When I heard that a new shooter game based on the Alien series, I wasn’t too thrilled at first. The Alien series doesn’t have a great reputation for producing quality games – with a few notable exceptions. But the Alien series isn’t remembered for decent video game adaptations. However, that belief seems to be on a path of change after I finished up the campaign for Aliens: Fireteam Elite. It was quite the surprise, though much of the game’s core gameplay won’t evoke anything new, so to speak.
What Colonial Marines Should Have Been
This entry takes place 23 years after the original trilogy of films in 2202. This essentially places the story in between Alien 3 and Alien: Ressurection. You take part in a squad of Colonial Marines codenamed Fireteam, who embark on a mission to check the status of a distress signal. It eventually leads the squad and their superiors to Katanga, a refinery station orbiting planet LV-895.
As fate would have it, the Marines find themselves in the midst of a Xenomorph outbreak. But this squad is determined to clean up the mess. The narrative follows a basic format of following a military mission; one where familiar ideas and situations can be easily recognized. Across the title’s four campaigns and 12 levels contained within, the game’s levels sadly failed to stay fresh and engaging. What saved me from getting bored though, was the constant Xenomorph encounters and the game’s sincere passion for the lore.
While the story isn’t as exciting (though the recent Alien movie installments haven’t been all that thrilling either), exploring Katanga, LV-895, and everything in-between felt authentic to the source material. Remember how disappointing Aliens: Colonial Marines was? Well, this adventurous effort from Cold Iron Studios does the name some supreme justice. With an incredible reliance on lore through intel gathering and character interactions, it’s easy to look past the subpar narrative.
Players will have plenty of choices in how they want to customize their Marine. I went with a Debra Wilson-looking soldier as I experimented with all four different classes (except for Recon, which is only unlocked upon finishing all four campaigns). I have “Dr” in my name, so I naturally went with Doc. Being the aid in the group was an absolute blast as swarms of those slimy bugs came rushing toward us. But I also found immense joy in trying out the other classes, especially Technician, who can use an automated Sentry Turret to provide some covering fire.
There’s even a great range of perks and modifiers that can be universally used among the five classes. For example, a level 5 perk from Doc can be placed in the Gunner’s perk’s grid; another is equipping a few modifiers from Technician and putting it with Recon’s class. While some perks are exclusive to specific classes, the freedom to make your Colonial Marine your own is a welcoming treat.
With some friends by your side, the gameplay can remain fresh with each encounter room. But many of its elements feel too familiar. It felt as if I was playing World War Z and Left 4 Dead all over again: Swarms of vile enemies try to kill you and your squad of fighters while traversing corrupted ground. Plus, it’s a third-person shooter, but that’s beside the point. If you’re trying to grind some long hours into Aliens: Fireteam Elite, the experience might quickly dry out. That, and some glitches that can slightly anger a few, but these can be quickly overlooked since there are so few to run into here and there.
How Aliens: Fireteam Elite Looks and Feels
Aliens: Fireteam Elite does a fantastic job at replicating that Alien experience into video game form. The settings, character models, weapons, and ragdoll physics all reminded me of classic films. There are also some recreations from Prometheus, too, but you’ll find yourself mentally pointing out recognizable sights and features.
The biggest flaw for the game comes with its graphical design, however. It looks slightly outdated, even with higher resolutions and frame rates to spice up the visuals. There is some fine lighting to witness, though, something that feels vital to the Alien series as a whole. But I wasn’t too excited to check out the scenery. It’s not a copy-and-paste format with the game’s design and presentation, but it feels just a bit too run-of-the-mill compared to the genre’s other offerings.
Still, there is nothing more entertaining than teaming up with some friends and flamethrowers to torch any Xenomorph bug in the way.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite‘s Effective Audio – For Good or Ill
If you’re an audio enthusiast, you might find some rewarding qualities in Aliens: Fireteam Elite. The sound effects are so cool that even continuous firepower and alien screeches can keep anyone enthralled. There’s nothing like some hairs raising on your neck when a Warrior Alien comes charging toward you, screaming with hunger along with the waves of Runners.
It ultimately goes hand-in-hand with the game’s atmospheric music, too. It makes you feel as if you’re right in the middle of James Cameron’s sci-fi sequel, with James Horner-inspired compositions to keep any player on their toes.
It’s not all fine and perfect, though. Some audio hiccups were more annoying than humorous. A notable example is the alien screeching from a special breed, like the Spitter or the aforementioned Warrior. At times, their audio will crack and won’t stop, emitting an irritating sound effect trail that persists for a few minutes. It’s natural if it’s merely for a couple of seconds, but this obvious “bug” can be bad for the ears.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite excels in establishing grounded lore and gameplay that it’s easy to recommend this title to my peers. Its familiarity shows that the developers wanted to create a game that was actually enjoyable while playing it safe in innovation. While this may hinder its overall reception, the game feels like a true entry into the Alien series without going too far into unknown territory. Any Alien fan will get a kick out of this, and maybe even some accustomed third-person shooter fanatics might find some interest once they pick it up. My only hope is that more modes are released down the line; otherwise, it’ll only be a matter of time before the game is forgotten.
- Lore is very well-established
- Customizing your Marine can be engaging
- Explosive action
- Fighting Xenomorphs is loads of fun
- Decent attention to detail
- All five classes are worth experimenting with
- Authentic sound effects
- Flamethrowers and Xenomorphs = one hell of a good time
- Minor graphical glitches
- Audio bugs
- Gameplay can run dry
- One extra mode