Aliens: Colonial Marines Preview (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) -- Close Encounters

Gearbox and Sega are faithfully dialing in the same vibe as James Cameron's 1986 classic with its new FPS.

We've seen countless video games based on the Aliens franchise over the years, both for arcade and for home, and while they may have been exciting, they're hardly the sort of thing that we'd call in-depth.  In fact, the closest we could come to feeling like we were in a true Aliens experience comes down to two games -- the 1990 Konami arcade game and last year's Nintendo DS release Aliens: Infestation.  But that'll change this fall when Gearbox, the studio behind Borderlands, will team up with Sega for Aliens: Colonial Marines, a game that really dials in the feeling of the 1986 James Cameron cinematic classic.

In the game, you take part as a Marine, joining up with a team on the broken-down planet of LV426.  (The events take place after the Aliens film.)  You're investigating strange goings-on that have affected the colony, with the suspicion that alien beings are somehow involved.  It isn't long before you confirm this, as they slowly but surely make their presence known, and you're soon fighting for survival by any means necessary.

The script, written by Battlestar Galactica scribes Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, offers plenty of thrilling moments, based on what we've seen from gameplay so far.  A lot of the elements that were featured in the original film are intact, including the automated gun turrets, aliens popping out of the walls and ceilings and grabbing anyone they can, and bigger, badder "boss" aliens who can take a lot more gunfire before they eventually zoom in for the kill.  (This includes the "mother" alien from the film, who you have a boss encounter with over the course of the game, though Gearbox hasn't disclosed exactly when you face her.)

Though the game doesn't feature an on-screen HUD to give you an idea of health or ammunition, you can use your weapons to keep a close eye on bullet count.  The digital readout, for instance, lets you know how much ammo is left.  And you can use the tracker like the one featured in the original film, so you can keep an eye out for aliens and prepare to run like mad if you see 20 things suddenly come up.  And you actually have the ability to switch between several team members, and issue commands to those to help keep them alive, something you'll be doing quite often depending how often you're ambushed by the xenos.