Preview: Aliens: Colonial Marines will finally give us the sequel we always wanted

Back in September, Gearbox Software 2012 Community Day event was a complete and utter blast.  If you didn't read our recap already, you missed out on some good times between panels, the after-party, and the charity poker event.  But it was also a prime spot to go hands-on with Aliens: Colonial Marines and its two main multiplayer modes, Team Deathmatch and Escape Mode.  Most attendees were able to play as Marines, going up against Gearbox employees portraying the Aliens.  But, lucky us, we managed to get a hands-on session from the flip side of things, and got to smack around some grunts using xenomorphs.  And it was fun as you might expect.


Though we only got to play as two of the four classes available in the game – the lurker and the warrior, with the "Bull" alien and the spitter left to the other players – we definitely got a feel of how the controls worked.  Unlike the Marine side of the game, the Aliens play from a third-person perspective, giving you a wider view of the level that you're on.  You also have a cool sonar-like ability that shows you were your allies and enemies are positioned, so you can set up your attack well ahead of time, then home in on your target and, if you're fast, finish them off.

The lurker is probably the best of the two.  They're a little speedier when it comes to going around corners, and you can use a pounce, both quick and timed, to literally get the jump on unsuspecting Marines.  By holding down the attack button, you see a cursor ahead of you, letting you target your pounce attack.  Releasing it unleashes the attack to great effect.  Or you can just the tap button and pounce at will, whatever you want to do.

The warrior alien is no slouch, though.  It has a few tricks as well, including a nasty swipe attack that can knock a Marine down, letting you move in for the kill with melee strikes.  Just be warned – they can easily shoot at you if you approach from a mile away, so you might want to be a little stealthier.

Fortunately, with the wall-climb ability, you can do so.  By holding down the trigger button and approaching the nearest surface, you can climb onto it, maneuvering to higher levels – or even the ceiling – and getting a better stance to jump on an enemy.  Though there were slight bugs when it came to crawling on certain things like rails, there's no question this ability was well utilized within the game.


Unfortunately, as we mentioned, we didn't get to go hands-on with the "bull" alien, a huge xenomorph that charges at enemies and leaves them for dead upon impact.  Unfortunately, this means it also uses excessive speed, leaving itself vulnerable on the back side if it somehow misses its target.

As for the spitter, it was cool to watch this thing spit acid at its enemies with great accuracy, though we didn't get to see too much of what it could do up close.  Maybe it can vomit acid as a way to finish someone up close.  We'll find out soon…

In both Team Deathmatch and Escape modes, the Aliens were excellent to play, and really provide an advantage over the Marines when it comes to sneaking around and finding characters.  But that doesn't mean the human side is a bad place to be…you just need to keep your wits about you, just like the soldiers in the classic James Cameron film.


We are definitely looking forward to the game's release next month on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and soon after for Wii U.  Bring on the multiplayer, suckers!