Alien Breed 3D 1 logo AGA

Reviewed by Andy Maddock

Pthis happens to be the only first-person perspective game I've heard so much about but never seen any real concrete evidence to confirm what the final version would be like. In the light of other magazines reviewing unfinished versions, we waited absolutely ages for the final version to appear so that you, the readers, would know exactly what you were putting your hard-earned cash towards.

After the prequels, namely Alien Breed, Alien Breed '92 and Alien Breed... something, it was quite a shock to hear that the one of the most popular overhead shoot-'em-ups was going to be relegated to the division of Doom clones.

However, after looking at Team 17's past successes, it would be naive of me to knock it after they have been so consistent with their extremely healthy contributions to the Amiga world.

To be honest, I've yet to see a Doom clone with a plot. Well, a decent one at least. What the programmers do is spend all their man hours tweaking graphics and gameplay and about a week before the game is due to be released, the whole team of developers spend 15 minutes thinking up a suitable plot. You can put money on the fact they'll all come up with 'Right, you're stuck in a big dungeon and this evil man is coming after you. Okay, what now? That's it. You've got to get out - blasting your way through hoards of ugly monsters!'

What really gets me is the fact that if you want to get out, why did you go in there in the first place? Doh! Why don't developers make a game which is called 'The Realms of Darkness - I'm not going in. I'm frightened.'
I apologise. I had to get that off my chest - I'm only just getting over a lethal overdose of Doom games.

The first thing I noticed as I began walking around is the screen - it's smaller than Gloom and Fears, although bigger than Citadel. It does look more like Doom than any other effort and if the speed could be matched then it would be unstoppable.

The main thing that really affects the game immensely is the specification of your Amiga. If you've got an accelerator then the games are absolutely brilliant. If you haven't, the games are slow and uncontrollable and can often cause more frustration than you can humanly imagine.


Alien Breed 3D is, and always will be, one of the finest Doom clones on the Amiga

One good thing about Alien Breed is that there is a plot. And although it only really makes an appearance in the manual, it still gives an atmospheric introduction into the game itself.

All the features that were included in Fears and Gloom have been incorporated into Alien Breed 3D - the sound effects, textured floors, gouraud shading, and other game features such as weapons, beasts and health bonuses. What makes the second games lack variety, though, are the really badly drawn, almost cartoon beasts which really do let the game down enormously. Although this is the same sort of problem Fears suffered from, they didn't look quite as unrealistic as in AB3D.

The mazes are huge with plenty of rooms to explore. On your way through you can collect keys, open doors, gather medi-packs to replenish your energy, and ammo to top up yor current weapons.

The major problem with Fears was the fact that it was too easy and you could continue quite easily get to level five or six without losing a life. Alien Breed will frustrate you enough to make you lose a life on the first level, never mind five or six..

As for the war of the Doomers, top of your list should be Fears because of its wonderful look and control, closely followed by Alien Breed 3D because it's absolutely brilliant to play. In third place is Gloom - a good solid shoot-'em-up although missing the depth and challenge Fears and AB3D feature.

Alien Breed 3D is, and always will be, one of the finest Doom clones on the Amiga. Most people, including me said it couldn't be done - I have just been proven wrong... twice.


The only downside

If I have to point out a major flaw in all these games, then it has to be the system requirements. Although you can quite happily play any Doom game on a standard A1200, don't expet it to run at a realistic rate. If you really do insist on playing Doom on the Amiga, there is no doubt that you need an accelerator. Without one, its frustration factor increases tenfold, especially as you will find it difficult to control. These games can only be played properly on an expanded Amiga, trust me.

Final word

As it turns out my prediction was correct. Although Alien Breed 3D isn't quite as action packed as the first series was, especially where lastability is concerned, it still adds up to be an extremely worthy purchase. This is one game that you would never be forgiven for missing.



Alien Breed 3D 1 logo AGA Amiga Format Gold

Looking for some atmosphere, fear, excitement, tension, apprehension, and fun? Steve McGill was. He found it when he reviewed Breed 3D.

There's no doubt about it. This Christmas is going to witness the biggest fight the Amiga, Amiga owners, and Amiga developers have ever seen since the Amiga concept became reality.

That this fight could alter the course of home computing history is beyond question. If the Amiga does the unimaginable, and loses, it'll herald a sad era of darkness and techno slavery for Amiga owners, Joe Public, and the rest of the World.
A grave scenario indeed. And one that must never be allowed to happen.

The Amiga succeeded despite Commodore's inept marketing strategy. It succeeded because it captured the imagination of the imaginative, the creative, and the visionary. It succeeded because it was the computer of the people. And most of all, it succeeded because the people loved it.

That it can fight back and again win its rightful position of prominence is going to be more difficult than ever before. External forces with more money and bigger marketing budgets than you could throw a Third World country at will be out in full Stormtrooping jackbooted media imperialistic force.

Fight back
But the Amiga can resist. It's in possession of the most powerful marketing force known in the world. A force that can't be bought or silenced or bullied or ignored. And that force relies on people talking, for it's nothing more nor nothing less than word of mouth.

Amiga owners talk to each other more than any other gaming fraternity. It's word of mouth that keeps the Amiga alive. It's word of mouth that keeps the Amiga vibrant. It's word of mouth that keeps the Amiga exciting.

So, I've kept you waiting this long and still haven't mentioned Alien Breed 3D from Team 17. Hopefully I've made a point of sorts about the Amiga's strength and the inherent power of word of mouth.

I say hopefully, because I'm going to ask you a big favour; something that I've never done before since joining Amiga Format. The favour's simple - get in touch with Team 17 by whatever means are available, e-mail, net access, phone, write, parachute... everything.

Tell them how good Alien Breed 3D is. Tell them what you like about it. Tell them what works and what doesn't. Tell them what you'd like to see improved. But most of all, ask, plead, beg, grovel, implore and petition them not to leave the Amiga market. The market needs them to produce more games like Breed 3D the market needs more games like Breed 3D.


Be prepared to have your imagination captured as the game immerses you in a dangerously harsh world.

