Fight the fear
The Alien film series has thrilled and terrified audiences for over 30 years now as well as producing one of the best film sequels of all time in Aliens. This focused on a squad of marines sent to planet LV-426 and getting more than they bargained for when hunted and picked off by a small army of Xenomorphs, vicious extraterrestrial killing machines with acid for blood.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is set mere months after Aliens, with a second squad of marines sent to LV-426 to discover what happened to the first crew. Retracing their steps through such familiar locations as an abandoned spaceship and the human colony brings you into contact with even more Xenos, as well as human soldiers sent by the company that runs the colony, and you have to rely on your hi-tech weaponry and quick wits to survive the onslaught.
You play as Corporal Christopher Winter and interact with a variety of different marines, often accompanying them on missions. Make no mistake though: when you're up against this many Xenos, you can't rely on anyone but yourself.
Buckle up, soldier
Developer Gearbox is well versed in creating first person shooters that feature a unique mix of frenetic action and palm-clenching tension, having previously made Borderlands and Brothers in Arms. The Alien universe is ripe for such a combination too, with the films' trademark tension and high-octane action perfectly captured.
Fans of Aliens will instantly recognise locations such as the abandoned spaceship Sulaco and the Hadley's Hope colony. Examine your surroundings even more closely and you'll spot many neat references to the film, such as Bishop the android's milky fluid on the ship's deck and the cocooned female colonist with a hole in her chest from which the implanted Xenomorph burst free. Actors Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen reprise their roles from Aliens, while the epic score and spot-on sound effects help add to the foreboding atmosphere.
When you're not killing aliens, there are a huge amount of collectables to uncover. Hidden around each level are 35 dog tags and 12 audio logs, and you can unlock six special weapons belonging to characters from the film, such as Hicks' shotgun and Vasquez's smart gun. A number of challenges, such as killing two enemies with a single shot from the pump shotgun, unlock further rewards in the form of character and weapon upgrades.
The finest weaponry and gadgets the marines have to offer make annihilating the aliens a little easier. Shotguns, flame-throwers and smart guns join the film's trademark pulse rifle complete with a grenade launcher. The signature motion tracker is a marine's best friend too, with the increasingly loud and scary beeping letting you know when a Xenomorph is almost on top of you. And often they are, such is their ability to climb the walls and scamper along ceilings. Keep your torch handy as it's going to come in handy...
Surviving the 11 campaign missions relatively unscathed, and with a decent kill ratio, earns you ranking points, which in turn unlock upgrades to customise your character's looks and weapons with various skins and attachments.
Aliens: Colonial Marines even finds room for a new type of Xenomorph - the Boiler. These are nasty, suicidal aliens, and in the game's only all-out stealth section you have to sneak past them in the sewers and switch on generators that cause them to explode. Don't get too close, and mind that acid.
Everyone can hear you scream
If you've ever wanted to know what it's like be a Xenomorph, then the four online multiplayer modes are just right for you.
Team Deathmatch pits two teams of six players against each other over two rounds, with each side alternating between playing as a marine and playing as a Xenomorph. Extermination mode is a five-on-five battle to arm explosives in order to wipe out Xenomorph egg clusters. In Survivor mode, four humans must survive for as long as possible against a team of four Xenomorphs. And the four-versus-four Escape mode sees marines moving to an extraction point while being chased by the team of Xenos.
The multiplayer thrills continue offline too, with co-operative gameplay allowing up to three other players to join and leave specially created missions at any time, handy when acid-spitting aliens are bearing down on you.
Bug Hunt, the first of add-on download packs, is a co-operative multiplayer mode across three new maps. Look out for more downloads later in 2013.