One of the greatest lures of an Aliens multiplayer experience is the chance to play as the franchise's iconic Xenomorphs. At a recent event for Aliens: Colonial Marines, I was able to do just that by trying out two of the game's multiplayer modes: Team Deathmatch and Escape.
Previous games in the franchise have struggled translating Xenomorph movement into functional controls. Specifically, players had a very difficult time controlling the inhumanly fast alien avatars with their very human reflexes, leading to headaches and thrown controllers. The Gearbox team attempted to alleviate this problem by giving Xenomorph players a third person perspective--and it works. Not only did the controls feel smooth, the third person perspective also eliminated the disorientation caused when the aliens crawled onto ceilings and walls. A trajectory indicator, similar to what many games like Gears of War use to aim your grenades, was added to aid Xeno players in determining exactly where they'll land after a leap. The HUD is quite minimalistic, including little else besides the time left in the match, so the Xenos are equipped with sight-based radar. As long as any pesky Marines are in your radar's range, you can see them through walls, and not only will you be your aware of their distance from you, you can also tell which direction they are facing. Perfect for sneaking up behind an unsuspecting human!
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While Team Deathmatch is a relatively straightforward affair, I also got to try out Escape. An objective-based mode, Marines must try to complete certain goals as the Xenomorphs try to rip them apart. In the map I was playing, the Marines were doing their best to survive Alien assaults as they rushed from point A to point B, while defending airlocks and opening blast doors. The iconic motion tracker makes a useful appearance here, but the downside is you cannot shoot while using it. I imagine teamwork being instrumental at this point, letting one of your buddies check the tracker while the rest of the team keeps their weapons ready, but unfortunately our headsets weren't functioning. When each objective is complete, the next one appears as a point directly in your first person view. Given the horrific atmosphere, this mode felt reminiscent of a Left 4 Dead campaign.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is coming to PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on February 12th, 2013. A Wii U version will follow at an unspecified date.
Come back to Shacknews on Monday for impressions of the single-player campaign.