Aliens: Infestation DS

7 Overall Score

Great shooting and combat | Audio spot on | Recreates the Alien universe on the tiny screen

Cheaply respawning enemies | Forgettable plot | Not much done with huge cast

Licensed games….  Not that I don’t really love playing, say, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Xbox Metacritic score: 61) but I find that they really are much better generally when they don’t have an absolute fixed deadline.  Like the release date of a movie. These games, like Transformers: War for Cybertron (Xbox Metacritic score: 76) are usually better simply by the facts that they have some more flexibility in plot lines and more time to polish.  I say usually, because that isn’t always the case.  Transformers: Cybertron Adventures (Wii Metacritic score: 41) I’m looking at you.  So what does this have to do with Aliens: Infestation?

Well, it’s quite simply the plot that Alien3 should have had, and the game that should have been released aside it, but it’s come rather late.  About 20 years late, really.  25 if it’s a game sequel to Aliens. Not that the plot really matters, as it is pretty forgettable.  Of course the plots of Alien and Aliens were extremely simple, but they were fantastic movies. What matters the most here are the settings, which you remember feeling claustrophobic, the guns, which you remember the marines raving about seconds before they were dead, and of course, the aliens themselves.  Be it chest bursters, face-huggers, adults or the screen-filling queen, this game has them in spades.

Which relates to the strongest part of the game, the combat.  But just like the movies, the spots between the action, where a breath could be taken, a magazine changed and the motion tracker turned back on, are some of the strongest.  The developer WayForward (Who also made the fantastic Contra 4) aren’t above the ‘BOO!… It’s only a cat silly, why are you all tense?’ type of moment, but I’ll take a few of those and be alright with it.  It’s a well paced game that ratchets up and down, as you wander hallways looking for keycards, finding survivors and noticing areas that you won’t be able to get to yet.  It has that classic ‘Metroidvania’ style of play where you acquire items later on that open up areas you’d passed by before.  I never felt stuck or lost, and the map helped me out if I ever got turned around.  The most important thing you’re finding though, is help.

There is a full cast of 19 marines, and they’ll die.  You start off with 4 and meet new ones, and you’ll say goodbye to others.  They’re very distinctly styled, and who you keep alive and use will matter in small ways.  I became attached to a couple characters because I liked their dialogue and styling, and found myself backtracking to save points to switch them out and at one point turning off my DS just as I died, so I could restart the game from my last save with the marine still alive.  This is because death is permanent, aside from the odd time where you race against a clock to save them from being used as a host. And yes, you may have to endure watching your favourite marine have an alien burst from their chest if you’re late.  It may sound silly, but I did become attached to them even with their small amount of personalization.

But all is not good, unfortunately.  The combat is pretty good overall, though it is tough.  It should be tough, because you’re a squishy human.  The problem is, that tense battle that you just managed to win becomes a whole lot less special when you re-enter the room because you forgot an ammo crate to just have the same enemy spawn in the same way.  It cheapens it, and I really wanted to be able to clean out parts of the ship or planet and feel I was doing something more.  That, coupled with the game of jack-in-the-box that fighting the humanoid enemies becomes, takes off a few points.  It’s not enough to make you stop playing, but it is enough to make you frustrated, especially if a respawning enemy finishes off a weak marine you like.   Yes, ultimately they could have done much, much more with the cast than they did, allowing individual upgrades and unique skills, but they didn’t and it’s a shame.

It’s difficult to truly sum this game up, because it’s at once brilliant and frustrating.  WayForward knows retro, and they know shooters.  The core mechanics are great, and the game really is fun, but it feels like the potential was there to go beyond the retro to take some newer ideas and make it better than it is.


Want to know what our review scores mean? Read about it here.


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Author: Micah View all posts by
Micah has been playing games since his first pong machine, and has been writing for as long as he could grip a pencil and not drool on the paper. So, for about a week.

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