Published by – SEGA
Number of Players: 1
Platform – Nintendo DS
Release Date – October 11th, 2011
Genre – Action, Adventure, Side-Scroller
ESRB – Teen
MSRP – $29.99
“All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the Corps!” In the build up to the forthcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines, Sega has released Aliens Infestation, an old fashioned 2D side-scrolling action adventure, not too dis-similar from the SNES/Megadrive classic, Alien 3. Infestation has you in charge of a squad of marines, sent to investigate a distress signal received from a life form on board the USS Sulaco.
As the unit is deployed, you take control of one of the four characters in the squad, which includes a marine called Cameron (see what they did there?) and it’s not long before you find out that Weyland Yutani have sent in some of their own mercenaries and droids. Soon after that a Xenomorph hive is discovered onboard. The story doesn’t entirely gel with the films as there is little to no mention of the events of Aliens, nor were the surviving crew on the ship.
There’s quite the difficulty spike to Aliens Infestation. Starting out with weak weapons and facing tough opponents makes things somewhat challenging. Don’t be surprised if you buy the farm a few times during the opening stages. When you start out, you are equipped with the always welcome pulse rifle and standard handgun. You will often find that enemies seem to absorb bullets, meaning that on a few occasions you’ll be down to harsh language in no time, or your handgun, which does have infinite ammunition, but minimal impact.
After collecting a few weapons upgrades however, the playing field evens out and once the levels are maxed, you can make short work of your once difficult foes. The weapons available throughout the game are all from the iconic arsenal of Aliens. As well as the aforementioned pulse rifle, you will also pick up the shotgun (handy for close encounters!), the flame thrower and the huge smart gun. All of which are brilliantly recreated.
The game harks back to the titles of the 16-bit era such as Metroid and Castlevania. While your path is set, the route is far from linear. There is plenty of running to and fro and getting from point A to B to find a key card or specific item to enable you to progress further. Although there is a lot of travelling back and forth, there is also a lot of action taking place as the xenomorph are constantly coming out of the goddamn walls!
The boss fights prove somewhat of a challenge. In all the boss battles, I lost at least one marine each time. Unfortunately, once you lose a member of your team, they can’t be revived. However, throughout your travels you encounter an assortment of marines, each of whom has their own personality traits which separates them from being just another faceless sprite, and if you are a man short, they will join your squad. There are 20 marines that can join your team in total, but you can only have 4 on your squad at a time.
Taking in familiar locations such as remains of Hadley’s Hope AKA LV-426, and the Sulaco, as well as getting to grips with the Power Loader and the APC, there are plenty of references and homage’s to the beloved series.
The games sound is something of a delight. They’ve managed to capture the effects and music from the films and it gives you the feeling of being in the Alien universe. As always, the pulse rifle has a particularly satisfying sound to it! Of course an Aliens game wouldn’t be complete without the motion tracker, used more to terrify rather than assist.
Ventilation shafts are a mainstay of any Alien film, usually infested with alien eggs, face huggers and chest bursters, make things feel a little more claustrophobic. The vents usually act as an area with pick-ups, usually weapon upgrades, or access routes to areas otherwise inaccessible.
After reaching a certain point in the game, a mini game called Knife Game is unlocked. It is a touch screen mini game based on the scene in Aliens where Bishop is stabbing the knife on the table between his and Hudson’s fingers. Presented in the style of an old 8-bit arcade machine, this really is little more than filler, albeit a fun little nod towards the film. Other extras include character profiles of all the characters you come across throughout the game.
As great as the game is, it’s far too short, only taking me a few hours to complete, with little to no replay value. The licence has been used to great effect but I can’t help but think this game may have been better suited as an XBLA/PSN title, with multiplayer thrown in for good measure. It would certainly add to the value of the game overall. It acts as a great prelude to Colonial Marines, but will be nowhere as good (here’s hoping) as the main event.
GAMEPLAY: 4 / STORY: 2 / GRAPHICS: 3 / SOUND: 4 / OVERALL: 3.5
Photos provided by SEGA