Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Aliens: Colonial Marines: Hands-On First Impressions

Rock has been an enormous fan of the Alien series of movies since he was a kid. Sadly, almost every game based on the franchise has been a bit of a let down. Imagine Rock's excitement when Aliens: Colonial Marines was announced! Rock's been dying to get his mitts on this game for a long time now, and he finally gave it a go at this year's PAX East! Note: It should be mentioned that whenever the Alien movies are mentioned as being great, Rock is only referring to the first three movies in the series. Forget about any other abomination which features the dreaded xenomorph, this is the good stuff!

I really don't know what it is about the Alien movies that grabs me so. Yes, I recognize why the movies are technically great, but for some reason, these movies pull me in on an almost primal level. From the design of the xenomorphs themselves, to the beautiful mixture of horror and action, I've been in love with this series for an unbelievably long time. I've longed for a truly competent gaming experience that could bring me into that gorgeous, deadly world.  Unfortunately, few games have managed to capture that feeling.  Aliens: Colonial Marines appears to promise exactly what I've been searching for, and I've just been dying to get my hands on it! When I learned that the game would be at PAX East 2012, I was absolutely delighted!

Aww! Little guy just wants a hug!

After waiting in line for about two and a half hours, we were finally allowed in to see the single player demo.  We watched as a Gearbox employee played through an early portion of the game, and I was just floored.  Finally, I was seeing xenos that actually behaved like xenos!  These are cunning hunters, using stealth and subterfuge to eliminate their targets.  Previously, xenomorphs have pretty much just been very fast creatures that could run on walls.  I was truly excited to see the xenos properly represented here in all their deadly glory.  I watched as the marine made his way through some areas that should be familiar to anyone who's seen Aliens, the docking bay of the Sulaco and the sleep pod room to name a couple. Given that this game takes place almost two years after the film, it's very cool to see a new character's perspective on old events.  Graphically, the game is just gorgeous, with moody lighting, pitch perfect sound, and eye-popping textures. The single player demo lasted about fifteen minutes, and I left it confident that I'd finally be satisfied with an Aliens game.

The game will feature 4 player co-op

Next, we were ushered into another line to see the multiplayer demo.  Within short order, six of us were led into a room, where we stood behind a group of six people from the dev team who were manning a series of Xbox 360s.  This was a team deathmatch game, with the devs playing as the xenomorphs against the group that came before us, playing as the marines.  As the match proceeded, I took the opportunity to pick the brain of the dev in front of me.  Clearly, strategy is important to the marines' survival, they'll get torn to pieces if they don't work together.  Likewise for the xenos- they need to utilize their ability to stealthily climb any surface and take the marines by surprise. When asked if there would be other modes than team deathmatch, the dev replied with a cagey "we're only talking about team deathmatch right now", which I interpret to mean that there will be other modes, but they're a mystery for now. We watched for five minutes, at the end of which the dev team had earned an easy victory against the disorganized showgoers. Now it was our turn...

Oh God no!

Chris and I ended up getting into the same group, with Zack in the group behind, spectating on our match.  It seemed like I was with a pretty solid group, as we all understood that sticking together and working as a team was the way to victory. The game controls like a dream, everything is tight and smooth, the way a shooter should be. The classic weapons look and sound exactly as they should, tearing into the xenos.  I have to say, it was truly scary to be moving with a squad of marines, only to look behind to see a handful of xenomorphs scuttling toward us across the ceiling and walls, shrouded in shadow, silent and deadly. Gearbox definitely nailed what it feels like to have these nightmarish creatures coming for you! After a tense, hard-fought match, I'm proud to say that we won! Triumphantly exiting the booth, I felt so immensely excited and energized! I really can't wait for Aliens: Colonial Marines to come out later this year! After my hands on session with it, I really do feel like this could be the Aliens game that I've been waiting for...


Rock is ready to get this bug hunt rolling!


  1. You have no idea how excited I am for this, even if I am less charitable about which of the movies I consider worthwhile. As far as I'm concerned, that third movie didn't happen, either.

    1. Aw what?! I thought Alien 3 was a great return to the horror of the first movie. Definitely not as good, and in my mind it's the least of the original three, but I still think it's pretty great. More so if you get a chance to see the Assembly Cut.

    2. The true abomination in the series is Resurrection....terrible movie.

      1-3 are terrific films, for different reasons.

  2. I've been waiting for this for a very long time.

  3. I had very little interest in this title, due to my aversion to FPSes, and Gearbox titles. Not to mention my having no history with the Alien movies. But the demo seemed extremely tight, and the multiplayer was great fun.