This time it's war, which isn't much of a surprise really - things weren't too friendly in the other Alien Breed games either. That's right, Team 17 has made another sequel in the vastly popular Breed series. Once again we can expect enough violence and bloodshed to convince parents that Mary Whitehouse was right about computer games.
For many gamers, though, the excitement of battling against hordes of Giger-style aliens has been enough to entice them back to buy the follow-ups. Can this latest instalment maintain the same magnetic appeal?
The inhabitants of a mining colony on Azarin 2E discover that they were not the first to set up shop on the planet, when hungry alien creatures that have been there for years decide the outpost will make a great banqueting hall.
Before they get chomped, the humans manage to get a mayday to your combat ship. You join a bunch of marines in an assault on the tower complex but - oh dear - everyone else gets killed, leaving you to sort the Breed out yourself. Sounds familiar?
This type of game, as I've suggested before, has its origins in an arcade game called Gauntlet. This had the same viewpoint, was multi-player and involved fighting monsters and finding keys in order to progress.
The first two Breed games took this very playable idea and dressed it up with the atmosphere of the Alien films. The general consensus seems to be that this is the best implementation of the idea yet.
It doesn't matter how good a game like this looks if the sound effects aren't up to scratch. Pulverising aliens with streams of cannon fire wouldn't have quite the same appeal if it was accompanied by sorry little bleeps and pings.
Thankfully, Tower Assault resonates with high quality samples. Whether your strafing an alien legion with machine gun fire or annihilating a power generator with the tri-lazer, it sounds like serious damage is being done.
For those attracted by the more gruesome aspects of the game, you'll be pleased to come across aliens noisily gorging on human cadavers.
A female voice gives you computerized guidance throughout the game, thankfully all in an English accent that doesn't grate on the ears. Her warnings help to concentrate the urgency at particularly desperate moments.
Music accompanies the opening title screens creating a sense of apprehension, but during the game there doesn't seem to be any. That's not much of a criticism, though, since blaring tunes would not be in keeping with the style of the game.87%
It has to be said that the visual approach of the game didn't much for me initially. An overhead view reminiscent of the old arcade hit 'Gaunlet' hardly seems ideal if you're trying to create the excitement of a claustrophobic conflict in the dark.
Despite the limitations of this approach, however, a closer looks shows how impressive it can be when used imaginatively. Check out the screenshots and you'll see for yourself how detailed and atmospheric they are.
Right from the start, Team 17 shows its commitment to a high standard in graphics. The shattered wreck of your drop ship at the crash site is beautifully drawn and as you set off, the smoothness of the scrolling promises fast, slick action.
The atmosphere in Breed games is of vital importance. There would be nothing special about this series of games if it were not for the well-drawn locations and the familiar fearsome-looking aliens. Team 17 appears to have made great efforts to include variety and detail into the look of Tower Assault. As a break from fighting his way through labyrinthine buildings, our hero travels between towers on the planet surface, avoiding meteor showers as he goes.
The extent of the massacre in the storyline soon becomes visually apparent. Some buildings are littered with bodies everywhere you turn, each of them gruesomely mutilated and splattered with blood.
New to Tower Assault is the inclusion of dark levels. Here, aliens attack with little warning, their presence only identifiable by the flow of their eyes. This is an exciting and overdue addition which makes for a frantic and often suicidal battle.80%
Not a game I found instantly appealing, Tower Assault took a while to win me over. Once I became obsessed with improving my fire-power, however, I became increasingly hooked.
I particularly like the two-player option. Playing with friends suddenly makes computer games less nerdy and more sociable. If you have no friends (and I don't) you might try hiring some stand-ins.
It would be good to see Team 17 applying its undeniable talents to a more original concept than this. The idea at the core of Tower Assault is very old indeed.
All the same, the formula is still working very well thanks to some very imaginative variations. Recommended for Breed fans everywhere, it's also a must for anyone who hasn't played this type of game before.