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Review

Aliens: Infestation (DS) Review

by October 24, 2011

While the 3DS has struggled to garner the same level of enthusiasm that was felt during the launch of the DS, it is slowly gathering momentum, with more and more developers turning their attention to Nintendo’s newest portable console. Because of this, the little beauty that is the DS is on its last legs so to speak. Particularly with the likes of Pokemon Black and White having released some time ago, there doesn’t seem to be that long left before DS games are no longer developed. That day hasn’t come yet though and there’s still few games being released. One recently released game for the DS is Aliens: Infestation, a classic 2D shooter based on Ridley Scott’s brilliant Aliens franchise. The game is developed by WayForward (published by Sega), who have been involved in a number of quality titles in the past.

I have pretty fond memories of playing 2D shooters based on the Aliens franchise in the past on the Sega Mega Drive. Apart from a brief experience with a PC Aliens vs. Predator title some years ago, I haven’t really indulged myself with an Aliens-related title in some time. Aliens: Infestation feels pretty similar to the old titles on the Mega Drive, providing a challenging and entertaining shooter set in various locations made famous in the films.

You take control of a squad of marines, who are initially sent to a distant moon to explore where signs of life have been detected. The story that follows is fairly interesting, making good use of locations and ideas explored in the films. As you explore the various locales in the game, you will encounter a number of different enemies such as robots, other humans and of course the Aliens or ‘Xenomorphs’. You also encounter a number of fantastic boss fights against bigger and badder aliens, who pose an incredible challenge at times.

One particularly unique feature of the game is the fact that once a squad member dies, they stay dead. There are no “lives’ in the traditional sense. You begin with four squad members and will encounter others along the way. If you squad is full (four members), a newly found member will opt not to join your team. Of course, it is in your best interest to remember where the marine was, as it won’t be long until you require their service. If you lose all four squad members, it is game over and you will have to restart from your last save point. This mechanic forces you to approach the game differently. Knowing that your marines will not get a second chance means you are more likely to do everything in your power to keep them alive. Save points are only placed sparingly throughout the levels too, adding to the challenge of keeping your squad alive whilst battling against the enemy.

Whilst the ‘no second chance’ feature is a great inclusion, the game is bit too difficult at times due to the constant respawning of enemies after you leave a room. Respawning itself is not a bad gameplay feature, but perhaps a time based respawn would be more appropriate. It is quite frustrating to clear a room of Xenomorphs, only to have to return shortly after and repeat the entire process. Also owing to the infrequent save points, it ultimately means that you will probably die often and have to restart from the previous save point.

The general pacing of the game is quite well done and the balance between exploration and backtracking is well done. You will have to explore the levels for certain items in order to progress further (e.g., key cards, a welder, explosives), though I never found I had to retread previous ground too much.

From a presentation point of view, the game has solid visuals backed up by smooth animations. It doesn’t push the hardware much, but does the job nicely. The soundtrack is also appropriate, providing a great atmosphere as you crawl your way through dimly lit tunnels inhabited by the Xenomorphs. The touch screen is used well as a means of accessing your map, weapons, and other key items such as your flares (to make important points in the map) and welder (to open certain doors). The game itself isn’t hugely long and will only take a few hours to complete, depending on how much you explore. Trying to find all the different marines extends the length a bit, and there is a mini-game to open once you finish. The game, while fun, will only provide a temporary extension to your DS’s life.

Overall, Aliens: Infestation is a challenging and well presented 2D shooter which makes particularly good use of the Aliens franchise. It introduces some unique gameplay features that add to the overall experience (squad), while other more prehistoric features could have been rejigged slightly (respawning). The game is well presented, further highlighting WayForward’s credentials as developers. A recommended game for those who enjoy a challenging 2D shooter or just the Aliens franchise.

Graphics 7.0

Nothing groundbreaking, but clean visuals that are supported by really good animations.

Gameplay 8.0

A challenging shooter with some interesting gameplay mechanics. Boss fights are epic, though respawning could have been toned down a bit.

Sound 8.0

An eerie soundtrack that matches the locales of the game. Sound effects are also good.

Tilt 6.0

Not a terribly long game, but it is quite challenging. Bonus minigame is nice addition, but doesnt add a whole lot to overall package.

Value 8.0

Another great title from WayFoward, and its pleasing to see effort still being poured into the DS.

Overall

Overall, Aliens: Infestation is a challenging and well presented 2D shooter which makes particularly good use of the Aliens franchise. It introduces some unique gameplay features that add to the overall experience (squad), while other more prehistoric features could have been rejigged slightly (respawning). The game is well presented, further highlighting WayForwards credentials as developers. A recommended game for those who enjoy a challenging 2D shooter or just the Aliens franchise.

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About The Author
Toby Mizzi

First gaming experiences were with my older brother playing Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Master System and Sega Mega Drive. I was about 12 years old when the PS1 and the N64 were just about to be released, and I wanted to get a PS1 based on my experience playing some demo PS1 games at a Video Games Heaven store. On the day we came to lay buy the PS1, they had demo N64 consoles set up in the middle of the shopping centre and we naturally took some time to sample the goods. Dad, who barely played games, decided that the N64 would be a better console and I have never looked back since then. Don’t get the time to play games as much as I did when I was younger, though I still enjoy nothing more than sitting back on the couch and being absorbed into a totally different world.

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