***May contain spoilers***

The Alien’s franchise is one that I have a soft spot for, being a fan since I first snuck a viewing of the very first movie when I was a child on late night TV. I’ve played many of the games featuring the iconic xenomorph species, from the awesome Aliens Vs Predator for the Atari Jaguar to some more mundane offerings such as Alien 3 and the abysmal Aliens Vs Predator for the SNES. Aliens: Infestation is a delightful addition to the Aliens franchise but not without its flaws and I’ll tell you why.

Aliens: Infestation is what you could call an interquel, it takes place well after the events of Alien but before Aliens. The gameplay is very reminiscent of Super Metroid in that you must collect items and keys to get to new areas and you come across new more powerful weapons as you progress. While the zones don’t constrain you to one certain path the game is pretty linear unlike metroid style games. Throughout the game, you lead a squadron of 4 Marines in which you play as one at a time, all with typical call signs you’d expect from Aliens and the Comics. This squad setup has its low points, when the character you currently have out dies, they’re dead for the rest of the game. You can replace them by finding other stranded marines in the current level. If you grow attached to one of your marines you might find yourself using one of the others as fodder for boss battles. The boss battles left a lot to be desired in my opinion. While the designs of the bosses themselves were pretty cool, the mechanics for these battles were weak. For the most part you had to figure out their typical AI pattern for the whole fight but with some these patterns were impossible to flesh out leading to you losing several of your marines in the course of the battle just because the damage is unavoidable. Also with boss battles, if you aren’t careful you can run out of ammo, as there is no way to regain ammo during a battle other then your current marine dying and you will run out of ammo if you aren’t smart because the bosses have an extraordinary amount of health making some battle way too drawn out. Another feature of the gameplay I sort of found to be totally unnecessary was the stamina bar. You require stamina to sprint and to do the forward roll, which the latter will save your hide many a time during boss battles. Its a pain because when the bar is empty you can’t do anything evasive but walk and in the heat of battle this can spell disaster.

The thing that immediately drew me to this game was the crisp 2D graphics. If I hadn’t been paying attention to what I was playing it on I could swear I was playing an old SNES game. It just screams classic platformer and as a retrophile this is a huge plus. More practically it works so much better for the hardware as well. Its true the DS can handle 3D pretty well but its not its strongest feature when it comes to designing games that work and look good at the same time. The attention to detail is great too, you can tell the designers either were big fans of the series of they did their research because the level designs, characters, enemies and weapons all are what you would expect in an Alien’s game including locations and elements from the first two movies. With all those pluses aside, lets talk negatives… I understand that you never really saw more then a few types of xenomorphs in the movie universe but the game offers only a small number of different enemies to fight aside from the boss creatures. You basically only had one type of standard xenomorph, eggs, facehuggers, ape aliens and the two android enemy types. I think a little more diversity would of been nice seeing as some of the earlier Capcom arcade games took more creative license in what kind of enemies you fought. Also, the marines themselves seem to have a pretty standard sprite, though some have some slight deviations in chest plates or armor pieces but other then that they are practically identical with just a different color palette. The female marines don’t seem to have any body type difference from the males either which just seems a bit lazy but its nothing that makes the game unenjoyable however.

The atmosphere for the game is well established not just by the visuals but more importantly the sound. All of the sound effects from the movies are here. The squeals of the aliens when injured, the memorable bleeps from the motion tracker and the sounds of gun fire are all ripped right out the movies. One part I really thought was a really nice touch was one room in the first zone of the game, you enter the sick bay and a cat comes jumping out at you just like in Alien using the same sound effect from the movie scene. The music ranges from atmospheric to typical action music, its good but nothing really new. Though it as well as the graphics have a retro kind of feel to it. Once again I feel like I’m playing a long lost SNES game.

Overall I feel this is a pretty decent game, aside from some of the weaker gameplay elements and unbalanced boss fights the game is enjoyable and if you are a fan of the Aliens franchise it probably is the best Aliens platformer to come out in years.