The game for this week is (oh no...):
Developer: Brat Design
Links: Trailer - gameplay video
With all the fuss generated by Halo, the years 2000 have seen an explosion of the Sci-Fi shooter genre with literally dozens of similar games released. When Breed was announced and the first screenshots started appearing on websites and magazines, many got hyped by the game's more-than-hinted promises of cloning Halo's gameplay with the twist of tactical team based action. They were in for a big disappointment.
Maybe the unknown developer (Brat Design) should have inspired some doubts, but even Bungie wasn't so well known before Halo, nor was CryTek before Far Cry, so, since everyone deserves a chance...
Ok so, some of the promises were kept: the game was a blatant Halo ripoff, starring a lone freighter called Darwin full of Space Marines fighting against a babylon of alien races called Coven... uhm... Breed. The game featured vehicles including (tell me if it sounds familiar) gun-equipped jeeps, tanks, airplanes, the APCs from Battlefield 1942, and shiny mounted plasma turrets copied and pasted from... you know where. The game allowed the player to take control of a team of four generic marines divided in the three basic unit types: assault (creatively called 'grunt'), sniper and heavy gunner, to which issue a variety of commands (again, a complete ripoff of BF 1942) or even take direct control in real time. All this is good and well on paper, but the trouble starts as soon as the intro plays and with it the first lines of the incredibly corny dialogue, with gems such as: "You [marines] are the success of many failed experiments" and "I stand here, and a tear falls into my handkerchief".
You may think: give it a break, it's a low-budget game, they couldn't get Stephen King to write the script. Ok, I'll forgive the dialogue if the game turns out to be good. Well... it doesn't.
Just let me walk you through the first mission and you'll see why:
The game opens with a human dropship identical to the one in the movie 'Aliens', which inspired, you guessed it, the Pelican dropship from Halo. The dropship is carrying a team of marines who must storm a beach and esplore a tropical island to retrieve something from a secret enemy base (hey, like the third mission in Halo!). Ready-go you have to man a machinegun from the moving dropship to destroy some radar dishes. it's one hell of a first task, you think the game would give something simple to begin with, but no, you have to destroy 20 radar components in less than 30 seconds. If you do it, you're ok, but if you miss even one your commander insults you on the intercom and you get punished with a landing zone filled with enemies.
First thing you notice upon landing is the choppy framerate, even on an adequate computer, the second thing: the enemies are little squeaking critters holding toy guns and tall tall blue aliens with shiny lights (hey, just like Halo!). Oh yeah, the weapons are dramatically unbalanced: you only get a limited supply of ammo for your human weapons and you rarely find supplies, so you're soon enough forced to use the alien weapons, for which you'll likely have 9999 ammo in a minute (where is the justice in that? The human weapons have 100 bullets!)
The vehicles you manage to find handle like drunk rhinos and explode for no reason after a few hits, representing more of a liability than a resource. The worst part is the team AI, though: as I said you can issue commands to your team, but sometimes you'll have to hope they ignore you, since they'll often take the longest, most dangerous path to reach their destination or even commit suicide in the process: I once ordered the idiots to stay put and I went scouting ahead alone. I walked around a lake and got pretty far, then I called them and ordered to regroup. Soon I heard them screaming in agony and requesting for help, I went all the way back but couldn't find them, as the screams continued, then they all died. Confused, I looked down and I saw them dead on the bottom of the lake: to join me, they walked right into the lake and drowned, while screaming they were under attack. Screaming underwater.
Let this episode be the bottom line of my review of Brrrrreed. Yes: Brrrrreed, as in a cold shiver chilling down your spine.
My rating for Breed: 4