Aliens: Colonial Marines has been a long time coming. Fans of the series have been waiting patiently as the game has been pushed back multiple times over the years. But if what they were showing off at E3 this year is any indication of the final product, that wait will not have been in vain.
While at the 2012 E3 Expo in Los Angeles, I had a chance to get some hands-on time with the multiplayer in Aliens: Colonial Marines as well as ask a few questions of game producer Brian Burleson, which you can check out below.
As you would expect, there are two sides of the coin in the multiplayer: the Marines and the Aliens. If you’ve played a first person shooter this generation, you know what to expect from the Marines. Pull the left trigger to point your gun at things and the right trigger to make them dead, fairly standard stuff. On the other hand, the Aliens are played from a third person perspective, giving you a better perspective on your surroundings and making positioning yourself for the kill much easier than it’s been in past games.
One of the big problems I’ve always had with Aliens in video games is that they’re usually treated like fodder. In the films the Xenomorphs are tough as nails and instill terror in anyone that has to go toe-to-toe with one. But, more often than not, in the games you can slaughter a half dozen or more then reload and move on to the next room like it’s no big deal. While I can’t speak on the single player just yet when it comes to that, I can say that isn’t the case in multiplayer.
The Aliens are tough to bring down. Given how fast and agile they can be, even one-on-one trying to drop one with a pulse rifle is a tough proposal. And if you encounter a group of them in close quarters, you’re as good as dead. Of course, that requires them to get in close to you. As a Colonial Marine you have access to all the classic weaponry from the film. During my session I was only able to get my hands on the Pulse Rifle, but I was assured all the other favorites would be featured as well.
The mode they had on the floor at E3 was a fairly standard team death match, one team of Marines vs. one team of Aliens to see who could get the most kills in five minutes.
Those five minutes seemed to blaze by as I did my best to shoot anything that wasn’t human. The best thing I can say about my session is that it feels like Aliens. This isn’t just a Call of Duty or Halo clone ran through an Alien filter. Even on a noisy show floor there was an incredible sense of tension built up during the game. The atmosphere is absolutely spot on.
As a Marine, you need to be aware of your surroundings. The Aliens can come from any direction without warning. And if they get near you, you’re done. End of story.
Of course, the Marines aren’t exactly pushovers themselves. As I mentioned earlier, I had in my hands the M41-A Pulse Rifle with under slung grenade launcher. Filling an Alien that’s in full sprint towards you full of holes then launching a grenade into a group of his buddies and watching them go flying is incredibly exhilarating. But, of course, my hubris was immediately erased when shortly after that a Xeno I wasn’t aware of dropped from the ceiling and took a bite out of my face. Such is the life (and death) of a Colonial Marine.
My absolute favorite part of my time with the game was being able to use the iconic motion tracker. In lieu of a standard map or radar on screen, you’re able to pull out the motion tracker at any time and scan the area for hostiles. It felt just like a moment from the film when I took out the tracker and there was nothing on the screen, then a second later there was a blip and a red dot on the screen, then two, then three. As they closed in on me, I had to scramble to put away the tracker and get my rifle ready to fire. After laying down some fire and launching a couple of grenades, I stood victorious. Having that little extra tactical advantage gave me the edge I needed to eke out a victory in that small skirmish. But not being able to use the tracker and have a weapon ready at the same time means you have to make a decision between being able to defend yourself or knowing what horrors are coming at you. The second it takes to switch between the two could be the difference between life and death.
I really enjoyed the brief time I spent with the multiplayer in Aliens: Colonial Marines. In a market that’s jam packed with games that feature dudes shooting other dudes, it really feels like it’s trying to carve out something that’s a little more unique. It’s been a long wait, but it seems like Aliens fans may finally have the game we’ve always wanted. And I made it through this whole thing without saying “Game over, man!”
Oh wait…damn it.
Aliens: Colonial Marines launches on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC on February 12th, 2013 with a Wii U version planned for a later release. For more information check out the official Aliens: Colonial Marines website.
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