Alien Breed 2: Assault arrived at a time when Xbox LIVE Arcade was delivering real quality. Limbo, Hydro Thunder and Guardian of Light are just three titles recently released to glowing reviews, so this twin-stick shooter needed to be more Aliens than Alien Resurrection to have any chance of making an impact. Sadly, while it's by no means terrible, the repetitive, dated gameplay means this is a downloadable game destined to be forgotten.
If you've played an overhead or isometric twin-stick shooter you'll feel right at home here. You can pick up and upgrade a variety of weapons, and you'll shoot a lot of alien nasties. And I mean an awful lot. While the game eases you into things slightly, making you fend off the odd small, but fast creature, things ramp up very quickly. Larger foes charge at you, spit at you, and generally try to tear you apart limb by limb.
With enemies appearing as red dots on your motion sensor there's a real Aliens vibe to the combat, but due to the isometric perspective you'll be shooting at things that spend more time off screen than in plain view. Weapon variety is decent, with standard assault rifles being joined by more fancy kit like the flame thrower. The shooting is good fun, and at times the encounters with the aliens are heart stopping, but things become repetitive far too quickly.
Alien Breed 2 isn't a short game, taking in excess of five hours for the average gamer to work through, and as such it needed something more than shooting to remain engaging. Sadly, when you're not pumping alien scum full of lead you're doing a lot of tedious things - pushing switches, mostly. Some genuine puzzles would have made a decent diversion from the mindless shooting.
Another disappointment is the fact that co-op play hasn't been included in the main campaign, instead coming as extra levels and a Survival mode. Survival is your typical wave after wave of enemies mode, and it's good fun, but the lack of campaign co-op is a real shame. While the gameplay is samey, playing alongside a friend would have made things a bit more interesting.
One area in which Alien Breed 2 doesn't disappoint is its Unreal Engine 3 powered appearance. Judged against full-price releases it looks on the budget side of things, but as a £10 download the moody environments and lighting are impressive. The same can't be said for the script, which at times falls dangerously close to sub soap-opera quality, with some of the dialogue completely clashing with the events taking place.
Alien Breed 2's major problem is that it feels dated. The gun-play is very simple and there's nothing clever bolted on top to make the game feel fresh. It's a smart looking game, and has some thrilling moments, but these days we expect more from our downloadable titles.