E3 2012: Aliens: Colonial Marines Hands-on Preview
Alien ass-kicking at E3
by Nicholas Laborde
©2012 Nicholas Laborde
I imagined that Bill Paxton’s famous line from Aliens (1986) was going through the heads of the Xenomorph players during my time with Aliens: Colonial Marines at E3 2012.
I was MVP and had gone on a kill streak that ended the lives of nine happy Xenos, but better still I had also achieved a quadruple kill, which illicited quite the positive response from the people in the line behind me.
Aliens: Colonial Marines isn’t just a one-trick pony, hyping itself as being the canonical sequel to the film Aliens. It’s also got a multiplayer component that, while being able to stand up on its own, can only be accurately described as “kick-ass.”
They mostly come at E3…mostly
It was a classic Marine v. Xenomorph encounter (see: E3 Lemmings versus Gearbox employees), but make no mistake: this isn’t Call of Aliens: Xenomorph Warfare.
One of the most immediate things that players will find is that there isn’t any radar plastered on the bottom left corner of the screen, letting everyone know where everyone is when they do as much as pick their nose.
Instead, we had to hold a button (the Left Bumper in our case) to bring up the infamous radar tracker in order to locate any foes within a certain range.
The drawback? You can’t shoot and have it out at the same time. This simple design decision – while logical – allows the atmosphere to kick up several notches, and allows players to truly become immersed inside the world.
This isn’t regular “kill the guys who don’t look like us” multiplayer; this is a fight for survival unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in multiplayer before.
For close encounters
I started out using the iconic Pulse Rifle, but found that it didn’t suit my tastes very well. The Xenos moved swiftly and attacked close; I needed something better.
Not much later, I fell in love with the trusty shotgun.
Initial skirmishes led to me barely surviving onslaught after onslaught of coordinated Xeno attack. My teammates and I learned something very quickly: in the world of Colonial Marines, there is no such thing as a lone wolf.
A perfect example of this occurred when a fellow Marine and I were moving through a cave in an attempt to flank the Xenos that unrelentingly pinned us down. We moved through the cave, and without warning, he ran outside.
I stopped to look at a conveniently placed Smart Gun, which he passed up without so much as a glance. I picked it up, and immediately fell in love with the auto-targeting functionality and massive power.
As if on cue, not one, two or three but FOUR Xenos pounced on the poor sap as soon as he stepped out into the open. This gave me my opening: BRRRP. BRRRP. BRRRP. BRRRRRRRRP. CLANG.
After not even five seconds, my newfound friend was dead, my weapon was exhausted, and four members of the enemy team lay dead in front of me. The people in the line behind me cheered on my Quadruple Kill, undoubtedly impressed by my timing.
Before I knew it, the game was over. Those five minutes had gone by all too fast.
Not only does the game offer a fantastic single-player campaign with cooperative play available, but it also has a multiplayer offering that more than manages to stand out from the crowd, and that was only a five minute round of Team Deathmatch.
It’s intense. It’s immersive. It’s beautiful. And most importantly, it’s the Aliens game that you’ve always wanted to play.
Aliens: Colonial Marines releases on February 12, 2013 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Check out our coverage of an earlier Colonial Marines event here! And make sure to make your wallet a little lighter with the Collector’s Edition…