Simply the best...
For Breed 3D is quite simply one of the best games ever to appear on the Amiga. It exploits the AGA hardware, injects it with euphoric gameplay and, at the same time, radiantly displays the potential that lies in the heart of a well-coded A1200.

Be prepared to have your imagination captured as the game immerses you in the dangerously harsh world of the Breed and their foul brethren. Feel the adrenaline invigorate your senses as you frantically switch between out-and-out fearless aggression and cringingly fearful, trembling paranoia.

Yes, Breed 3D does all that, plus some more, to the player as they play. Put it down to the perfect balance of design, aesthetics, gameplay, intuitive control, involvement, consistency, internal dynamics and fun.

The layout of the sixteen levels is believable enough in an Alien kind of a way. There are no pointless dead ends. There are extremely atmospheric, submerged areas. And, Doom-beatingly, the levels have different floor layers requiring the traversing of stairs, ramps, lifts and other obstacles to access them.

Frustratingly, though, there is no map to access. But, by the way of compensation, changes in wall and floor textures in the various sections helps compartmentalise the levels and keep everything at a manageable, memorable level, alleviating, to a limited degree anyway, the need for a map.

The choice is yours
Married to the design of the levels is an intuitive control system, offering maximum flexibility and degree of choice. Keyboard control can be completely reconfigured to the player's choice, although it's unlikely to be changed from the pre-set keys. Mouse control is possible also, but it wasn't my control system of choice.

The joystick is okay, but wilts slightly in front of the might of the keyboard. The best system is probably that of CD32 controller use - you can run, duck, fire weapons, operate lifts and doors, select weapons and, most importantly, use the sidestep easily in a devastatingly effective manner. In all, a tremendous selection that should see everyone but DC Thomson of Dundee happy.

The monsters inhabiting the levels are various and present their own little problems in choosing the most efficient method of dispatching them. Unlike the monsters in Fears, Breed's denizens exhibit a limited believable intelligence. They run about a bit, dodge, weave, and attack you at every opportunity.

As expected, different weapons do different types of damage and it's in this area that players should familiarise themselves well. It means the difference between success and death. The weapons sound wonderful when fired. Although the double barreled shotgun acts as a pump action - quirky.

A sounding success
While on the subject of sound, it deserves a special mention. It enhances and expands an already bristling atmosphere.

When walking through levels that are semi-submersed, the splish-splash of footsteps, the occasional howl of distant breed, the reflections from the graphics, the squeal of monsters that have been shot all meld together and pull you into a disturbingly violent, unfriendly world.
It's you, your wits and your weapons. And that's tops.

To finish off, the way the game makes use of accelerator cards deserves a special mention (see our enhanced gaming feature starting on page 33). With an accelerator fitted, everything becomes silky smooth and can easily live with the Dooms and Marathons of the world. Their use further enhances the credibility and immersion factor of the game's scenario.

So, if you own an A1200, or are about to through the Amiga Magic pack, buy Alien Breed 3D. Convince Team 17 that their plans to leave the Amiga market would be a tragedy for them and Amiga owners throughout the world.

Convince them that there's still a lot of respect for their Amiga-wares out there. Buy Breed 3D and convince them. Make Breed 3D the smash it thoroughly deserves to be.


LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU!

First person limits what you can see. To compensate, a key's been provided that lets the player looks behind them quickly and safely.

Alien Breed 3D 1
Trading as carefully and as quietly as possible, you aim to take a quick peak round the corner.

Alien Breed 3D 1
But what's this. A quick glance over the should reveals skullduggerous plans afoot. Turn round quickly and blast him.

A QUESTION OF DETAIL

Format is the first magazine to highlight the detail feature that can toggle between Gouraud shading, texture mapping, shaded floors and no shading at all. These features help maintain running speed.

Alien Breed 3D 1
In this screenshot you can see that we've switched off all of the detail for the floors and the walls. On an unexpanded 1200 it runs smoothly.

Alien Breed 3D 1
Here we've got all the textures switched on. It's more realistic and adds to the atmosphere and feeling that you're immersed in another world.

I KNOW SOMETHING YOU DON'T KNOW

One of the strategies that can make all the difference in the survival stakes is that of secret rooms and alcoves. They often conceal caches of ammo, medi-kits, weapons, or all three. It can be difficult to spot them, but not impossible.

Alien Breed 3D 1
Mindful that there are secret doors waiting to be found, you decide to press space...

Alien Breed 3D 1
...when suddenly, hey presto, a door appears. Aren't you glad you're alive.

Alien Breed 3D 1
What's that strange rippling over there on the left? If you're not sure, it's always...

Alien Breed 3D 1
...worth investigating. Because it might just lead to a precious little find like this one.


Alien Breed 3D 1 logo Citadel logo AGA Amiga Joker Hit

Im virtuellen Keller ringen die Giganten um die Siegerkrone: der lang erwartete AGA-Alienbraten von Team 17 gegen Black Legends Action-Zitadelle für Normal-Amigas. Dungeon frei für eine unbarhmherzige Entscheidungsschlacht!

ALIEN BREED 3D

Mit dem allerersten "Alien Breed" legten die Engländer der Grundstein zu ihrem Ruhm, seither versorgen sie den Amiga durch alle Zeit stürme hindurch getreulich mit frischer Soft.

Die aktuelle Folge der inzwischen mehrfach fortgesetzten Serie hat mit dem scrollenden Draufsicht-Labyrinthen des Jahres 1991 jedoch nicht mehr viel am Laser: Mittlerweile findet der Kampf Mensch gegen Aliens in todschicker, weil komplett texturierter 3D-Umgebung statt. Damit wird zugleich der derzeitige Höhepunkt in Sachen Echtzeit-rendering markiert - beim Blick auf die Spiegelungen im aufgewühlten Wasser, allerfeinste Gouraud-Schattierungen und die beeindruckenden Lichteffekte dürfte selbst manchen PC-Söldner der Finger am Abzug zittern!

In 16 abwechslungsreich gestalteten Levels werden em AGA-Chipsatz transparente Fenster, bunte Wendeltreppen, gekrümmte Wandflächen und andere Grafikdetails der schier unglaublichen Art entlockt.

