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Title: Alien Breed Tower Assault
Developer: Team 17
Publisher: Psygnosis
Date Released: 1994
Platforms: Amiga CD32, Amiga 1200, Amiga 4000

Last release in the original Alien Breed series. First out on CD32, but since none of the unique CD32 hardware was used, it could also be played on regular AGA Amigas. Gameplay generally follows the style of the previous editions, i.e. 2D top-down view shoot'em'up allá Gauntlet, but improved with a few added features like straffing.

One unusual gameplay feature was the nonlinear storyline. Unlike the previous versions of Alien Breed, where you just went through the game stage by stage, from the begining to the end, in Tower Assault there was usually a couple of ways to finish each stage. Depending on which course you took through the map, you would proceed to different parts of the outpost and by the time you completed the game, you would only have seen about a third of all the stages of the game. The stages were linked together in a logical fassion so that together, they would give a realistic impression of the floor layout of futuristic scientific research station on an alien world. There were also occasional subgoals where for instance you had to cause a generator to overload, in order to gain access to a particular part of the outpost, but then you had to escape the blast by fighting your way through the next stage within a certain time limit. Also cutting the power would have the unfortunate effect of turning off the lights on some stages. Of course this would serious hamper your ability to defend yourself against the hordes of aliens roaming the maps. Fortunately the aliens have this cool evil glow in their eyes, making them at least partly visible, so together with your weapon mounted flashlight you are not completely defenceless.

The game was all in all fun and very challenging, and only rarely you would get that annoying feeling that the game was impossibly hard. Unfortunately the game was plagued by some very annoying bugs. It had a habbit of crashing on particular maps, and for some reason not all character handling features was available to both players (only one of the players could use straffing). Proper playtesting should have discovered something like this, but I guess that at that time the game publishers was under such extreme pressure to get the new games out, that more serious bugs slipped through. Of course this was before the time of downloadable patches.

The Alien Breed series was known for above average sound and graphics, and Tower Assault was no exception. For instance the game contained a long full motion video intro with 3D animation and live action mixed together. At the time of the release this was largely unheard of, and the game thus held the title best intro ever for a while. In game graphics was as good as could be expected, and all in all if it wasn't for all the bugs this title could have become one of the all time Amiga classics.

Plot summary

A scientific outpost on a far off planet has been attacked. Nothing is known about the attackers, since all communications have been destroyed. A team of marines is dispatched to investigate and destroy the unknown invaders. As their dropships enter the atmosphere and approach the base, the defence lasers, damaged in the onslaught, move into action. They launch wild bursts of laser fire at the approaching marines who, completely unexpecting such an attack, are unprepared. From the ensuing chaos one ship, flown by rookies Nash and Jordan, manages to make a crash landing. From the wreckage steps a soldier, and the mission begins.

As a postscript I would just like to mention that there were actually two more games named Alien Breed released after Tower Assault. These were 3D first person shoot'em'ups and quite good games in themselves. However they did not bear any resemblance to the top-down series and should in effect be considered entirely new games. The games were called Alien Breed 3D and Alien Breed 3D II: The Hunting Grounds.

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