Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Aliens: Infestation

Review: Aliens: Infestation

2:00 PM on 10.12.2011 // Jim Sterling

Videogames owe a lot to Aliens. The movie classic gave us the archetypal space marine, then pitted them against a nest full of drooling Xenomorphs, the titular Aliens that have served as a blueprint for so many videogame enemies.

It seems poetic, then, that Aliens has finally reclaimed the gameplay it inspired. Both Contra and Metroid have liberally stolen from 20 Century Fox's franchise over the years, and I can think of few things more fitting than to see the developer of Contra 4 producing an Aliens game with a retro Metroid flavor.

Aliens: Infestation is the game I've wanted for years. I am not disappointed by the result.

Aliens: Infestation (Nintendo DS)
Developer: WayForward Technologies
Publisher: SEGA
Released: October 11, 2011
MSRP: $29.99

Set on Lv-426 in the aftermath of Aliens, Infestation puts players in control of four marines as they search the remnants of the Sulaco and uncover yet another shadowy plot by the sinister Weyland-Yutani corporation. While each Marine has his or her own distinct personality and dialog, do not get too attached to them -- they likely won't survive to see the end of the game.

Aliens: Infestation is a game about loss, taking the depressing spirit of the Aliens movies to heart and presenting a game where anybody can die ... and probably will. There are 19 Marines to discover and collect throughout the game, and when one of them gets killed off, they stay killed. Players have a chance to rescue fallen comrades from Xenomorph nests, but if the escape attempt fails, they're never coming back.

To ensure that players feel the dismal sting of death, WayForward Technologies has made Aliens: Infestation a damn tough game. Taking an old-school scrolling shooter approach, players investigate the Sulaco and wider areas of LV-426, facing some incredibly stiff resistance along the way. Health bars are not huge, a stamina gauge limits the ability to run or dodge, and bugs are very tough to put down.

This difficulty can sometimes border on the unreasonable, especially when facing fast-moving monkey-bugs that deal damage by touch alone or when Xenomorphs suddenly jump at you from several feet away. Sometimes, enemies are strategically placed below elevators and ladders so that taking a hit is inescapable. When the game wants to hurt you, it will hurt you no matter what. While this keeps the game incredibly tense, it can become annoying when every hit you take knocks you down, the dodge roll is ineffectual, and Xenos can close the gap between themselves and you without recourse.

Despite these grievances, however, Aliens: Infestation is an incredibly intense shooter experience, one that makes the Xenomorphs genuinely threatening for the first time in years. Not only are the regular Alien Warriors deadly, the various boss creatures lying in wait are utterly brutal, more than capable of taking out an entire squad of Marines if players aren't careful. Memories of Castlevania are evoked when players are down to a sliver of health and desperately trying to get back to a save point in order to find sanctuary, knowing that failure truly puts something on the line.

As noted, Aliens: Infestation borrows heavily from Metroid. Backtracking is a big part of the experience, as some areas are closed off until players return later with new equipment. Sealed doors need to be opened with welding equipment, bug resin needs to be burned away with flamethrowers, and broken steam pipes need to be closed off with wrenches. The backtracking can get a little overindulgent, especially when players are only given a vague clue of where to go, but it's otherwise a very good take on classic gameplay.

There is a range of iconic weaponry to discover throughout the game, from the unforgettable pulse rifle to shotguns, flamethrowers, and smart guns. While the flamethrower is disappointingly weak, the smart gun is a beautiful weapon that becomes crucial as soon as it's discovered. Each gun can be upgraded three times by items hidden throughout the game, improving their ability to dish out death. Unfortunately, only one main weapon can be carried at a time, which I find inconvenient, especially when you need the useless flamethrower to burn open doors. I'd like for at least two weapons to be equippable alongside the emergency pistol.

Another disappointing element to the game is the lack of rewards for exploration. There are many hidden air vents leading to secret areas, but very few of these areas contain anything useful. While health pickups and ammo drops are welcome, these things are replenished in save rooms, meaning that running out of essentials isn't a huge issue. Also, if you already have four marines, any new ones discovered refuse to join your party and stay where they are, meaning that discovering them can be rather pointless. With only weapon upgrades on offer as tangible, lasting rewards, it often feels like a waste of time to explore, especially when you fight your way through an infested air vent only to discover an insultingly empty dead end.

