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Video Game / Alien Breed

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Alien Breed is a series of top-down Shoot Em Ups by Team17, perhaps better known as the creators of the Worms series. The original Alien Breed was released in 1991 for the Commodore Amiga and later in 1993 by MicroLeague for MS-DOS. The game was based heavily - and unofficially - on the Alien films, specifically Aliens, and also on the 8-bit-era games Laser Squad and Paradroid and was compared to Gauntlet and Alien Syndrome. The formula was simple enough. The player(s) controlled a Space Marine on an alien-infested Space Station, attempting to locate elevators leading to lower levels while battling aliens, gathering ammo and money and buying things from store terminals. The style of gameplay, i.e. rampaging from point A to B, was considered a direct precursor to the First-Person Shooter, namely Doom. It was followed by Alien Breed II: The Horror Continues in 1993, Alien Breed: Tower Assault in 1994 (the last 2D entry), Alien Breed 3D in 1995 (in conjuction with Ocean), Alien Breed 3D II: The Killing Grounds later that same year. All were highly praised. A PC/Dreamcast First-Person Shooter sequel called Alien Breed: Conflict was planned, but was eventually canceled.


Fast forward to December of 2009, with the release of the Unreal 3 engine-driven Alien Breed: Evolution on Xbox LIVE Arcade, later released as Alien Breed: Impact on Steam and the PlayStation Network in June of 2010. This reboot of the series stars Joseph Conrad, chief engineer aboard a diplomatic ship called the Leopold. After suddenly dropping out of Hyperspace, the Leopold impacts a far larger derelict spacecraft in a decaying orbit around an uninhabited ice world. With most of the crew dead, it's up to Conrad to find out what went wrong and attempt to rectify the situation. Reviewers praised the game's look but complained "It's the Same, Now It Sucks!," stating it was no different than its Amiga predecessors. A sequel, Alien Breed 2: Assault, was released in September, followed two months later by the final part of the trilogy, Descent.


The original series provides examples of:

  • AI Is A Crap Shoot: Why else are the facilities in the 2D games littered with turrets (and eventually combat drones) that are more interested in targetting you than the Aliens?
  • Announcer Chatter: The 2D games were noted for the sampled speech - voiced by Lynette Reade - that provided warnings and other messages.
    Player one requires first aid.
  • Apocalyptic Log: These were introduced in Tower Assault, in the form of Smartcards and messages available within the terminals.
  • Blackout Basement: The dark levels, introduced in Special Edition and returning in Tower Assault.
  • Bus Crash: Happens to Nash in Tower Assault, unless you start a co-op game.
    Nash is dead, you're on your own.
  • Captain Ersatz: One of the enemies in Alien Breed 3D and The Killing Grounds is a one-eyed floating alien that spits fire-balls at you, hmm... a lot like the Cacodemon.
    • Likewise, another one of the enemies in the 3D installments mentioned above is a crawling red-skinned alien, that is very clearly based on the Pinky demon (also from Doom).
  • Critical Existence Failure: From The Horror Continues and onwards, player characters would explode upon death, just like with everything else.
  • Collision Damage: In the 2D games. Oddly enough it also applies to the Aliens as well. Yes, you can walk onto the Aliens and they explode, at a cost of your own health.
  • Compilation Rerelease: The Amiga CD 32 version of Tower Assault comes bundled together with The Horror Continues.
  • Continuity Reboot: Can be said about the FPS installments.
  • Fan Remake: Alien Breed: Obliteration, based off the first game with some new assets.
  • First-Person Shooter: Alien Breed 3D and The Killing Grounds
  • Friendly Fireproof: Averted. Though it was optional in Tower Assault.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Special Edition 92 apparently had one.
  • Genre Shift: The series shifted from top-down shooter to First-Person Shooter with Alien Breed 3D.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Aliens in the dark levels.
  • Incredibly Durable Enemies: The Xenomorphs can take quite a beating for a Zerg Rush type of mook. You'll be wearing your ammo down before long if you don't get a weapon that can beat them within two hits.
  • It's The Only Way To Be Sure: Given the seemingly countless number of Aliens roaming around, subjecting the decks into self-destruct seems to be a common resort.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: Implied in Tower Assault with the backgrounds of the Smartcard Reader and Terminal screens having some Japanese writings in them.
  • Late to the Tragedy: Especially Tower Assault, which visibly shows the corpses of those unfortunate enough to be in a middle of an Alien infestation.
