The action-strategy genre has had a tough time of it over the years, producing a string of critically acclaimed games that flopped at retail. Even the genre's poster boy Battlezone was only saved from ruin by being bundled with every piece of computer hardware known to man, but this hasn't deterred other companies from attempting to create the perfect blend of fighting and thinking. The latest such effort is Breed from British start-up Brat Designs, due out next summer through German publisher CDV. And not only is it trying to merge action and strategy elements, it's also throwing in vehicles and (probably) a kitchen sink for good measure.
Best Of Breed
Breed follows a conflict between the eponymous hostile alien race and farflung human colonies, a war which appears to be over as the game begins, with the shattered remnants of the human task force finally defeating the enemy and heading home expecting a hero's welcome. Unfortunately the weary survivors of this vicious war arrive back from the front to discover that the aliens weren't quite as dumb as we had believed. The attacks on the colonies were just a diversion, and while most of the fleet was away fighting the aliens on distant planets, the breed have invaded Earth. Now it's up to the carrier Darwin to recapture the planet and deal with them pesky green skins once and for all. Resources onboard the Darwin are limited after several years of fighting the breed on their own turf, but a variety of weapons and vehicles should be available to back up your men as the game progresses and players will be able to mix and match their load-out depending on the nature of the mission. In true Aliens fashion, these missions each begin with you loading your troops and hardware into a rather familiar looking dropship and flying them down to the surface. Leaving the Darwin the transport enters the atmosphere and descends through the clouds before emerging above your drop zone ready for battle...
And rather impressive it looks too. With vast detailed landscapes for you to fight over, defensive emplacements and bridges to capture and an array of chunky futuristic military hardware to use in the process, Breed certainly isn't lacking in the eye candy department. Having reached the surface and admired the view, you can take control of any soldier or vehicle in your landing force, allowing you to drive around in a buggy, man one of the turrets on your dropship or simply charge into combat on foot. If things get out of hand you can switch between different units or follow the progress of the battle from a free floating camera view, treating it more like a true real-time strategy game as you direct your forces from a safe distance. And in a nod to the X-Com games, you will also be able to capture alien equipment and back-engineer it aboard the Darwin, unlocking access to new technologies and weapons which you can then use in future missions. Although it's been somewhat overshadowed by the aeronautical insanity of Nomads, CDV's other big action-strategy title for 2002, what we've seen of Breed so far has certainly looked promising. Indeed, there's already talk of an entire Breed trilogy being spawned, as well as some sort of ambitious online version with players flying between worlds with their carriers full of marine dropships. One step at a time though, eh?