Years ago I remember playing a pretty popular mod for half-life called Natural Selection. I am a huge Starcraft fan and this mod definitely did it for me. With its awesome mix of FPS and RTS elements it forged a tight gameplay experience. Playing as either the Marines or the Aliens you and your team pit your strategies against your opponents. With the base commander creating support structures to strengthen and better equip their soldiers, a cohesive team is essential to successfully getting your base off the ground.
Flash forward to today, in 9 more days Natural Selection 2 will be released. Following in the foot steps of Counter Strike as another Half-life mod to make it to stand alone. Still promising the same great mix of RTS and FPS; with some subtle improvements. Before the aliens didn’t build a base, in NS2 they do and I’m sure other game equalizing features have been added. But now lets get to the skinny on gameplay.
While playing as the marines, your team will rely on the ability of your teams commander to effectively develop your base to support your team. Dropping armories to provide better weapons to the soldiers or an observatory to provide more sight on the battlefield. All the while the other marines are defending the base as it gets built, and running small raids against the opposing base. Staying in groups is crucial, making it easier to defend the base structures and the team as a whole. Venturing out on your own is surely suicide as any of the aliens will make quick work of a lone marine. For those who do stay together however, varying weapons within the group will greatly improve survival. Having assault rifles mixed with flame throwers would be a solid combo for dealing with the Skulks, which are the main combat unit for the alien team. Once the opposing team starts to evolve into the more heavily equipped units, it would be wise to try and mix in an Exo Suit to your combat squad. Exo Suits are essentially huge mechanical walking assault suits. Capable of dealing massive amounts of damage with it gatling gun, they are an incredibly heavy addition to your team; and that is something you will need when engaging the alien forces en masse.
Kharaa (The Aliens)
The Kharaa, the alien team that opposes the marines, are made up of a multitude of varied alien units. Each unit has its own distinct tactics and play style. While the Marines rely on their Commander, the Kharaa rely on their sheer ability to survive. Accruing points from resource nodes and using them to evolve into more monstrous creatures is how the aliens gain the upper hand. At the start of the round all the aliens start as the Skulk and have to fight and survive long enough to evolve into more specialize creatures like the Gorge or Fade. The Gorge is a builder/healer that has the ability to build some defensive structures and can help expand the usable area for the Kharaa. Making it incredibly versatile the Gorge can also heal friendly units; successful integration of this unit is key to a solid front line assault. Fades on the other hand are a more elite unit. Not unlocked until later in a match, with the upgrade to a Tier 2 Hive. Fades specialize in hit and run, with the ability to blink in and out of combat quickly while inflicting a substantial amount of damage. Using a fade with the support of a few Skulks is a sure fire way to eat up the outer defenses of a base.
The End Game
Games are won or lost on the teams ability to communicate and work together through the ebb and flow of a battle. With support from a seasoned commander the fight can be won by either team. Fortunately, the slightly varied play styles of the two sides keeps this game interesting and challenging for rookies and veterans of the FPS genre at large. So for now I’ll sit here and bide my time for the next several days until the game launches on Halloween. Then we’ll see if you have what it takes to survive.