These disappointments aside, Infestation is the most satisfying Aliens experience in years. From its retro visuals (including some great Xeno animation) to the authentic sound effects and fittingly subdued music, this is a game with a lot of respect for the franchise that fans ought to adore. The slow pace and knowledge that Xenos can creep from scenery or burst from grates in the floor lead to a surprisingly thrilling experience, something that's very hard to successfully achieve on a handheld system yet looks effortless in the hands of WayForward.

Of particular note is the cast of Marines. As previously mentioned, each one has a distinct personality, original dialog, and stylized character portrait complete with gritty comic book aesthetic. Every Marine has a defining pose in save rooms, and quite a few of them are genuinely funny, affable personalities. Losing a favorite character is painful, especially when they've been with the player a long time. I just wish less likable ones could be swapped out for freshly discovered recruits when the squad is full.

Aliens: Infestation could stand to offer a lot more rewards in respect for the risks players take, but ultimately this is a game that makes Xenomorphs intimidating once again and provides a stiff challenge with lasting consequences for failure. Packed with references to the Aliens movies, including Power Loader battles and an intense APC escape scene, this is a game made by fans with the fans in mind. After recent disappointments from the Aliens franchise, Infestation brings it all home and makes for a thoroughly captivating adventure.



Aliens: Infestation - Reviewed by Jim Sterling
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Aliens: Infestation

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Is Toei using Kamen Rider Ghost to address suicide in Japan?

Cblogs of 11/27/15 - Life is Strange, and Sad

Top 5 Reasons Star Wars Battlefront KICKS ASS!

Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Little Slice of Childhood

Top 5 Reasons Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 IS AWESOME!

Cblogs of 11/26/15 + Combat Heropon-isms

Video games go mainstream

I’m Not a SJW, I’m an Anthropologist: Making the Case for Diversity in Games

Insidia REVIEW - A whole dark, gloomy, and kinda creepy world to explore

DS REVIEWS: Trace Memory

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
I finally caved in to those sweet deals, got Shantae and The Pirate's Curse, Downwell and Super House of Dead Ninjas :)
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I hope that Prototype runs better on my dad's old laptop than it does on my AMD gaming rig. Some badly coded games run like ass on AMD cards.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Please spare me from issues in the process of publishing my blog! Especially since I modified CSS to unnecessarily pseudo-crop an image, and make it so some images float next to text, and make it look decent on mobile. I'm a frickin' nerd, love it.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
The night brims with defiled scum, and is permeated by their rotten stench. Just think, now you're all set to hunt and kill to your heart's content! #FashionBorne [img][/img]
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
Two more days to get in on the unofficial Christmas Card! [Url][/URL]
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django has got a mystery sale on T Shirts and Tank Tops atm, $5 for each. Only catch is they're random. But I've had some good luck, got a Captain Falcon one before, Zombies ate my Neighbors and a Persona 4 X Earthbound crossover.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
I would really, really love if "publish now" could work without me having to post a blog multiple because the site is such a mess right now.
fitzen avatarfitzen
I got it all the way back in spring, but I still haven't finished Majoras Mask. Think I've done the first temple.. It's hard not knowing where to go. All those linear corridors and objective markers in games has made me dumb and impatient.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
A weekend open forum posted every Friday night would be really cool, at least until we get real forums again.
Parismio avatarParismio
Went snowboarding for the first time in years. Crashed a lot, many times into trees. All that training in FF7 didnt do squat!
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
If I were to get Age of Empires II HD to play with you all, do you all have the DLC?
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I am relieved to know Creed is a Rocky spin-off and not a feature-length documentary about the band.
Steven Hansen avatarSteven Hansen
the worst thing about that jesssica jones program is i keep getting "basketball jones" stuck in my head
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Been playing Gears of War 3's campaign on Xbox One. Looks great on there, and Sam's voice actor is Chloe's voice actor in Uncharted 2/3. Hell yeah!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: With all the controversy surrounding review scores, what do you personally consider a "bad" score versus a "good" score? Is there a game in particular that was panned by critics that you nevertheless enjoyed? Or vice versa?
TheVeganGamer avatarTheVeganGamer
Finally got around to playing Diablo 3 with some friends, holy smokes! That game is rad!
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Public service announcement: Marry an orphan. It makes the holidays so much easier when you don't have to deal with pain in the ass in-laws.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So... how long is it until we get the inevitable Colonial Marines or Ride to Hell: Retribution PS4/Xbox One re-releases?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Screw Bloodborne. I finally managed to overcome not tearing up while listening to the entirety of Never More. Git gud! [youtube][/youtube]
NYCpunk avatarNYCpunk
you know what's not okay? scalpers with 10 copies of fire emblem fates SE on ebay for $200+. and no one is saying anything.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -