Yeah, we’ve been in a big old Alien universe mood of late!
Then we saw Aliens: Fireteam Elite on Xbox Games Pass. That means the 2021 title is free to download. And yeah, we just had to bloody well go and give it a try. Let’s go marines!
Aliens: Fireteam Elite is Violent
This launched in August 2021 and is available on PlayStation, Xbox, and Steam.
There was also 1999’s Aliens Versus Predator on the PC, which met with rave reviews at the time. So, the video games have generally been regarded pretty well compared to the most recent movies.
But, most famously, Gearbox Software’s Aliens: Colonial Marines (2013) caused a massive amount of hype before its release. Then it turned out to be the worst kind of awful.
It was seriously brave of San Jose’s Cold Iron Studios to take on a similar project. Gamers aren’t exactly the most tolerant lot—they shredded Gearbox Software a new one in 2013.
But the good news is Cold Iron Studios did a good job with Aliens: Fireteam Elite.
Its focus is on multiplayer third-person shooter action, the main emphasis being on cooperative online play. But you can also play alone thanks to computer AI characters supporting you.
The plot is set in 2202 when the USS Endeavor spaceship receives a distress signal from a facility called Katanga. It’s a refinery station orbiting the planet LV-895.
A bunch of marines go in to investigate and… you guessed it! Xenomorphs everywhere, much shooting required as a response. All good fun, then?! Yes, Aliens: Fireteam Elite offers intense action and swarm after swarm of alien lunatics.
At its best, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is genuinely fantastic.
It’s an intense and absorbing third-person shooter that puts you into the Alien universe. As with classic FPS like Half-Life 2, the game ramps up the intensity as the endless swarms of xenomorphs overwhelm your screen. It’s bloody incredible stuff.
However, that’s the central aspect of the game. You take on swarms. Many, many, many swarms. That means things can get repetitive over extended periods of play. After the 1,000th swarm… you get the idea.
At its worst, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is incredibly frustrating.
It’s quite idiotically difficult at times. We got stuck on level three for a while, completing the entire mission until the final standoff in an air hangar. At that point we were overwhelmed and slaughtered—as there’s no checkpoint system, you then have to start the WHOLE LEVEL all over again.
That element does hark back to the likes of Goldeneye 007 from 1997—the ’90s era FPS games where you had to just grind away to “git gud” and all that.
There’s a sect of gamers who determine their “true gamer” status on maxing out difficulty settings, “gitting good”, and completing a game like that.
But we don’t have time for it. Repeating a 30+ minute level as we died right at the end? Just stuff a checkpoint system at the air hangar so you can easily repeat that bit.
Anyway, those issues aside, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is best experienced as a multiplayer game. You should play with friends, or people from the online world.
The game actually prompts you to do that as you start, guiding you into the action with random gamers before each level. That adds a more human, strategic element to the experience.
But it is what it is! Lots of nods to the 1986 film, including the legendary motion trackers for incoming xenomorphs. Marines. Sentry guns. Explosions. Acid for blood.
It’s mindless escapism and it mostly delivers the goods. Mostly.
Aliens: Fireteam Elite’s Toe Tapping Soundtrack
If you’ve seen Aliens, you’ll know the soundtrack is adrenaline fuelled carnage (with additional flourishes of excellence).
Composer Austin Wintory worked on the Fireteam Elite project. He’s active on his YouTube channel and left this comment on the above video:
“I am beyond honored to have worked with Cold Iron and Disney on this project, as a lifelong diehard ALIEN / ALIENS fan. It’s a dream (a terrifying one) and I hope people dig it once it’s out!!”
Wintory worked on the Journey (2012) soundtrack. That’s a game he’s said changed his life, as it brought in global recognition.
For Aliens: Fireteam Elite, he’s certainly delivered a really terrific score.
It’s the natural evolution of James Horner’s soundtrack from Aliens, but Wintory throws in some brilliant flourishes that ramp up the sense of action. It’s really well done.
This number, Giants in Earth, is a highlight. As the swarms of aliens are surging in it ramps home the sense of urgency and panic (see 5:00 onwards).
It’s interesting to note that while the quality of the Alien films trailed off after 1986, the soundtracks have generally all been quite brilliant.
As flawed as Prometheus (2012) is, for example, you can’t fault that incredible soundtrack.
And if there ever is an Alien 5, we recommend Wintory for the film’s music. Pretty please with a cherry on top.