(This is another edition of , a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)
SEGA’s PAX booth was pretty jam-packed with interesting stuff. It had The House of the Dead: Overkill — Extended Cut in 3D, it had Sonic Generations with a playable “City Escape” level, and it had a big pod for Aliens: Colonial Marines, surrounded by ladies dressed up as the titular spacefaring warmongers. It also had this guy wandering around with a DS, doing nothing much of anything at all. He was incredibly easy to miss, and I’d have totally not noticed him had a Destructoid colleague not called me over. This man was carrying Aliens: Infestation, and it was bloody great!
Clearly, the game wasn’t spotted by many PAX attendees, and I’ve noticed a distinct lack of previews in the wake of this weekend’s event. This humble little DS title, however, deserves your attention. I’m going to tell you why!
It’s Metroid With Xenomorphs
You know Metroid, right? That game everybody thinks is great? Imagine how much better it would be if drooling Xenomorphs were running around, their structural perfection matched only by their hostility. That’s what Aliens: Infestation is like. It’s a scrolling game with a “Metroidvania” sensibility, boasting large maps full of areas that can be backtracked to and explored with new equipment. The levels are sprawling and well designed, with lots to uncover, weapons to find, and brand new playable characters to earn.
There Are Nineteen Playable Characters, And They Can Die
Infestation starts with four playable marines, but up to nineteen can be found and recruited throughout the course of the game. Each one has its own design and dialog, and more importantly, each one can die. Player characters can become impregnated by Facehuggers, formally a fate reserved for NPCs in Aliens games. Furthermore, any Marine dispatched by a Xenomorph will be dragged back to the nest and prepared for a brutal sexytime. Players only have a limited amount of time to infiltrate the nest and rescue the character, otherwise some chests are getting burst!
It’s Surprisingly Scary
You wouldn’t think that a sprite-based portable game could be all that scary, but Aliens: Infestation is great at sowing panic in the minds of players. Unlike games that treat them as cannon fodder, Infestation makes every Xenomorph a threat. They’re quicker than you, they’re more ruthless, and they will relentlessly pursue should you try to escape. They’ll run along walls, they’ll burst from the floor, and they’ll even run past you multiple times to create confusion. Every fight with an Alien is a scary prospect, and we haven’t even talked about the Alien Queen yet.
Spoiler: The Alien Queen is f**king scary!
It’s Developed By WayForward
Seriously, do you need much more proof that this game will rock? WayForward is one of the few studios left with a healthy respect for 2D platformers, and a willingness to make games both challenging and fun. From what I played of Infestation, this game continues the developer’s excellent streak of great games, and if you’re a fan of the studio’s past work, there’s no reason for you to want to pass this up.
It Knows How To Be An Aliens Game
Despite its humble DS home, Infestation does all it can to be as authentic an Aliens experience as possible. From sound effects to visual design, WayForward has done an impressive job of making Infestation look, sound and feel like a Xenomorph-flavored game. You’ll fire pulse rifles, weld doors, use flamethrowers to burn through obstacles, and drop flares to mark positions. In addition, Power Loader battles are promised, and on-rails vehicular sections just to keep stuff spicy. Aliens fans will be in for a treat, and I should know, since I am one.
I Like It
Seriously, I’m not prepared to write a glorified bit of marketing spiel for a game for no good reason. I fell in love with it the moment I stumbled upon my first Xenomorph, and I like to think that 10% of you trust me enough to think that’s worth something. The game is out on September 30 and I have a feeling that many are going to pass it by, especially since it’s not received much promotion at all. I think that’d be a real shame though, since it’s set to be a fantastic game for the DS’ twilight years.
So yeah, that’s why you should give a shit about Aliens: Infestation.