Gezeigt wird das Optikwunder entweder im verhältnismäßig grobschlächtigen bzw. -pixeligen Vollbild oder in einem von diversen Zustandsanzeigen eingerahmten Sichtfenster, wobei jederzeit mit einem Tastendruck zwischen den Alternativen gewechselt werden darf.

Der Alienjäger (von dem am Screen, wie üblich nur die Waffenhand zu sehen ist) kann sich in der so liebevoll ausstaffierten Kellerlandschaft nahezu uneingeschränkt bewegen, und auch sonst überzeugt dieser Augenschmaus durch gnadenlos gute Spielbarkeit.

Besonders dankbar ist dafür wohl der mit nur einem einzigen Bildschirmleben beglückte Digi-Söldner, den der Spieler sicher durch ein Wissenschaftszentrum lotsen muß, das von amok-laufenden Aliens und Kreaturen aus dem Genlabor bevölkert wird.

Neben den genre- und serientypischen Ärger mit dem außerirdischen Hausbesetzern steht auch die Erledigung kleinerer Missionen an, die sich zumeist auf das Finden des Ausgangs beschränken.

Dazu öffnet man verschlossene Tore mit dem passenden Farbschlüssel, setzt bewegliche Plattform-Aufzüge und Tele[eporter in Gang, durchsucht Wasserbecken nach verborgenen Geheimtüren, erkundet düstere Korridore oder befriedet weiträumige Hallen bequem vom Balkon aus.

Zu kassieren gibt's dabei Energieriegel, Munipacks, automatisch zielende Plasmakanonen, Lasergewehre, Granatwerfer und besonders effektive Schnelllader - zwischen den eingesammelten Waffen kann natürlich nach Belieben hin- und hergeschaltet werden.

Das insoweit wenig innovative, jedoch stets faire Gameplay bezieht seinen wahren Reiz erst aus den programmtechnischen Feinheiten: Benzinfässer lassen sich prächtig als Explosivkörper mißbrauchen, Terrasendächer dienen als Schutz im feindlichen Kugelhagel, und jeder noch so grimmige Angriff kann mit etwas Überlegung pariert werden.

Besondere Aufmerksamkeit widmete man der ungewöhnlich informativen Geräuschkulisse, denn bei Tauchgängen hört sich z.B. alles merklich dumpfer an, und hinter Türen lauerende Gegner sind an ihren Lauten zu erkennen - umgekehrt reagieren die (überhaupt recht schlauen) Biester aber auch auf die je nach Untergrund wechselnden Schrittgeräusche des Spielers!

Mit der diesem hohen Niveau angemessenen Komplexität präsentiert sich die Maus, Pad und Tastatur unterstützende Steuerung: neben den gängigen Standard-Aktionen erlaubt sie Ducken, Sprints und das Seitwärtsschleichen in zwei Varianten. Und trotz aller Vielfalt hat man seinen Helden immer gut im Griff.

Ja, gibt es bei diesem Game denn gar keine Mängel? Nun, Begleitmusik sowie Automapping sucht man vergebens, und die 3D-Texturen erscheinen bisweilen fast schon zu psychedelisch bunt.

Darüber hinaus verhilft (wie bei der Genre-Konkurrenz) erst Fast-RAM oder eine Turbokarte zum ruckfreien Grafikvergnügen. Ansonsten lassen sich aber beim besten Willen keine Kritikpunkte finden: Sogar Nullmodem-Schlachten an separaten Rechnern und in speziellen Duell-Levels sind möglich, während sich der optische Blutgehalt erfreulicherweise in vertretbaren Grenzen hält.

Als kurzes Zwischenfazit wollen wir daher einmal festhalten, daß Alien Breed 3D tatsächlich der erste Amiga-Actionkeller ist, der es in puncto Atmosphäre, Spannung und Komplexität uneingeschränkt noch mit den populärsten Genrebrüdern am PC aufnehmen kann!

CITADEL

Metzelfreudige Besitzer eine Amigas ohne AGA-Unterstützung mußten sich bislang mit zwei (auch) optisch eher schlichten Ballerorgien zufriedengeben, nämlich "Death Mask" und "Behind the Iron Gate".

Das konnten die Wohltäter von Black Legend nicht länger mit ansehen, und servieren nun auf allen "Freundinnen" eine Actionorgie der grafischen Meisterklasse: Schon zur Einstimmung darf man ein toll gerendertes, 2 MB umfassendes Intro bestaunen, bevor es in die 20 Levels der mit Texture-Mapping versehenen 3D Örtlichkeiten einer außerirdischen Raumstation geht.

Dort soll man die titelgebende Zitadelle ausfindig machen und zerstören - nachdem es sich dabei zugleich um die Befehlszentrale des Feindes handelt, wollen dies aber insgesamt 20 Monstergattungen vom einfachen Söldner bis hin zu mordlüsternen Pflanzen nach Kräftig verhindern.

Das Gameplay hält sich an die gewohnten Eckdaten der Gattung: Der per Tastatur, Stick oder Maus gesteuerte Held durchwandert die abwechslungsreichen Räumlichkeiten mit maximal sechs verschiedenen Waffen unter dem Arm, von der einfachen Pistole bis zum Raketenwerfer.

Zur leichteren Orientierung steht ihm hier nicht nur ein stets präsentes Radar, sondern zusätzlich auch eine Automapping-funktion zur Verfügung. Kann man alles gebrauchen, denn die in wahren Heerscharen anrückenden Feinde setzten auf Masse und Klasse, indem sie von allen Seiten an geschlichen kommen und sich auch gerne in dunklen Ecken oder hinter alten Ölfässern verstecken.

Wer in den weit verzweigten Gängen überleben will, muß sein Heil daher manchmal auch in de schnellen Fluch suchen.

Zudem sollte man, wann immer möglich, die Wände nach etwaigen Schlatern und Hebeln absuchen, um damit Geheimgänge freizulegen, Türen aufzuschließen, Wände verschwinden zu lassen oder Teleporter zu aktivieren.

