Release Date: February 12, 2013
Developer: Gearbox Software
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360, Windows
In space, no one can hear you scream. In Aliens: Colonial Marines, all of your co-op friends can hear it, and they'll laugh at you mercilessly for being such a wuss. Unless they're screaming too, of course. That's what Gearbox Software is shooting for in this Sega-published adventure that has 20th Century Fox's series canon seal of approval.
What We Know:
The story in Aliens: Colonial Marines is framed as a direct sequel to James Cameron's 1986 film Aliens, though it also occurs after the events of Alien 3 as well. The U.S.S. Sulaco has been discovered in orbit around LV-426 and players assume the role of Corporal Christopher Winter, a Colonial Marine who is a member of the search and rescue crew sent to investigate the unresponsive vessel.
Winter and his fellow marines arrive to find a dead crew, a mysterious, murderous alien life form with acid blood, and armed grunts dressed in Weyland-Yutani uniforms overseeing some sort of grand experiment. It seems that the corporation is still determined to use the alien Xenomorphs as a biological weapon. The arrival of Colonial Marines messes up those plans and the decision is made to scrub the operation.
Over the course of the game, players will explore a number of familiar locations from the film, including the Sulaco, the decimated colony Hadley's Hope, and the surface of the planet LV-426 that the colony was established on. What's more, the story is littered with visual references that beckon back to the events of the film.
In terms of gameplay, Colonial Marines is a first-person shooter that allows for up to four players (two players in split-screen) to take on Xenos together in drop-in/drop-out co-op. Gearbox hasn't said much yet about the game's arsenal, though it has been revealed that weapons will be completely customizable for both functional and cosmetic purposes.
Colonial Marines also features a separate multiplayer mode that features a number of modes, only a handful of which have been detailed. Basic team-based deathmatch pits teams of six against one another, Marines versus Xenos. A 4v4 objective mode called Escape tasks a squad of Marines with reaching an evac point while fending off Xeno pursuers. In a cool twist, progression-based unlocks carry between both the campaign and the multiplayer modes.
The most recent announcement revealed a Horde-like Survival mode, which sees four Colonial Marines taking on multiple waves of attacking Xenomorphs. The mode hasn't been properly demoed yet, but a reveal trailer shows off siege-oriented play that is built around setting up fortified positions using turrets and special weapons.
Gearbox has also confirmed that the Wii U version of the game offers a handful of GamePad-specific features. It's not clear how it will all work yet, though it's worth noting that the Wii U's tablet controller looks an awful lot like one of the films' motion trackers.
What We Expect:
Aliens: Colonial Marines has been rattling around at Gearbox for more than five years now. Between that and the fact that the Alien franchise appeals to a wide swath of gamers, the weight of expectations on Colonial Marines is pretty heavy. The game hasn't always looked its best in preview showings, though each new look we get shows more and more promise.
The team at Gearbox knows its way around co-op shooters. Based on what we've seen thus far, the single player campaign definitely seems to nail the spirit of the series and the appeal of a humans vs. Xenos multiplayer mode was proven more than a decade ago. There are still some lingering worries about this one, but we expect Gearbox to pull everything together in time for the game's February launch.