  • Made of Explodium: The Aliens explode upon death. So do you since The Horror Continues.note 
  • Moveset Clone: Stone and Johnson in The Horror Continues, who both start off with medium-powered machine guns, low-powered remote scanners, 5 keys and 5000 credits.note 
  • Nintendo Hard: The 2D games have reputation for being tough, mainly stemming from the never-ending supply of Aliens, having to manage the finite supply of keys, credits and ammunition and a number of self-destruct sequences that put your routing/memorization skills to test.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: If the character select screen in The Horror Continues is to believed, Stone - one of the human characters - looks suspiciously like Scott Bakula.
  • Recycled INSPACE: The earlier games are basically Gauntlet in SPACE!
  • Reflecting Laser: Shots of the Refraction Lazer/Rebounder can bounce off walls and prove to be certainly useful within the more cramped levels, especially if you can afford to get their high-level variant.
  • Respawning Enemies: There were no shortage of Aliens in the 2D games. They mostly do it off-screen, unless there is a hole on the floor in sight, through which you can certainly bet Aliens would come through it.
  • Scenery Gorn: Tower Assault goes this route, with the towers themselves being littered with corpses of unfortunate victims of the Alien infestation. Not even the children were safe.
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: Especially notable in The Horror Continues, the only entry in the series to have multiple selectable characters.
    • Tower Assault has a way around this though, see Bus Crash above.
  • Sequel Escalation: The 2D games go from a single space station (Alien Breed/Special Edition, 6-levels) through a colony with few bases (The Horror Continues, 17 levels) to a network of towers (Tower Assault, up to 50 levels).
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Don't have any keys but a lot of ammo to spare? Shoot the door until it breaks.
  • A Space Marine Is You: Unless you are one of these Lizard-like beings in The Horror Continues.
  • Standard FPS Guns: Alien Breed 3D gives you a machine gun, shotgun, plasma cannon, grenade launcher and a large rocket launcher. Melee weapons are absent until the Project Osiris remake introduced it.
  • Stealthy Mook: Tower Assault introduces some camoflagued Aliens in few levels.
  • Story Branching: Tower Assault stands out in the series with the levels having multiple exits, leading onto different levels each. There are around 50-ish levels in total, and a single playthrough may not neccersairly has you progress through all of them.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Nobody's sure if Tower Assault's Jordan and Nash are the same Stone and Jonshon from the earlier entries, just renamed.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: Sort of. Tower Assault introduced "Retreat Mode" which allows you to shoot while walking backwards, done by either holding the fire button and then holding the direction opposite of where you are facing, or toggled with one of the Shift keys. As the game came out before twin-stick shooters became common-place, the mechanic was a bit of a big deal at the time.
  • Take That!: Few of the jokey cheat codes - to be inputed on any of the Terminals - in the first game were this, including "US GOLD" which resets the score to zero, "PC EMULATOR" which disables all terminals and ST EMULATOR which downgrades the graphics.
  • Tech-Demo Game: Exemplified by Alien Breed 3D 2: The Killing Grounds. While the first Alien Breed 3D boasted a number of features the original Doom engine wasn't capable of (like translucent water and room-over-room), it also made a number of concessions to make it more feasable for stock Amiga 1200s (like a lower screen resolution). Meanwhile, The Killing Grounds was Team17 pulling all of the stops on crafing an engine meant to be on par with Quake, with dynamic lightning, bump mapping, lightmapped sprites and weapons and larger enemies being rendered with models rather than sprites. This ended up resultinng in a game so taxing on hardware that even the beefiest Amiga at the time struggled to run it smoothly with all of the graphical settings maxed out, and it took an advent of emulation that allowed people to experience the game at much smoother framerate. The game ended up proving the superiority the IBM PC had at the time over the Amiga, as it was much easier to get ahold of the PC that could run Quake smoothly (especially after GLQuake came out).
  • Timed Mission: Every time you activate the self-destruct sequence in the earlier games.
  • Updated Re-release: In the form of Alien Breed:Special Edition 1992.
  • Universal Ammunition: All of the weapons feed off the same ammunition pool, regardless of whenever would it be a machinegun, a laser rebounder of a homing missile launcher.
  • Unwinnable by Design: In the '92 special edition, the third level's layout makes it possible to seal yourself on the western part of the map, with no route to the exit. The mission briefing warns this is possible, and recommands passing through a fire door your about to close to avoid that situation.
  • Weak Turret Gun: Subverted, these could either withstand quite a lot of punishment or are outright invulnerable.
