful games of '91, Alien Breed II is set nine years on and the Human Federation has done all right for itself. With six main races and hundreds of colonies, it's the most powerful alliance in the galaxy. But now an old threat has resurfaced to plague the peace. An emergency distress signal has been heard from Colony Alpha-Five and two agents have been sent to investigate. So, the concept is simple in the extreme - grab a gun, drop onto the infested colony and wipe the aliens out of existence. But this simple concept actually translates into a pretty involved reality.
The game's split up into three main complexes - civilian, science and military. Each one is split further into four areas giving you over 12 levels of bug burning mayhem. These complexes designate the degrees of difficulty you'll face. With each new level the odds stacked against you get higher. Apart from new breeds of alien nasties, there are loads of vicious traps and security devices blocking your way. Laser turrets will suddenly pop out of the nearest wall and laser protection fields only allow certain doors to be accessed from one direction. To make things a little easier you'll come across an occasional Intex 4000 computer console. Log onto one and you'll find all manner of goodies awaiting. If you've collected enough cash (left behind by the fleeing colonists) you'll get to choose from new weapons (see panel on left-hand side of page), as well as keys, first aid kits, ammo charges and even extra lives. And believe me you'll need them 'cos ABII is one tough game.
From the outset, dropped outside the base having to negotiate the remote security choppers, ABII is out to get you. The choppers strafe the ground, drop bombs and swoop so low that one touch means death. That wouldn't be so bad if they didn't appear out of nowhere or your sprite didn't run like he was in quicksand - but they do and he does. So it is very easy to lose a life before you even enter the base. And from then on it gets tougher!
The aliens themselves mare a mixed bunch from the simple grabbers on level one to the mutant tortoise things later. And they only have one thing on their minds - to eat your face. These aliens are no dummies either. In the nine years you've been away they've become more intelligent, faster and some even come armed with their projectile weapons. So, it's vital not to waste your ammo 'cos they keep on coming, reappearing even after you've cleared a room.
ABII is extremely well constructed. The AGA graphics breathe life, they're just so detailed. What's more, when you change complexes the graphic sets undergo subtle changes giving you the feeling that they've been completely redesigned yet still retaining a sense of familiarity. The sound too is something to behold. The first time you hear the great voice samples and haunting background tune you're sure to feel a little tingle down your spine.
That's not to say that AB II is without its faults. For one thing the game's too tough. Although there's a choice to two difficulty levels there's no perceptual difference between them. Another level would have been useful. Also, on certain levels you're given a specific mission to complete. Once done, the level begins to self-destruct. Unfortunately if you fail to make it to the turbo lift in time it's game over - no matter how many lives you have left. What's wrong with starting you on the same level again minus one life?
Niggles aside, AB II is one fine game.
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