Somewhere in the dark recesses of my brain I knew that there was a “thing” called “Natural Selection”, but if you had asked me a month ago to elaborate I probably would have told you it was a fantasy novel or a SyFy original movie. So when the sequel Natural Selection 2 released on steam...I’ll be honest, it wasn't at the top of or even on my “list of things”.
But as the weeks following the inconsequential launch of the game breezed by, I was approached by co-workers and friends who attempted to convince me that the game demanded my immediate attention. I had seen the ads on steam and even clicked the game’s page once or twice but it did nothing for me, the name, the screenshots and even the videos screamed mediocrity.
But on one lonely Tuesday evening I decided that I was financially secure enough to make the twenty-four dollar investment and thus purchased the game.
After playing my first match and wrapping my head around the general concept I was immediately pissed at myself for not purchasing the title earlier. The game does so many things brilliantly; generates a steady supply emergent gameplay, creates tense atmospheres and then shatters them with “in your face” action, but most impressive of all it successfully blends the RTS and FPS genres. And not in some bullshit Command & Conquer: Renegade kind of way, this is legitimate, multiplayer-only, life sized RTSFPS action.
The game also borrows heavily from the 1986 film “Aliens”, but this isn’t as much of a problem as it is a total bonus.
A normal match consists of two teams of about ten or so players building resource extractors and other structures at various nodes around the map, I should also mention that one team plays as space marines while the other plays as... aliens. I bet you saw that coming, but what you won’t see coming are the enemies (if you’re a marine anyway). You feel a real sense of vulnerability at the start of a match, but as more resources and kills are acquired you become increasingly more powerful until you finally achieve one-ness with the universe and purchase the dual minigun wielding mech-suite. At which point your vulnerability is all but erased by your new identity as a bullet spewing demi-god.
Anyway the long and the short of it is that Natural Selection 2 is a total riot, and is worth much more than the twenty-four dollar price tag that I paid for it. Which is why I logged back into steam to upgrade to the digital deluxe edition, only to find that no such option existed. This depressed me to no end…and not just because I wanted the deluxe marine skin.
I honestly think the developers deserve more of my money, in an age where the mindless reiteration of modern military games seem to be dominating the FPS market it’s refreshing to see such innovation from a small development team like Unknown Worlds Entertainment.