Träge herumlungernde Munitionsvorräte, Zugangskarten, Schlüssel, Knarren und Heil-tränke werden durch simples Drüberlaufen aufgeklaubt; allerdings darf man sich nicht bedenkenlos einfach alles einverleiben, was flussig aussieht - in mancher Pulle schlummert hochprozentiger Schnaps dessen Genuß zu einem vorübergehend kaum noch steuerbaren Eigenleben beim Protagonisten führt, der dann ziemlich willenlos durch die brandgefährlichen Gänge torkelt...

Kommt der kleine Schluckspecht dabei den Wänden zu nähe,erscheinen sie ihm vielleicht etwas grobpixelig, aber aus der richtigen Betrachtungsdistanz wirkt die mit netten Animationen aufgepeppte Grafik ganz prächtig.

Ihr Manko liegt woanders: Trotz des achtfach bis zum Vollbild variierbaren Bildausschnittes und des regulierbaren Detailgrades läßt die Scrollgeschwindigkeit auf Standard-Amigas stark zu wünschen übrig. Flüssig voranschreiten dürfen nur die Besitzer einer Turbokarte - oder eines AGA-Rechners.

Die Steuerung geht vor allem per Tastatur flott von der Hand, und ür die passende Atmosphäre sorgen die reichlich gebotenen Sound-FX gemeinsam mit der düsteren Musik.

Was zum guten Schluß den bei Games dieser Art immer reicht kritischen Ekelfaktor angeht, muß sich nur die äußerst brutale englische Version vor einer Indizierung fürchten. Die germanisierte Zitadelle wurde jedoch von den schlimmsten Splatterszenen (blut-bespritzte Wände, kopflose Leichen etc.) befreit, damit auch sensiblere Gemüter nicht gleich mit Brechreiz zu kämpfen haben.

DIE ENTSCHEIDUNG

...ergibt sich hier fast von selbst: Besitzer von älteren Amigas ballern sich schon mangels Alternativen mit Begeisterung durch Black Legends Zitadelle, während ihre AGA-Kollegen schnurstracks auf die SF-Keller von "Alien Breed 3D" zu marschieren. Schließlich finden sie dort das Highlight des Monats, ja, vielleicht den besten Actiontitel des Jahres vor! (rl/md)



Alien Breed 3D 1 logo AGA

This time it's good.

CUE TITLES: Fast-cutting establishing shots of 1930s Middle England. Streets of San Francisco-style music. Huge words scroll purposefully across the height of the screen spelling out title: Mr Bickle - Community Policeman. Words MR BICKLE continue scrolling for length of title sequence, mixed with same words scrolling opposite direction.

Sequence is viewed through them as they reduce to outlines. Fast cuts: mohicaned Mr Bickle stepping into the street, closing his garden gate behind him, his helmet tucked under his arm; tracking shot of Mr Bickle Strolling along, nodding to woman with shopping; Mr Bickle drinking a cup of tea in a cafe, his eyes flicking alertly; a small dog returning a stick as Mr Bickle crouches down into shot: Mr Bickle stopping a row of traffic to let a child cross the road; Mr Bickle turning into his pathway, closing the gate behind him. Camera zooms in dramatically on nameplate: MR BICKLE.

Scrolling words meet and zoom inwards in perspective to fit exactly over the nameplate.

CAPTION: Will Hay is:
CAPTION: Mr Bickle - Community Policeman.
CAPTION: Created by Martin Scorcese and Paul Shaffer.
CAPTION:Adapted for television by Roy Clarke

CAPTION: Tonight's Episode - A Schoolboy's Secret.
(Streets of 1930s Middle England. Mix through to besieged house. A dozen police cars, lights flashing. SWAT teams. Guns. Helicopters. Spotlit. Mr Bickle is confronting an armed gunman who stares madly.)

MR BICKLE: Do stop looking at me, it's rude. (Armed gunman drops gaze with a sob. Gun hangs limply. Police rush in. Chief Inspector leads Mr Bickle out of crowd).
CHIEF INSPECTOR: Good work, Mr Bickle.
MR BICKLE: He didn't mean any harm. (They pass a child prostitute). Shouldn't you be in school? (Boxes ears lightly).
CHILD PROSTITUTE: Sorry, Mr Bickle. (Runs off).

CHIEF INSPECTOR: Mr Bickle. There's been a £2m robbery at the airport.
MR BICKLE: £2m, eh? I didn't think there was that much money in the world. I'll need backup.
CHIEF INSPECTOR: Elliot Ness and his number one marksman are on their way.
(Enter Moore Marriott and Graham Moffat).

GRAHAM MOFFAT: Wotcha squire.
MOORE MARRIOTT: Ooooooo, lovely.
MR BICKLE: Come on.
(They dash out of shot. Chief Inspector watches them go, one hand on his hip, the other pushing his hat back on his head).
CHIEF INSPECTOR: What a crazy guy. (Suddenly serious). But he's the only chance this city's got.
But anyway.


Closing his garden gate

STUPID
The really stupid thing about AB3D is that almost all the bad things happen at the beginning. Installing it to hard drive, for example - you can't. I tried following the instructions and double-clicking on exactly the right icon for a few attempts, then asked one of the Amiga Format techy people to manually copy things. Nothing worked - the game would invariably crash when trying to load a level.

Hmmm. Okay, the game works amazingly well from floppy - there are two disks, and following an extended bout of sinister whirring from disk one you just swap to disk two and that's it - but it's a shabby fault that, along with the CLEARLY WRONG box blurb, smacks of the game being rushed into the shops. (It certainly took, for example, us by surprise). Still, let's put that shabby fault aside for the time being.

Game loaded, then. Short pause while the copy protection asks you to pick randomly a black page from a black book, then trace down a number of black lines and across a black number of rows, holding the book awkwardly under oblique light until some black scratches resolve themselves into black numbers, but that's obviously the fault of the kind of people who prevented Jon Hare of Sensible from buying a third Porsche so we'll put that aside as well.

You only have to do it once, after all (I was at one point terrified that the game was going to ask for number after every level, but it was just the plot) and, hey, you're given precisely one chance to type the black number correctly before you have to wearily reload and smack the mouse button to skip the Team 17 because it only holds up the loading for five or six seconds you just want to play the thing.
And there it is.
And it's magical.
It is, in fact, Doom - but on the Amiga.
Phew.


