When it comes to Sci-Fi history there are few films that have had as significant an impact on pop culture than the Alien series. Ever since that first little monster burst out of Kane’s chest we’ve had a fascination with the adorable little critters. A franchise with such disturbing creatures just begs for a game that does it justice, but unfortunately, with only a few exceptions there has not been a title to do it right. But if anyone can take this IP and turn it around it’s the same folks behind the successful Borderlands series, Gearbox Software. And that’s just what they’re shaping up to do with their upcoming FPS homage, Aliens: Colonial Marines.
The story mode takes place somewhere between Aliens and Alien 3. You take on the role of - surprisingly enough- a Colonial Marine (never saw it coming) sent back to The U.S.S. Sulaco to find Ripley, When you and your squad arrive though, you find that the Weyland-Yutani corporation has already beaten you to the punch so to speak. After a space tussle you find yourself on the surface of planet LV-426, which you may recall if you’ve seen Aliens, is infested with acid-bleeding, human killing things from outer space,so of course wacky hijinks are bound to ensue. It’s up to you and your ragtag group of militia to discover just what the hell Wyland Corp is up to and survive an onslaught from their private military while being hunted by the perfect killing machine. Should be a walk in the park, right?
Okay, so it’s not going to be easy, but luckily for you there’s all sorts of high-tech gadgets and gizmos to help you on your way. Not only do you carry around the classic motion sensor that fans are already familiar with, you can also pick up things like placeable auto-turrets, portable auto-targeting guns, grenades and the classic gun-mounted flamethrower. But the fun doesn’t stop there, legendary weapons can be found such as a double-barrelled sawed-off and some extra-special guns from the film that have their own abilities are available for those with a keen eye.
It doesn’t take long to realize that the dev team have done their research on the source material. Nuances such as the motion detector’s incessant bleeping, or the way lighting flickers with the same sepia tone as the film itself look to build an atmosphere of suspense and action. Little shout-outs to the movie are everywhere and there are plenty to be found hidden throughout the game.
Then there’s the real bread and butter of the whole thing, the aliens themselves. Class types are similar to those found in Left4Dead with abilities acid-spit and a special attack that lets them out of nowhere and maul people to death. But much more varied and tactical than the walking dead. One of the most promising features is the ability to play as the aliens in online deathmatch modes against teams of Marines.
Along with the more standard deathmatch multiplayer modes Aliens:Colonial Marines will offer a variety of options such as Extermination mode where you must either defend or destroy clutches of alien eggs. Each team will get a chance to take on both sides as a marine or alien, but the team that destroys the most eggs will be declared the winner. Then there’s Escape mode which will have a human team fighting to survive a point A to point B style level while hordes of aliens chase them down.
Doing well on either side will reward upgrades for your marine loadouts, such as improved weapons or abilities as well as special skills for you alien classes like finishing moves where rip someone’s throat out or special skills like mauling people to death. So far, the deathmatch modes look to strike a good balance of offensive and defensive squad based tactics that make playing either side just as entertaining. Basically, even if you really wanna be the alien all the time, you should still have just as much fun blasting them to death with your friends. Things like XP and weapon unlocks will carry over from both story and arena modes so players will be able to level up no matter what they choose to do.
The two story levels we were shown seemed intriguing enough, especially during combat against aliens, and it was a nice change of pace to play an FPS that offered a decent challenge, and competitive multiplayer is already looking like it has a lot of potential. I mean, it’s hard not to enjoy being a xenomorph with a tiny extra mouth concealed inside its actual mouth. And that alone has me interested in checking out more of Aliens: Colonial Marines when it comes out on early next year on PC, 360 and PS3