Manufacturer: Prodos Games
Reviewer: Wayne Bollands
This new board game from Prodos has a wealth of interesting features and is a hefty box full of interesting components. The premise behind the game is equally interesting. You take on the role of one of three factions, either classic Alien Xenomorphs, Predators or Human Colonial Marines. Each faction finds themselves upon a derelict spacecraft called the USCSS Theseus. There are ten missions in the glossy rulebook, each of which can be played separately or meshed together to create a narrative campaign. There are two levels of play, Basic and Advanced, plus an option to play the game on a solo level using the concept of the survival orientated missions.
Each faction in the game has a range of different skill sets they can access and the game uses some interesting mechanics in order to maintain a sense of game ‘balance’. These include the ‘Ping!’ tokens. Working on the classic Motion Detector idea from the movies, these tokens are used to conceal the actual appearance of a figure until such as time as that figure is legitimately spotted by another but are also useful after that point, adding an asymmetrical element to the game. Also included in the game are a series of cards ranging from Stat Cards for each faction to Environmental, Mission and Strategy Cards, although some are only relevant during the Advanced game.
Also included in the box are some heavy gauge cardboard game tiles, 32 Straight Corridors, 8 Crossroads, 8 T-Shape, 8 L-Shape, 10 Dead-End, 8 Air Vent Tiles and 7 Rooms. These tiles are designed to inter lock and the resultant layout is as variable as the Mission demands. You also get 1 Flame or Acid Spit Template, 151 Wound, Ping!, Activated, Sentry, Hide and Objective Tokens and 20 Door Pieces. The layouts in the Missions vary dependent upon which ‘level’ of the ship you are currently in. The graphics on the tiles themselves are evocative of the overall sense of making your way through a semi-darkened spaceship.
Game mechanics are based upon the D20, three of which are supplied in the box. Models in the game start out with two Action Points that have to be expended to attempt to carry out an action. The target number is enhanced through the usage of skills, statistics and equipment, all of which is recorded on each model’s stat card if Human or a Predator or on the generic card according to the type of Alien, Infant or Stalker. Included in the game are 5 Colonial Maries, 3 Predators, 10 Infant Aliens and 5 Stalker Aliens. For me, it’s all about the figures, how well do they represent the actual characters from the movies or are they just playing pieces? Well, I am happy to say that they are ‘spot on’. Created in a type of resin/ plastic compound, they have to be assembled with super glue but this would prove to be a rapid job. An assembly guide is included in the box. My only quibble would perhaps be how poseable the miniatures actually are. They follow the ‘apply glue, place plug in socket’ approach, which is good for the game but if I wanted to buy ‘extras’, I may want to adapt them to a more unique look. Still, that’s what paint is for, right? The Colonial Marines are pretty much exactly as you would want, complete with Flame Unit, Smart Gun and Motion Detector arms. There are no optional weapons; the figures simply match the Stat Cards. The Infant and Stalker Aliens are in two basic poses, the Infants are upright and are very reminiscent of the creature in the original movie, whereas the Stalker Aliens are more hunched over in an attack pose. The best of the bunch are the Predators who are around the same height as the Aliens (dwarfing the Humans!) and are once again taken from the movies, complete with wrist weapons, spear and varied armour to represent distinct Hunters. All of the miniatures are pretty much exactly how I wanted them to be as a huge fan of the franchise, which is a testament to the liaison work with Fox and the efforts of the Prodos team to get it ‘right’.
Overall, this is a product for gamers, movie buffs and beginners alike. The gameplay appears to have many different strands and no two games using the same Missions would ever be the same. I would have liked more miniatures with more options but that’s just me, I am a wargamer and modeller first and a board gamer occasionally. Having said that, the attention to detail and approach taken to this game would probably persuade me to purchase a copy and enjoy some games with friends, just as long as I could carry the box! The number of components and the range of potential playability means that I would find this game fun to play but difficult to master, a pre-requisite for me with regard to this type of product. Given the fact that Prodos Games intend to offer figure and gaming expansions to this set, I am sure that those who make the investment will feel very satisfied with what they have purchased.