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The game used a first-person perspective and featured a team of six playable characters from the movie. The available characters were Hicks, Bishop, Vasquez, Gorman, Burke, and of course, Ripley. The game's UI featured the main window, the characters' portraits and in the center of the screen, the selected character's portrait, vitals, and ammo.
Gameplay was team-based, as the player had to command the six-member team and explore the Alien-infested colony facilities of LV-426. The team had to advance inside the colony, with the player being able to assume control of any of the characters at any time, and fend off the Alien attacks until they could eventually locate the Alien Queen's hive and destroy her.
The first-person perspective used in the game made the experience much more immersive. The game environments had a pseudo-3D appearance which served the purpose of viewing the action through the characters' helmet cameras. The characters could weld doors shut and seek safe ways of passage through the colony, and any character could be attacked at any time by an alien, even if they weren't controlled by the player. The appearance of the Aliens was signaled by the beeping of the motion tracker, a trademark feature of the movie, which found its way to subsequent Aliens games as well.
The player also had to watch out for growths of the Alien tissue throughout the colony, and also pools of acid that would damage the characters if they tried to approach them. Unfortunately, the similarity of many of the colony's rooms made it very easy for the player to get lost, although this also contributed to the very real tension of playing the game. A map of the colony was bundled with the game at release to assist the player with navigation.
The game was released in 1986 to wide critical acclaim, and is considered a classic, one of the first truly immersive and scary experiences in games. Mark Eyles, the game's designer, went on to work at Rebellion, getting to design some features for the gold edition of Aliens vs. Predator.