Once a mod for Natural Selection 2, NS2:Combat removes the series’ signature RTS elements while retaining upgrade elements such as weapons, armor, evolutions and abilities that progress throughout the match. It’s a neat approach that more FPS games seem to be taking (with the upcoming Evolve containing similar elements), and one that plays wonderfully, despite some of the game’s other flaws.
Marines play as you’d expect, wielding assault rifles, shotguns minigun-wielding mechsuits. Aliens on the other hand, are a bit stranger and mechanically different from anything else on the FPS market, morphing over time into gruesome (and awesome!) critters ranging from scurrying, dog-like grunts to hulking rhino monsters that spew tentacles and make short work of the pesky little hoomins.They’re both a lot of fun to play, despite the human faction being utterly boring and way too similar to Alien’s space marines, and counter the other’s strengths and weaknesses very well.
While this may sound familiar to fans of vanilla NS2 (and in many ways it is), Combat emphasizes personal upgrades and a match-based leveling system over the RTS-inspired commander system of the original game. It’s an interesting and clever twist, incorporating cores and command centers (think LoL’s Nexus or Starcraft’s bases) into the traditional FPS deathmatch to great effect . Unfortunately, while the gameplay here is stellar, the fact that this is essentially a standalone game with NS2’s controls and models means you’ll be seeing the same weapons, monsters and upgrades as vanilla NS2, with no significant additions or new content besides the removal of commander mode. I would have personally liked to have seen some new aliens or upgrades made specifically for this iteration, but unfortunately there’s nothing new to be had here, at least for the time being.
Overall though, Natural Selection 2: Combat is a pretty solid title that plays around with some really strong ideas I’d love to see in more games. If you love FPS games and the Aliens franchise, Natural Selection 2: Combat is definitely one to keep an eye on.