Gearbox has slowly been teasing the arrival of its forever in development sequel game to the father of all Sci-fi FPS, Aliens. PAX East got the first playable build in the form of Team Deathmatch where attendees could play as a group of Colonial Marines squaring off against Gearbox employees playing as the titular Aliens. E3 and Comic Con added a new map to that mode. Finally at PAX Prime 2012 we got a taste of a brand new multiplayer mode called escape mode, which I had affectionately called Left 4 Aliens. The premise is simple, four human players attempt to reach the end of an area before being killed by player controlled aliens. Along the way you will have to deal with rewiring blast doors and powering up elevator lifts. Again though, unlike Left 4 Dead, the aliens were controlled by Gearbox employees.
What makes this mode unique is that it is our first real taste at what the campaign experience will be like as it has 4 player drop in and out co-op. The Aliens this time have a couple new breeds such as the Xeno Lurker and Xeno Spitter which looked like a drone alien of sorts with giant acid sacks on the side of its cheeks. The mission begins in the bottom of a very hive looking area, and the objective is simple at first; get the hell out alive. Me, Editor Mike Young, Mike from GT, and a new friend we met in line all coordinated a plan to get to the airlock room fast and use shotguns as by the time you see an Xenomorph, they are right up in your grill. The plan worked wonderful at first. After closing off the airlock doors it became my job to carry the turret gun seen in Aliens: Directors Cut. As the back doors opened we made our way out of the caves and to a lift elevator up the side of a cliff. Our four man team had essentially become three as I was incapacitate carrying the turret. It also made me an open target. Luckily my team did their job. In this mode if you “die” you will go into a carbon copy of Call of Duties “Last Stand” mode and a teammate can revive you. However if all four of you are in last stand the game is automatically over. We made it onto the elevator with little problem and replenished our health and ammo. From the plateau we had to dash to a small power access room and rewire a panel to open some blast doors on the other side of the cliff. We hustled across well enough and rewired the panel faster then any team I had observed while waiting in line. I was hesitant about having to still carry this turret, but Mike insisted we would need it for the last part, which I had seen other teams accomplish without. Not to mention we had been doing just fine with the three of us. As we left the panel access room and headed for the small bridge to the armory and blast doors, everything went wrong. Mike escorted me across the bridge, re-leaving me of an alien menace on my ass, as I turned our friend from in line had been downed by a couple Xeno Soldiers and was in last stand. As Me and the two mikes barreled into the armory I scrambled to grab some armor but the now two soldier team was at a serious disadvantage and Gearbox was more then likely tired of our effortless run over half the level. They used to multiple passageways in the armory to launch an all out assault on the two mikes and left me no time to drop the turret to mount a counter offensive. It was then that we were sadly dealt our defeat at the hands of no doubt very tired and grumpy Gearbox developers who had been doing this same level for three days straight.
Overall though I was much more impressed with this mode then TDM. Which while cool, isn’t really going to wow anyone. The only slight disappointment came in the fact that the game was only really scary the first few moments creeping through the hive. The combined skill of me and my fellow teammates were so precise and calculated that staying together and rocking shotguns ensured we were never to scared to carry on. Hopefully the main campaign will have some scares in store, but that might be a simple impossibility due to the fact that playing any game in co-op pretty much nullifies scare factor entirely. Either way I can’t wait for more hands on time, and with Gearbox actually going to extra mile on the Wii U version I won’t have to wonder which version to buy either. Look for Aliens Colonial Marines on Feb. 12 2013. Oh yeah, Female characters are in both campaign and multiplayer. Nice!