Now, I am not a man of God. But if I were, I would believe that he was punishing the Aliens fans that actually care about the franchise and want it to succeed. Damn near every Aliens game ever released has been incredibly average at best, and never truly did the franchise justice. When I first heard about Aliens: Colonial Marines, I truly believed this would be the game to put Aliens in the positive spotlight it deserves. The promise of original voice actors, RPG elements, and being called a true sequel to James Cameron’s Aliens got me excited for Colonial Marines. Little did I know that they would also contribute to its downfall.
I went into Aliens: Colonial Marines optimistic. I knew it had a good chance at repeating the tread of previous Aliens games, but I had faith. Everything I’ve seen of the game up until the point of playing it made the game look like the Holy Grail. Marketing done right? More like false advertising.
See, from a distance, Aliens: Colonial Marines will always look like a great game. It looks like it has overwhelmed marines, dangerous Xenomorphs, and tight, suspenseful corridors to creep through. It has all these things, but the game suffers from a serious case of outdated FPS fatigue that reminds me more of Duke Nukem Forever than Aliens. Not talking about dick jokes (although there are a few), but the crudeness of the game. From the textures to animations – everything Colonial Marines has to offer burns my heart worse than a Chestburster playing “Love Me Tender” on my internal organs.
In space no one can hear you blow.
Aliens: Colonial Marines (PC [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360)
Developer: Gearbox Software, TimeGate Studios
Released: February 12, 2013 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360), March 2013 (Wii U)
MSRP: $59.99 [Buy Now]
Honestly, there’s really no fun to have in Aliens: Colonial Marines. Gameplay is as simplistic as imaginable and it’s not what you would expect from a first-person shooter released in 2013. You walk down narrow corridors with dimwitted AI teammates that constantly get hung up on environmental pieces and then you shoot Aliens that pop out at you. Even the Aliens manage to get caught up in the environment, proving that in space no one can hear you sigh at incompetence.
Yes, the AI in Colonial Marines is a complete joke. They will shout out “above you!” at various times, when nothing is above you. They stand in place and constantly spew alert banter because you didn’t kill the final Alien in the room because, he too, is also stuck in an endless animation loop. If you outrun the team AI, they will magically pop-up behind you. Your team is incredibly one-dimensional and the only memorable thing about your teammates is how horrible the AI is that controls them. Talk about great character development!
The campaign is only around 5 hours long and after the first hour you’ll be begging for it be over. For a full-priced game, 5 hour length is only acceptable when the game is great. That’s not the case with Colonial Marines, as the the game is offensive to fans of the Aliens mythos and calling it a “true sequel to Aliens” only twists the knife that Colonial Marines thrust deep into my heart. It’s 5 hours of the same thing, again and again. There’s really no memorable set pieces that at least get you excited or impact you in any way. It’s Corridor Walker Simulator 2013 and only further bastardizes the Aliens namesake.
As far as the story goes, there is none. I don’t want to spoil it for those of you unfortunate enough to want to experience it first hand, but allow me to tell you this: It’s disgraceful and damn near non-existent. At one point, one character points out a huge plot hole only to then say “that’s another story” and drop the discussion for the remainder of the game. It’s nice to know that Gearbox cares about the stories in their video games.
Remember how violent and appropriately gory the deaths were in 2010’s Aliens vs. Predator? There’s none of that here. Death in Colonial Marines isn’t anything to fear or look forward to like in AvP or Dead Space. Death in Colonial Marines consists of your marine falling over while the screen fades to an ugly gray. Little things like these really make the game feel unfinished, as Aliens are known for their sadistic killings of humans. The only deaths that remotely feel Alien are those witnessed in cutscenes and scripted events, and even they feel lazy.
The leveling system introduced in Colonial Marines is one of the most worthless additions that could have been added. The game is far too short for you to ever need to use the system at all and the options available are far from useful. The mid-game pop-up notifications of your progress don’t help gameplay, as they are distracting and obscure enough of your vision to take you out of the experience.
The audio is some of the worst I have ever heard. Besides the unoriginal “booyah” marine banter than happens every other minute, there’s serious flaws in Colonial Marines audio design. If you’re not staring directly at whoever is talking, their words sound incredibly mumbled and muted to the point where you won’t even be able to understand them. On one hand, this is a good thing, as you don’t have to listen to their uninspired and predictable dialogue. On the other, it’s distracting and will lead to many deaths if you do care about what they are saying. In the middle of fights, I found myself having to turn away from enemies in an attempt to listen to what was being said. This lead to quite a few of deaths that could have been easily avoidable if the sound design was worth a shit.
The only remotely fun thing to do in Colonial Marines is to play the versus modes that pit marines against Xenomorphs. Even then, much like the co-op, it feels like an afterthought that was lobbed in during the final few days of development. The maps are bland and there’s really no good areas for Xenomorphs to hide and, well, play like Xenomorphs. Spitters have the luxury of climbing into a corner and spitting acid on passing marines, but it feels too cheap for any self-respecting gamer to do.
The multiplayer is far from a justifiable reason to buy Colonial Marines and if you want some true online play deserving of the Aliens name, your best bet is to play 2010’s Aliens vs. Predator as it at least manages to capture the hectic nature of being stuck in the same room as some of the deadliest creatures known to man better than Colonial Marines could ever dream of.
Aliens: Colonial Marines has no personality. Not as a generic shooter and certainly not as an Aliens title. It’s a broken, half-assed product that exists only to break the hearts of Alien lovers. Games like Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time prove that being a budget title doesn’t mean the game has to suck. When a budget title gets it right on all fronts, there’s truly no excuse for the amount of laziness that goes into a full-priced title like Aliens: Colonial Marines. Colonial Marines very well could have been a triple-A title if the team behind it knew what the hell they were doing. I’m not sure what happened, but Aliens: Colonial Marines ended up as more of a disgrace to the Aliens franchise than Alien: Resurrection, as well as a disgrace to video games as a whole.