Aliens: Colonial Marines Hands-on PAX 2012 Preview -- No Escape for You!By Stephen Johnson - Posted Sep 05, 2012
I played Aliens: Colonial Marines' "Escape Mode" at PAX Prime 2012, and found the experience enjoyable. Not as enjoyable as amorous congress with an art school girl, but definitely more enjoyable than a trip to a doctor to have skin tags frozen off with liquid nitrogen. Not that I have experience with either...
For the Space Marines, the object of this up-to-four-player co-op mode is simple: You gotta get the hell out of there. You gotta get to the end of the H.R. Giger-inspired map in 10 minutes. You gotta Escape. It's not as easy as making a mad-dash out of an art school girl's dorm room, though. There are locked doors in your way. And control panels. Oh, and interstellar monsters. Lots of interstellar monsters.
Escape mode is straight up action, though, so you probably won't be too scared, and don't expect any of the creepiness of the Aliens movies. The marines rock different guns and explosives; the aliens have horrible otherworldly powers. While the finished game will allow players to also take on the role of Aliens, that wasn't playable at PAX. Attendees could only play as humans, and the Xenomorphs were played by Gearbox employees. Life is very hard for the good guys.
Each variety of Xenomorph has a different power he/it can employ against his/its human enemies. Some rush at you and eat your face off. Some spit green poison at your face. (Messing up the faces of Space Marines is a big part of the game.) Like the survivors of the zombie apocalypse in Left 4 Dead, Space marines gotta stick together and move in a sort of paranoid, gun-laden mob...like a heavily armed rugby team. It's the only way to protect your face from being eaten off. Lone wolves are just not acceptable, especially given the penalty for death.
A fallen marine in Colonial Marine's "Escape" mode wallows on the ground for awhile, firing a weak-ass pistol, with his life-blood running out, waiting for a comrade who can revive him. If that doesn't happen, and a marine or two is out, it's basically "Game Over, Man!" When you die (and you will die), all that's left is to watch the desperate last-stands of your team-mates, then yell at them for not reviving you when they had the chance. In our playthrough, we probably made it about halfway through the 10-minute time period before falling before our clearly superior Alien overlords.
The highlights of the match were the sections where one marine is opening a door, a time-consuming process that forces the other three players to huddle around the door-opener, guns pointed outwards, waiting for the dreaded alien swarms. That and the damn green-slime spitting aliens attacking from afar while the face-hugger were all up in our grills. It was a bad scene, man, but bad in that frantic "Oh, crap! Oh crap!" way that multiplayer games are bad.
I'm not sure if it was the opposition's familiarity with the map and the controls, or a generally sucky group of colleagues, but the game mode felt really weighted to the aliens. Perhaps with a little time, we could have developed some strategy to help in our fight, but for a first playthrough, there just wasn't time. I wouldn't be surprised if there's some balance tweaking going on still, behind the scenes of Aliens: Colonial Marines. But even if there isn't, the Escape game mode is super fun.