previews\ Apr 8, 2012 at 8:00 am

PAX East 2012: Aliens Colonial Marines multiplayer preview


Aliens: Colonial Marines is one of the most anticipated games coming out this year.  As a video game follow up to the popular Aliens sequel, Colonial Marines has a lot to live up to.  Up until now, we've seen enough previews and trailers to give us a good sense that the single player portion of the game will be a solid campaign that will stay true to the films.  We've seen the dynamic lighting that give us that similar eerie feeling the movies gave us.  We've seen the action-packed playthroughs that show xenomorphs bursting out of the shadows in droves.  We've seen the clips played to the similar soundtrack as heard in the films.  But what we haven't seen is the multiplayer portion of the game.

In this day and age of gaming, some sort of multiplayer elements is almost always necessary - especially in the first person shooter genre.  Lucky for us, Gearbox delivered at PAX East this year, not only giving us a preview of the multiplayer, but letting us go hands on in a six vs six deathmatch against the Gearbox devs themselves.  And I am pleased to say that the multiplayer portion gives the campaign a run for its money.

With so much emphasis on the single player campaign and story elements, you'd think Gearbox would've just slapped on some slacking multiplayer component, but in Aliens: Colonial Marines, the multiplayer is not only fun, but still has that same intense feeling as the films and even single player have.

The multiplayer mode we saw was a six vs six deathmatch with one team as the alien xenomorphs and the other as a squad of marines.  While the mode was fun, it didn't exactly break the mold in terms of gameplay.  One team, the devs, controlled the aliens and hunted the marines.  In fact, the mode was quite similar to the multiplayer deathmatch in Left 4 Dead.

While in control of the xenomorphs, the coloring was tinted with a yellow hue.  Aside from your own alien, everything else is a yellowish outline.  There were a few types of xenomorphs to choose from ranging from your typical alien to one with increased armor on the front that charged into the fray headfirst.  The players controlling the aliens could scale walls, leap into upper levels, cling to the ceiling and perform all of the actions you'd need to hit the marines with the element of surprise.

The devs relied on crawling through tight spaces and waiting on walls for marines to walk by.  After blindly walking in they would leap onto them either mauling them to death with their claws or literally ripping into them with their deadly tails.

Then it was my turn to take the marines for a spin.  I was given two classes of a possible four to choose from - each with their own primary and secondary weapons.  Throughout the map are scattered weapons that can help you fight off the enemy team like the minigun.  In multiplayer it is also necessary to use the motion tracker.

At first it seemed a little unfair as we got off to a terrible start with the devs jumping out a huge lead on us.  My biggest gripe was that I would be standing there and out of nowhere an alien would kill me from the back.  It was frustrating, but it was also recreating the adrenaline of being a marine in an alien attack.  It created a sense of chaos and uneasiness you'd expect and Aliens: Colonial Marines game, or movie, to contain. 

Nevertheless, it was frustrating at first, but after getting used to the controls and map we started to fight back.  Throughout the match, you earn XP by killing enemies, performing challenges like getting revenge on the player who killed you or getting a double kill, etc.  Sticking as a team we clawed within one kill of a victory, but unfortunately the five minute demo was up.

Overall, despite the short match, the multiplayer deathmatch was a ton of fun.  I can definitely see it as a sense of replay value after playing through the campaign.  The primary focus of Aliens: Colonial Marines is still likely to be the campaign, but the multiplayer is nothing to scoff at.

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