I’m going to level with you. Most of the time, it’s very hard to write compelling previews of a game when we don’t actually get to lay hands on the controller. When I had the chance to watch a live, hands-off demo of Sega and Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines, though, it was easy to get excited.
Before actually entering the small area of the booth to witness an early part of the game, I spied someone out of the corner of my eye. Mikey Neumann, Chief Creative Champion at Gearbox (you know, the guy that brought you Claptrap in Borderlands?) was on hand to pump us up and drop the mic. Enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgable, he is someone that should drive your interest in a game simply because of his involvement with it.
Before we got started he challenged the self-professed biggest Aliens fan (in our group of about 20) with a trivia question, “What was the name of Ripley’s cat?” Think on that while I finish the story and I’ll give you the answer in a bit. It seems that this feline cast member was also the only character to survive the entire trilogy. And, right then and there, it was decided that the purring survivor would be making an appearance in the game. Now, when you see him, you know why he’s there.
Of course, you are more interested in how the game looks, so let’s get too it.
The one thing that you should know right off the bat is that the game feels like an authentic Aliens experience. The M41A Pulse Rifles from the movie have the iconic ammo display to monitor your shots and, later on in the level, when we saw an M56 Smart Gun, the HUD and tracking looked as you would expect. The sound effects are ripped right from the films, which, oddly, some PAX attendees in our group felt sounded anemic.
Your best friend, in addition to your weapons of course, is your motion scanner. The Xenos crawl over everything, dart quickly and will attempt to chew your face off if they get to close. Should they jump you, you’ll have to hold their mouths shut and shove them off by repeatedly pressing a button. My only gripe here is that there is no way the main character, Winter, would have known about the little surprise in the alien’s mouth the first time he encountered them.
The shift when walking through the Sulaco from cold hard steel to infested, pod-filled hive was well done. The terror in the voices of the one survivor pinned to the wall, begging to be freed with Winter’s torch was appropriately terrifying. Of course, it was too late for him… he just didn’t realize it.
All in all, the game is shaping up to be a thrilling first-person shooter dripping in the acid blood of its source material. You’ll be able to find out for yourself, though, when the game launches on PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and, yes, Wii U, later this year.
Oh… and that cat’s name? Jonesy. (Thanks to commenter Curt for reminding me that I forgot to actually include it.)