by Derk Bil
previewed on X360
It’s All Doom and Gloom
Aliens: Colonial Marines takes place eleven months after the events of the third Alien movie. A ship called the Sephora, carrying enough marines to make up an entire army, is trying to make contact with the Sulaco, but nobody’s home. The marines' mission is to find out what happened to Ripley and her comrades. Not long after their arrival something goes terribly wrong, causing both the Sulaco and the Sephora to crash near the colony below, where most of the events in the movie took place. Only a handful of marines survived but the mission is still a go.
Once you and your fellow marines are on solid ground again, it starts to dawn on you exactly how much trouble you crash-landed into. One by one your team is getting picked off and the only thing you can do is try to fight back. That is, if you ever get the chance to do so, because your brothers in arms are taken out quite rapidly by the menacing, yet elusive, aliens. At this point, the tone is set. Playing through this in the dark will do a more than adequate job at giving anyone the heebie-jeebies. It also does wonders at setting a terrifying atmosphere to start your squad’s alien-hunt, which is what this game is all about.
Though the four movies hold many hidden treasures, they lack the means for a fully enjoyable first person shooter experience. To aid in this respect, designer Syd Mead was brought on board to make sure the material would be as close to authentic as possible. His work for movies is probably more familiar than his name; he has had a major influence on the look and feel of movies like Tron, Blade Runner, The Island, and last but not least, Aliens. Apparently, Syd Mead designed way more than they could (or wanted to) use back in ’86, which is something that came in handy now.
In It Together
Having been reintroduced to the colony from Aliens 3 and the hell it has grown into in the course of about a year or so, it’s time for you to take the reins. Together with three fellow marines, you have to find out what went on and regain control of the colony.
Chances are that most players will o through the game accompanied by 3 AI teammates, but it is quite possible to play this with one or more friends in co-op mode (either together, playing with a second controller hooked up to the console, or with up to four people online). Either way, you and the rest of your squad need to fight for survival. Fortunately, there are plenty of weapons to do so.
Adding to the variety of weapons that can be used are gun turrets that can be positioned strategically. Don’t grow too attached to them, however, because the aliens may just drop from the ceiling right behind one and take it apart. Furthermore, it has been stated that the powerloader exosuit will be available (at some point in game) as a weapon.
All of the combat we’ve seen so far has been missing a HUD interface and the SEGA representative was a bit ambiguous about whether or not the final release would be HUD-less. I felt that with the availability of the familiar motion tracker and the ammo display on the pulse rifle, there was just enough information available to keep you going even though there is currently no way of knowing the player’s approximate health.
In the short time we had saw a rather large selection of aliens, a lot of which are brand new. Most common were the warriors, but we also saw smaller scouts spying on the player in a quick-time scene, followed by a single rather large alien dropping in, which was appropriately named “The Bull”. Facehuggers were also present and no Alien title could ever be complete without a Queen.
All those aliens felt very true to the tone of the movies. What was less appealing was the fact that most of the aliens went down with just two shotgun blasts. While shotguns are items you typically wouldn't wish to get in front of, I felt that two shots for an alien was nowhere near plausible, given the amount of trouble Ripley & co. have gone through over and over again to get rid of just one. In a mere minute or so you can gun down more aliens than there are in all the movies combined. Then there are scenes where the protagonist wrestles with an alien, punching it with the butt of his gun to break free...Yeah right.
This is probably all for the sake of providing the player with a lot of action, but I would personally have preferred quality over quantity, facing half the amount of aliens but having them be at least twice as strong. It may have been a simple matter of the difficulty setting being set to easy for the sake of not running into too much trouble during a demonstration, but we’ll know for sure upon release. It holds a lot of promise, despite the niggle about the aliens' possible strength.