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Natural Selection 2
Natural Selection 2 pits marines versus aliens for control of power nodes and resources, all in a race to destroy the other team’s main base. I say team, because lone wolfing just doesn’t cut it in this game, most of the times I tried it, I died messily quite soon. So if you’re not prepared to cooperate then you might as well just put your armor back in its carrier and drop all the shells out of your gun.
There are two ways to play Natural Selection 2, the Commander and an on the ground soldier, who fights for resources so the Commander can use them to buy upgrades and healing and other things needed to win. Good Commanders will make sure they get their troops whatever they ask for, and good troops will fulfill the demands of their Commander, who sees things from an over-the-top third person perspective. I liked the marine/alien type part of the game better than the Commander part, mostly because I like to do the killing, not be the one who tells people where to go to do the killing. So long as you can find a commander all the soldiers don’t think of as stupid, well you’re good to go.
My biggest issue with this game was the lack of a hands-on tutorial. While there are links to videos provided and even an explore mode that lets you view maps without structures or enemies, they’re no substitute for even a short campaign that lets you learn how to play versus a computer opponent.
The game feels a bit like a Starcraft clone to me in the designs of their aliens and the fact that they need a biological connection to their bases to keep them from dying. I do like the fact that the alien player sometimes views the game through the jaws of the creature they inhabit. It gives a feeling of being a non-human creature in an easy yet effective way. I like the look of the alien’s night vision, and the fact that if you’re crafty you can use it against the marines. Balance-wise, both teams seem well rounded, though you have to stick together to have a real chance of winning against some of the larger alien types, and some of the weaker alien types benefit from bringing along a beefier target for the humans to shoot at while you rip them a new one from behind. While I liked viewing the world through sets of nasty, sharp, pointy teeth, it wasn’t always an effective camera angle to make sure you weren’t biting only empty air. Sometimes I felt like I should have killed someone and instead they shot and killed me.
With the right team and a good commander, this game can be a lot of fun. Lacking either of those doesn’t mean the end of the game’s enjoyment; it just makes your team less likely to win. But you have to enjoy staying and working with a team, like I said before, natural Selection 2 is pretty much a No Lone Wolf Zone. That puts a little bit of a dent in the fun for me. While I don’t mind working with others, I also like to challenge myself by facing off against other players in a one-on-one situation. It’s not a huge deal, as there are plenty of other games where I can indulge my Lone Wolf tendencies.
Your team wins the game by destroying the base in which the Commander resides. Depending on how good your team is, that can take quite a while. There are no real shortcuts to winning the game, though owning most of the resource points certainly speeds things along, as does destroying the other side’s outlying buildings. You’d think the aliens, what with the Creep-like substance would have the advantage, but that’s not the case. There are cysts in the bio-mass that connect the buildings and keep them alive. Killing them shrinks the bio-mass and can eventually kill the building as well. The marines use power conduits. Destroy them and you make whole sections of the map dark and powerless.
Natural Selection 2 is available from Steam for PC.