Shoulder your assault cannon and face the

Alien Breed 1 logo Gamer Gold

GREMLIN £29.99 * 1 meg only * Joystick

When contact was lost with the ISRC-4 Space Research Centre, the big cheeses at the interplanetary Corps got a little bit jumpy. After all, they'd all seen Aliens at least twenty times and were starting to get an acute feeling of déjà vu. So, better safe than sorry they rerouted two of their toughest marines from their earth-bound course to investigate.
Having their voyage home interrupted to check out some stupid Research Centre did nothing for Johnson and Stone's already violent temperament, and they docked with the station in a pretty grumpy mood.

Disembarking from the shuttle they were greeted not by a gaggle of bemused scientists but by an eerie silence. They started to move into the tomb-like Research Centre, guns at the ready. Circuitry hung, torn from th walls, like entrails. An acrid acidic strench hung in the air. The motion tracker started it's haunting beep.

"Blimey, this is just like Aliens isn't it?" commented Stone.
"Yes, our current situation is rather reminiscent of that cult sci-fi thriller, directed by James Cameron of Terminator 2 fame, in which a handful of space marines investigate an abandoned colony and get eaten by slavering, biomechanical creatures" replied Johnson.
"Like those slavering, biomechanical creatures over there?" asked Stone, noticing the swarm of razor-toothed armoured killing machines scuttling towards them.
"Yes, those are the ones," Johnson called over his shoulder as he legged it back to the shuttle, a strange smell emanating from his trouser regions.
"Thought so Urk." Sais Stone as the slavering, biomechanical creatures tucked into their dinner.

Yes, boys and girls, Alien Breed is possibly, only possibly mind you, inspired by that top movie, Aliens. It's just the vibes I'm getting from the game. It's not just that the plot's the same, or that the alien graphics look identical to H.R. Giger's Alien design, or that the front cover o the game features a drooling likeness of said Alien.

No, it's just that I'm getting these little voice in my head whispering "Aliens, Aliens" over and over again while I'm playing it. In fact, I'm going to stick my neck out and declare that Alien Breed is blatantly Alienesque. Probably.
Not that it's a bad thing to nick the idea behind the Aliens for a game, 'cos all that skulking around and blowing smeggy aliens to pieces is bloody good fun. In fact, seeing as Activision made such a pig's ear of the official Aliens game, this could be just the ticket for all you gore-starved Aliens fans.

First of all, the presentation is excellent. You get the obligatory story disk featuring some nice cartoon stills and some pulsating ray traced space ships, but this is a standalone disk and needn't be sat through every time you play the game. The story disk is good fun, but ultimately cosmetic as it tells you nothing that you couldn't read in the instructions. Nice touch though.

Once in the game proper, the emphasis is on atmosphere. The graphics are nicely detailed and recreate the claustrophobia that's needed to keep the suspense going, but without restricting your movement. The alien sprites are, believe t or not, rather Alien-ish in appearance, as are the tiny face hugger things that zip around and bite your ankles.

Keep your eyes open for the aliens who punch through some lower levels and climb up through the floor. They may look great but they're a tad on the deadly side.
The graphics of the two marines are good as well, especially the way the blasts from their guns flickers over their faces. Rather than see the bullets fly across the screen, you just see the muzzle flash and the little explosions as the bullets hit their target. This, while only a little touch, adds a great deal to the realism and the beefy gun FX make it hard to resist bellowing lines from Aliens at the top of your voice as you rip into a corridor full of monsters.
Also included is some soft, sultry speech that calmly tells you that you're about to die or that you've run out of ammo. Add a stonking tune, and you've got a package that's more attractive than a gift wrapped Winona Ryder.

There are plenty of features to keep you busy while you try and stay alive. Each level has an objective which must be completed before you can move down to the next.
Level one is simply a case of making a dash for the lift from the shuttle, with the aliens at your heels, while level two requires you to destroy the reactor and escape before it blows.

Erm, that's as far as I can get actually, but I'm sure the other levels are just as buttock tightening. To help you in your missions you can find keys, ammo, first aid and credits lying around the corridors and every now and then you'll discover an Intex Terminal where you can log on for some info on the current level, buy new weapons and tools and even enjoy a quick game of bat and ball!

All is not roses though, as there are many hazards to avoid, as well as the aliens. One way energy doors, uneven floors that slow you down and pools of acid are just a few of them. There are also emergency doors that slam shut if their control panels are destroyed, which can be used to your advantage but can often leave you trapped.

Despite all the wonderful cosmetic bits, it's the gameplay that really shines through. Two-player mode is by far the best as it becomes a race to get to all the collectable goodies before your mate, and the race to the exit can become really frantic as you dive into the elevators with hordes of hungry aliens behind you.

If you're a thoroughly 'nice' person then you can opt to share all the collected credits, so it needn't be the one who grabs all the cash who gets the best power-ups. Strictly for wimps of course, but it does make it easier to save up for the really bitchin' weapons.

The difficulty is set just right with the first level acting as a perfect introduction to the game. The second level is a lot harder, but unlike most other games of this genre you won't care. Just playing the game is fun enough.

Firmly in the tradition of Gauntlet and Crackdown, but with the action and atmosphere of the Alien movies, Alien Breed is a game worth selling your family for. Tippex the 'Breed' bit off the box and just pretend that it is Aliens. Buy it this instant.

Alien Breed 1 logo

Team 17 £25.99

A simultaneous two-player Ikari Warriors' style blast, Alien Breed takes a clean-up crew into a bug-infested space station. It all gets pretty messy from here on with digitised screaming, swish graphics and lots of alien-busting-through-floors type action.

The game focuses on two overhead heroes who are working their way around an Alien-infested space station. Their aim is to clean up the whole place but this requires them finding keys, cash and ammunition.

This is certainly by far the best looking of any shoot-out in this styule, but some control problems ruin the glossy finish. In two-player mode the players can get jammed between doorways and forced into a combat corner when continual computer access is unavoidable. These faults are annoying but avoidable once you know them.

Team 17 have made a major move on the full-price scene and put many of the games currently on the market to shame. It does disappoint but only in terms of design, not ingenuity. It's the Team's first full-price project, though, and a solid debut into the gaming big league.

Alien Breed 1 logo

Erstlingswerke sehen ja oft genug aus wie... naja, wie Erstlingswerke eben. Aber was die Newcomer-Truppe von "Team 17" hier ausgebrutet hat, ist meilenweit davon entfernt, amateurhaft zu wirken - ihre Action-Brut überzeugt selbst den Feinschmecker!

Auf der ersten von insgesamt drei Disks wartet allerdings noch keine Brut, sondern ein ellenlanges Intro mit Werbung führ's nächste Game und einer nichtssagenden Vorgeschichte: Zwei Piloten einer Spezialeinheit bemerken bei einem Routineflug, daß mit der Raumstation, die sie gerade passiert haben, irgendetwas nicht stimmt. Nach der Landung erhartet sich ihr Verdacht - die Station wurde von Aliens übernommen! Tja, und damit waren wir auch schon bei Disk Nr. 2 und dem Spiel selbst gelandet.

Man sieht die verschiedenen Etagen der Raumstation und die ein bzw. zwei heldenhaften Piloten (Zwei-Spieler Modus) stets aus der Vogel- perspektive. Gleiches gilt natürlich auch für die ausserirdische Brut, die hier in rauhen Mengen herumwuselt, dazu kommen noch etliche Fundsachen zum Einsammeln und ein paar Computerterminals.

Die Aliens knallt man einfach ab (was sonst?), mit dem übrigen Zeug verhalt es sich jedoch etwas komplizierter. Da wäre einmal zusatzliche Munition (kein Problem: aufsammeln und glücklich sein), dann gibt's Erste-Hilfe-Kasten, Schlüssel für besonders gesicherte Türen und Geld.

Ja, und mit der Kohle konnte es tatsächlich Schwierigkeiten geben, allerdings bloss, wenn man zu zweit unterwegs ist: Entweder entscheidet man sich im Hauptmenu für gerechtes Aufteilen fifty- fifty, egal, wer wieviel davon zusammengerafft hat; oder jeder sammelt für sich allein - dann entwickelt sich die Geschichte aber leicht zu einem Wettrennen um das gute Bäre. Der schnöde Mammon wird nämlich dringend benötigt, um ihn an besagten Computerterminals gegen bessere Waffen, eine Übersichtskarte oder andere leckere Extras einzutau schen. Umsonst ist hier nur der Tod, zwei drei Infos so wie eine Partie "Pong". Genau, jenes Uraltgame aus der Steinzeit des Gewerbes.

