Aliens: Colonial Marines Preview
Does the name Aliens: Colonial Marines ring any bells, at all? If it does, you may be recalling the game that EA was planning for the PlayStation 2, way back in 2001. That game has been long cancelled, by Fox and EA, but with Sega now holding the publishing rights to the Aliens franchise, they've partnered up with Gearbox to deliver us Aliens: Colonial Marines.
The folks at Gearbox Software are certainly no strangers to the first-person shooter genre, as the group is responsible for the Half-Life PC expansions and the PC port of the original Halo, and are working on Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway for Ubisoft. They're currently utilizing the Unreal Engine III in the development of Colonial Marines, much like many other games this generation have. Because both Hell's Highway and Colonial Marines are squad-based FPS games, we suspect Gearbox has grown quite accustomed to using UEIII, which is a very good thing.
So as mentioned already, Colonial Marines is a squad-based first person shooter, and that means there will be a bit of emphasis on tactics and tactical approaches. You are part of United States Colonial Marine squad (thus the game name), and your squadron is preparing for an impending alien attack unlike anything the world has seen before. Writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, of Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, have put together a unique story for Colonial Marines - complete with the franchise's tone and atmosphere intact. The story takes place just after Aliens 3, as a search and rescue team is sent out to inspect the U.S.S. Sulaco, looking for Ellen Ripley, Corporal Dwayne Hicks, Private William Hudson, Private Jenette Vasquez, and other Colonial Marines. Sega has said that the game will include various environments from previous Alien movies - so fans of the saga will love the fanservice here.
Weaponry will include everything from pulse rifles to flamethrowers, but Gearbox will introduce new equipment and skills for you to use, as well. With your artillery in hand, you'll make your way through claustrophobic environments, with scares just around the corner. To make your heart pound faster will be a soundtrack specifically put together to make you feel tense and on the edge of your seat. As is the case with many FPS games, at your disposable will be four weapons to carry: primary weapon, secondary weapon, sidearm, and grenades. If, for whatever reason, your selected marine's arsenal isn't cutting it for you, feel free to take control of another marine in your squad on the fly. And be forewarned, Sega claims there will be no heads-up display (HUD) on the screen to tell you how much health and ammo you have left. Health you'll have to determine by screen prompts (blood, redness, color, etc.) and ammo you'll have to judge by looking at your weapon's display, or at least that's what we assume.
Marines will boast individual classes, with individual abilities. But so will the Xenomorphs. A Warrior Xenomorph is at the forefront of a battle; a Scout is quick on its feet, with stealthy abilities capable of spying; a Drone is a servant carrying eggs; and a Queen is a boss. Battling certain enemies can eventually trigger a mini-game of sorts (much like God of War) where a cut-scene will require button inputs from you in order to be victorious.
As far as multiplayer goes, Sega has confirmed that Colonial Marines will feature four-player co-operative campaign gameplay that is both online and offline. It'll allow gamers to come in and out on the fly, without having to reset to a lobby and gather a party - just press start on another controller (if offline), or enter a game in progress (if online).
Aliens: Colonial Marines will be available for both the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC this Fall.
3/25/2008 Arnold Katayev