Post by KostaAndreadis @ 05:37pm 23/07/21 | Comments
Aliens: Fireteam Elite brings Left 4 Dead style co-op action to the classic 1986 film, and it certainly nails the look. But, is there more to it?
“We’re in the pipe; five by five.”
Classic quote aside, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a new three-player co-op shooter in the style of a Left 4 Dead or World War Z (the game, not the movie) but set in the Aliens universe. Specifically the 1986 James Cameron directed sci-fi movie-verse, where the gun sounds are just so, the aliens swarm space marines en masse, and the corporations are doing their damndest to harvest that sweet Xenomorph genetical juice to create stuff that will rocket their space stock prices through the space roof.
If nothing else Aliens: Fireteam Elite nails the look, feel, and tone of the classic film for a lot of its action. The beeping scanner, the gruff marines, the not knowing but basically knowing what’s around the corner -- aliens. And those initial moments are very cool, the dim lighting, the weirdo space fog or smoke that’s seemingly a must for any corridor. The bombastic music when the action heats up, the xenomorph designs, the sound of space creaks and vents.
“You didn’t tell me there was an android on this mission, why not?”
With access to a preview build, the full game is out proper on August 25, I had the chance to dip into the first two ‘Campaigns’ -- which, to borrow a little from Left 4 Dead (of which Fireteam Elite already does enough of) -- are the game’s multistage affairs. That setup where you need to make it to an exit before ultimately bugging out of whatever locale you’re in.
If nothing else Aliens: Fireteam Elite nails the look, feel, and tone of the classic film for a lot of its action.
Kicking off on a scientific station/installation dealy, the first Campaign deals with finding a scientist and your trio of marines being surprised whenever they’re swarmed by a bunch of Xenomorphs.
Somebody needs to get these Space Marines a copy of the seminal training documentary, “Surviving LV-223 - A USS Marines Guide to ‘Bug’ Readiness”. On the surface, you’d think not one of them has prepared themselves for the hive-like infestation that is pretty much every room you discover. Exasperated marines being startled at every little thing is a quickfire-way to make a beeline for the audio settings. To turn down the volume of voices.
“Maybe we can build a fire, sing a couple of songs!”
So yeah, in Fireteam Elite you get to create your own marine, and choose from Gunner, Demolisher, and Technician - with each featuring class-specific weapons and gear/abilities that run off an old-fashioned cooldown timer. Movement is solid enough (even though there’s no collision detection between players for some reason) and they feel diverse, but they lack the sort of personality that puts them in the same league as Hicks, Vasquez, or Hudson.
From there there’s character progression and weapon levelling, to improve damage and survivability, perks to create builds, and even cards to play to boost XP by introducing challenges. From that perspective there’s a lot of meat on the bone, but thanks to the green goo inside the swarms of Xenomorphs that charge at you at every turn - that quickly melts due to the somewhat straightforward and repetitive nature of the action.
“Don’t ask me, man. I just work here.”
Even though we played a Preview Build, it’s hard to see the long-term value in Aliens: Fireteam Elite. The action is repetitive, and the Xenomorphs follow a very simple pattern. They swarm and attack. And they do that constantly. There’s very little breathing room or pacing or variation. In a sense it plays like an awesome arcade game. Limited in depth, to the point where the dialogue and action beats are pretty much identical every time you tackle a stage. Even the big-bad Xenos basically do the same thing. Or, spit.
From that perspective there’s a lot of meat on the bone, but thanks to the green goo inside the swarms of Xenomorphs that charge at you at every turn - that quickly melts due to the somewhat straightforward and repetitive nature of the action.
For this preview I teamed up with ol’ Farrelly and Joab, and played through certain sections three times - solo, duo, and trio. And with that Fireteam lacks the spark of Left 4 Dead or Vermintide’s ‘Game Director’, there’s no real exploration or variation or choices to be made in terms of paths taken. Is it fun? Sure, but only for a bit.
“What do you mean, ‘They cut the power’?”
Bringing it back to the sound of the flamethrower and the assault rifle, which sounds just like the weaponry from the 1986-film -- that’s the appeal. Long-time fans of Aliens will no doubt get a kick out of seeing the ammo counter on a turret slowly countdown to zero. And the simple nature of the action does mean that this could be a lot of fun to play for an evening.
But, there’s not much below the surface. Character clipping, the same staccato strings that play everytime you take-down a special Xeno, the never-ending swarms, enemy bodies that disappear pretty much right after they go down, one or two hits to take down a basic Xeno -- there’s no real menace. There’s no horror, so it’s definitely missing that side of the franchise. The characters lack personality, meaning it’s not as fun as the film it's based on. And the depth is limited to difficulty settings and perks and progression systems that feel overly complicated for such a simple straightforward co-op shooter.