So let’s get this straight, this is a game that originally got published by Fox Interactive and EA around 2001, but then got cancelled. Later on, it got picked up by Sega in 2006 and got its title announced in 2008, known as Colonial Marines. The current developer for this is Gearbox, and this game was about 4 – 5 years in development then got released on February 12th 2013.
I guess my question is, and this may be putting it too bluntly, but what the hell?! Okay, this game didn’t make me angry, well sort of, it only made me really disappointed. I assumed with all this given time that Gearbox had and the constant glee in their eyes every time they saw something resembling the work of H.R. Giger that they had this in the bag. However the closer we got to launch, the more details started to leak out, and then I realized how naive I was.
Folks let me tell you something, $60 is a lot of money, and when it comes to games I make sure that I have a solid reason to invest into supposed game. With peer pressure being the case here, okay, that’s a bit of an understatement – ‘brainwashing’ is totally the phrase I would use! And what was not to like about the demo footage and the heavy loader and the…cool looking Xenomorph…things?!
Well I might as well start this review, phew this is gonna be rough, Aliens: Colonial Marines is an FPS that was developed by Gearbox and published by Sega. It’s about a search and rescue team composed of colonial marines, that are in no way reminiscent of any characters in Aliens, are sent to board the Sulaco after receiving a distress call. From there are on out, the marines discover what went down on the Sulaco and basically this is where the game becomes familiar, too familiar, like Universal theme park familiar.
Let me just state that if you want to see more of the expanded universe and step into new territories within the world of ‘Aliens‘, you’re going to be really disappointed. It feels like a recap of the previous installment, except on rewind. Even ends the same way as well, though with a little less Ripley, but I’m not gonna get into that until later.
The game is ultimately just fanservice, it feels like it was made more in the mindset of a group of people who just marathon-ed both Alien and Aliens before finishing this game. Hell, you even pick up weapons that belonged to former crew members of the Solaco, just because ‘Oh look, it’s that one weapon that person had in that one scene!’ Even if you were a hardcore Aliens fan, you would probably find some of these references or mentions just flat-out annoying. To a point where, as I said before, they have to redo scenes from the movie to show how cool it would look in a videogame.
However as ridiculous as those references are, the gameplay is on a whole other level of ‘broken’. See, I could have easily forgave the story inconsistencies and the flat-out obvious fanservice moments if it weren’t for just how unpolished the gameplay is.
Let’s start with the A.I., who are just some of the most ‘wandering wanderers’ I ever seen. And I decided not to be harsh there with the nicknaming, because boy are they terrible at their jobs! For example, I was ambushed by a group of Xenomorphs while on board the Sulaco, who was at my side at the time? Goddamn O’Neal who was either giving me a constipated look and often staring and/or shooting at the ground. Now either that could mean that he saw a laser on the floor and couldn’t take his eyes off it, or he was a broken AI!
Other times I would see incidents where they would get stuck in walls and showcase their teleportation abilities by simply disappearing then abruptly showing up at random checkpoints. Who would have thought that my squadmates were superheroes, considering that they didn’t do one heroic thing throughout the course of the campaign?! However to make it worse, the enemies are just as all-over-the-place as the squadmates, hilarious as well, but mostly just scattered. Here’s the pattern for the Xenomorphs: show up, rush toward target, swipe, step back, retreat, and repeat. As for the Yutani troops: stay behind cover, stay behind cover, shoot, stay behind cover, randomly walk around, and repeat.
As for the bugs within the game, I just got this after the supposed major update on Tuesday and it still looks choppy. The reticule on some of the guns aren’t coordinated too, which is a minor thing, however in retrospect of the patch on Tuesday it should have at least been more tighter. Oh and that certainly didn’t stop all the awkward character animations, enemies clipping to ceilings, and off-timed death sequences.
By the way, if there was any saving grace with those bugs, it was to show just how ludicrous the death animations were. Apparently launching 2 bullets into ones chest cavity would not just cause them to explode, no, it would cause them to explode five seconds after absorbing the bullets.
