Overall - 60%
While Aliens: Colonial Marines may fail to deliver the gameplay experience some were hoping for, it is simply a cannot be missed title for fans of Aliens. Sure the gameplay may be lacking, the AI completely borked and the dialogue a little shallow but it's authentic to the story and for that reason alone I would highly suggest you rent it. Yes rent, don't buy it unless you're seriously interested in the multiplayer.
If you’re a regular at browsing the internet you’ve probably already read a few Aliens: Colonial Marines Review‘s and the scores are currently sitting at an abysmal level. The response from critics has varied so much that Aliens: Colonial Marines may just threaten the current world record holder for Most Critically Polarising Survival Horror Game, currently held by Deadly Premonition. Okay, that’s probably a bit hasty and most wouldn’t even consider Aliens: Colonial Marines as a survival horror title, but does it really deserve the shocking scores it has received?
Aliens: Colonial Marines has been a rumoured title for over a decade as Check Six Games announced development way back in 2001, under the watchful eye of Electronic Arts. However, the game was later cancelled with very few details available other than the fact the story was going to be based between the Aliens and Alien 3 movie, focusing on a Colonial Marine rescue team searching for the Sulaco. Despite very obvious similarities Gearbox have stated that their newest rendition of the Aliens franchise is a totally separate project. Development for this version of Aliens: Colonial Marines was first announced back in 2006 after SEGA purchased the rights to the Aliens franchise from 20th Century Fox, which still means this game has been in development for 6 years.
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Aliens: Colonial Marines Campaign Review
Before I dive into the review let me first explain a couple of things. Firstly, we are not a website that receives guaranteed copies of all the upcoming games and this review is based on a purchased copy of the PC version of Aliens: Colonial Marines Review, so there is no corporate pressure applied here. As always Gamers Heroes will provide a 100% honest review with all spoilers safely tucked away. I felt the need to mention that as after my experience in the game I’m actually embarrassed to be a part of the gaming media after seeing some of the ridiculous scores dished out thus far. Anyway, on to the review.
The bar was set extremely high for Aliens: Colonial Marines, and rightly so for a game that has spent over 6 years in development; but it is also based on one of the greatest science fiction franchises ever to grace the big screen. We’ve seen some great Aliens games come and go over the years but we’ve seen our fair share of poor ones too, but does Aliens: Colonial Marines manage to make the grade?
You take on the role of Corporal Christopher Winter, a tough Colonial Marine that becomes a part of the search and rescue mission aboard the Xenomorph infested U.S.S Sulaco. Tasked with searching for the whereabouts of Ellen Ripley and Corporal Dwayne Hicks, players board the now infamous vessel with an iconic pulse rifle in hand and some testosterone driven marines on each shoulder.
The game starts out strongly, setting a great atmospheric presence while introducing iconic parts of the Aliens franchise such as the famous Pulse Rifle. You’re given the typical hardcore opening speech from a hardened Drill Sergeant before being sent on the suicidal task of boarding the Sulaco. Aliens: Colonial Marines does feature more than just one type of environment, proving that not every space-based title has to include copy and paste textures as previously seen in Dead Space 3. Divulging anything else on the story would push the spoiler boundary so I’ll avoid details but I will say the story is worth the experience for hardcore fans of the Alien franchise. If nothing else, you can say you’ve done it, you can add the information to your backlog of Aliens lore and history; a worthy cause for any true science fiction fan.
Moving away from the story the game does fail to deliver in many areas; but these are areas I expected due to the lengthy development schedule.
By far the biggest downfall for Aliens: Colonial Marines is the AI. It’s so bad, so old, so broken, it’s basically an antique. Your companions will always do 1 of 3 things, fire, take cover and fire or move to the next door, that’s it. They don’t adapt based on your location, or the position of your enemy, and it’s not uncommon to see an ally standing directly next to an enemy soldier and focusing on someone 20 meters away. However this becomes as painful as Alien blood acid splattered across your groin when you realize that that AI is quite often the only sense of direction you’re given.
There’s a minimal UI and a complete lack of objective markers and the only real direction your given is when the companion AI works and they move to guard or open the next door. The poor AI also hits the Aliens pretty hard, well I’d compare it to being hit by a grenade launcher while swimming underwater; a slow yet inevitable feeling of impending doom. Sure they can climb the ceiling and run across the walls, which could really instil a level of terror; if only they weren’t running the wrong way.
I lost count of the times Aliens ran from me, not through fear or to dodge bullets, purely because they had no idea what they were doing. They would get stuck in certain places, animations would skip a beat and when they died, well bodies ignore every physical law known to man. I shot an Alien and sent it flying across the room, through a wall; before lodging it half into a box on the other side. Even with Hick’s Shotgun, that’s a pretty ridiculous accomplishment.
Sadly the graphics follow the antique like approach seen in the AI. They’re not awful but they’re not to the standard we’re used to in 2013 either. The characters look good but the biggest issue is with the environment and lack of interaction. For example, when you come across a dead body or busted up Alien, you cannot interact with their body in any way. Shooting it does nothing, it just acts as if the body isn’t there and plays the sound effect from whatever terrain the body is on.
If you sit and individually pick apart every aspect of the game, there’s an abundance of problems that even the biggest Aliens fans could not deny; but if you can look at the game as a whole is an entirely different experience. Following a story that ties directly into a franchise you love provides insight on a level you simply won’t get unless you play the game.
There are some real gems in the game that would bring a slight grin to the face of any Aliens fan. I personally wouldn’t consider these spoilers as they’re easily missed due to being hidden collectibles and other tidbits, however I’ve encased them in spoiler tags just to be sure. [spoiler]The majority of the hidden story comes in the form of Audio Logs, hidden items scattered throughout most of the missions. One of the earlier ones that really hit a note was a message from Newt’s mum to her own mother, asking for funding to get off-world after her brother was attacked by a strange animal just before it died; giving us insight into the only innocence featured throughout the Aliens movies.
Through the various environments you’ll encounter the exact areas featured in the Aliens movie. Standing in the final stand tunnel with the Sentry Guns drained of ammo, discovering Newt’s lost Teddy, there are lots of tiny little bits that only an Aliens fan would recognise, and it’s arguably one of the biggest reasons to play the game.
Stepping away from the graphics, AI and movie nostalgia, we’re left with the game play. It’s an FPS based title so it features controls and mechanics most of us are familiar with; and for the most part it does a good job. There’s a good variety of authentic weaponry including the Pulse Rifle, Smart Gun and Sentry Turret, with each using sounds and models almost identical to the movies. You can swap easily between any of the weapons you collect, including the Legendary Weapons scattered throughout the campaign.
We’ll review the multiplayer part in a review we hope to publish early next week. Some of the mechanics featured in single player do compliment the online experience. Collecting hidden items, completing certain tasks and working your way through the campaign will earn experience points, unlock gun upgrades and increase ranks. Advantages which can be taken directly to the muliplayer levels.
While Aliens: Colonial Marines may fail to deliver the gameplay experience some were hoping for, it is simply a cannot be missed title for fans of Aliens. Sure the gameplay may be lacking, the AI completely borked and the dialogue a little shallow but it’s authentic to the story and for that reason alone I would highly suggest you rent it. Yes rent, don’t buy it unless you’re seriously interested in the multiplayer.