Höllisch originell ist Alien Breed also nicht gerade, sieht man mal davon ab, daß in jedem Stockwerk eine Aufgabe gelöst werden muß, ehe man den Aufzug in die nächste Etage benützen kann (einen bestimmten Gegenstand finden und so was). Alles übrige kennt man bereits auf die eine oder andere Art von Spielen wie "Leavin' Teramis", "Crackdown" oder eben dem Genre-Ahnherren "Gauntlet". Dennoch vermag hier die technische Umsetzung zu begeistern: Sauberes Scrolling, perfekte Joysticksteuerung, eine atmosphärische Geräuschkulisse plus Sprachausgabe, dazu die umfangreichen und gut designten Level - recht viel mehr kann man von einem Actiongame dieser Sorte kaum verlangen! Doch, die Gegner hätten ehen fantasievoller ausfallen können, aber wir wollen jetzt nicht kleinlich werden - besonders, da Alien Breed laune macht. Ganz besonders im Zwei-Spieler-Modus! (C. Borgmeier)

Alien Breed 1 logo

Take the basic idea behind the game Gauntlet, dress it up in the style and trappings of the movie Aliens, add a couple of clever, never-before-seen ideas, and what have you got?

Ok. The instructions have been conscientiously surveyed, the story disk ahs been politely sat through and Alien Breed is loading up for the first time. From your newly acquired understanding of the scenario all that can be deduced is that you, as player one, are stepping into the ominous shoes of a character called Johnson, your player-two type chum from across the road is taking the role of a bloke called Stone, and you are fictitiously winging your heroic way to Intex Space Research Centre Number 4 (ISRC-4) not quite knowing, both in and out of the plot, what to expect.

What will you find there? What do you have to do once you have got there? And indeed, exactly what type of game are you playing? The story disk and instruction booklet set the scene nicely but are more than a little cagey about actually revealing anything of any use, such as ooooh, what you actually have to do. For all you know, you could be just about to dive innocently into a two-player Gauntlet-style overhead shoot-em-up where you have to shoot lots of aliens and accomplish a particular task per level. And what do you know...?

Flying somewhat rebelliously in the face of convention, I am now going to (shock horror) start talking about the graphics this early in the review. You never know, I might even score some points (or get a pay rise) for originality. You see, graphics-wise Alien Breed ranks far above 'quite good'. Miles above in fact. As opposed to walking around on a large void (as in Gauntlet), here a smoothly scrolling floor actually exists with, if you look carefully, seemingly helpful messages scrawled on it pointing you in what one hopes is the right direction. And there is relief too (of the bumps to walk over and - on later levels - ducts to traipse along kind); just one of the nice touches liberally sprinkled throughout the game. The sprites are excellently drawn too; both your own characters who waddle along convincingly and the aliens (who bear an uncanny resemblance to the monsters from Aliens the film) who give a sadistically orange glow when shot.

Ironically, the authors suggest in the blurb that when producing Alien Breed their aim was to come up with something which would not look out of place in an arcade - I would venture to suggest that they have come as near as feasibly possible to succeeding. They also suggest connecting your Amiga to a hi-fi and playing the dark for that added atmospheric touch. It worked - the eerie rumblings and digitised FX (including speech) had me hiding underneath the duvet in sheer terror at times (I was playing in bed as I could not be bothered to get up yet). In fact, if the authors had suggested that gameplay would be enhanced yet further by playing in the nude with your left foot in a bowl of custard, then I would probably have done that as well.

One of the more innovative angles on the gameplay of Alien Breed is that you are never quite sure of your ultimate goal - each level plays as a separate mission unravelling a little more of your final objective as you go. Level One is more of a warm-up providing a taster of what is in store than anything - you have to simply get from A to B (where A is outside your ship, and B is the deck lift). No problem, as this is simply a matter of walking directly left, although it would be a handy idea to wander around a bit to try to pocket extra ammo, keys and credits (for purchasing equipment) in advance for subsequent levels too.

Righty ho, then, and off to level two. This involves C (the deck lift) and D (the core computer) with you feverishly attempting to get from the aforementioned C to D, initialise D, then return hastily back to C again before D explodes. The map is large but (as in all levels) divided into zones; pass through them in order to reach the computer in zone six. This is yet another well thought out touch to the game - you can wander round completely lost, but at least you know when you are making progress, and when the levels become more familiar, quicker routes can be found. Also making an appearance are one way doors which, you guessed it, let the player through in one direction and which, unlike normal doors, require no key to unlock them, whilst fire doors shut permanently if shot at.

Very, very atmospheric

A good question. And one I intend to answer in something not a million miles away from a specially expanded version of The Bottom Line box thingie.

* The graphics and sound are highly commendable, as already mentioned. So in that case we, er, do no not need to mention them again.
* The game is very, very atmospheric, and full of sneakily clever pieces of programming which almost subconsciously help to hold your attention. Once the core computer has been reached in level two, the screen glows red, a computerised voice announces "destruction is imminent" and you have one minute to scoot back to the deck lift. Yikes! No one told you this before - or else you would have made a note of the route back. But next time...
* Something that the majority of games suffer from is that early levels become a hassle and having to plough your way through them each time does not exactly increase your overall enjoyment. Not so here. Completing a level most certainly does not main that you have fully explored it, leaving large proportions of the maze not checked. Next time you visit it there will be plenty of opportunities to look round for extra goodies to pick up.
* So Alien Breed is a shoot-em-up, it is a maze game, but one thing that has ceased to be mentioned until now is that there is also a strategic element to it. Credits can be picked up during the game and spent after logging into one of the Intex system computers to be found regularly during each level. But what do you spend on it? Extra ammo? Or perhaps you want to buy a more effective weapon? And do you get it now, or do you save up and buy something else (perhaps something even bigger and better) in a minute? (If you last that long, that is). Decisions, decisions, decisions.

* It is a bit too tricky, as the shoot-em-up elements of the game are not balanced in the player's favour. The baddies have to be repeatedly shot - it is not a case of one shot to kill - and this does not quite seem to suit. The introduction of destructible alien generators would have helped because, as it is, aliens appear indefinitely which is extremely annoying.
* In a frustrating number of cases I found myself trapped with no keys, and not enough cash to buy my way out and hence (rather monotonously) was forced to spend considerable time just killing for cash. And in two player mode, the players can become separated from each other by doors with nothing that can be done about it, for which there is really no excuse.

Alien Breed is far from being an original concept, but it has been executed with such flair and excitement and so many new ideas that all accusations of unoriginality pale into insignificance. And as ever, the fun squillion-druples if a friend joins in thanks to all the usual reasons, including the fact that it actually becomes a lot easier to play.

From a highly personal point of view, I liked Alien Breed a lot, but it is probably not the sort of game that would appeal to absolutely everyone. As mentioned, it is very tricky and plays a lot less randomly than other Gauntlet-esque shoot-em-ups; the layout of each level has to be committed to memory as the map provided is not entirely useful. This may seem like a hassle at first, but it helps give the game a far greater feeling of realism and - yes - desperation than we are used to. Alien Breed is one of those games that - once you have got stuck into - you are likely to be playing for some considerable length of time.

Alien Breed 1 logo CU Amiga Screenstar

After the budget success of their kung fu beat 'em up, Full Contact, Wakefield-based Team 17 have now turned their talents to designing an arcade-quality shoot 'em up. Taking the film, Aliens, as their inspiration, the game is strictly for one-Meg owners and comes packed with enough playability to keep even the most games-weary cynic happily blasting away for hours.

The game scenario wouldn't look out of place in the pages of 2000AD and is very Alienesque, borrowing the idea of an Alien-infested space station which needs to be cleared by a handpicked team of galactic mercenaries. It may sound cliché-ridden, but the storyline is given extra impact with an atmospheric intro sequence by Tobias Richter. It's brilliantly rendered in HAM 4096 colour mode and includes a particularly stunning sequence showing the mercenaries' space craft speeding to the rescue.

After the flashy intro, it's straight into the game proper. Taking control of a battle-hardened space mercenary, you're set the task of exterminating the alien slime and preventing the brood from spreading to other colonies in the sector. There's also a two-player option which adds to the fun as you can either work together as a team or try and get your opponent cornered and torn apart by the advancing alien swarm.

The two main sprites can't pass through each other which makes things slightly awkward at times, especially as the corridors are only wide enough for one person in some parts, but this does mean you can block your buddy's exit from an alien-packed room and let him do all the dirty work. After he's taken, a sufficient pummelling, it's just a simple matter mopping up the remaining nasties.

There are six levels to blast though, each an intricate maze of rooms, corridors, utility ducts and elevator shafts. The gameplay isn't anything new, borrowing heavily from Gauntlet, but it's done with such panache that it's hard to fault. The first level acts as a training ground where you can try out your standard-issue Uzi by blasting away at the assorted uglies that seemingly lurk behind every corner. These consist of small scuttling face-huggers and larger, full-bodied Aliens who sap you energy on contact. There are also valuable ammo clips littered around the level, as well as cash credits, electronic key passes and first-aid kits to pick up. The keys open the many locked doors, whilst the first-aid kit is essential to replenish lost energy. It's best to make the most of these, as supplies become increasingly scarce on later levels.

Each of the remaining five levels require the player to carry out specific tasks, details of which are given at the start of each stage. For example, level two requires the player to reactivate a core computer while level three needs a generator to be repaired. After each task has been completed, a destruct sequence is initiated and it's a mad dash back to the deck level transporter before the whole level blows. As the power supply fails, an emergency lighting system kicks in, bathing the area in an ominous reddish hue. A digital clock in the top-left of the screen begins a countdown to zero and if you still haven't reached the transporter after 90 seconds you'll get caught up in a mammoth explosion and fried alive.

Each level is made up of a massive 25 screens with hundreds of rooms to explore. Once you've collected enough cash you can access a number of strategically-placed computers. These jack you into the Intex computer network through which you can upgrade your weaponry, buy electronic maps of the area, fork out for more ammo clips, get more information about the level mission, or even indulge in a game of space tennis, an amusing clone of the Tennis arcade game of the early seventies.
Power-ups include flamethrowers and three way shots, and laser fire which conveniently ricochets off walls and is capable of ripping into countless nasties before it loses its power. These cost a packet, though, so collect as many credits as you can.

As well as contending with all the alien pug-lies, the space station is equipped with an extremely efficient security system. Apart from sealed entrances and electronically-coded combination locks, there are also forcefields, heat-triggered laser emplacements, collapsing floors and massive turbines which, if you get too close, suck you into their metal grinders and spit you in lumps of prime minced beef. The aliens, too, have been hard at work building up their own defences. These include acid pools and organic defense systems capable of tearing you limb from limb if you should stray too near. On later levels, there are also the obligatory end-of-level guardians to contend with, and these take the form of huge alien mothers who don't take too kindly to your wanton acts of destruction against their offspring. These beasts can soak up shots like the best prize-fighter.

Alien Breed uses the full 32-colour palette for the game's backdrops and features some awesome graphics. Each level follows the same basic layout, but the later stages are much more battle-scarred and contain alien hatcheries and slime-ridden organic walls and floors.

The end-of-level guardians are also finely-rendered in a suitably Giger-style. The game uses an impressive 240k of sampled sound effects made up of 78 individual sounds. These range from a satisfying 'thunk' when an ammo clip is collected to the death screams of each alien as they meet their maker The Intex computer system and in-game warnings are also nice touches, having been sampled from actress, Lynette Reade, and these help add a sense of urgency during the course of the game, especially when the level is about to blow sky high.

The gameplay is nothing new and, if anything, is a bit too similar to games like Gauntlet and Interceptor's Into the Eagle's Nest for my liking. The main sprite is also disappointing, and looks slightly ropey with little detail and only four colours, but that's forgivable when set against the lavish graphics of each level. I'd have liked to have been able to shoot up my opponent in two-player mode, too, but then I've always been a bloodthirsty type.

Six levels may not seem a lot, but the game will take some time to complete. With scores of powerups, varied and atmospheric backdrops, superb SFX and a neat scenario, it looks like Team 17 have come up with a winner.

IN THE WORKS Alien Breed has taken more than 13 months to complete and is the first full-price release from Team 17. Their only other game to date has been the phenomenally-successful Full Contact, an Oriental beat 'em up which topped the budget charts - despite the game being pirated only days before its release.

Dedicated to publishing Meg only games, the small Wakefield-based company has a number of exciting products lined up for release over the next few months including another shoot 'em up pencilled in for Christmas and Joyride, a huge 2,500 screen car game, scheduled to make its debut in the new year. There's also talk of a Rollerball game in the not too distant future, based on the hit film of the same name, and a cutesey platform game, tentatively-title Superfrog and Friends, is also being developed.


Suspense is hard to create in a computer game, and the failed attempts at putting together a game based on the Aliens series is a perfect proof of this. Argus Press started the ball rolling with the strategy game based on the first film. The player was given complete control over the seven members of the Nostromo crew as they hunted the acid-blooded creature. Although it wasn't particularly playable, perseverance reaped rewards.

With the advent of the long-awaited movie sequel with its all-action battle scenes, a computer version was bound to be a success. Well, perhaps. Electric Dreams produced two games based on events from the film, one of which was programmed by their American development team. The UK game was a superb exploration game, with a party of six marines sent to locate and destroy the Alien Queen. The US game was an abysmal six-stage affair, using a series of week sub-games to depict key action scenes.

Finally, those acid-blooded creatures last made an appearance in a spiffy coin-op, which pitted the player against wave after wave of Alien attackers. Fast-paced and gorgeous to look at this is the nearest anyone has ever got to recreating the atmosphere generated by the film.

TEAM TALK Swedish coders, Andreas Tadic and Pete Tuleby, have been hard at work on Alien Breed since August, 1990. Andreas and Peter first worked together on Codemasters' Miami Chase and have also collaborated on Team 17's Full Contact. In-game graphics have been rendered by Rico Holmes, who also provided the graphics for SNK's Time Soldiers amongst many others.

Allister Brimble is the man responsible for all the funny noises and weirdo sound effects during the game and something of an industry veteran at the age of only 21 years. He's already produced stacks of in-game tunes for countless Amiga and C64 games and is currently adding sound effects to Bullfrog's Populous 2.

Tobias Richter, the man responsible for the lash-harry intro sequence probably needs little introduction, having carved a name for himself with his spectacular Star Trek animations released onto the PD circuit. More of German-born Tobias' work can be found in this month's PD supplement - it's definitely worth a look!

Alien Breed 1 logo Zero Hero

Team 17's latest title features mass carnage, a variety of mutilation tools and the screams of the fatally wounded. Sounds a bit like the waiting room in a hospital casualty ward, so who better to review it than Toby 'Doctor' Finlay?

If you've seen Aliens and liked it, we're off to a good start. If you've played Into The Eagle's Nest and liked that too, we're off to an excellent start, 'cos this is a sort of hybrid of the two..

The plot is so convoluted that it has to be explained on a separate disk, which tells the story in 'slide show' fashion and contains a rather swish animation by Tobias 'PD Star Trek' Richter. Basically, two hard coppers with well poncey haircuts called Johnson and Stone (I mean the blokes are called Johnson and Stone, not the haircuts) have been sent to check out a space station which is not responding to radio signals. Johnson is the big, butch one who enjoys nothing better than pointing at large men in pubs and shouting "poof", while Stone is more sensitive and enjoys flower arranging and sipping herbal tea.

Indeed, they're so wrapped up in their respective fancies, they hardly even notice the arrival of several thousand large tri-pedal aliens. Fortunately, the incoming cosmic cretins appear on the ship's scanner, so it's gung-ho time for the lads.

What we have here is a two player top-down viewed shooter. You start with a bog-standard machine gun, but there are various computer terminals dotted around the place where you can buy some new weapons and equipment. But for that you'll need dosh, and lots of it. Luckily for you, it just happens to be scattered all over the place, along with keys and first aid packs.

Each level has a specific aim. On level 2, the boys have to blow up a reactor and on level 1 they have to, er... get to level 2. But does this rather excellent-sounding combination live up to its potential? Well, you'll just have to read on...

Amiga reviewToby: "A separate disk just for the plot? Blimey, they must have gone to town on this one," I thought. I like to think my first impressions are usually pretty accurate, and in this case they certainly were. The intro starts with black and white cartoon frames, which are frankly a bit crap, but Tobias Richter's ray-traced piece more than makes up for them.

The actual game comes on two disks and, to put it bluntly, it's the mutt's. The one-player mode is fun, the two-player mode is fantastic, but be warned: don't play it with a friend, especially one you want to keep. This is just one dialogue which took place in the ZERO office...

Player 1: I know which way to go, follow me!
Player 2: Hang on, there's some ammo down here...
Player 1: Stuff it! I've played this before, you know - I know exactly what I'm doing.
(Player 1 nicks the ammo before Player 2 can get to it.)
Player 2: Look, I need the amm... yikes! Get the alien! Over there!
Player 1: Eh, where?
(Player 2 shoots a switch, shutting Player 1 in a very small room full of very big monsters. Player 1 is annihilated.
Player 2 sniggers
Player 1: Bast! I'll give you 'ammo'!
(Player 1 proceeds to beat up Player 2)

Alien Breed's good, but it does have its flaws. In a two player game, if the chums get shut on different sides of a door, there's no way out because both players have to be on the same screen at once - the game doesn't have a split-screen feature.

However, the graphics really are superb, with some fab touches like the flickering computer display. The sound's really atmospheric, too - from the deadly roar of the machine-gun to the beautiful in-game speech.

The Gauntlet theme has been tried and tested, but Alien Breed is definitely the best I've ever tested.Stop

Alien Breed 1 Special Edition '92 logo

Team 17 £10.99

Imagine the scenario: a pair of tough-guy marines wandering about a lonely spacecraft inhabited solely by horrid aliens. Throw in a couple of machine guns, the odd computer or two, and what do you get?

Well, in this particular case you get Alien Breed '92, which is an improvement on the original game that was released in late 1991. Based loosely on the Aliens film theme, the game is in the out-and-out blast-em-out-of-existence genre, with superb 50Hz scrolling backgrounds, well-animated sprites and some incredibly effective sound effects - including quite a lot of speech.

Your job is to complete several missions, one on each level of the game, such as shooting the four power domes and escaping before the ship is nuked - all pretty good stuff that really gets our adrenaline pumping.
As you rush around the levels, which are very similar in style to Graftgold's Paradroid '90 in that they are viewed from above, you will find loads of useful items. Keys to open doors (or you can just be darned reckless and blast them open), ammunition for your guns and money in the form of 100 or 1,000 credit bills. Also dotted around the levels are computer which you can log into to gain information or buy new items.

A map of the current level is obtainable, as is loads of new hardware such as guns, lasers, flame-throwers and various tools to get you out of this blast-em-with--anything-you've got-em-up. These generally weigh in at a large number of credits, though, so it's a good idea to build up a good wallet-ful so that you can go for the more effective firepower.

If you've managed to play the original Alien Breed, then you're not likely to be stunned by the additional features of the new version - except for the extra levels (double the original amount) they are quite subtle. As well as ironing out the flaws in the original, the authors have made the aliens tougher, improved the storyline, tweaked the game maps and included a password system so that you can return to the level you were just killed on (which is a useful feature, believe me).

One thing they haven't got around to doing, however, is changing the proximity-detection of doors. If you find a narrow corridor with two doors on either side, you can't get past without opening at least one of them - because the program detects your position, not your direction. Still, this is only a minor niggle.

For those of you who haven't played the original, and if you enjoy a good shoot- em-up, they don't come much better than this. If you do already have the game, I would still advise you to think seriously about getting this version - it really is quite a lot better, and really a snip at only 11 quid. Buy it now or buy it later.

Alien Breed 1 Special Edition '92 logo

Vor genau einem Jahr überraschte uns Team 17 mit einem herzhaften Baller-Knaller namens Alien Breed - pünktlich zum Jubiläum folgt nun die preisgünstige Neuauflage mit erhöhtem Fun-Faktor!