Sinister whirring from disk one

HORRIFIC
What AB3D gets right - and what eluded Fears and Gloom had everything sitting in the middle of the screen and plurping out similar bullets, or merely sizzling balls of light. AB3D has plausibly horrific guns that recoil and 'feel' different - the phaser rifle for example, is wreckingly powerful but has slow bullets and is hard to aim over distance - and you'll almost instantly elect a favourite.

Mine is the shotgun - accurate, instant hit, quick and satisfyingly slide-actiony to reload, though being a doubled-barrel it should, of course, be broken open AS ANY FULE KNO and the technical qualities shut its rivals in a cupboard (lifts and stairs, outdoor bits, ripply water, walkwayed arenas, admittedly in a third-size screen but it's a hi-res 'un; incidentally, contrary to the instructions you can get full-screen graphics by pressing Enter on the keypad, which I found out when missing my run-away key.

I don't much care for the mode, though - it is fast, but it's (obviously) blocky, and you don't get any readouts and the sound is even better than that of Fears, dropping the subliminals but bringing in INCESSANT HOWLING that you must kill all to stop, bringing back the 'breed squeals' of the previous games, and bringing about FEELINGS OF TREPIDATION with breathy new monster samples (including, I'm sure, a growl from the Hanna Barbera library).

And the special effects are amazing (hits punching out bits of monsters to blap off the walls behind, bouncing grenades you can arc into pits, chainreaction explosions that fill rooms with whumping death) and the attention to detail delicious (hounds dropping with an expression of shock, two-gunned slug monsters visibly firing shots from their left then their right hands, an ammunition reservoir so you can carry more than the screen can show, automatically ducking if the tunnel you're rushing through is too low (although, slightly annoyingly, you don't afterwards automatically stand up), step noises for each floor type).

And there's a two-player deathmatch (except it's incredibly poor - the levels are the same as for the one-player game but with all the locked doors disabled and NO MONSTERS; as the later levels are around the size of five old men laid end to end you just wander around until you get bored, and the top box CLEARLY LIES when it claims you can play co-operatively, and ONCE AGAIN the other player looks exactly the same no matter what gun he's hefting or whether you're hitting him).

And the monsters act differently (there are, for example, hounds, and cannon fodder with plurp guns, and sergeants who hang back to shoot you from afar, and scuttling tree creatures who spawn flying eyeballs) but most of all it is FUN TO PLAY.


A computery department store

RUBBISH
Remember those bits in Gloom where you'd round a corner and face off against a dozen biters backed up by cloaks? AB3D's like that, only more so. The thing with Gloom was that it had no stairs or walkways, so beefed up its shooting side with mazes of crushing blocks and switch gags - that way you didn't get bored with rounding a corner and facing off against a dozen biters back up by cloaks.

AB3D's levels go up and down, round and round and come out here, and so despite being the more sophisticated game, it's far shootier-orientated. There's little cunning in the use of switches and keycards, but you're prevented from getting the measure of the game by its sheer diversity of location. On one level, for example, you start by racing through the mezzanine of what appears to be a computery department store (look, it does me) being sniped at by monsters patrolling upstairs. You can, of course, get them at that point (there's little of the Fears curse of monsters popping at you without your being able to see them - all the monsters here bar one have projectile weapons so you can trace their line of fire)but you'll keep getting caught in crossfires and so do far better to make a run for the stairs and TAKE THE FIGHT TO THEM.

In another, you start high up and have to place grenades to set off barrel bombs in a huge pit before risking leaping down yourself. In a third, you'll be wading through glittering water being dive-bombed by a mouse with wings. There's always something to throw you off-balance and keep you interested.

(An aside about airspace - despite the architectural credibility of AB3D you still can't look up or down. The designers have been careful largely to avoid the Fears horror of bumbling around on a staircase without a clue as to which way you're pointing (idiotically one of the few such cases is on level one) but there is at least one class of monster that tries deliberately to get direclty above you so you can't hit it.

Fair enough, but it's big on self-preservation and takes ages to tempt back down, and if you try to sprint past it it swoops like a sinister crow. Apparently the programmer could have included looking up and down but twigged too late. I trust there'll be the option in the sequel, of which there must be one if this one sells like it should).

Staggeringly, there is no map. At all. You're expected to keep a level in your head, and as you'll recall, they're incredibly large. It's not as pointed a problem as you'd expect (smoking corpses marking explored corridors and all) but there were more than a few times when I found myself clearing out the level and then pottering around aimlessly trying to remember down which fiendishly twisting corridor I'd find the exit.

It's one of a clutch of mildly irritating omissions that must have been caused by a lack of memory (I refuse to believe they'd have been bodged on purpose) including a rubbish death (the sound merely grinds a bit - you don't even get to sink to the floor) and a pitifully feeble rocket launcher that takes up half the screen but fires a blob the size of a penny piece.

And the graphics occasionally glitch interestingly (spots circling high walls, floors flashing where they meet walls) but you allow for that. It is, after all, an awfully clever thing. (When playing on an unexpanded A1200, for instance, to keep up the speed it starts dropping certain of the animations, or skipping frames as if you're long-jumping; entertainingly, this means you can almost outrun your own bullets).


Dive-bombed by mouse with wings

WHINING CHILDISH HATEMONGERS
I regard AB3D as fantastic. A glance at the credits screen reveals that it's been done by an entirely different set of people from those who wrote the previous Alien Breed games, and this is a Supremely Good Thing. There are no radioactive rooms. The game plays fair. (It suddenly struck me how generous the monsters' target profile is; a hit reasonably close will count, which is blessedly helpful at a distance, when everything's a bit squizzy).

It is diamond-hard (perhaps extraordinarily so: you're expected to do the whole of a level in one go, which by about number eight of the sixteen invites vexation. Still, just the way we like 'em. And you can always break off to search out of the secret rooms). It is a ripping game, and an amazing accomplishment, it's extra-special and it's outdone Gloom. Good work, Team 17. You whining childish hatemongers.


ALIEN BREED CHECKLIST

Alien Breed 3D 1
Monsters? Check.

Alien Breed 3D 1
Meat? Check.

Alien Breed 3D 1
Explosion? Check.

Alien Breed 3D 1
Bullets skip pleasingly across far walls? Check.

Alien Breed 3D 1
Tree creature spawn flying eyeballs? Check.

Alien Breed 3D 1
Badly-aimed grenades ricochet into face? Check.

Then let us get it on.

BOW BEFORE THE HIGH ALTAR OF BOOM

Alien Breed 3D 1
Some barrels.

Alien Breed 3D 1
Witness the apocalypse.


PUT YOUR THUMB IN YOUR MOUTH AND BLOW

Alien Breed 3D 1
A normal-sized Alien Breed 3D version.

Alien Breed 3D 1
And a big one.


Alien Breed 3D 1 logo AGA CU Amiga Superstar

Price: £29.99 Publisher: Team 17 01924 267 776

Somewhere out there there are hundreds of creatures just waiting to kill you. Welcome to first person perspective hell.

Moving, submerged, through a water filled cavern on your knees, rising wherever possible for a life-saving gulp of air and trying to avoid the shadowy creatures that you can just make out above the surface. Trying to make it to the end of the cavern before water fills your lungs and you're sleeping with the fish for good. Breathing heavy... nearly there... no... life is draining away... help!

Alien Breed 3D has had its fair share of development setbacks. Originally due for release back in April, it was put back until July and then "sometime in Autumn". When I initially saw a demo of the game I was impressed. Here was the first real Doom style game for the Amiga, and despite somewhat blocky graphics it looked as though it was shaping up to be really good.

It's amazing how time can cast doubts over first reactions though. Soon after Breed 3D was first revealed we all started going mad over Fears and, a little while later, Gloom. Suddenly AB3D's blockiness was seen as a major weakness and although the name certainly carried more weight than either of the other two its chances of impressing this hardened games playing office were reduced by a fair margin.

Then, the week before AB3D was due in for review the full version of Gloom, with network compatibility built in, arrived and had us playing into the small hours. Poor AB3D looked beaten.

But the arrival of Gloom was a blessing in disguise, and Team 17 couldn't have planned it better if they tried to (it was purely co-incidence that it worked out like this), because when some of the faults different and the weapons are too.

But the style and the gameplay is true to the Holy Grail of computer shoot 'em ups. It's suspense packed, strategic fun - if you can call high blood pressure and rising stress levels, ducking and diving and not knowing who the hell is shooting at you from above fun.

Graphics
The issue of the blocky graphics is complex too. Yes the walls are blockier than Gloom or Fears, as are some of the characters, but at the same time they are more detailed and complex. Also, unlike Gloom, you don't have the luxury of turning off the ceiling or floor for added smoothness - there often is no ceiling or floor because upper and lower levels and the presence of enemies there, on or in platforms, bridges, sewers etc. adds several extra dimensions to the game.

Yes, for the first fifteen minutes or so the graphics are a bit disconcerting. Yes, there are times when it's very difficult to judge turns or see steps out of the general melee. And yes, you have to go so close to doors to open them that they invariably look like a multi-coloured bunch of squares, but as I said in the preview last March, you soon forget about this once you've played Alien Breed 3D for a while. Then it's: hey, the graphics are great! Look at those enemies! Look at that water effect! Blimey!

There are plenty of enemies in AB3D too, including the infamous Geiger-based Breed. They are mixed into the levels in a challenging way and they all look good. Some of them are tough, real tough, especially on later levels. On level 12 a huge one appears when you open the first door. It releases face hugging, life sucking creatures which soon multiply and get out of control unless you go for the jugular and kill the creature that is spawning them. Easier said than done.

16 levels
Speaking of levels, Alien Breed 3D has sixteen of them. This is a true 3D maze, with stairs, upper levels, holes in the floor, lifts, doors and keys. But the most amazing levels have to be the water ones.

Although water plays a part on a lot of levels there are some, like level five, that are almost completely flooded. In the corridors this water is usually waist high, though you can duck into it and completely immerse yourself if needs be. This is sometimes necessary to negotiate a low ceiling or sneak up on some breed.

Swimming
While under water the effect is absolutely spectacular, with ripples above you and mirror-like images of the enemy. Very atmospheric. The other cool feature is the swimming pool. Right in the middle of a big room you happen upon a bright blue chlorine filled pool. Lovely.

But wait, there are breed in it! You can see their dark shadows lurking at the bottom. Jump in and it really does feel like a swimming pool; the world goes blue and you can almost reach out and touch the water. Then the breed attack. Luckily you can fire your weapons underwater, so threats can still be countered.

In terms of weapons there are eight. These include the standard automatic rifle, a plasma gun, a bazooka, a grenade launcher, shotgun and a burst shot Uzi style machine gun. At the start of a level you are equipped with the rifle, the others must be collected somewhere in the level before they can be used.

Switching between weapons is done by pressing buttons 1-8 on the keyboard. In true Alien Breed style they all have limited ammunition though, even the automatic rifle, so you can't just go around firing willy nilly. You've got to seek out and collect shells for the gun and bazooka and batteries for the plasma gun.

The bazooka is absolutely brilliant though. The amount of shells you can gather for it is limited, but they are fabulously effective and darned spectacular on screen as well. A bazooka explosion will light up a dark corridor and kill multiple enemies, but there's nothing more spectacular than lobbing one at an opponent in two-player combat mode, engulfing them in flames and then seeing them running towards you, right out of the centre of the fire.

Control
Control is by joystick or keyboard, though a two button joystick of pad (CD32 people will be in heaven) is really needed to play the game solely by this method. Keyboard control is very intuitive though and you can entirely reconfigure the control keys to suit your taste. Although, like Gloom, you can side-step your character you can also duck (by pressing the D key), to hide in water or get under low obstacles.

Sound is good too. With breed breathing around every corner, above you and below you, lurking ready for the kill, AB3D is yet another modern game that demands stereo sound for the best effect.

Cool effects
AB3D has gone for cool visual effects where they count and effect the gameplay. The implementation of the water and upper levels for instance are much more important that having your gun go 'click-click' and recoil every time you fire.

This game is all about strategy and retreat, search and destroy and spectacular effects. It's also fast enough to play on a standard, unexpanded A1200, though if you've got fast RAM or an accelerator it would be an advantage (if not, don't let this put you off buying the game though).

Although the graphics might be too blocky at times, and the full screen mode doesn't even bear thinking about, Alien Breed 3D goes further than being just a shoot 'em up. It's the current star of the show as far as Amiga 'Doom' clones are concerned. And if you happen to have a mate with an A1200 and a serial cable it's probably the best two player combat game on Amiga.


Killer instinct

If you fancy taking on a friend in a frantic battle to the finish then Alien Breed 3D is your game. With a serial cable connecting two Amigas together player 1 becomes the 'Master' and player 2 the 'Slave', then you race to collect weapons and set off in hot pursuit of each other. Once your opponent is in sight let all hell break lose! Because the levels are so big (you can select any level you like to play in Master/Slave mode) and because of the presence of so many hiding places and vantage points to shoot from it gets terribly exciting.

Alien Breed 3D 1
Here, we see Matt Bettinson standing around wondering where I've got to.

Alien Breed 3D 1
Here we see mee foolishly missing him with a bazooka missile. Time to run.

Alien Breed 3D 1
The plasma gun. A pretty smart weapon that will despatch a Breed with one shot.

Alien Breed 3D 1
The bazooka. My favourite. Big, powerful but with very limited ammunition.

Flooded chambers

Entering the water maze is always worrying. You can only survive under water for a limited period of time so don't get stuck anywhere! Most of the water is waist deep, but some rooms are completely flooded. These often hide weapons or ammunition.

Alien Breed 3D 1
About to enter the water. Unfortunately breed are not afraid of it either.

Alien Breed 3D 1
The remains of an alien after my plasma gun has taken effect.

Alien Breed 3D 1
A swimming pool but what's that in the bottom? Let's find out.

Alien Breed 3D 1
Ooops, that ain't a dolphin. And I have no bullets left for my gun. Bye bye.


Alien Breed 3D 1 logo CD32

Join Steve McGill as he treads carefully through treacherous corridors, fights off vicious monsters and eventually makes it to his desk.

One of the big game smashes on the Apple Mac platform this year was Doom-clone extraordinaire, Marathon. Set on a spaceship overrun by aliens, the player's task was to liberate the ship by fair means and foul. Several sub-tasks had to be engaged in, including map and computer terminal accessing.

The different stages of the game took place on multiple levels and involved running up and down stairs a lot, while wasting anything that got in your way. Due to the action taking place on different physical levels, the option to look up and down was offered to the player. This was an incalculable aid and offered a sense of realism and enjoyment which helped to elevate Marathon to the status of classic.

Now, before you start getting all angry about me mentioning a top game from another platform, consider this: Alien Breed 3D can quite legitimately be considered to be Marathon with its wings clipped; not clipped enough to stop it from flying, but just clipped enough to limited the height of its flight.

When you consider that the Mac needed to run Marathon at a nice screen resolution and running speed would cost you well in excess of £1,500, it brings into sharp focus just how excellent Alien Breed 3D truly is on the CD32, a machine that started out life at a smidgeon under £300; and is now available for just under £300;.

That's why I can't recommend Alien Breed 3D on the CD32 enough, I regularly take the office A1200 home to play Breed 3D. Its balance, its scope, its pace, and its ability to reward good play are nothing short of breathtaking.

It looks great, it sounds great, it plays great, it's great full stop. The one main difference, and advantage, it has over the A1200 version is that you also have an ambient sound track that can be played throughout the whole game.

As such, anyone with a CD32 should treat themselves and their machine to a truly classic game which showcases the real power of the much maligned Amiga-based technology. Team 17 have already gone on record that they have reconsidered their plan to abandon the Amiga and CD32 market.

So, go on, treat yourself. Show Team 17 that despite their knockers they're still one of the major players in the Amiga's market. Show them that it is worth their while staying. If you do, you can confidently look forward to more excellent games like Alien Breed 3D. You know it's worth it.



Alien Breed 3D 1 logo CD32 Amiga Joker Hit

Wer nach der CD-Umsetzung von "Alien Breed 2 - Tower Assault" gehofft hatte, daß Team 17 auch den neuen Dungeonbraten bei der Versilberung noch mal kräftig nachwürzen würde, erlebst eine kleine Enttäuschung: Die 3D-Action ist hier "nur" genauso genial wie in der Floppy-Ausführung.

Also kein minutenlanges Intro und keine CD-Musik, ja selbst das hochdramatische Titelbild erscheint völlig lautlos auf dem Screen. Schade eigentlich, denn Silberscheiben sind doch im Prinzip die idealen Notenträger. Nun gut, zumindest stört dann auch keine unpassende Melodie den dicht gewobenen und äußerst effektvollen Geräuschteppich...

Kommen wir zu den guten Nachrichten, sprich, dem packenden Gameplay: Genau wie bei den bisherigen "Alien Breed"-Zockereien findet der Spieler sein digitales Alter ego samt der überlebenswichtigen Knarre in einem verzweigten Labyrinth wieder, das von angriffslustigen Außerirdischen aller Art nur so wimmelt.

Diesmal wird der Kampf um Leib und Leben aber nicht mehr in der scrollenden Draufsicht gezeigt, statt dessen ist das Geschehen direkt aus der Perspektive des futuristischen Kammerjägers zu sehen.

Während man durch die flüssig gescrollten und komplett texturierten 3D-Gänge läuft, muß man in erster Linie überleben, zweitens feindliches Alienleben vernichten und drittens diverse Sonderaufgaben erledigen.

Letztere wechseln in den 16 Levels natürlich, aber meist geht es darum, verschiedenfarbige Schlüssel zu finden, allerlei Gerätschaften zu aktivieren oder Geheimgänge auszukundschaften.

Etwas konkreter heißt das, man setzt Plattform-Aufzüge und Teleporter in Betrieb, durchleuchtet Wasserbecken nach verborgenen Items, erforscht verwinkelte Korridore und befriedet weite Säle vom geschützten Balkon-unterstand aus.

