Why is it so hard to get a video game based on a movie IP right? Is it outside interference from studios and copyright issues that prevent us from getting something good? Look at how Terminator has fared in video games (let’s not mention the state of the films) or even Aliens. Both were transformative cinema at one point with and the mere mention of these properties sent people flocking to theatres.
Sure, Alien: Isolation was a good game, but it wasn’t a good Alien game to me. Aliens: Fireteam Elite is an okay Aliens game and a decent shooter but it’s also unable to buckle the trend of being both a great video game and a great entry into an established series. The funny thing about Aliens is how important it was and how influential the movie from James Cameron was for game developers. Yet somehow the property itself feels like an agency in the video game industry.
Aliens – Friend or Foe? Foe.
Cold Iron Studio announced Aliens: Fireteam Elite shy of six months ago. Instead of the survival-horror aspect of Isolation, this game is a squad-based shooter in the vein of Left 4 Dead, favouring intense action sequences over the terse, drawn-out interactions of Isolation. As a third-person co-op shooter, you’ll team up with either two other players or two AI-assisted bots in a squad and together work on taking down Xenomorphs. Aliens: Fireteam Elite offers some exciting gunfights against a variety of alien enemies, but the story will leave you wanting more.
Set roughly two decades after the events of Alien 3, the Xenomorph threat is still largely cat and mouse, except humans are now actively working in containing the threat across the galaxy. The USC Marine Corps are defensively exterminating Xenomorphs with the game into various locations on LV-895, beginning in an abandoned refinery where a scientist has been left stranded. With Xenomorphs overrunning the refinery, it is up to your custom character marine to swoop in and deliver a ballet of bullets into the alien threat. With two friends (or two AI-companions) you move through the refinery to gain an idea of what transpired here.
The Campaign Misses the Mark
Unfortunately, while I had hoped the campaign would lead to exciting revelations, it’s nothing more than dressing to get you into the next firefight. In the nearly 10-hour campaign, I not only didn’t care about the characters but the events unfolding in front of me. There’s no motivation to care about the people or events happening because they never felt earned and we’ve seen each of these situations before, only done better.
The entirety of the campaign is around four chapters each with three missions. Most of the campaign is spent moving from cover between corridors and while the areas are impressive, you’re encouraged to replay these missions.
By adding Challenge Cards to the mix, the developers are banking on you are completing the campaign several times so by adding variables like exploding enemies and taking less damage. These cards are selected prior to starting each mission.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite offers five playable classes: Gunner, Demolisher, Technician, Doc and Recon (an unlockable bonus). Each with pros and cons with the expectancy and ability to form a balanced unit capable of succeeding against the Xenomorphs. Every class has active skills, passive skills, and select weapon types.
Combat is usually satisfying and with 26 weapons to choose from, the close-quarter gunfights against sometimes unpredictable lead to thrilling encounters. Although the aliens can be erratic at times by appearing out of crates or from behind, most have predictable patterns. But when you’re stuck in a tight corridor and you hear the hive of Xenomorphs racing at you, and this is where the game excels at times — you’ll often feel on edge hoping you have enough ammo to make it to the end
That isn’t to say the developers didn’t try to respect the lore and the series, that’s something Aliens: Fireteam does well but some of the elements feel misplaced. The whole fireteam aspect is based on working with your friends and as you move from room to room, it’s usually best to have friends at your side when the aliens attack. The AI isn’t necessarily bad, either but during a few sessions where I was the only one available, the AI would be sacrificial lambs to the slaughter, serving more as an extra layer of protection between me and the enemy. There’s no substitution for having real people at your side, though and the game plays better when you can co-ordinate with a friend or two.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a good co-op shooter, and it offers some fun battles against Xenomorphs, but it does little to push the narrative forward. The classes are great, the weapons are excellent, and the enemy types are varied if sometimes predictable. Gathering a couple of friends and blowing through to the co-op campaign is the best way to experience the game. Fans of the franchise will have a blast and will get the most mileage out of Aliens: Fireteam Elite and this is a good game packed with tense moments.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
- A fun third-person shooter with a good selection of weapons and upgrades
- Challenge Cards shake up the campaign in exciting ways
- A thoughtful representation for Aliens fans that brings the universe to life
- -Playing solo severely limits the experience