Firstly this game doesnt get full marks because of the campaign length...it is far too short and those who have maybe looked at the game videos/images may think along the lines of Castlevania and Metroid, and yes it is in the same ball park but this is at heart a very one way game with minor side-exploration.
What we have left though is a very rare DS game with true jumpy-moments and tense exploration. Its hard to imagine that a side scrolling game could offer such an atmosphere but it certainly had me on the edge of my seat more than a couple of times. This is of course an Aliens game so it does live true to the theme of the overall series.
The game picks up after the events of James Camerons' Aliens. The Sulaco is found adrift in space and a new group of Marines are sent in to investigate and find out what happened to the former mission team. You begin on the Sulaco with a four man team of marines, in this case the marines, although you can choose one, act as your lives. Once the health bar is depleted you lose a marine - pretty smart - and as a plus side you can actually stage a rescue mission to retrieve them should you wish. Scattered around the environments you will find other marines who will, at some point join you if you are short of men. Save rooms are very scarce on this game, so it pays to treat every encounter with some strategy as the marines are in short supply - 19 in total throughout the game. Although the game plays like a hardcore shooter - think contra - with Castlevania exploration and map - you will be constantly under pressure to retrace your steps to recent save rooms and re-stock on ammo and health and venture out again to tackle the tougher encounters. I must empathise that the level of tension becomes quite high as you get into deep water.
The enemies are varied between battle androids, Alien Drones, Face huggers and Human opposition. The Aliens look fantastic, they can drop down at you on a whim and scare the **** out of you. The Humans and Androids use regular gun attacks - which require you to dodge and return fire accordingly. Of course there are boss battles in the form of Queen Aliens and variants which each have a knack to beating. These fights usually witness the loss of a couple of marines but should you replay the game then maybe you wont have the same problem.
All weapons stay true to the Alien franchise, as do the sound effects. The pulse rifle, possibly one of the most recognisable weapons in the world. There are shotguns, flame throwers and smart guns. Each weapon can be upgraded several times to increase damage output. In one section of the game you also get to use the Twin Cannons atop an APC to gun down pursuing Aliens which is quite fun but over too quickly.
I do feel that this game has been shown a lot of love and attention to impress the fans. It is a difficult game at times but applying a strategy can decrease this level and make for a more balanced game. As with all good things though I do think that this game has been somewhat overlooked. I didnt hear about it until recently and I am a big Aliens fan. A shame really.
Anyway I give this game a solid 7/10. Its fun and true to the Aliens experience offering Metroid style navigation and progress in the world of Aliens.
The game could have expanded on certain elements - but the developers have played a safe hand and given fans what they would want from this type of game.
A must buy for those looking to pass an afternoon or two.