The Alien Franchise has attached itself into pop-culture psyche like the face-hugger does to its victim. What has emerged is one of the most iconic and memorable films in the history of sci-fi. There have been attempts at translating the universe to a video game. But the most recent addition, that still inspires adrenalin, action, and the classic Aliens feel is 2013’s Aliens: Colonial Marines.
When a military platoon is sent to investigate the sudden reappearance of the Sulaco, not only are they greeted by a familiar carnivorous foe, but unknown mercenaries are also present and just as hostile. Attempting to escape, the remaining crew crash-land just a few klicks away from the colony of Hadley’s Hope. From there the crew must piece together what’s going on… if they can survive long enough in the process.
Aliens: Colonial Marines boasts an impressive pedigree, both Gearbox Software (makers of the much popular Borderlands series) and TimeGate studios (responsible for F.E.A.R. and military R.T.S. game Axis and Allies). F.E.A.R. is well-known for being an atmospheric horror game based on an assault unit and unspeakable horror, so they’re a perfect fit in the world of the Xenomorphs. Despite the competent A.I. of your squad-mates, the player must remain on high alert as the enemy could come from anywhere… and usually does. The combat is tense and unremitting, capturing the relentless terror onboard. On normal (or solider) difficulty. You can be easily obliterated by a quick burst of gunfire. Thus, requiring sharp dashes, strategic use of the terrain, and keeping your wits about you, as the iconic scanner keeps beeping and the pulse rifles keep up their distinctive cry.
There’re no bones about it, this game is a love letter to the main Aliens franchise. The aesthetic perfectly encapsulates the feeling of abject horror, that the films and their mythos have come to be known for. And this is seen in the levels that are primarily based on recognisable locations from the films. The game savours its shots of windows, overlooking the ship, that looks almost identical to the models used in the film (jazzed up, of course, with the then latest in computer graphics.) Through the course of the campaign, you’ll visit other places like the colony of Hadley’s Hope. It’s impressive how immersive the experience is. Especially if you’ve grown up mesmerised by them.
Collectables are also abundant, along with audio-logs and dog-tags, you can pick up the same weapons used by the stars of the film. Corporal Hick’s shotgun is a favourite of mine, but weapons like Vasquez’s powerful Smartgun are available to play with. However, no experience would be complete without a go on the famous power loader. These inclusions feel like they’re affectionately crafted into the game and are a pleasure to experience.
Aliens: Colonial Marines shows that even 20 years on, the beloved world of LV-426 can be revisited with the same feelings of excitement and terror as it inspired the first time. It gives fans of the films a variety of great reasons to step up and face the Xenomorphs. As well as giving the player the chance to be front and centre in the movies. Aliens: Colonial Marines is a heck of a ride, and it’s anything but game over man.
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