  • A Winner Is You: Hung a lampshade on Special Edition 1992
  • Xenomorph Xerox: The aliens in the first game strongly resemble Xenomorphs. The Horror Continues even throws in face huggers at you in some levels!

The new series provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Conrad's log mentions an android uprising, in which he lost his second wife and daughter. And then there's Klein...
  • Alien Blood: Green, natch.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The logs found in Impact are just descriptions of the different types of aliens, but several logs found aboard the derelict in Assault play this straight. Descent has a mixture of both.
  • Badass Boast: Conrad gives one in Assault's intro.
  • BFG: The Ion Spike, essentially a Lightning Gun, found in Impact. It's actually not all that large, but it packs a hell of a punch. More to the spirit of the trope, the Hyper Blaster and Rocket Launcher in Assault are both fairly sizable.
    • Descent adds "Project X", which pretty much shoots a huge burst of lighting forward that kills anything in it's path.
  • Big Bad: Klein, who's responsible for everything bad that has happened, from creating the breed to crashing the derelict.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Breed, of course. The logs often describe how their physical features and abilities are not likely to have developed naturally.
  • Black Dude Dies First: It can be assumed that Vance and Barnes both get killed around the same time, but since it happens off screen you don't know who dies first. You do find both their bodies, Vance's before Barnes', but it doesn't hint to who actually died first. It could be subverted if we're going by when the bodies are found though, as it actually makes the black dude last to die.
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: The "Hardened Armor" item is this.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Assault Rifle is rapid fire, has two-hundred round magazines, ammo for it is easy to find and cheap to purchase, and it has inexpensive upgrades. You begin the game with it, and it is useful throughout all three episodes, barring some hairier segments in Assault better addressed with the Flame Thrower or Hyper Blaster.
  • Bug War: The implied result were the Breed to escape their confinement aboard the derelict.
  • Camera Screw: Unlike, say, Alien Swarm, the maps in this game are designed in such a way that you can't always see what you're doing, requiring you to manually rotate the camera view to maintain perspective on the action.
  • Cartwright Curse: Conrad has been widowed twice. The second time, he lost a daughter, too.
  • Coop Multiplayer: Two players can control Vance and Barnes, other survivors of the Leopold's crew, in a side-story to the single-player campaign. They meet up with Conrad on occasion.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: For some reason, Descent decides to give every single character a dark and ambiguous past.
    • Conrad had his first wife killed by radiation poisoning, and his second wife and daughter killed in a war, leading to his hatred of synthetics. To be fair, this past was being hinted at since Impact
    • Mia may or may not have hijacked several ships to cause them to self destruct, after her commander died so she could secure the position
    • Vance may have killed his twin brother when they were 5 to secure the family fortune for himself
    • Barnes was possibly a high leveled criminal
    • Klein constructed the aliens of course. And pretty much killed the entirety of the second ship.
  • Disaster Dominoes: As if crashing into the derelict wasn't bad enough, things get worse and worse as Conrad goes along, and nothing seems to work right.
  • Dying as Yourself: Mia, in the first level of Descent.
  • Emergency Weapon: You have a semi-automatic pistol for backup, with unlimited reloads. It packs a surprising punch.
  • Energy Weapon: Courtesy of Impact's Laser Rifle. It's essentially the series' Sniper Rifle, though it does not reappear in later episodes- justifiable, given their more intense, close-range fights.
  • The Engineer: Conrad. This is shown in game by his ability to effortlessly manipulate critical systems of both ships.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Virtually everyone besides Conrad, Mia, and the Co-op characters Vance and Barnes is dead. In Impact Conrad meets some medics and wounded soldiers, but beyond that the few NPCs encountered get munched by aliens before Conrad can even see them. And Mia isn't even alive, per se.
  • Exploding Barrels: All over the place. Some are conveniently placed to blow open new pathways.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: If you think the Leopold has this bad, wait 'till you see the derelict.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Mia gets hijacked by Klein.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Klein claims to grow quite fond of Conrad over the course of Descent in particular, claiming that he'll miss him once he's gone. Given how long he's been all alone, he might actually mean it- but he also never stops mocking and taunting you.
  • Foreshadowing: In a rather dull example of the trope, you will always find a log detailing a boss creature before you fight it, thus averting Giant Space Flea from Nowhere.
  • Gatling Good: Assault introduces the Hyper Blaster, a man-portable gatling gun that fires acid-tipped rounds.
