Developer Gearbox Software, known mainly for developing the Borderlands series, will be releasing Aliens: Colonial Marines next month. This title has kept some gamers waiting for five years, since its cover feature in the February 2008 edition of GameInformer.
The game is set after the James Cameron movie, Aliens. In order to not spoil both the movie and the game’s story, I will not go into preceding plot specifics. In the game, you will assume control of one of the 400 US Colonial Marines sent to the planet LV-246 in order to investigate.
Based on a playable multiplayer demo at New York Comic Con (NYCC) in November of 2012, the game looks great and fits into the same dark, wet world that James Cameron created. This is thanks in part to the modified version of Unreal Engine 3 that Gearbox uses. The player versus player multiplayer mode gave players two options of small, quick aliens at the start. Then, based on performance, players could upgrade to a bulkier alien. The controls did not seem to be very responsive for the aliens, seeing the players attempt to stick to walls to sneak up on marines only seemed to work half the time, even though the same button presses and timing was used.
The campaign was presented, but the public was not allowed to play, therefore it is unclear if the same control issues that showed up in the multiplayer aspect will be present in the campaign. The game looked very slow while watching the demo, though. Aliens were not quick and menacing, coming seemingly out of nowhere to pummel and kill the player, instead they seemed to lumber around in the open. In later levels however, they got faster and harder to pin down. The use of a motion tracker, which is available to Marines in order to find aliens is limited, as they cannot fire at enemies when they are using it.
Progressing through the game, it appears that fights will get much more intense, and with Sega, the publisher, promising a great deal of unpredictability, these fights will hopefully not get old. Ammo and health are even random within levels, so you will not be able to rely on their positions when replaying or restarting levels.
All-in-all, Aliens: Colonial Marines is looking fairly promising, but not like a game that took five years to develop. Maybe we will all be pleasantly surprised come February 12 (and later for the Wii U), but judging by the way the multiplayer looked at NYCC, we will probably be seeing an above-average campaign drug down by an after-thought of an online mode.