I’m a huge fan of the Alien franchise, so much so that I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the “prequel” Prometheus film last year. Of course some franchises just don’t seem to get stories right and thus in turn it frustrates the fan base. Take Aliens 3 for instance. What was a highly anticipated sequel after Aliens turned out to be in fact one of the worst in the series. I can say with a smile that this is the Aliens 3 version you’ve truly been looking for.
Aliens: Colonial Marines actually began development as far back as 2001, when then, a now-defunct Check Six Games began development on a PlayStation 2 game with the same title to be published by EA and Fox Interactive. The game was later cancelled and never saw the light of day. Fast forward to December 11, 2006, Sega revealed its purchases of the electronic rights from 20th Century Fox to the “Aliens” franchise, and the game we know today was subsequently announced four days later.
The game is to be Considered official series canon by 20th Century Fox, the story takes place around four months after the events in “Aliens.” The plot is carried by Corporal Christopher Winter, a Colonial Marine who is part of a rescue team sent to investigate the disappearance of Ellen Ripley and the rest of the missing marines from “Aliens” who were dispatched to LV-426. Colonial Marines incorporates various settings from the films, including the U.S.S. Sulaco, the alien spacecraft from “Alien,” LV-426, and several other locations currently unannounced.
The game feels, looks and sounds exactly like an Aliens film. Heck you’re given only a beeping motion tracker to indicate alien movement just like in the film. Essentially, Gearbox takes a cue from the Warren Spector handbook by making every single detail either from the source material or inspired directly by it (including the original James Horner soundtrack).
While playing the single player campaign, players will encounter two gameplay types. “Gauntlet Run,” in which players fight enemies from point A to point B, which sounds like your traditional first person shooter game, and “Last Stand” moments where players must defend a specific area by welding doors, fighting enemies, and setting up turrets. Killing enemies and completing objectives players will earn experience points that allow them to customize their appearance, unlock skills, and upgrade weapons.
Gearbox takes some much-needed creative liberties in regard to Colonial Marines’ enemy types. The main enemies seen in the game are xenomorphs from the first three films. From “Alien,” expect to see the Drone, Facehugger, and Chestbursters; from “Aliens,” the Warrior and trademark Queen show up; lastly, “Alien 3” gets a little love with the awesome Runner. Players won’t be limited to fighting aliens, as the marines are forced to fight Weyland-Yutani commandos and mercenaries.
Weapons will be familiar to players as equipment and types of guns are taken right from the original movies. Weapons like the flamethrower, pulse rifles, sentry turrets, smartguns, pistols, RPGs, shotguns, and much more. Outside of these and the aforementioned motion tracker, there is also a welding torch that allows players to participate in sealing doors from aliens, though there is no word on whether this can be used on most doors or only several specific ones.
The new Aliens game also has significant multiplayer focus. Cooperatively, four players can participate in a drop-in/drop-out online experience, or two can do the same with local split-screen (no word on whether the Wii U GamePad will be able to eliminate that problem).
On the competitive side, only two modes have been revealed: Escape, a four-on-four mode where marines must reach an evac point while the xenomorph team tries to stop them, and a six-on-six aliens vs. Marines team death-match While Marines control the same in both multiplayer and single-player, the alien classes are third-person affairs where they fight using their expected leaping and swiping abilities to take out opponents.
During the Colonial Marines developer interview, it was revealed that the GamePad would be a heavy part of the experience. Including motion tracking, scanning, using a database, using the map, and participating in wire puzzles.
“This is really cool when you’re first playing the game because you’re kind of focused, you’re immersed in your virtual reality world and suddenly you hear [scanner noises]. It’s coming from down there, and you can see a blip,” said Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford. “This is just scratching the surface.”
Aliens: Colonial Marines releases February 12 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC and Wii U.