There's something refreshing about a sci-fi first person shooter which doesn't have to be coy about its influences and disguise the fact it's stealing from one of action cinema's finest offerings.
Rebellion's Aliens vs. Predator first enjoyed that privilege in 1994, and again for last year's reimagining. But it was tempered by impurity. The more recent game's three-class system, with an alien, a predator and a Colonial Marine all coming into play, made it a mongrel. Its dated gunplay was also a bit of a dog.
Now, Gearbox Software is seizing the opportunity to exploit the franchise with both hands. "I have been stealing from this game my entire career," says Randy Pitchford, a man who is spending his E3 darting between three different publishers, what with Duke Nukem Forever yet to release and Brothers in Arms: Furious Four just announced.
"I think most of the industry has. Aliens has influenced all of us," he continues. "When you think of the founders of Gearbox, Brian Martel and I, working at 3D Realms on Duke Nukem - you can see facehuggers and alien walls influenced by Giger.
"Maybe that's why we loved Halo so much when we helped Bungie and Microsoft bring it to the PC; you can see Aliens' influence in their dropships, and the Sergeant who's basically Apone." Here's betting Randy likes to play dress-up with a full Marines outfit he keeps stashed away for weekends.
The faithfulness of Gearbox's Aliens: Colonial Marines to the 1986 original is breathtaking. It's not quite the game of the film but it's as near as could be. Set directly after James Cameron's Aliens, it explores the aftermath of the film. The planet's atmosphere processor has been destroyed and the barren wastelands of LV-426 are, unbelievably, that little bit more barren.
A lot of love for the film is visible in the game. It's the world glimpsed in countless worn-down VHS tapes brought to life, from the torn-steel corridors of the colony to the flickering CRT screens of its hardware. In some ways this is a period piece, a replica of an eighties vision of the future, at once both quaint and iconic.
The Marines are fleshed out in brilliant detail, their character models built with close reference to film props and stills. It's the little touches that stand out; most of hour heroes have their battle-scraped armour personalised with characterful scrawls, while one has a pair of playing cards wedged into the brim of his helmet.
Their chatter is also authentic. It's the Dirty Dozen in space - a premise which may have been worn thin over years of like-minded games, but one which is integral to nailing the Aliens atmosphere. Squad mates are ever-present companions, providing a sweary soundtrack to the action.
Sadly, the squad-based play hinted at when Aliens: Colonial Marines was first announced over five years ago, and which has been a part of Gearbox Software's oeuvre in the pre-toilet Nazi Brothers in Arms games, is entirely absent. This is a straight-up, run-and-gun shooter.
But at least it's a run-and-gun shooter with an iconic toolset. Gearbox Software doesn't pass up the opportunity to make the most of weapons such as the M41A Pulse Rifle or, for that more homely touch, the shotgun.
The motion sensor's as well executed here as it's ever been. In one interesting twist its use looks to be limited in a fashion similar to Doom III's flashlight, with the player slinging their weapon over their shoulder when the sensor's in use.
Although Aliens: Colonial Marines is more interested in the noisier components of the franchise's make-up, it does pay some attention to those moments of quiet horror. An exploration of Hadley's Hope, one of LV-426's deserted colonies, is tightly directed, taking explicit cues from the film - at one point, a seemingly dead facehugger suspended in a jar of liquid suddenly bursts into life.
But once the xenomorphs arrive there's little room for suspense. The aliens glimpsed in the strobed panic are well animated and devastatingly agile. They attack in large numbers, crawling across walls and slinking through air ducts. If they're allowed to get too close they'll leap on top of the player, kicking off a canned melee attack on their slobber-soaked chins.
As almost every moment of Aliens: Colonial Marines seems to have been plucked straight from the film, the occasional deviations from the script are jarring. A boss fight with a Crusher, a rhino-like alien pitched as a brutal counterpart to the queen, sits particularly awkwardly with the rest of the action.
But the game soon returns to more familiar and fertile turf as the Marines retreat to a cargo bay under heavy attack. Here they find a stash of ammo and some brief respite, enabling them to install sentry guns at each entrance before the assault recommences.
The wave-based play which follows is perfectly suited for Aliens: Colonial Marine's four player drop-in/drop-out co-op. This element exploited well by Aliens vs. Predator's Horde-like Survivor mode, and though there are no details yet on multiplayer for this game it's likely have a Gearbox twist.
The E3 demo comes to an inevitable climax as a fellow Marine straps himself into the Power Suit before duelling with an alien queen. It seems unlikely that any of the films set pieces will be left unplundered by this game, and for aficionados of the movie much of Aliens: Colonial Marines will be manna. All the same, there's room here for a little imagination to complement the game's rampant enthusiasm.