Alien Breed Evolution Episode One, the first of three downloadable games based on the classic Amiga shooter Alien Breed, is too old school for its own good. Sure, the graphics have evolved, but the gameplay is frustratingly dated.
Take, for example, the save system. Back in the early Nineties, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and computers required bolts of lightning to get going, punishing save points were de rigueur, making you fear the game over screen like a child fears the dark. In today's socially networked world, however, they're just a pain in the backside. We don't have the time to replay 20 minutes of gameplay. Why should we, when we could be playing Farmville instead?
You can only save when standing next to a save terminal. The problem is, they're depressingly sparse. You often spend tens of minutes following waypoints, activating switches and killing hordes of horrible aliens before you come across one. When you die - and you will die - having to do it all again makes you want to smack yourself in the face with your own controller. This phenomenon is known as "rage quitting".
West Yorkshire developer Team 17 will say the save system is deliberately punishing. "It's an old school shooter, stupid, it's supposed to be like that." Well boo hoo. Times have changed. Modern tastes demand modern design. Just look at Epic's superb Shadow Complex; it's an old school shooter, but it's packed with save points.
To be brutally honest, Alien Breed Evolution's save system isn't its biggest problem. No, it's the repetitive, by the numbers gameplay. The Leopold, the alien-infested space ship you find yourself battling through, isn't working as well as it should be. Scratch that - it's almost completely broken. Doors won't open, the power's down and the lights are out. So, to progress, you need to act like a mechanic and repair. These tasks are occasionally interesting (escort a physician to medical, rescue trapped survivors from poisonous gas within a time limit), but, on the whole, all you have to do is walk up to a computer panel, hold down a button to interact with it, then wait for further instructions. Rinse and repeat.