One other major flaw too is that the medium difficulty for this game is way too easy, especially playing with a partner. Most of the Xenomorphs can easily be killed with several hits, while with some of the larger enemies you can’t tell how many hits they have taken due to no clues given about their health. Plus I was surprised as to how short the campaign was, and how little difficulty there was throughout the entirety of the game. Even on super badass mode are the enemies relatively easy to kill, which is a definite problem if someone wanted to get more out of this game.
If there are any, eh, positive things to say and I put that in the lightest terms, it’s that at least coop makes the pacing much more bearable. Although that’s also one of the problems too as mowing down enemies becomes trivial, at points it even feels like an old-school fast paced arcade shooter which is a problem considering that, well, this is ‘Aliens‘. The customization mechanic isn’t too shabby either, until you realize that not only is it the same thing as Call of Duty, but it’s nowhere near as exciting or interesting. There are also certain sequences in the main campaign that are quite cool, but unfortunately crumbles under the weight of how generic the gameplay is or the dull cutscenes afterward.
The thing that stings me the most though is just how open these levels were. I mean they weren’t sandbox big, but they were genuinely diverse and offered different views of the map. The problem here is that there was barely any reward for going off and exploring these areas, not to mention they would insert unlockable weapons at the most inappropriate times. Whose bright idea was it to put a flamethrower in a level where you’re facing off against mostly enemies that used long-range weapons?! It was just heartbreaking to see these level designs being put to such poor use because of how bad the enemies were and just how little incentive there was to explore the maps.
Before I move into multiplayer, I just want to say that the ending is one of the most biggest ‘WTF’ moments I’ve had this year. Starting off with the boss fight, which I won’t spoil but let me just say that if you were hoping for a challenge prepare to be disappointed. It basically requires you to pull some levers, and that’s it, no reason to use strategies or to even use your weapons other to be a pointless distraction. Even better, afterward you get an ending that pretty much screams ‘TO BE CONTINUED’ for the next installment, so any questions that you wanted answered in the game? They decided to hold off for the sequel.
With multiplayer on the other, it actually stands out more than the main story. However that’s not saying much considering that it still has the same problems with the gameplay from the campaign as well. This brings me into another interesting point, remember earlier when I brought up Call of Duty? Well this is pretty much the same control scheme, with a few button switches thrown in, but when playing as one of the marines it’s not too difficult to get into the habit of the controls, not at all.
As for playing as a Xenomorph? Shockingly, it’s sadly not as fun. To be completely honest, I was having fun at first trying to figure out the controls for the Xenomorph. However once I finally got down the control scheme, it became obvious to me that they did not test out the wall climbing mechanics well enough. The transition from floors to walls to ceilings feels very clumsy, and the camera angles at times are just chaotic.
The concepts here though for the modes are very solid, it’s just that it’s not that well-balanced. Escape mode seems to be the most memorable one and evokes the true spirit of the series, however as I mentioned, the controls for the aliens just aren’t that up to snuff. There’s also an obligatory leveling up and customization screen, and there will be DLC coming out, including a horde mode that for some reason did not come with the game. Even though there’s no reason it shouldn’t, other than A) it wasn’t done on time, or B) so that it’s possible to gain a little more profit.
There’s still more that can be said for this game, yeah, it’s that broken. I will even admit that I came out of it thinking it was not that bad, mostly because I was playing coop and it made the experience much more durable. However the more I thought about it and the more time I spent alone in the single player, the more I just got less patient with it. I truly tried hard to at least see if this game was worth going out and maybe buying it for a low price, but at the moment it’s just probably a rental. And even then I’m struggling to even recommend it at that level. With the overwhelming amount of titles being released in the spring, I would just skip this and see if maybe something like Dead Space 3 or Crysis 3 is up your alley.
Or just go watch Alien and Aliens again, and if you’re really in a risky mood watch Alien 3 then 4. Now that’s super badass mode if you can stomach past those movies! Also bonus points if you watch AVP Requiem afterward.