Natural Selection 2 Review

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Developer(s): Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Publisher(s): Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Release Date: October 30th 2012
Platform(s): Steam
Price: $24.99
Rating: M for Mature[/show_hide]

Before it was released as a full game title, Natural Selection started off as a mod for Half-Life. As things turned out this mod became popular within the community that it was then established to a full retail release, Natural Selection 2. This recent trend of mods becoming full retail games has also been seen through DOTA and the upcoming Day Z. Now 10 years later, Natural Selection 2 releases on Steam and it’s a fantastic game that not only improves on the original, but features the coming of age aspects in the first person shooters and real time strategy portions of the game. Should you go head first into the pits of the Alien scum, or will you shell out and coward?

Natural Selection 2 is a simple concept, Marines vs. Aliens. What makes Natural Selection 2 different from other games is that, it’s a first person shooter (FPS) with real-time strategy (RTS) elements. On each team, there will be a commander who is tasked at looking overhead of the game and is responsible for building, upgrading, and putting supplies on the field. Eventually anyone on their respective team can swap into the commanding post when the commander opts out of the position, allowing everyone playing the game to get a try at being the commander. Communication is one of the biggest keys for Natural Selection 2. As the commander, you must listen to the team and tell them where things should be built. Ultimately, a good commander will help you win, while a bad one is going to be problematic to the team. As a side note, the ALT button is the default key for activating the chat functionality and it works perfectly, so communication is very easy.

Nevertheless, Natural Selection is bundled with only one main game mode and that is Aliens vs. Marines. The objective of this mode is simple; destroy all the enemies command center, after all of them are gone you win. As you progress through a game of Aliens vs. Marines, you are allowed on either each side of the battlefield to acquire power ups for example, the marine team can get better armor with the help of the commander who researches upgrades while the alien team can change forms. Alien forms vary from being strong and sluggish to timid but fast. There are plenty of alien forms to pick from but first you’ll have to unlock them or obtain them from having certain upgrades and certain bases. In addition to the Objective mode, there is also an Explore mode. However, this mode is more for first timers or someone in need of a refreshing. In Explore mode you can look around in the maps and learn the layout of them, if you have friends you can also explore with them as well. One thing I would like to see as a DLC or an update would be a bot mode for practicing along with a fan request for a single player campaign for both the Marines and Aliens. If that was added it would add even more value to this already great game.

The gameplay is very fun and can be challenging if you don’t use teamwork. Your key setup is the same as with many other FPS or RTS game, but like with most games you can change them if you desire. The standard controls are very easy to learn and fun to use. They’re responsive and allow for an easy flow of gameplay. If you prefer the standard overview with the option to point and click, while also getting engaged in first person shooting with the quick accessibility to reloading and changing your weapons, then obviously this game is perfect for you.

In my preview for the Beta of Natural Selection 2, I noticed the game had visual problems, like texture pop-ins, making matches or certain points in a match of the game, look terribly bad. Significantly, this has been highly improved with the release of the full retail game and now they have been fixed leaving me with the satisfaction where I have not yet run into any problems. The graphics are a great improvement from the beta and the first installment of Natural Selection. Surroundings and character models are nicely detailed to the point where sometimes the game can be creepy because of the shadowing, and alien features. The game looks simply beautiful, even when you’re getting eaten by an alien.

Natural Selection 2 does justice in opening up its game to others in the gaming community; launching with mod tools and a workshop on Steam allows for a wide variation of user generated content. If you get tired of the in-game maps then you can always find some workshop maps and play on them. In addition, the workshop allows for new weapons as well, I look forward to seeing what the community has to offer in terms of cool new weapons. To put aside this review for a moment, I’d like to tell the gaming community that I am calling on you to make awesome maps, weapons, or maybe even a storyline? It’s possible, and I most definitely would love it. Natural Selection 2 has huge possibilities if the right people get behind it, as they already have at bringing the game.

Do you like real-time strategy and/or first person shooter games? Then Natural Selection 2 is without a doubt for you. Don’t try and jump the gun though because even if you don’t like real time strategy games, you can still play and enjoy this game. Most of the people that I have played with have had a great experience as being a commander, just as I did. So it should not be a problem with you, it’s definitely worth trying. Natural Selection 2 is a breath of fresh air into the first person shooter and real time strategy game market, that to put in all seriousness, you should get.

Written by: Jeremy Haynes

I love gaming and writing, so I combined them and now I write news and reviews for games.

  • JC

    Glad to see Natural Selection 2 being a good pick – was wondering how it would turn out – never got to play the original, but have played Nuclear Dawn, another game of similar gameplay, being an RTSFPS.

    Hope to be able to pick NS2 up at some point and chomp on marine ankles :)

  • Jared Z

    I played the original Half-Life mod back in the day. (Those were the days eh? Original HL mods with the cool menus :P, They Hunger, Scientist Slaughterhouse, P.O.V., Half-Quake, Afraid of Monsters) Such great times. Good to see it branched off in it’s own game

  • Juanito Sanchez™

    Great review! Hoping to pick this up!