Auf Automapping muß der vielbeschäftigte Söldner dabei leider verzichten, dafür erhält er aber viel Unterstützung durch die eingesammelten Gegenstände: Unterwegs finden sich Energieriegel, Munitionspacks und selbstverständlich auch die entsprechenden Ballermänner, nämlich Plasma-kanonen, Lasergewehre oder Granatwerfer.

Sobald man die unterschiedlich effektiven Flinten erst mal in Besitz genommen hat, läßt sich jederzeit zwischen ihnen hin und her schalten.

Bisher kennt man das alles auch von "Gloom" oder "Fears", doch der brütende 3D-Ali hat schon noch mehr zu bieten; vor allem eine spannungsgeladene Atmosphäre, wie sie sonst nur in den besten PC-Dungeons aufkommt!

Dazu tragen viele Kleinigkeiten ihr Scherflein bei, beispielsweise die im Vergleich zu "Fears" wesentlich bessere, automatische Zielfunktion, welche die Gegner unbarhmherzig ins Visier nimmt.

Außerdem lassen sich Benzinfässer als Explosivkörper mißbrauchen, überdachte Balkons bieten Schutz vor Kügelhagel, und die Gegenseite entwickelt eine beachtliche Kreativität bei ihren Angriffen - mit Geschick und etwas Überlegung übersteht man sie trotzdem ohne Energieverlust.

Hier schlägt auch die Stunde der bereits eingangs lobend erwähten FX: Hinter Türen lauernde Monster verraten sich oft durch ihre Geräusche, was aber auch umgekehrt funktioniert. Außerdem hören sich die Schritte je nach Untergrund ganz anders an, und bei den ebenfalls anstehenden Tauchgängen nimmt man die Umweltgeräusche nur noch (realistisch) gedämpft wahr.

Nachdem zu so einem intelligent gemachten Game standesgemaß auch schlaue Gegner gehören, braucht der Spieler eine durchdachte Steuerung mit vielen Aktionsmöglichkeiten (Ducken, Laufen, zwei verschiedene "Seitwärts-Schleicher" etc.), damit die Balance wieder stimmt.

Die vorliegende geht per Pad sehr gut von der Hand und profitiert zusätzlich von einer eventuell am CD32 an-gestöpselten Tastatur. Damit sind wir auch schon bei der Hardware gelandet, also gleich noch ein paar einschlägige Hinweise: Ein mit Fast-RAM oder Turbokarte beschleunigter (und natürlich CD-tauglicher) A1200.4000 stellt hier die erste Wahl dar, denn nur dann fließt die volle texturierte 3D-Umgebung wirklich butterweich dahin.

Doch auch im Falle eines schwächeren Equipments bestehen etliche Möglichkeiten, um das Grafiktempo auf Vordermann zu bringen. So kann man die Boden- bzw. Deckentexturen abstellen oder vom Vollbild (das entgegen anderslautenden Berichten sehr wohl existiert!) zu einem kleineren, hübsch umrahmten Sichtfenster wechseln.

Was es da auf dem Screen zu sehen gibt, sucht momentan im Genre ohnehin seinesgleichen: Gebäude spiegeln sich im Wasser, Korridore haben durch ihre wirkungsvolle Schattierung eine enorme räumliche Tiefe, die Wände sind mit abwechslungsreichen Tapeten verziert, und leuchtende Explosionen setzten den Bildschirm in Flammen.

Dazu gibt es transparente Fenster, schnörkelige Wendeltreppen und gekrümmte Flächen, die diese 3D-Dungeons um einiges realistischer aussehen lassen als vergleichbare Konkurrenz-Kerker.

Weniger Lob haben sich die Grafiker lediglich für die doch recht grobpixelige Auflösung und den arg tiefen Griff in den Farbtopf verdient - manchmal tut man sich ein wenig schwer, Feind und feindliche Umgebung zu unterscheiden.

Bleibe noch zu erwähnen, daß sich der Blutgehalt erfreulicherweise in Grenzen hält und daß zwei Alienjäger heiße Nullmodem-Schlachten an separaten AGA-Rechnern ausfechten dürfen. Also zwei Gründe mehr, den genialsten Alienbraten aller Zeiten schleunigst in die heimische CD-Röhre zu schieben! (rl)



Alien Breed 3D 1 logo CD32

Price: £24.99 Publisher: Team 17 01924 267776

The wonderful thing about the CD32 when it was launched was that it was essentially an A1200, one without a keyboard but with the advantage of having a CD-ROM drive and a multi-button joystick. It was launched as a games console to compete with Sega and Nintendo and could have been a contender but didn't quite make it. Wy? Commodore should have looked at the PC market for guidance rather than the console one.

Original or converted games have to be completely re-programmed to be released on Nintendo or Sega. In the process of doing this they are invariably optimised for these formats and end up looking and playing well.

The lesson that could have been gleaned from the PC market is that in the early days of CD-ROM on that format most of the output was shovelware. This means that someone programmed software for disk based PCs and rather than updating it to use the CD-ROM's potential, they just ported the standard PC game across and sold it thus.

And so the CD32 fell victim to the same disease. Very few companies took the time to give CD32 owners something more, something they surely deserve. Team 17 did so with Tower Assault: They gave us a full motion intro and included Alien Breed 2. They also did it with Worms: there's a lovely intro and cut scenes. So imagine my disappointment when Alien Breed 3D arrived in the office so obviously ported without any major changes.

I gave it 93% in our September issue. It was the best of the Doom clones at that time, due to its superb, suspenseful and difficult playability. It was also the blockiest and least graphically convincing but, especially with an accelerator, it was damn playable, more so in two-player mode. It was brill.

But time has moved on and so have Doom clones. Breed 3D has some problems: a) very few people with a CD32 will have a serial link cable, or are likely to want one; b) you can't put an accelerator into a CD32 and c) they've left the awful copy protection at the beginning which is a pain in the behind and unnecessary. Sorry, Team 17, I'm going right off it.

On a positive note it is A1200 CD-ROM compatible so items a) and b) of the above complaints are solved and you won't have any disk swopping headaches but I can't help feeling cheated with something that could have been different and enhanced on CD32.