“Take Off And Nuke The Site From Orbit”, that’s the only way to be sure that you’ve dealt with your Xenomorph infestation, and that’s the idea behind the recently-revealed “Escape Mode” for Sega’s upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines. In it, one team controls an endless swarm of respawing aliens who relentlessly harrow an opposing team of space marines. The marines are in no-win fight and their only hope is to make it through a series of objectives until they manage to escape.
This sort of multiplayer gameplay has become rather trendy in the past few years. Valve’s Left 4 Dead series is based entirely around this mode, and it has been used in many shooters since then. Yet this mode seems particularly appropriate to the Aliens franchise where the humans have always been at a disadvantage, scrambling for safety while a swarm of pitiless space monsters hunts them down one-by-one.
At PAX Prime last week, Sega had the new mode available for hands-on play and I got the chance to spend a few minutes running for my life with a squad of scrappy space marines, while the developers at Gearbox assaulted us as the Xenomorphs.
Aliens: Colonial Marines gives players the choice of various builds, using weapons seen in the movies. Like any self-respecting fan, I choose the M41A Pulse Rifle with a 30mm pump-action grenade launcher, plus a sawed-off shotgun “For close encounters”.
With three other members of the squad in tow, I exited the first safe room to find the sort of creepy environment that I’d expect from the Aliens series. There were confusing twisty corridors and shadowy areas that made perfect ambush points for the stealthy aliens.
Although humans had the advantage in terms of ranged combat, the aliens had speed, agility and powerful melee attacks. They swarmed us, and brought down one of my teammates quickly. Fortunately, dead soldiers will re-spawn once the rest of the team reaches the next safe house, and the humans only lose the match if the entire team is brought down. Unfortunately as the Xenomorphs thinned our herd, it became increasingly difficult for the survivors to make it to that point.
The weapons and equipment are based on things from the movies, so the distinct motion detector beeping alerted me to enemies creeping up on me, and one objective required that I cut through a sealed door with the Marine blow torch while the rest of the team provided cover.
Being a fan of the franchise seemed to help my performance. My understanding of how the weapons work, and the sort of tactics used by our acid-blooded enemies kept me alive longer than the rest of the squad. This devotion to authenticity in the design is going to make the game very appealing to fans who have been waiting years for an in-cannon shooter game.
It also has a single-player campaign that takes place between the events of Aliens and Alien 3. This story lets players investigate the spaceship Sulaco and planet LV-426 which were both seen in the movie Aliens. There’s also a conventional team deathmatch multiplayer mode.
Aliens: Colonial Marines come out February 12th 2013 for PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, with a Wii U version arriving sometime later. Keep an eye on Explosion for more information as the game approaches release.