Aliens Infestation is like a cross between Contra and Metroid. Although it seemingly uses the same gameplay engine as WayForward's frantic Contra 4, the pace is more sedate. This is a game favours exploration over explosions.
For the first part of Aliens Infestation you'll be taking out androids which are a pain to kill as they hide behind things and fire weapons that knock you down with one hit. Indeed, for the first half an hour it seems a tiny bit rubbish and frustrating. Stick with it, though, and eventually these annoying robot baddies are replaced by the acid-dripping xenomorphs we all love to fear.
Warrior aliens, facehuggers and chestbursters roam around each area's corridors, with only a small beeping dot on your motion tracker telling you there's something nearby. There's a real feeling of suspense when you're wandering around an area that you know to be infested with aliens, especially when your ammo is running low and you realise you're going to have to resort to your useless pistol. And once your marine is dead, they're dead. There are no second chances in Aliens: Infestation.
We're All Gonna Die, Man
If you were blessed with multiple lives you might be more inclined to leap in with all guns blazing but when health packs feel like they're gold dust, a more tactical approach is a necessity.
If your marine pegs it, they can be replaced by another marine from your four-man squad, kitted out with full ammo and health, allowing you to continue. If all four of your marines snuff it then it's game over.
In order to keep things going, you'll need to find and approach marines from other squads. Chat to one of them while you have a spare slot in your team and they'll join you. The key to success is remembering where each marine is based on the vast maps so that you can quickly restore your team to a full four-person squad should you suffer a fatality.
You'll need it for the boss fights. Every now and then you'll come up against a huge creature that takes heaps of grenades and rounds of ammo to bring down. The first is a queen alien near the start, while later creatures are new alien mutations that didn't feature in the movies. These boss battles up the difficulty level considerably, and you're likely to lose a few soldiers in battle as a result.
Each solider has their own personality, outfit and backstory. Impressively, they also have their own dialogue with the commander who talks to you through your radio.
As fantastic as Aliens: Infestation is, it's by no means perfect. The music tracks soon get monotonous, the mazes of grey corridors can start to feel repetitive after a while and the boss battles are also susceptible to moments of dodgy AI.
With all this taken into consideration, Aliens: Infestation is still very good. It's a lengthy game that takes the controls of Contra, combines them with the non-linear map exploration of the Metroid and Castlevania games, and chucks Hollywood's most terrifying movie monsters into the mix.
This is an edited version of a review which appeared in the November issue of Official Nintendo Magazine. For the full review with more in-depth analysis, screenshots and boxouts, you can buy the mag here.