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While many would argue that the Colonial Marine is the most boring character to play as, it must also be said that his game is most like a traditional FPS. You have a character, he has a gun, there are some aliens to kill. You walk and shoot, sometimes together. That is all. Although that's not to say it is like any other generic FPS game - it does have many aspects that are very original, but they are less apparent at first. There is no walking on the ceiling or becoming invisible. This means that if you have not played many other games of this type, you should probably pick the marine as your first character, and play through the game with him first. Once he has some weapons he is a veritable killing machine but until then you are quite vulnerable. It is best to keep on the move at all times, because there is probably something creeping up on you constantly.

Weapons

  • M-41A Pulse Rifle aka a close personal friend of mine. This is the staple weapon in the game, which you will find most ammo for. You will generally want to keep this equiped for most of the game, except when you know there are really tough enemies or lots of them, in which case some of the heavier weaponry might be necessary.

  • M-56 Smartgun, as favoured by Vasquez and Drake in Aliens. This is a seriously useful gun - similar to the pulse rifle but with a much higher rate of fire and ammo capacity. There is also a track feature (which can be disabled if you desire) which can track targets if they are moving fast. It is only a tracking function though - having your crosshair locked onto an enemy does not guarantee that you will hit them. For trying to find enemies in the dark or for killing facehuggers though, this gun is your weapon of choice.

  • M240 Flamethrower - as seen in Ripley's lovely combination gun at the end of Aliens. This baby is very volatile - you might manage to set your target on fire, or you might end up alight yourself. Avoid walking forward with this gun equipped, because you will simply set yourself on fire, and the only way to put fire out for the marine is to find a health kit. You don't need to fire until an opponent dies, just wait until they are alight and the flames will do the rest.

  • Grenade Launcher (fires Incendiary grenades, Framentation grenades and Proximity mines) - this gun is useful to clear infested rooms before you enter them. You can bounce the grenades off corners and use them to take out enemies that are just out of sighte - gravity affects the grenade trajectory. The three different kinds of grenades act exactly like they sound - Incendiary can set people on fire, proximity can be left and will detonate when an enemy comes close, and Fragmentation 'nades blow out shrapnel damaging anyone nearby.

  • M83A2 SADAR Rocket Launcher - there is a whole can of splash damage here which could easily hurt you very badly if used in a confined space. This weapon will finish off almost anything if you can hit it, but it has a huge reload time, so if you miss your enemy you should switch to another weapon quickly. The power of this weapon is such that it should take out even Predators very quickly.

  • Minigun - this baby is the rarest weapon in the game but it makes up for it by being the most powerful. Once you start to fire you cannot move around, but you can still aim. The gun takes a while to spin up to full speed, but once it's firing it will rip apart anything and everything that it touches. It is fatal to all enemies.

  • Sentry Gun - this is not a gun fired by the player, instead, you place it on the floor at any point, and then it unfolds and proceeds to massacre enemies, saving you ammo. It can and does run out itself, though, so don't rely on it too much.

Equipment

  • Motion Detector - a hand held radar as seen in the film Aliens. This baby can track anything moving (which includes doors, body parts and flares) for up to 30 metres in front of you on a 180 degree arc. Unfortunately, there is no tracking behind you, so you'll need to swing round often to check your back. Also, there is no indication of the elevation of the signal, so it could be on a different floor (or as is more likely, and Alien crawling on the roof). Finally, the frequency of the tracking has been slowed since the film - which means one sweep might show an enemy 30 metres away, but by the next sweep of the radar they are right in front of you. So don't just rely on the tracker, keep eyes and ears open.

  • Image Intensifier - this vision enhancer makes everything you see a graniy green colour, similar to night vision. You can see in the dark, but very bright areas and flares will blind you. Also, using the image intensifier turns off the motion detector. This is probably a gamble worth taking, as you should be able to see Aliens coming at you from much further away. Most of the game should be played with this on.

  • Medikits - the usual FPS staple diet. Knocks your health back up to 100

  • Armour - knocks armour back up to 100. Very rare.

  • Jetpack - only available on selected bonus levels. Some of the bonus levels (available after you complete the main game) are levels that were formally played with the Alein. This means there are often vertical walls to climb, and so the Marine is given a Jetpack to use while replaying these levels.

The Marine has a quite simple game, although it can be very difficult when you are getting swarmed by aliens. Level design for him is excellent, as are the video screens on the wall which tell you what to do next. I would definitely suggest that new players try the marine game first to get a feel for how the game plays.

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