MCM Expo 2012: Aliens: Colonial Marines preview

It's been in development for some time but SEGA and Gearbox Software's vision of a 'sequel' between Aliens and Alien3 is almost ready to be released. Only a small section of the multiplayer was on show at the event and due to the immense number of Aliens fans at MCM Expo the playtime was limited. The map on show was called 'Last Hope' and it was set to standard Team Deathmatch. The full game features other modes such as ?Gauntlet Runs' where players must travel from point A to B fighting enemies and 'Last Stand' where players must defend a certain point and survive by welding doors and setting up turrets.

The multiplayer takes on the hunters vs hunted approach in a 6v6 match where you join the Xenomorphs side or marines. Within the demo we had two alien types to choose between the generic soldiers based off the frantic and erratic movement of the xenos from 'Aliens' and the Lurkers; a more stealthy xeno which can be likened more to the single xeno from 'Alien', these offer greater agility and can lunge on a marine but they have reduced health. While playing as xenomorph the screen is a murky green colour with veins around the side, and they see the world with a heat vision allowing you to see the outline of marines through the walls. This drastically changes the tactics needed when being a marine as it stops anyone from being able to camp or just hide to try and survive.

Unfortunately we didn't get to play as the xenomorphs as the staff manning the booth took care of that but we were able to try out the marines. Playing as a marine very quickly becomes frantic and creepy, if you find yourself separated from your group an alien could pop up from anywhere, they could crawl out of a vent, jump from a wall or fall from the vents in the ceiling. This uncertainty makes you panic and look all around, especially as it's another player hunting you down which can be more devious than an AI controlled character. You are equipped with a motion tracker which allows you to have a general idea of their location, but it's either the motion tracker or your weapon as the active tool so you do open yourself up for attack while looking. But if you work in a group you easily have one player with the motion tracker at the back and guns around the sides and front to get a general location of the xenos.

On the other hand the marines get a range of different weapon combinations and customizations such as the signature pulse rifle; which has a fast rate of fire but reduced accuracy, the shotgun which is powerful at close range but then close range is never a good thing when involving xenos, there is also a flamethrower too which is of course Ripley's signature weapon from the franchise. You also have secondary weapons such as pistols which are a last resort, they help get you out of a pickle if you run out of ammo in your primary weapon. The best way of survival as a marine is to stick together; there is nothing scarier than being left alone in a dark corridor and having a blip appear opposite to you..

To make things a little more interesting, during each match the aliens get to spawn a unique breed of xenomorph. In the map we played it was the Crusher, one of Gearbox's made-up aliens, a large rhino looking xeno with a huge head for charging at its opponents.

The marines get a slight advantage as well, each map has a weapon pick-up point for the marines to suit up with some slightly more powerful equipment to help increase your chances of survival. In Last Hope you have access to the smart gun which even has its own HUD to make it that much closer to the film, if however you haven't watched Aliens the smart gun targets pretty much anything that moves.

ACM seems to have a standard levelling system which works the same as other first person shooters, you gain XP from kills and assists. For the marines you get an array of upgrades and weapon unlocks that will help you be a little more powerful. Then the aliens have custom slots which will allow abilities that help give you the upper hand, like increasing speed, however not all the details have been announced yet. It's said that the multiplayer and single player XP will be linked, which will be interesting to see how they've successfully balanced this.

Personally I really hope Gearbox pull off a great game, I really loved Borderlands so I know they can make a good game. I just hope the game hasn't been in development too long just like Duke Nukem Forever. They could make one of the best games in the Aliens franchise to date, so I've got my fingers crossed as what I played of the multiplayer it's looking great, and with the recent announcement of their delay they must want to make sure the game is perfect for the fans out there. Maybe we'll be lucky and get to see some more on the single player soon as details have been fairly sparse on that aspect of the game, but they probably don't wish to spoil the story.

Aliens: Colonial Marines will be available on February 12th 2013 for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Windows and also a release for Wii U, although it hasn't been confirmed if it has the same date as the other platforms.

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