Reader Review: Natural Selection 2 (PC)

Get ready to pit aliens vs. Marines with Natural Selection 2, downloadable from Steam for PC. And since my brother Jeff is the computer gaming expert (and really wanted to play this game anyway), here is his take on the game:

Natural Selection 2 is an online multiplayer game that pits human Marines against a hostile alien race called the Kharaa. Like other multiplayer games like Team Fortress 2, Natural Selection 2 does not have a single player mode. The game is a cross between a first person shooter and a real-time strategy game. Every game starts with each player as the basic form of each team they are on. For Marines this is a basic soldier with a machine gun, pistol, and axe for close combat. For the aliens the basic form is that of a “Skulk”, an alien that can climb walls and ceilings and attacks by biting. One member of each team can enter their base and control the real-time strategy aspect of the game by becoming the “commander”.

The commander of each side progresses their team in different ways. Both sides need resources that can be acquired by placing buildings on resource sites. For the marines, the commander places buildings on the map where they apply and the marines proceed to build them by approaching it and holding the E key. For the aliens it is a bit more complicated as alien buildings can only be built on surfaces that have been infested by the alien’s “cysts”. The alien commander places these in a chain from the base to spread the infestation and can place buildings along it. This makes it so the alien commander is more independent from his soldiers than the Marine commander, who needs his soldiers to build what he places down. Either side’s buildings can be destroyed by either directly attacking the building or taking away its power source. Because aliens need the cysts to spread the infestation a Marine could destroy a cyst to reverse infestation. Marines need electricity to power their buildings so an alien could destroy a power node to take electricity away from an area until it is repaired.

Each side’s basic soldier can be upgraded by a combination of the commander and personal resources. When the commander gains resources for the team, each soldier gets a portion of those resources. In order to use those resources, the commander needs to build places for the soldiers to buy upgrades. Marines can upgrade an armory for stuff like shotguns or flamethrowers or they can have a prototypes lab to build stuff like jetpacks or giant exosuits, then the soldiers just need to buy the upgrade from these sites. Aliens can upgrade themselves by evolving once they get enough resources. Once they evolve they are completely different, either becoming a supportive Gorge, a flying Lerk, a teleporting Fade, or the heavily armored Onos. The commander can fast-track players to getting these evolutions by using team resources. Aliens can also upgrade certain aspects of themselves once the commander builds certain buildings. These upgrades can help speed up movement, increase armor, or even give the aliens camouflage.

Although there are several smaller details about the game that I could go on about, the game does have an extensive video tutorial that players can review. This may make the game seem complicated, but for anyone that is familiar with a first person shooter the game is easy to pick up and play. –Jeff Orth

Kid Factor:

Natural Selection 2 isn’t rated by the ESRB, but I would imagine with the violence and blood and scary aliens, it’s probably best for older teens and adults. (Kid Factor by Cary Woodham)

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