Monster Mondays 2: Aliens!!!

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It’s Monday again, and that means it’s time for another installment of Monster Mondays. This week we’ll look at what’s new with those little green men that come to our planet from time to time and cause a ruckus. From last week’s release of XCom: Enemy Unknown to any number of other games, extra terrestrials are ubiquitous in our culture. This week’s feature touches on one of the most influential series in the alien realm: Ridley Scott’s aptly titled Aliens.

FIRST LOOK: ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES MULTIPLAYER

Gearbox Software and Sega provided an advanced look at the multiplayer in their new game Aliens: Colonial Marines during this past weekend’s New York Comic Con. When I first heard about a new Aliens game, I will admit, my hopes were not terribly high. Movie games have never had good reputations, and the last Aliens game (Aliens Vs. Predator) was mostly panned by critics. However it’s always best to give something a chance before dismissing it, so I tried to go in with an open mind.

The main mode on offer was their take on the old standard, team deathmatch. The teams in this 6-on-6 game are divided into humans (colonial marines) and aliens. While the human side plays like you’d expect – with some catches we’ll get to shortly – the aliens are a complete departure from the norm.

Playing as the Xenomorphs (the technical term for the species) you are able to sense through walls, crawl through air ducts and climb on walls and ceilings. Most of the attacks for aliens are melee and very damaging. The health of the beasts is pretty high too, making them formidable foes for the team of marines. There is even a way to evolve into a bigger bull-like creature that could become a true force of nature to deal with. The Xenos are fast, deadly, and hard to kill: exactly as you’d expect.

The colonial marines are a more traditional FPS team, but the sheer devastation that even the normal aliens can cause means the ever-popular run and gun tactics rarely work. Teamwork and the motion radar items are key to survival and, even then, you will probably die. There’s something wholly scary about watching the motion sensor and spinning around trying to spot the aliens before they get close, only to find a blip appear right on top of you. You react quickly, attempting to unload rounds into any vaguely moving shadow, but it’s in vain. In a single motion you are down and being ripped apart by a shadow. It is a tense but enjoyable facsimile of the panic in the movies.

Throughout the evening, the human teams were often out scored by the alien side by a healthy margin. I started to think the game was a bit unfair for the puny earthlings. After a while, though, things started to change. Players started sticking together and heavier weapons were used more effectively. The game’s balance showed itself. Even the weaknesses of the big, stompy one (as I called it) were figured out, but they were still hard to kill. Simply put, it was good fun for both sides in our (too) short playtest.

The other mode on offer was called Escape. In this mode the colonial marines must complete a mission while the alien team attempts to, well, stop them. For most who played it as humans the experience was likened to Left 4 Dead, and to those watching it did too. The level was divided into killing grounds with short rearming areas between them (elevators and the like). It looked like a great way to recreate the movie’s atmosphere in an arena environment. Gearbox recently released a trailer for the mode which showcases the major features:

If the rest of the game can live up to the expectations garnered from this multiplayer demonstration then we will be in for a memorable ride. Aliens: Colonial Marines is scheduled to come out for Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC on February 12, 2013.

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