Aliens: Colonial Marines Hands-On at E3 2012

We Kick Some Xenomorph Developer Ass in Multiplayer

June 10, 2012 by

With Prometheus hitting theaters this weekend, Gearbox and SEGA’s upcoming original Aliens game taking place after the events of the last movie has also been creating a huge amount of buzz. We got a chance to play the game’s multiplayer mode with the boys of EGM on our team and not only did we love every minute of the experience, but we even ended up coming together as a team and kicking some dev team xenomorph ass.

Alien: Colonial Marines’ multiplayer isn’t really anything new. If you’ve played Left 4 Dead, Dead Space 2, or the previous Aliens vs. Predator game, then you’ve already seen the basic concept. The multiplayer pits human marines against Aliens (aka xenomorphs) in epic team deathmatch battles. Humans use the same first-person perspective from the campaign and in our demo we got to pick from loadouts with generic guns like a pulse rifle and shotgun that fires and sounds very similar to the one found in Doom. Although generic, the guns still work and sound perfectly, and Gearbox CEO and President Randy Pitchford explained that the full game will feature tons of unique weaponry, some of which has never been done before and is based on sci-fi from the movie franchise.

To keep the gameplay we got our hands on from feeling generic, we were able to use a heartbeat sensor that each marine player could pull out in their left hand at any time to detect nearby Aliens. The heartbeat sensor isn’t cheap like in other competitive online games however, and because players must view it with their left hand, it causes the gun in their right hand to be pulled back, creating a lot of tension as the player has to constantly balance use between the two — especially when that eerie beeping noise starts getting louder and louder, meaning the Aliens are getting closer and you can see read dots starting to swarm around your location.

Aliens on the other hand don’t get guns and use a different third-person perspective with the ability to climb up structures and see through walls. There are also different class loadouts for the Aliens that start these players out as normal-sized Aliens, which can pounce on humans and instantly tear them to pieces and slice them in half. After a certain period of time a special bull-like Crusher xenomorph can be selected by one player on the Alien team and used to literally just plow through the marines, instantly killing them. The Crusher is a little unfair and unbalanced, but there was supposedly a power-up on the map that I’m sure would level the playing field for the marines once the Crusher made its appearance.

Besides absolutely beautiful graphics, what makes Colonial Marines unique from all the multiplayer games its been influenced by is how it allows for straight up Team Deathmatch. We’re not sure how many modes will be in the final build, but unlike games such as Left 4 Dead and Dead Space 2, which are focused more on the Humans trying to escape and the monsters trying to prevent the humans from making it to their goal, Colonial Marines‘ Team Deathmatch mode focuses only on kills. Whichever team is in the lead when the timer runs out is the winner, making it a truly competitive 5 vs. 5 experience.

Gearbox was only letting people play as the marines at E3 and was using members of their own development team to fill the other team of xenomorphs. With their team being far more experienced, it became apparent (I even overheard) that their team was told to keep each game close and not destroy the other team. Because of how easy it is for the Aliens to one-shot humans, it’s essential to stick together as a team of marines and hold down an area while constantly watching the heartbeat sensor to prevent being ambushed by the Aliens. In most of the games we watched, Gearbox still ended up beating the team of marines by a couple points because the humans didn’t work together as a team, but when we actually stuck together, you could tell once we were up by twelve kills that the Gearbox team was done playing nice and were out for blood when they kept spawning their Crusher unit towards the end.

Thankfully, our game’s clock ran out of time as Gearbox began to pick us apart one by one and reduce our margin of victory. While I was happy to come away with the W, realizing that our time was up made our victory somewhat bittersweet. Aliens: Colonial Marines‘ multiplayer looks and plays absolutely amazing and will for sure have both fans of the series and of shooters spending many hours killing one another in frantic games of Team Deathmatch come February when the game is finally released.