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E3 2011: Aliens: Colonial Marines First Impressions

Feature; Jun. 13, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
Subtypes: Opinion, Preview
Kyle gets a sneak peak at one of the best shooters at E3
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a sci fi shooter developed by Gearbox Software and produced by Sega. The demo was shown behind closed doors, or rather the closed doors of a colonial marine drop ship in a dark, enclosed room. The lead developer Randy Pitchford himself was there to demo the game, saying that this game would be the “true sequel” to the James Cameron film, Aliens, picking up a few months after the events shown there. The Gearbox team had been given the blessing of both Ridley Scott and James Cameron.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Colonial Marines will revisit locations made famous by the first two films such as the lost colony of LV-426 and the derelict ship. The demo that took place took us to the colony surface to investigate the fate of the last marine squad sent there. (last seen in Aliens). Colonial Marines is a visually striking game. Flickering lights and dancing shadows reflect off the walls, and dripping water and grinding metal litter the background. The game was running on an entirely new rendering engine built specifically for it, and the level design was aided by Syd Mead, a visual futurist who has helped to create stunning sci fi environments seen in movies such as Blade Runner and the Aliens series.

After moving through the destroyed colony facility, the famous motion tracker from the series began to give the telltale click, signaling approaching movement. The tracker is hand held, meaning that the player has to switch back and forth between the motion tracker and the currently selected firearm. Soon the tracker was filled with red dots, and no sooner did the player pull up the shotgun did the walls and floor burst with the black xenomorphs the series is known for. It was quite a spectacle to see a flood of aliens rush toward the marines from a first-person perspective.

As the demo continued, the group of marines exited the facility after being thrown out a window by a charging xeno where they ran into another xenomorph -- one never before seen until the game, a crusher. The crusher, easily twice the size of a normal xeno, sported an enlarged cranium that it used to charge and crush its prey as it demonstrated on a helpless marine who was quickly turned into a bloody pile of goo.

The demo finished with the remaining marines sealing themselves in an abandoned hanger and finding a variety of new weapons to choose from including the assault riffle and automated turret guns. The large yellow power loaders could also be seen being piloted by other marines, although it was not clear if you could pilot them as well. This section also showed off the ability to have up to three other people drop in and out of the game to play cooperatively. As the section finished and the hanger was nearly overrun with xenos crawling on nearly every single surface, the queen alien from Aliens burst in. The largest one of them all, she made a mad dash for the player and prepared to devour him before the screen faded out.

From what I saw, Aliens: Colonial Marines is shaping up into a cinematic and action-packed FPS. With enemies that can come in from any angle to the weapons, creatures, and environments that made the first two films so memorable, this looks like an FPS worth playing for both fans of the franchise and FPS fans as well.

Aliens: Colonial Marines is set to launch spring 2012 for the Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Wii U.  

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