ikaropJul 21, 2011, 01:23:12 PM Topic on: Jul 21, 2011, 01:23:12 PM Q Quote http://www.1up.com/previews/aliens-infestation-metroidvania-game-by-mind-readersQuoteIt doesn't happen very often, but every once in a while I come across a game that seems so similar to what I'd design for myself if I had the time and talent that it's almost unnerving. Sega's Aliens: Infestation is one such game. In fact, it hits pretty much all the sweet spots I look for in an action game.1. It's by WayForwardI don't need games to be developed by WayForward specifically in order to like them, but I always appreciate when a game's design is perfectly matched to the creators behind them. So it is with WayForward and Aliens Infestation: This is a portable action game that will rely heavily on atmosphere and setting. Who better to create a believable 2D rendition of the classic film series than WayForward, a company known for infusing ridiculously high production values into licensed properties that have no business being decent, let alone good? This is a developer that made The Scorpion King for GBA kind of cool, for crying out loud. Imagine what they can do with something like Alien.What I played at Comic-Con Preview Night didn't disappoint. Although the sheer noise of Sega's makeshift venue made it difficult to judge the game's sound, everything else was pure quality. The game begins on the derelict Marine cruiser Sulaco (left adrift in space after Ripley's epic power loader fight with the xenomorph queen), and the visuals straddle a perfect mix of brooding darkness and colorful detail. It looks like a great comic book come to life, with a muted yet varied color palette and sharp outlines defining the world. The sprite animation, of course is spectacular. The space Marines move fluidly and have a wide move set, including both standard jumps and rolls as well as unconventional 2D game mechanics like laying down suppressive fire while walking backward or firing blindly from cover. The controls for all of this are spot-on.2. It's a metroidvania adventureIt's only fitting, right? Someone finally makes a 2D game (the last one I can recall being Probe's totally decent Super NES/Genesis Alien3 platformers), and it seems only fair that they'd swipe inspiration from a game that has always been a blatant Alien homage: Metroid. Infestation isn't shy about wearing its Metroid influence on its sleeve, dropping the player's Marine squad in an open, non-linear world divided up by barriers that can be overcome through exploration. Doors are fused shut and require a welding torch to be opened again. Key cards lock off high-security areas. Jets of steam from broken pipes prevent access to some rooms; you can turn off the steam by adjusting a valve, but first you'll need to find the wrench, which turns out to be blocked away by a crate too heavy to move bare-handed (so you'd probably better find that power loader, eh?).Better yet, Infestation is the work of the developer behind Contra 4, the most recent direct sequel to a series whose debt to Alien is possibly even more naked than Metroid's. In a way, it's a little like every classic Alien video game rip-off is coming together under a single glorious banner.3. It's AlienAnd that's a glorious banner indeed, because who doesn't love Alien? Certainly not the games industry, which cribs from the films at every possible opportunity. All the classic notes that made Alien and Aliens great (and even a few hints of Alien3, we're told) are present and accounted for here. Except for once the similarity of the game to Aliens is totally reasonable -- it's not creative bankruptcy, it's building on a brand.Infestation definitely captures the feel of an Alien film in terms of its flow. The adventure begins on the deserted Sulaco, where the only hazards are a few rogue security robots. After 15-20 minutes of exploration, however, you'll eventually come across a motion tracker tool which can be used to hunt for the "mysterious creature" reportedly haunting the Sulaco. Track down the source of the motion and suddenly all hell breaks loose: You encounter an adult xenomorph about to kill a civilian, who uses the distraction to escape, leaving you to fend off the monster. Once wounded, the alien retreats to other areas of the ship, forcing you to play a game of cat-and-mouse that leads you through rooms full of face huggers that actually have the potential to stick a xeno-embryo down your throat.In other words, Infestation reproduces the alternating tension and frenzy of the movies. It starts slow and tense -- and there are even the requisite fake-out scares, such as a cat that drops out of the ceiling and dashes away as you draw near -- but once the xenomorphs make their appearance, it becomes much more about reflexes. The aliens are powerful, fast, and dangerous.4. It has an interesting death mechanicIn fact, the aliens can completely defeat you. In a bold move, WayForward has created a game that can be lost if you don't play well. That's "lost" as in "total game over." The player can control a squad of up to 19 marines, and if one is lost, he or she is gone forever. When all 19 are gone, there are no more continues.Losing to a xenomorph isn't always instant death, mind you; sometimes your current marine will be captured and cocooned, but they can be rescued by comrades. Some captured humans will be selected as hosts for facehuggers, though, and at that point that marine is effectively dead (even if it's a matter of time before they realize it).Conventional game design wisdom says "don't alienate gamers by making games tough," but difficulty seems to be a basic selling point of Infestation. Few modern games exact a strong penalty for failure, but it's possible to bungle Infestation so badly that you simply can't win. This is hardly a new idea, but it's definitely unusual to see it integrated into such a large, open-ended adventure.5. Seriously, it's AlienThe game initially takes players through the massive space cruiser Sulaco, but you'll also travel to various planets and other settings drawn from the films. That includes LV-426, where you'll presumably not only explore the nuked ruins of Hadley's Hope but also the derelict spacecraft where the fossilized alien "space jockey" crashed with a hold full of alien eggs.And there's fan service. Oh, so much fan service. From welding the doors open (just like Vasquez did it) to the grenades you can launch, Infestation feels like a labor of love. There are slated to be other even nerdier touchstones as well, including an APC mini-game and even cameos by new alien versions (most excitingly, one based on the space jockey).If all of this sounds a lot like Colonial Marines, that's no coincidence. Until recently, the two games were apparently closely related, and the just-announced DS game was one of those "worst kept secrets" situations. Infestation is no longer attached to Colonial Marines, though, which means that WayForward and Sega can finally make it happen. With its October 11 release date, Infestation may well be the last great DS action game in the U.S. And it really does look great -- well, at least for those of us who love expertly crafted 2D metroidvania titles that aren't afraid to challenge, anyway.