If you have played the Natural Selection MOD for Half Life 1 before, then great, you’ll know everything you need to know to play NS2 and if you liked NS1 then there is no reason not to like NS2. If, like me, you weren’t any good at it because you were scared of it’s complexity then, NS2 is the same thing, but a little bit better. I’m sure there were tutorials online for the first one, but the second one has some videos built in, which is nice. They’re just links to YouTube videos, but they’re good enough. Thankfully there seems to be quite a few ‘Rookie Servers’ that go easy on the new players and I really enjoyed playing the game.
The game has two sides, marines and aliens. The marines have to destroy the alien hive and they do so with pure firepower. A marine on his own isn’t that powerful, so grouping together with other players and rushing an area, much like a strategy game with a bunch of units is one of the best tactics. Of course, that strategy part is in there, as one player can elect to be a commander. The commander has a top down view of the game, instead of the first person view that the other players get. The commander can assign objectives, tasks and deploy certain things, such as health and ammo stations and turrets. There can also be multiple command centers, just like there can be multiple hives. Although a Marine on their own isn’t powerful, they can upgrade their weapons and armor, but eventually you’ll want the two cool upgrades. The first cool upgrade is a jet pack. A bloody jet pack, how cool is that? The second cool upgrade is a mech suit. The first upgrade lets you have a minigun and punch things. The minigun has unlimited ammo, but it overheats. The second upgrade replaces the melee attack with another minigun, which I didn’t get to use but I’m assuming they both overheat pretty quickly as well. These are essential for taking out the aliens.
Over on the alien side the objectives are similar – take out the marine command centers. The alien you spawn as has the ability to evolve to different aliens and you do so, kind of based on need. Whilst some are more powerful than others, some are for healing, some are for sneaking and probably, the alien equivalent to the mech suit is the ability to evolve into some horned elephant thing called an ‘Onos’. Oh no indeed, this big and powerful alien has a lot of health and pretty much destroys anything in its path, so a group of marines are need to take it down. The alien side is a little more complex. They too have a commander who plays the same role and has the same top down view, but playing as an alien as well is slightly harder. The base alien can climb walls and you really use it to ambush lone marines, others are for healing or doing suicide bile bombs. There’s even a freaky looking pterodactyl like one that can fly, which is really cool.
NS2 improves over the original mod with better graphics and a more intuitive interface. The game feels really smooth and fluid and it’s a lot of fun to play. One thing to remember though is that this game really requires team work. It isn’t like other FPS games where one player can run and gun (or crawl and munch if you’re an alien) and just own everyone, you really need to work as a team to survive and keep your upgrades. Overall if you’re looking for a fast paced FPS with a lot of teamwork and strategy involved, this is the game for you. Due to the strategic complexity, especially if you’re a commander, it may take a while to get used to, but it’s still a fun game to play and a great change from most of the shooters released today.