Played It: Aliens Infestation
On the face of it merely a competent Metroidvania – unashamedly so, the developers were keen to remind us that the Metroid series has borrowed heavily from the Alien saga – Aliens Infestation demonstrates brilliantly how story elements can enhance gameplay.
From the first screen it's obvious that this is possibly the best recreation of the movies' atmosphere since Rebellion's 1999 Aliens versus Predator, complete with authentic sound effects, fan-pleasing elements of lore, suitably industrial architecture and cats bursting out of closets.
But the really notable thing WayForward Technologies have done here is to go back to the old concept of “lives” in a platform game, of which you can have at most four, and then to make each one a unique Colonial Marine with their own character artwork and cut-scene dialogue.
Keeping your favourite marine in reserve is no fun, but sending them into danger comes hand-in-hand with the risk of losing them forever (either instantly in a shower of acid blood, or John Hurt-style if they are captured and you take too long to rescue them). This, more than anything, creates an incredible sense of tension, especially when you're far from a save room and low on ammo when a xenomorph drops from the ceiling and starts mauling your beloved point man or woman.
This game's probably a must-have for Aliens fans, living up to its pedigree in a sea of rip-offs and risk-averse tie-ins. It's also an interesting and daring example of game design and writing, and a fitting parting shot for the Nintendo DS.