  • Giant Squid: Assault's first boss is this. It uses it's Combat Tentacles to shake the girders and make scrap metal fall on Conrad, and to chuck Exploding Barrels at him. And it happens to live in the derelict's reactor coolant.
  • Ghost Ship: The derelict, later identified as the UCS Aguire.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Conrad has these, presumably due to being an engineer. He's never seen actually wearing them over his eyes, of course.
  • Heal Thyself: Conrad can pick up both small and large health kits. An upgrade can be purchased that increases their effect and halves the time needed to use them.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: Given the series' origins as an Expy of Aliens, this shouldn't come as a surprise.
  • Jerkass: Conrad, Vance and Klein. Conrad shows himself to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold in Assault, though.
  • Lost Technology: That derelict ship? It's actually a two-hundred-year-old human-built research vessel. And the Breed? genetically engineered from harmless microbes from the ice planet below, as part of a project Gone Horribly Right.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: Conrad often has to find certain objects to proceed, be it an actual key card or a missing valve or replacement circuit board or what have you. However, opening one door or fixing a piece of equipment often causes something else to break, resulting in a chain of Lock And Key Puzzles.
  • Locomotive Level: Level four, "Primed", of Assault culminates in a ride aboard the derelict's internal monorail system. The catch is, it's a Boss Fight against a Giant Spider with friends that keeps ripping pieces of the train off behind Conrad. It ends when he kicks an Exploding Barrel at it, followed by a grenade.
    • Decent has a level where you must fight an Alien Queen while going up an elevator, plus another level where you're riding on a monorail and sometimes get shot at by turrets.
  • Made of Explodium: Both ships. The Breed run into as many hazards as you do.
  • Mad Scientist: Walter Klein, the creator of the Breed. Indirectly (in some cases directly) responsible for the deaths of the Aguire's crew, among them his own pregnant wife. Is completely Ax-Crazy. Gives a "Break Them by Talking" lecture in Assault's ending. Is currently spending time as an AI.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: Assault becomes this as you near the end, culminating in a Hold the Line segment where you operate one of the derelict's point defense cannons, normally used to repel asteroids.
  • Notice This: Pickups have a visible sheen.
  • Old Soldier: Conrad served a record seven tours of duty in the earth military prior to his career as an engineer.
  • Plant Aliens: The log describing Impacts Final Boss mentions that it is part plant, and apparently can transmute and reassemble itself anywhere that the bio-sludge present in the hydroponics sector crops up.
  • Robot Girl: Lieutenant Mia, Conrad's Voice with an Internet Connection. He briefly escorts her in Assault.
  • Save Point: Unusually for a game nowadays, you must find specific terminals at which to save, which also happen to be the stores. The game also auto saves at specific checkpoints.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: In Impact, the given dimensions of the derelict are in dozens of kilometres. The mass is given as a little over 100,000 tons. This would actually mean the derelict is millions of times less dense than a soap bubble.
  • Sentry Gun: Found as an inventory item, and must be installed on specific "power points"... conveniently located in areas that get a lot of Breed traffic.
    • In the last level of Impact, along with Assault and Descent sentry guns become enemies. The security system (Which has probably been hacked by Klein) really doesn't want you on that ship
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The Shot Cannon is powerful enough that one need not buy the damage upgrade for it, its devastating throughout all three episodes. Don't expect to hit anything beyond point-blank range, however.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: In Assault's ending.
  • Status Effects: Conrad can toss stun grenades.
  • The Stoic: Conrad. Especially in Impact's ending.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Of all shapes and sizes, from the Leopold's computer mainframe down to individual consoles.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Ammunition and supplies are plentiful enough, but the game throws a whole pile of items at you before Assault's finale.
  • Take Up My Sword: Mia's final act is to give Conrad her power cell, which could be used as an explosive to destroy Klein.
  • Take Your Time: There are specific sequences where you have limited time to escape an area, but you have all the time in the world before the derelict impacts the ice planet's surface. Or after that, until it sinks into the icy depths in Descent.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Impact's final level takes place on the derelict, which, being over two hundred years old, is rusted, decayed, angular and not at all inviting in appearance, in stark contrast to the Leopold's curves and bloom effects.
  • Videogame Flamethrowers Suck: Mostly averted. This game's flamethrower is damaging, handles crowds better then any gun save the Hyper Blaster and is surprisingly ammo-efficient. It is however, painfully short-ranged.
  • Wormsign: Impact's Final Boss announces its appearance in this manner.