Space, the final frontier. These aren’t really voyages of the Starship Enterprise, because if they were Aliens: Infestation on the Nintendo DS would be a search for diplomacy. Instead, what SEGA present to us is the stereotypical Jarhead marine type that Hollywood convince us will populate the future on other planets. Throw in some big guns, hungry aliens and explosions to rival a nuclear blast and we have Aliens: Infestation.
In the latest title of what have become a huge franchise of movies, comics and video games, Aliens: Infestation expands on the universe which has one major peril – the Xenomorphs. Set after the events of the second film – Aliens, a tactical team made up of 4 marines set off on a mission to rescue survivors from the planet LV-426 and the spaceship U.S.S Sulaco . As always, things are not what they seem and a certain company named Wayland- Yutani crops up time and again. The team must battle through a bounty of Facehuggers, Xenomorphs and the occasional Alien Queen to uncover the truth and more importantly, save their own skins.
Cleverly the developers, WayForward have introduced the notion of if a marine is killed, they are dead. No respawns, no extra chances. Gone forever. This may seem an impossible task with only four marines and 1000s of creepy-crawlies on the loose, but there are solutions. Through out the game additional Marines will be stumbled across who will join the team – provided there is space. Each has their own different actions, speech and style and mixes the game up well. Just don’t get too close as they probably will end up splattered across the scenery.
To prevent the spreading of Marines like icing on a cupcake come the weapons. At the start of the game there are two: the ever familiar automatic rifle and pistol. As progression is made, weapons such as the ever fun flamethrower become available. A bounty of ammunition litters the levels so running out is never on the cards. The environments in Aliens: Infestation are presented in a 2D side scrolling style looking like it came straight from the SNES era.
Character sprites work beautifully in this packaging and there is nothing more satisfying than seeing on of the pesky aliens explode into a heap of green blood and body bits. Along with the sprites, each Marine has the same artistic look when speaking as the comic books. This keeps the overall look of the franchise constant and doesn’t alienate fans of the series. The Aliens themselves look as good as ever as do the explosion animations that destroy them.
The enemy does respawn at an alarming rate, and even if the room is large enough then some times if you have made it to one end of a room a big alien will be waiting to feast on a few body parts. This factor brings a level of frustration to the game as a lot of backtracking is needed to make any progress. There is a lot to explore in any one level, however the chances of finding anything except ammo and health are low as there are no extra items to be found save for the extra Marines.
Marines do have more than just a big gun at their disposal, the ability to run and out manoeuvre the Alien scourge has been added to make sure ammo is conserved and those who want to make progress can do with ease. When shooting the controls become unresponsive which does get annoying since the Aliens will use the walls and climb over the Marine. So unless extreme firepower is used the Xenomorph will land at least one bite before it is disposed of. Adding to the difficulty of the game comes the Facehugger. It is small to hit, but if it does come into contact with a Marine, then it is almost game over.
Thankfully, the difficulty is one of only a couple niggles with Aliens: Infestation. The other is lifespan of the game. It is far too short for what could have been a mammoth exploration of a starship and an entire planet. The game will last a maximum of 10 hours. That is if the Marines drop quickly. This could have easily been solved with the addition of collectables or even a multiplayer co-op so people could create their own team of soldiers to fight.
Aliens: Infestation is a difficult game to play through with hard enemies and a few that can kill with one hit. However the struggle does not last long enough, it could have done with more expansion on some levels to make it more involving. On a long commute to the office this game will make time go quickly, as what SEGA and WayForward have created a decent 2D action/shooting exploration game. While the game may lack depth, it has the style and design of an Aliens title that adds to it’s charm.