Another sci-fi action game, another debut from a promising young codeshop with an impressive in-house engine. Combining foot-based and vehicular combat, the most immediately exciting thing about Breed is the scale on which it takes place. The game is set both in Earth orbit and on the surface, and while not a new concept, you'll actually get to fly freely between the two, with battles occurring concurrently in and between each environment. Playable in either first- or third-person perspective, the game centres around the invasion of Earth by an aggressive biomechanical race looking for a new home. From an orbiting space attack cniiser, the tattered remains of Earth's space forces are fighting a losing battle against the aliens, who have taken control of the surface. Launching single fighters or heavily armed dropships, you'll take control of an endless number of test-tube grunts in missions involving anything from piloting spaceships, manning turrets or introducing ET to the business end of an assault rifle.
Judging by the early demos, Breed is going to look the business too, though it's unlikely to be the most visually stunning game in the genre. What it does promise to be is a fun arcade blast 'em up on an epic scale, with a huge variety of single-player missions and multiplayer options.
While it's still too early to make any judgements on the actual gameplay, we'll be following Breed closely, so rest assured we'll keep you informed.
Those of you who attended will probably agree that this year's ECTS was somewhat of a letdown. However, amidst the mire of games on show and the greasy-haired parasitic journalists sponging off obliging PR people, there were the occasional glimmers of inspiration. CDVs exciting and meteoric rise to prominence continued as they picked up the Game of the Show award for their sublimelooking action/strategy game,
Nomads. However, that wasn't the only title that pulled our straying eyes away from the scantily clad, buxom lovelies who were desperately trying to stir up excitement about games destined to score in single figures. Huh, as if we'd be so shallow as to fall for a cheap stunt like that, although after speaking to a six-foot, surgically enhanced blonde, we can officially say that Erotica Island 2 looks like it's going to be one of the best games of all time.
However, the game that caught my eye the most had nothing to do with flesh and debauchery unfortunately (although a quick glance at the title could make you think otherwise). Breed, now ten months away from completion, is looking like it's shaping up to be one of the shooters to keep an eye on next year. And, after countless exuberant cries to see more, we were granted an audience with several members of the Brat development team.
Plotting A Revolution
Let's stan with the basics and have a quick squiz at the storyline. It all stans on a battle cruiser called Darwin that is returning from the outer colonies to discover that Earth has been overrun by an alien force called the Breed, which has subjugated humanity. However, a group of guerrillas (possibly descendants of Pete Sampras, or is that gorillas?) are out to stop them, who you promptly join on your return.
At a quick glance, Breed bares more than a passing resemblance to Microsoft's Xbox flagship title Halo. I asked one of the team whether they saw Breed as direct competition to the inevitable PC conversion. "Obviously there are a number of similarities, I think we both share similar influences. Due to its Xbox origins, Halo will undoubtedly be a more console-orientated experience. We're aiming for something more realistic, like a cross between Quake and Delta Force." Well that's cleared that up then.
Know Your Role
Breed will let you drive a number of vehicles, including flying ships into combat in Earth's orbit. And Brat are keen to point out that there'll be a seamless transition between Earth and space, while ground-based missions will be set over several continents, such as Australasia and North America.
If everything goes to plan they're hoping to produce a whopping 24 missions to shoot and think your way through and, as Brat were quick to point out: "Each one of these can be tackled from a variety of different perspectives. For example, you may want to play as one of the troops on the ground, using laser designators to mark targets, or you might want to control the fighter whose mission it is to bomb the designated targets. This will provide a lot of replayability in the single-player game." Let's hope they can pull it off.
But playing from different perspectives is all very well and good, though ultimately pointless if your only goal is to kill as many of the enemy as possible in a mindless frag-fest. Brat are quick to point out that this definitely won't be the case: 'There'll be assault missions, rescue missions, missions where stealth is of the essence. Many times you'll be acting to assist the resistance. For example, in one mission, the resistance is trying to evacuate a large number of humans from the planet using transports that they have managed to get working. In this mission, it is your task to hold off the attacking Breed forces and then escort the transports off the planet."
Which led us onto the subject of the game's other vehicles. Having already had a go on a buggy - both as the driver, the gunner and a fighter -I was keen to find out what other contraptions will be available. Apparendy you'll also get to pilot tanks, APCs and dropships, each of which will have individual and realistic physics, and hold multiple troops. "For example, the engines on the dropship have their thrust accurately modelled. You can toggle them between horizontal and vertical thrust. In horizontal thrust mode it acts like a plane, while in vertical thrust mode it behaves more like a helicopter. "If you're carrying a heavy load it will handle sluggishly, and if one of the engines is destroyed, because of the realistic physics, the dropship will become unstable and the player will be forced to crash-land or eject. We're very pleased with the gameplay elements that emerge from the realism." The mood is enthusiastic, and broad and confident smiles break out over the rest of the team's faces.
So how about weapons? "There'll be the usual rocket launchers, sniper rifles and so on. The cool thing about the rockets is that you can select laser-guided ordnance. You also have a laser designator, so you can have one person with a launcher firing laser-guided rockets and someone else designating a target. You'll also be able to get your hands on the Breed weapons, which will be more exotic, but we'd like to keep them under wraps for the time being." And what have they got to say for themselves in terms of the multiplayer side of the action? 'There will be the usual deathmatch, capture the flag and so on. We'll be creating multiplayer-only maps, and you'll also be able to play the single-player missions co-operatively or as the Breed. Many of the vehicles can be utilised by two or more players at the same time." It almost sounds too good to be true, but from what we've seen of the game so far, and the confidence Brat have in their own ability, it all points to Breed being potentially one of the hottest shooters of next year. Rest assured, we'll keep you posted.
AlI AI, What's All This Then?
Intelligence is out there, somewhere...
There isn't too much in terms of AI in the build I played, so I asked designer Jason Gee to reveal what the team had planned in terms of enemy behaviour. "Because the Breed are alien, we are not restricted in the way that we make them behave," he said. "The Breed vision will be sensitive to movement, so at a distance the Breed will not detect a stationary target. This will introduce some interesting possibilities for stealth. The Breed also have a defence network, so If a sensor detects the player, it will communicate the position to other Breed forces that are part of the network. This could bring attacks from ground or air forces or long-range weaponry. It will therefore become vital for the player to disrupt the Breed's communications and keep his forces on the move.
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode