For example, tapping to the right when prompted allows you to smash open an escape route on the right of the screen. Pressing up immediately when prompted allows you to raise your pulse rifle just high enough to fire a few bursts in the Alien’s direction, making it scamper away. Gearbox tells us that it included these QTEs to create the terror of battling an Alien in close-quarters. It certainly follows on from the original movie which suggested that a lone Alien is unlikely to attack a heavily-armed foe head-on. These monsters don’t know how to play fair. Every level will feature similar QTEs, alongside the more conventional FPS gameplay.
And here’s where the game starts to sound a little more like Brothers in Arms in Space, not to mention Rainbow Six Vegas, Turok, GRAW 2 and all the other squad-based shooters out there at the moment. Arguably, the biggest difference is that each of your squad mates has a specialist skill, making it essential to keep them alive. Including characters that can hack open doors and set up automated gun turrets isn’t exactly the peak of game design originality, but Gearbox has plenty of development time ahead of it to come up with something a little more imaginative.
The control system is very similar to Rainbow Six Vegas, with a context-sensitive button used for all squad commands. And while your AI-controlled allies will move and fight for themselves using their own initiative, they can also be ordered into position using your crosshair.
A later level in the game takes place in a colony similar to the doomed Hadley’s Hope from the movie. In this section you’re given time to set up a perimeter and attempt to close off as many passageways as possible. A horde of aliens is on its way and the only way to survive is to limit the attack routes they can take. It reminded us of the prison section in Half-Life 2 where you face an endless stream of enemies.
Thankfully, the Colonial Marines have a few more options on top of the gun turrets. You can also weld doors shut, set explosive booby traps and push heavy objects over windows. There’s no way to stop them all, but you can stem the flow. When the Aliens burst in, it’s a pretty impressive sight. They leap from wall to wall with terrifying speed and it’s extremely difficult to predict their movements as you let rip with your pulse rifle. There’s no HUD, the game instead uses the Call of Duty recharging health system and all the ammo counters can be clearly seen on whatever weapon you’re carrying. We’re told that all the weapons from the movie, from Smart Guns to Hicks’ Remington shotgun will be included, along with a bunch of new instruments of destruction.
As for vehicles, we’re not sure yet if you’ll be able to drive them, but the two classics seen in Aliens are here. When the chunky ground tank/buggy known as the A.P.C. is moving full-tilt, you certainly don’t want to get caught in front of it, as many xenomorphs discover. The vehicle fits snugly inside the dropship for immediate deployment upon landing. There’s a tactical operations centre inside too. The Dropship’s primary use is for combat drops, but it’s also armed to the teeth, doubling as a gunship. It’s capable of deploying two weapon pods and hard points for firing rockets and missiles. Dropships are always manned by a pilot and chief weapons officer. Badass.