The Aliens series has contributed to many video game titles over the last two decades and it's easy to see why. Alien, the original 1979 film by British director, Ridley Scott, is easily regarded as one of the best science fiction films around, rife with interesting characters, believable worlds and intense action sequences. So after numerous delays and over six years in the making - Does Aliens Colonial Marines live up to the hype and standard of the stellar series? No, just no.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is a morbid, depressing affair and easily the first disappointment of 2013's packed gaming calendar. Gearbox's latest title is a uninspired corridor shooter with cringe worthy dialogue, nonexistent tension and generally monotonous gameplay. Other than the odd stealth section it's lacking any sort of variety and often becomes plain tedious and tiresome to play.
The main gameplay consists of very basic first person shooter mechanics - run from point A to B while gunning, grabbing armour, ammo and picking up uninspiring collectables in the form of audio logs and previously fallen comrade's dog tags. Along with bleak and dismal corridors found within most of the game's chapters, you will find the other main character and deadly enemy, Xenomorphs. Unfortunately they are hardly the smartest of species, as they have a nasty habit of just running into the path of your pulse rifle bursts or shotgun shells. You never feel like the Xenos could outsmart or even outmaneuver you, there just isn't anything terrifying or the slightest bit scary about the Xenomorphs in the game, the animation is awkward and all they seem to do is lunge straight at you, which removes the spine-chilling nature of them found in the films. The game is padded out with private military human enemies from the Weyland-Yutani corporation who are equally stupid in their movements, often taking cover behind places that don't actually provide any protection from the barrage of bullets coming from the player and surprisingly accurate friendly NPC's.
Aliens: Colonial Marines takes place around 17 weeks after the events of the second film in the series - Aliens, and the past terrible events on planet, LV-426. A fresh bunch of stereotypical marines have been sent to explore the deserted USS Sulaco and what remains of the human colony, Hadley's Hope. Colonial Marines lays it on thick from the moment you start the thankfully short 11 chapter single player campaign. The story begins with a fade in to a gun in the hands of the player's character; but not just any gun...but the Alien M4A1 Pulse Rifle! Woah!, right? Nah not really. It seems clear that the developers were keen on creating an early sense of nostalgia with bucket loads of fan service with the opening, but the lackluster textures only remove you further from any immersion found within the game.
The unwavering disappointment continues with set piece sections of the game that could have been quite genuinely thrilling in the hands of a more experienced team, such as being able to control the iconic power loader in a boss battle, which turns out to be an awkward and button mashing mess of a fight where you're not sure wether you're hitting the aliens or your fellow squad mates. Or how about the moment where you have to wade through a dark, dank and bland sewer stealth section where blind Xenomorph husks, that supposedly hunt through their sense of sound, shift positions around as you attempt to creep by, which in reality is almost unintentionally hilarious due to the movements of the aliens; appearing to walk in a constant constipated shuffle. Your friendly squad mates don't fair much better either. Facial animations often disappear during speech leading to some very uncomfortable moments as you stare in to their cold, dead eyes as they are close to screaming in fear.
The game is filled with glitches too, there were numerous occasions where I had pumped an enemy full of Pulse rifle bullets, only for him to spasm in an ungainly fashion across the metal grated floor. On many occasions, the Aliens appear to just ignore the friendly NPC's favouring attempts to devour the player, even though the plucky squad mates would have provided a considerably easier chomp.
Fortunately, multiplayer is a superior experience, that's not to say that it's exceedingly better than the single player forte, it's just better. One standard mode has Marines fighting against an aggression of Xenomorphs (I wonder what the correct collective noun actually is), players control both Marine meatbags and the enticing Aliens. Each match is noticeably creepier and more of the experience you would expect from a Aliens survival horror title. The four player Cooperative game mode that was touted more than a few times before launch is merely just tacked on to the single player campaign and sadly doesn't really improve anything with its poor implementation.
Colonial Marines does includes a very competent XP and leveling system, that rewards players for almost anything done within the game. The level bar is always found within the top right hand corner of the on screen HUD and allows for a visual display of how close you are to reaching that next tier of rewards and unlocks. Presents dished out include unlock tokens allowing for a limited selection of gun customization, the usual selection of red dot sights, paint jobs and enhanced secondary fire slowly become available as you march through the story. A wide array of weapons, leading from the Assault Rifle to overpowered Combat shotguns are dropped as you progress; all the firepower in the game has been lovingly crafted by the original designer - to keep with in the feel of the series, which has to be noted as a nice touch from the developers.
You have to wonder what has been happening at Gearbox for the last six years, because for a title with so much hope and hype surrounding it to be released in a state is not acceptable. Aliens: Colonial Marines is completely rough around the edges, has a completely underwhelming use of the constantly impressive Unreal Engine 3 and also includes most basic combat seen for years. You would be best to avoid this one.Versions Tested (PS3 / PC)
- Multiplayer is...alright.
- XP System is decent enoughCon's
- Graphics are terrible
- Gameplay is terrible
- Laughable Dialogue
- Caused me to sigh in disappointment on many occasions