E3 2012: Hands-On With Aliens: Colonial Marines

Aliens: Colonial Marines

By on June 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm

“It’s like Call of Duty meets Dead Space.”

I’m talking with Matt Powers, Senior Producer on Aliens: Colonial Marines. While Sega and Gearbox are still keeping mum on anything to do with the game’s single player, they’ve been keen on sharing the multiplayer experience.

Power told games.on.net today the team is attempting to strike a tone between the heavy-hitting action of a title like Call of Duty, with the dread of a horror feature such as Dead Space (Although, judging by the footage we’ve seen so far of Dead Space 3, they may end up being pretty much the same thing).

Powers, who’s previously worked on Unreal Tournament titles, four Medal of Honor games and the first Modern Warfare, says he wants to shake up the usual multiplayer dynamic. “By having xenomorphs play against the marines, we’re trying to differentiate it from the crowd. It’s a whole different experience, being able to upgrade your alien, such as the claws and other features. Hopefully we can appeal to [core gamers], and give them something different.”

In the multiplayer hands-on demo shown at E3 – which we played with a gamepad on a PC – one group of marines and one group of xenomorphs fought in a type of team deathmatch scenario. It’s pretty standard fare on the marines side, with upgradable weapons, a motion sensor to detect incoming aliens – an inclusion film fans will enjoy – and the usual additions like grenades.

But Powers is right, in that the xenomorphs are a little more interesting and change the dynamic of gameplay. Being able to crawl around on walls, move faster and jump higher than your bumbling human opponents does bring a sense of dread to an otherwise typical deathmatch scenario. If you’re not paying attention, you never know where the enemy is coming from, and you have to sacrifice your defensive stance to check your scanner.

This is what Dead Space tried to do and failed, creating an alien-versus-human scenario based on fear. The map we played on today was a dimly lit construction site, with all types of caves and walls for the xenomorphs to climb and blend into. It’s jolting to see your enemy leap from the shadows, and there’s precious little time to react.

There is some bad news, however, as Powers wouldn’t go into too much detail about whether the PC version of the game will be treated with as much care as the console versions. However, he did offer some encouragement, pointing out that “We’re playing on the PC right now… and we’re confident this is going to be a consistent experience on all platforms.”

There’ll be some unique content for the Wii U and its new tablet screen, he says, but apart from that, the experience will be intact. Unfortunately, there’s no information yet on whether this means players will be shafted with a lower quality user interface or options, but Powers seems confident the “core gamers” will be happy with the PC experience.

“The story is really great, it’s an action experience but also one full of tension. We want to combine some things, give it a fresh take – and I think the multiplayer is a good place to start.”

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