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Aliens: Fireteam – far more than just another bug hunt

Settle down people, because this month has been all about waiting out the countdown to the release of Aliens: Fireteam. I think it’s excellent, delivering exactly what it says on the tin.

You’re one of a three-person team (preferably multiplayer for best experience) comprising character tropes from the Cameron film, the vibe of which it nails from the off. There’s a nod-a-minute to that movie: the radio dialogue from your team leader is more or less a rewrite of the script, and all the prerequisite hardware is featured front and centre. 

Nobody’s home as you set off into the claustrophobic corridors and Nostromo-esque chambers of a decrepit space station, but it’s not long before you’re gunning down wave after wave of ever-multiplying xenos. You basically only need to know one thing – where they are – and your constantly chirruping motion tracker takes care of that.

Gameplay itself is simple, a Mass Effect-style third-person shooter in permanent horde mode really, which feels very accessible right away. The most curious thing early on is that your character doesn’t instantly die if one of the aliens reaches you. In fact, you’re a bit of a sponge for punishment, and this isn’t entirely in keeping with the expectation of the outcome of a close encounter with the perfect organism.

That’s true until you get to grips with the way it’s balanced. Your resources are limited and the 360-degree horde is constantly chipping away at your health which you can only recharge so much, making it necessary to be extremely efficient at keeping the aliens away from you as the game introduces its toughest opponents towards the end of every level in greater numbers. And your ammo is counted amongst those relatively sparse resources, so you can’t do that by just holding the trigger – even with the ammo refills available at the occasional checkpoints.

You guessed it, it’s all about short, controlled bursts, and saving your firepower for the big guys. I was joined by a Vasquez/Drake Devastator-class character in the first online game, and watched with dismay as they rinsed all their smart-gun ammo early on in every section because, well, it’s just satisfying to scythe down the basic alien horde with a gimbal-mounted HMG made of old motorcycle parts and camera equipment. 

I should have ordered a hold fire because, by the time the full-grown alien warriors were unleashed on us later in the mission, that player was down to his secondary pulse rifle and, with only 10-mil, explosive tip, caseless, light-armour-piercing rounds to defend themselves, it was soon game over man, game over.

To wrap this up, if you love Aliens as much as I do, I strongly advise joining the Colonial Marines for this bug hunt.

This is Ortega… signing off.

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