Natural Selection 2 Review

I never really got into the first, but this does look like a hell of a lot of fun.
i played both and they are incredibly fun. Dealing good damage as the Skulk can be frustrating at first, but when you really learn to use the walls and jump while circling the marines, you can do really well. there's footage of one of the developers soloing three marines at once with the basic skulk. So the skill curve is good. Recently they released stats showing % wins of aliens vs. marines over thousands of games and it was pretty much dead even - a testament to the balance, even if at first it feels anything but.The visuals are amazing - most striking is the gradual change the map goes from a sterile, smooth military installation to an alien slime and pod infested nightmare as alien influence grows. This a very unique mechanic and visual presentation of it that I've never seen anywhere else.
I would add that you definitely need a strong PC to play it. Turning down the graphic options doesn't seem to really help much, though I haven't explored them fully yet. I have a Core 2 Duo E6600 at 3.2 GHz, 8 GB of RAM, and a single NVidia 560ti. It runs very well, but you certainly feel the difference between this game which seems to struggle past 30-40 FPS on this rig versus the high 60-100 FPS of something like CounterStrike - even CS Source gets better FPS but it's a very mature engine. If you're very sensitive to framerate you'll definitely want to try it out first. FPS is important in this game due to what I mentioned above about circling/jumping/attacking as alien (my favorite side - I've barely played marines admittedly) - poor FPS can make it really hard to keep the enemy centered with all that jumping around, especially as the jumping and wallclimbing often requires you to look at the wall instead of the enemy, so you're constantly flipping your view quickly with the mouse - low FPS hurts this so, be sure to test it out.Having said all that - even if the controls and FPS frustrate a bit on an older PC, it's still GREAT fun.
I have put in a ton of hours since this came out. My only real complaint so far are the following:1. A total crap server browser.2. No social element for even xboxesque rating of commanders.That doesn't stop me from playing though. When everything comes together and you have a great team + commander it is an experience you can't get anywhere else.
Add another game to my Steam account. I both hate and love Valve for Steam: so easy to buy games.
Amazing game, though extremely frustrating when you get a newbie commander.
it's $25 fyi
look solid
Little known but hugely popular? One or the other.
Bought this game when I read this article last week. No regrets!
Much like Savage 2


When the original Half-Life engine was released, many budding game modders were overjoyed with the possibilities opened to them. It's no surprise that many of the most successful game franchises arose in this time period, when modding was relatively easy on a modern graphics engine and developers were smart enough to recognise titles with potential. The most famous mods to materialize in this period were Counter-Strike and Team Fortress, two of Valve's most successful franchises.

Another lesser-known mod that was hugely popular was Natural Selection (NS). There were two things that made this game stand out from the crowd: this was a FPS/RTS hybrid that functioned well (who knows how many unsuccessful hybrids had existed to that point), and the universe was set in an Alien-esque setting. One player in each match takes a commander position and sees the game from a top-down perspective, and is responsible for setting objectives and creating buildings. The rest of the players try and do the (hopefully competent) commander's bidding. It's a complete RTS with supplementary bases necessary to tier up and resources that are shared between the commander and troops. The marines have progressively more powerful guns including heavy armour and flame-throwers, but are generally slow and vulnerable. The aliens are very quick, can climb walls, cielings and vents (in itself very fun) to ambush marines. They also have Fades that can teleport short distances and Onos which are huge tanks.


At its heart, this game was great because the pace was dead on. From the moment the game starts, there is never a dull moment, and two evenly-matched teams can have very long games that continually ramp up in excitement as both teams progressively tier up to more devastating upgrades. The mood was also excellent, with cramped and dark caverns or spaceships that would slowly fill with alien infestation. For any Alien vs Predator fan out there, Natural Selection was the game that did the franchise better.



Unfortunately, the NS developers were unable to get Valve's backing as they were already supporting other games, and interest for the game progressively lessened. Developers announced that Natural Selection 2 was underway as early as 2010, and that they would be using their own proprietary graphics engine. Most gamers thought this was a death-knell for the franchise (there's a reason that developers use off-the-shelf graphics engines), and it did take nearly three years to come to fruition. The result surprised everyone, because it simply looks gorgeous. Lighting, which plays a crucial role in setting the mood, has improved substantially. Nothing is more troubling than having to use flashlights to spot aliens when all that can be heard is their footsteps. It means that taking out power grids in order to remove lighting in areas becomes a priority for most alien teams. Performance is also great because the game is more CPU-intensive, so having a high-end graphics card isn't a necessity.

Uhh... run?

Aside from the engine, there are other improvements. As always, developers have been serious about balance and have continually made changes since the beta. It no longer feels like either side has a distinct advantage from the start (games were normally in favour of the Alien team), and that's key in keeping the strain that makes the game so great. The clumsy commander interface has been made significantly sleeker and more flexible. It's much more rookie-friendly, with rookies showing up on players' overviews (so experienced players know if somebody needs help), and there's a thorough tutorial video. Newbies can also explore maps off-server, so they don't forget that there are vents behind their backs in-game. In NS2, players get a moderate sum from resource extractors, but also get resources proportional to the size of the kills they get, as well as for helping to build things. This encourages good teamplay and performance, without penalizing players who perform well in a bad team.

Marines, historically the more difficult side to play in, have obtained a few new toys to even things out. These include roving miniguns that can be moved by the commander, adding new defensive options. It also includes mechs in later tiers that are the Marines' Onos equivalent and can really dish out the pain. Aliens, on the other hand, have had their movement improved substantially, making wall-walking and jumping easier than ever. Some of the abilities available to the Aliens, such as Blink for the Fade, are awesome - with proper execution, a Fade can terrorize Marines as they try to catch sight of the Fade using this ability - and the new visuals help.

Overall it feels like the developers of NS took what they had and turned it all up to eleven with better graphics, better gameplay, and more toys to play with. They haven't tried to change the original, successful concept. Given their history, it's certain that the developers will continue to release content and balance patches over time. Anyone who was a fan of the original game should try this, as should anyone who enjoys the Alien franchise or tactical shooters in general. For 30 bucks on Steam, it's actually hard to find reasons why players shouldn't get this game.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm stalking a lone marine.


Member of Nulli Secunda. Have been playing Eve for close to four years, already hit by bittervet syndrome. I've played a number of games over the years and generally dab in every game that's fun.