Aliens: Colonial Marines aims to deliver the definitive Aliens co-op survival experience, but Gearbox are keen to try and ensure that it doesn't turn into a mindless xeno-blaster. As revealed in our six page preview in the latest issue of PC Gamer UK , Gearbox have taken cues from Half Life 2 and Left 4 Dead to ensure that Aliens: Colonial Marines is "at times a tactical shooter, at times survival horror, at times adventure and exploration." New gadgets and weapons give marine teams plenty of choice when setting up defences, but players will have to deal with new, never-before-seen breeds of alien.
Gearbox showed us a brand new variant on the classic Xenomorph with a heavily armoured forehead. Its job is to charge like a rhino towards intruders. Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford reveals that Gearbox are aware of the risks of bringing new designs to a series as visually iconic as Aliens. "You have to be careful," he says. "You don't want to bastardise our memory of what the Aliens are. But if we shoot the same alien over and over again, we will be bored. Fortunately there's some things we're getting to add to the canon which keep it interesting."
The 'rhino-morph' will form a part of Alines: Colonial Marines "gauntlet" sections. "We've come up with language to define some of the tools we use for pacing," Pitchford explains, "Gauntlet Run: this is about getting from point A to point B and everthing's going to be thrown in your way around you. Last Stand: this is when you're in a defined area and we're going to be pouring in aliens from all directions. That's a pacing moment that can feel sometimes like Left 4 Dead or some of those great moments from Half-Life 2 where you're setting a turret here and setting a turret there. These are really interesting wheen you add co-op into the mix."
The co-op mode is one of the most exciting prospects in Aliens: Colonial Marines. Laying down turrets, welding doors and fending off waves of foes is a recipe for fun, as Left 4 Dead and Killing Floor have shown. Colonial Marines gives us the chance to do this in the Aliens Universe, with all the weapons and gadgets we've seen Ripley and co. use in the films.
"If you think about the tools that are in the films, game mechanics are going to apply to all of those tools," says Pitchford. "We want to offer new things, but they have to feel like they fit and are natural and are right. So there are those new things, consistent with the way that the world works."
Aliens: Colonial Marines is due out spring 2012. There's plenty more information inour six page preview in the latest issue of PC Gamer UK. You can buy the issue online now, or pick up a quarterly direct debit subscription and get 45% off the cover price.