Task Force Elite does not build tension. With such a transparent gameplay structure, any sense of pressure or horror has to come from the Xenomorphs themselves, and frankly, they are often not smart enough to make that happen. The swarms rarely feel uncontrollable and the specialized Xenomorphs, such as Spucker or Springer, routinely do not behave threateningly. That unpredictability ends up being more adorable than scary. I also have to note that my game crashed three times in about seven hours of play.
That’s not to say that AI is junk as a whole. Cold Iron says that some of the movement issues the Xenomorphs had in the preview build have already been fixed, and it’s really impressive to see dozens of inky black aliens storm down the hallway, each on their own path but on the lookout for blood, and the game is built around these moments. The Xenos tumble around corners like dogs on a tile floor, and details like these give the waves that much-needed personality.
The most exciting moments in the game come at the end of each mission, during the final crush. These are long distances with waves of xenomorphs including spitters, drifters, bursters, and giants, each chasing a single crew member. I’ve found the Technician and Doc to be especially useful at these moments – the Technician has a turret that recharges after being destroyed and shock grenades to keep the Xenomorphs at bay, while the Doc has an incredibly handy healing circle .
Most of the strategy development takes place here, even if it is mostly just tower talks. There are chests of consumable weapons, health, and on-demand ammo refills with every final battle, meaning your entire team will start off well equipped and free to spray and pray. This is good considering that the reticles of most guns are generous and crowd control is the name of the game, not accuracy.
There are a few bright spots in Aliens: Fireteam Elite. The soundtrack is an orchestral setting inspired by James Horner and a constant reminder of the game’s cinematic roots in the 1980s; it does a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to setting the mood. Plus, the game’s RPG elements – including character, equipment, and weapon customization, as well as challenge maps – add depth to otherwise simple missions.
I did not expect Task Force Elite be as narrative as the films or as moody as Alien: Isolation, but I was hoping for something like Left 4 Dead meets Dead Space, and it’s not. Instead, Aliens: Fireteam Elite feels like a ride in a video game form of a theme park. The monsters aren’t exactly threatening, but the crowds definitely are. And of course it’s more fun with friends.
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