Aliens: Colonial Marines
Ridley Scott may be reinventing the origins of the universe with Prometheus, but in Dallas, Gearbox Software is sticking to the tried and tested formula found in James Cameron's Aliens.
Taking place after that movie's events, the game visits a mix of familiar and new locales (apparently the reactor explosion didn't wipe everything off the face of LV-426).
However, for this preview event, the SP campaign was shown only in ten minute clips, so nothing conclusive can be formed of the story at this point. We know Colonial Marines is being classed as an "official sequel" given the developer's close collaboration with 20th Century Fox, and Scott's found time in his schedule to be interviewed about the Alien mythos.
The game's four-player co-op drop in/out akin to Borderlands, with up to three people able to join the host's game at any time. XP points are then distributed evenly, and each visitor gets to keep their points when returning to their own single player game.
Unlike Borderlands however, the overall difficulty doesn't increase when player count rises. It seems that Gearbox wants the game to feel more action-orientated rather than horror-fueled, because we all know that it's not so scary when you recruit friends to the cause.
According to the developers, artistic design and the general mood imitate the original movie closely, but with the source material twenty-five years old, some aspects have been updated.
Old TV monitors have been replaced with plasma screens, and according to art director Brian Cozzers, balancing between old and new has been difficult. On one hand they wish to keep that classic sci-fi feel intact. On the other the game's set in the future, so it's not supposed to look dated.
The game's story-driven action experience means no open world stylings, but a linear structure that allows more time to be invested in visuals and the interplay of light and dark. In the movies the unseen was the most effecting, and the lighting effects that we see in the demo are equally impressive. Unfortunately the character movement modelling currently is quite stiff.
We then went hands-on with the competitive multiplayer, which borrows heavily from Valve's Left 4 Dead.
It's Aliens Versus Marines, with both sides having very different tactics at their disposal. Marines rely heavily on guns and first person shooting, Aliens ambush and cooperate.
An alien is controlled in third person, which makes it much easier to see where you are in the map. Ambushing is made easier because aliens can see marines through walls and walk on ceilings. In time players gather in-game currency, which can be used to buy new gadgets and upgrades.
The balance in multiplayer was already decent, as matches remained intense even though there are noticeable differences between the two sides. Controls were very responsive and intuitive just like in any other Gearbox game. Single player and multiplayer are said to be closely linked, but at this point the nature of this link is unclear.
This wasn't a definite look, but a brief snippet that, coupled with our knowledge of Gearbox's past works, will likely spawn a decent action title loaded with Aliens themes. From what we saw it'll be rammed with movie references, so best buy the DVD box-set and watch the films ahead of playing the game this fall.
- System:PC, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360
- Developer:Gearbox Software, TimeGate Studios
- Offline players:1-2
- Online players:1-12
- Age limit:From 18 years
- Release date:12 February 2013
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