So there I was: Trapped in a dark and abandoned facility. Missile tubes, ammo crates and disused armour littered the place. Signs pointed my way to the mess hall and the dropship bay as a small detachment of Colonial Marines stood guard. It wouldn’t have surprised me if they’d brought this facility back online just for today.
I even came across a hived up section, a couple of bodies stuck to the walls. Specimen jars containing dead face-huggers earned my caution. It was pretty obvious: Aliens had been here. And I just sat there. Simply sat there, observing the progress of a pair of Colonial Marines making their way through the depths of the Sulaco.
I was, of course, watching a developer presentation of Gearbox Software’s Aliens – Colonial Marines. Sega had taken over a disused metal workshop in London and decorated it to suit. Ammo boxes littered the place, Hadley’s Hope signs adorned the walls and the United Kingdom Colonial Marines, a costuming group from the homeland, showed up to keep us all safe.
Gearbox Software developers Brian Burleson (Senior Producer), Adam Fletcher (Publicity), Brian Thomas (Director of Central Cinematics) and Chris Neeley (Environment Artist) showed off a single player segment from the first level of the game. The presentation started with Winters and O’Neal make their way into the start of the hive aboard the Sulaco. Windows seal off what looked like a laboratory, cameras pointing through the windows at cocooned Colonial Marines.
The tech doesn’t look like it belongs to the marines: This is Weyland-Yutani technology. Something strange is going off here. Cruz orders them to proceed as they need to clear the cargo bay so that dropship can get aboard. Winters and O’Neal make their way into the hive, moving higher up the Sulaco, through the “gravity well”, a massive spinning component (the artificial gravity generator?), all the while keeping the Aliens at bay.
Eventually the marines find themselves in the cargo bay. It’s infested. I mean, they’re coming outta the goddamn walls, man! There’s only one solution: the marines have got to purge the cargo bay. They double-time it to the control room and seal themselves in. Aliens attack the window but it’s no use…the marines open the outer doors and everything is sucked out, lost to the cold depths of space.
The demonstration came to an end as a dropship comes hurtling through the doors and the marines head off to rescue Belle from the Aliens.
Following this, I was given the opportunity to get hands-on with both the single player and multiplayer components of the game. Prior to this I’ve only been able to get my grubby mitts on the controller once, at the MCM Expo, for 2 quick team deathmatchs. I was not overly thrilled at MCM. I enjoyed the matches but I do not feel like I really got to experience the game.
First up was single player which appeared to be another early section of the game. The marines are stranded on the surface of LV-426. We’ve got to head towards what is left of the colony and get fortified.
I was pretty eager to get myself inside the remains of the colony, to see the current generation recreation of Hadley’s Hope. That said, as I explored the surface I found myself impressed with the little details. During the intervening time between Alien and Aliens we know that the Derelict ship was damaged by volcanic activity – so there I am, exploring the outside of the colony and I come across a plethora of cool things including an EEV from the Sulaco or the Sephora and huge gaping chasms to an active lava stream. It is not an in-your-face reference but the subtly made me smile.
We finally make it back to the colony and move our way inside. It was a fantastic recreation. Everything looked authentic and it always gives me a jolt of excitement seeing the locations from my favourite moves in video game form for me to explore.
My first task is to set-up a series of wall-mounted motion sensors. It is a simple enough objective that has me exploring the med-lab, operations and the barricaded and damaged corridors of the colony. The Aliens soon make an appearance and I am battling them off with my ever trusty Colonial Marine weaponry.
Pretty soon I am off collecting a sentry gun and running it back to the operations centre to help keep the swarm at bay. After securing operations I am given the smartgun and sent off into the depths of colony. I find myself in my first hive section of the level and being stalked by the Giger style Lurker Aliens. I am not careful and find myself being pinned to the floor as one of them pounces on me. Bashing X, I manage to kick it off me and unload into it with the pistol but it soon disappears back into its camouflaged environment.
But my motion tracker gives me a bead on them. I hunt them down instead. After clearing out the Lurkers, I move my way further into the colony where I find a new type of Xenomorph savaging another of my fellow marines. This looked to be the introduction of the Spitter and the end of my time with the single player campaign.
During the demonstration and my hands-on time I noticed two different types of collectables. The first were dogtags which were scattered around the levels. Some of these dogtags unlocked “legendary” weapons from the films such as “Gorman’s Pistol”. During the Q&A session I did ask about the dogtags and the Gearbox Software developers commented that you would be required to explore the levels and environments to find them all.
They also said that whilst exploring for these collectables the player would be able to get further into the backstory and the meat of the game by uncovering the further areas of the game. How they meant this, I was not sure. All of the dogtags also feature names of real people – the Gearbox Software development staff.
The second type of collectables were the audio logs previously mentioned by the other previews. I am pretty sure the level I was playing was the same preview level the American press have played as the audio log I found was the one of Anne Jordan begging her mother for money to get a shuttle back to the Earth.