Inhaltlich hat sich nichts geändert: Noch immer wird eine Raumstation von außerirdischen Biestern besetzt gehalten, noch immer treten zwei Weltraum-Söldner zur Säuberungsaktion an. Freilich kann man auch alleine durch die multidirektional scrollende Umgebung streiten, zu zweit macht das Alienrösten aber auch doppelt Laune. Ob solo oder im Team, jedenfalls gibt es in den Gängen allerlei Schlüssel, Munitionspakete und Computerterminals zu entdecken, wobei letztere gegen Cash den Zugriff auf Levelkarten und Extrawaffen erlauben.

Soweit, so bekannt - was also ist neu? Na, zum Beispiel klotzt die Edition mit zwölf zusätzlichen Missionen, die sich sowohl grafisch als auch vom Gameplay her von den bereits bekannten unterscheiden. So ist hier mitunter etwas Puzzlearbeit zur Bewältigung der Aufgaben vonnöten, und im Notfall lassen sich Türen jetzt aufsprengen, so daß man nicht aus Mangel an Schlüsseln aufgeben muß. Der Schwierigkeitsgrad hat zwar leicht zugelegt, aufgrund des Paßwortsystems ist eine Besichtigungstour durch die hinteren Katakomben aber trotz dem kein Ding der Unmöglichkeit. Wäre ja auch zu schade, schließlich sieht die Grafik hier überall toll aus und vermittelt zusammen mit der stimmungsvollen Soundkulisse eine richtige Grusel-Atmosphäre.

Die neuerdings verkürzten Ladezeiten kommen dem Spielspaß ebenfalls entgegen, die etwas höhere Gesamtwertung ist also durchaus verdient. Na, und bei dem Sparpreis können selbst Besitzer des "Originals" bedenkenlos zugreifen! (rl)

Alien Breed 1 Special Edition '92 logo

Scary Giger-influenced monsters, hostile planets, and butch space marines. Sounds familiar? Alien Breed - Special Edition, does that not ring a bell? Does that not sound suspiciously like Aliens Special Edition, that other re-released story of dripping corridors echoing to the screams of the dying and the staccato blasts of large-calibre weaponry?

1991's Alien Breed is now out on budget, but why is this 'special'. As opposed to just being re-released? According to Team 17 they have taken this opportunity to iron out all those quirky, annoying little defects that caused people to comment, 'Yeah, I like it, but there is this one thing...' the first time around.

This version boasts twelve new missions, a password system, faster running speed and better game maps. But we have all heard this kind of blurb before and been let down, so how does it stand up to close scrutiny?

Extremely well in my opinion, but there again I loved the original, and there is nothing radically different in this version for me to change my opinion. Booting up presents you with a film poster advert for Alien Breed 2 (complete with a PG rating), and a preview of another game.

Blimey, all you need is your brother serving popcorn, chewing gum stuck to the seat and Pearl and Dean advertising and you have got your very own cinema experience!

Slapping in the other disk takes mere moments and then it is action all the way with no further need for disk swapping. For those who missed Alien Breed the first time round it is one of those games where you are a squaddie sent in to see why a remote research base has stopped transmitting, only to discover the place is seething with nasty xenomorphs, not extremely dissimilar in fact from Jim Cameron's now legendary claustrophobia-fest.

Okay, let us admit it, Alien Breed IS Aliens - The game, only without the licence. Good fun with one player, the game comes into its own with two player mode. For one thing two guns are always better than one when your view of the world consists of gleaming black exoskeletons, but better than that you can shout 'Hudson run a bypass!' and 'Let's rock' at each other. With a mission for each level, a surprising degree of strategy is required as there is only a finite number of keys to open a lot of doors.

You can actually shoot open the doors, but it burns up your ammo supply. The base computer supplies you with equipment updates as well as maps and other information, but you cannot play Pong on it any more- swizz! There is not much variation in gameplay, but it is still enough to keep you coming back, and as for atmosphere, well, if you do not get stressed when the sirens start and you have only got sixty seconds before the generators blow then you are probably watching Eldorado and not playing the game at all.