The Aliens franchise is firmly entrenched in the realm of cult. To date the films alone have grossed over $2 billion dollars; which is quite remarkable considering the franchise peaked in the late 80’s and was taking Star Wars head-on.
As has now been well-established, Aliens: Colonial Marines is a disaster in every way – from development to marketing to final release. I realise that this review might therefore be moot, but I wanted to give the game a fair shake and see if there is any silver lining.
“Nuke the entire site from Orbit”
I wonder how Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford, Brian Martel, Stephen Bahl, Landon Montgomery, and Rob Heironimus were able take on a potential-packed project back in 2006, which could have been absolutely amazing on current-gen platforms, and then wait until the end of the platform life-cycle to release a game that is not only below par but a downright insult to anyone who even comes into contact with the box art.
They did it with Duke now they’ve done it with Aliens. The only conceivable punishment for this level of insubordination and downright delinquency is that everyone who was involved in the project should be locked in an asylum and forced to play this crap for at least 3 years.
Aliens Colonial Marines is an insult to anyone who has seen a Xenomorph. The most iconic alien form that revolutionised and tormented mankind’s vision of an extraterrestrial has been turned into nothing more than a cancer-stricken zergling that if sneezed on would implode into a ball of self-loathing stupidity and shame.
“We’re all gonna die, man!”
A Xeno is possibly the most ruthless hunter in the known Sci-Fi universe; for the love of Kojima, even the Predators fear them. Gone are their velociraptor-like hunting and tracking skills. Instead they will run straight at you like a dumb zombie horde. Sure, they climb walls, but not once will they strategically form an attack or hide in the dark – they’ll just crawl out.
Even more embarrassing are the evil corporate Weyland-Yutani soldiers who act like oversized toddlers with guns. After seeing these idiots try to run away from my flame thrower I am reminded of Despicable Me’s minions, the difference being that the cartoonish minions could probably organise a better tactical offense.
Unforgivable flaws are a sordid topic within Aliens Colonial Marines and they are in abundance; however, a chief perpetrator is the critical lack of atmosphere and tension. Gearbox Software had a license to undermine our subconscious and penetrate our innocence – they could have brought us the best of Doom and F.E.A.R. in a hybrid so revolutionary that it would redefine a genre! Instead they chose to poorly illuminate the darkness, and where it remained, you are guaranteed a Xenomorph will be popping out.
The musical score is one redeeming quality worth mentioning. Aliens film score composer James Horner is a musical God in my books, and his iconic sounds return to provide the only bit of authentic atmosphere for Aliens Colonial Marines.
I am a coward when it comes to scary games, and my diminishing gaming testes have left me on the sidelines when anything resembling a horror game passes my gaming scope; yet I played though Aliens Colonial Marines and could count on one foot how many times I was even remotely scared. Gearbox really dropped the ball.
You play as Corporal Christopher Winter who picks up where Aliens left off and tries to bridge the the plot between the 2nd and 3rd films. There are plenty references for hardcore fans hidden in audio logs and scattered all over Sulaco, but it only serves to distract you from the mindless rinse and repeat gameplay that spans the dismal 6 hour campaign. All you do is run from point A to point B, flick a few switches whilst killing mindless drones, and start all over again. Whilst they may be in different form and have a different skin, Aliens Colonial Marines fails to do anything unique or inspiring for the FPS genre.
“They’re coming outta the walls. They’re coming outta the goddamn walls. Let’s book!”
You are able to run through this Serious Sam styled snooze-fest with up to 4 buddies, but what makes absolutely zero sense is that instead of your mates taking over one of your AI counterparts an additional character gets added to the fold making the narrow corridors of the Sulaco and Hadleys hope even more cluttered and annoying. The presence of these AI counterparts is also a bit of a mystery as they often get stuck behind objects or walls and then magically appear when you reach the next trigger point.
There are 4 different multiplayer modes namely:
- Death Match, which we all know and love;
- Escape, where you are one of 4 marines who have to reach an escape point, Left 4 Dead style;
- Extermination, in which a team of 5 marines try to wipe out Xeno egg nests while a team of 5 Xenos tries to stop them; and
- Survival, a 4 vs 4 kill-each-other mode.
Each of these modes gives you the ability to play as a Xeno or marine, and each match allows you to rank up either your marine or Xeno, unlocking different weapons or attacks.
Playing as a Xeno is one of the most unpleasant gaming experiences that I have ever been subjected to. They don’t go where you want them to go. The animation is contorted, and the dumb wall-crawling creatures get latched onto the wrong surfaces… often. However, this was one of the more entertaining aspects of the game as it brought back some memories of Natural Selection.
“That’s it man, game over man, game over!”
There were parts of Alien Colonial Marines that I loved; however, when I got over the 2 day novelty of playing as a Xeno and realized that every iteration of the Alien games that have come before this not only looked better but played better as well, I have to say that this game is not worth R200 of your hard-earned cash, let alone the insane launch price.
I would recommend that you wait for this to become freely available on PlayStation Plus, or for someone too give it to you as a rather evil gift. Fans and gamers worldwide were gutted. If you get a chance to play through 20min of this game you’ll easily understand why.
Editorial note: The screenshots below are from SEGA’s press website, commonly referred to a “bullshots” for obvious reasons. These do not represent the visual quality of the final product. The screens are sourced from pre-release tech demos. The problem with this clearly outlined in these articles: