It was six years in the making, but Sega and Gearbox’s Aliens:
Colonial Marines has finally been released. While it does have a few
good moments hiding in its shadows, there’s still plenty to be desired with its dated
frustrating bugs and glitches, lame dialoge and a truly lackluster single-player campaign that makes having a
facehugger planted forcing its way down your windpipe to breed sound like a
pretty great time. How could it have gone so wrong?
Taking place right after the events of the famed James Cameron’s 1986 classic
Aliens, Gearbox's Aliens: Colonial Marines casts you in the role of Cpl.
Christopher Winter, a soldier in the United States Colonial Marines force. The
story kicks off with a tutorial mission where you and a group of comrades take
part in a rescue mission to locate Ripley and any other survivors. Here you’ll
learn all the basic FPS controls such as moving around, jumping/crouching,
switching weapons, firing/reloading, melee attacks and of course using the
infamous motion tracker to locate your fellow marines and evade the aliens.
While all of this sounds great, the execution is beyond poor and not nearly as
engaging as a game featuring the famed colonial marines should have been.
Going back to the single-player mode, I was expecting the same kind of
thrills and chills from the Aliens movie as I made my way through the dark
corriders and dimly-lit locales. Sadly, that’s not the case here, as even the
return of Michael Biehn - which is pretty awesome - as Corporal Dwayne Hicks
can't save the dialogue and cutscenes from playing out with near robotic acting.
You would think with some of the writers from the new Battlestar Galactica TV
series working on this title that there would be some pretty nice dialogue and
story here. But the story doesn’t make any kind of sense the further you go
through confusing levels (one has you stripped of all your weapons in a dark
sewer, yet you get to kill some aliens by turning the power on which makes them
magically explode), almost as if the developers just wanted you to forget about
making sense of things and just focus on shooting stuff and completing missions.
At least Gearbox has also brought over their famed challenges/XP system from
their Boarderlands series, with a challenge unlocking after completing a certain
objective that offers a reason to go back and try it again. Completing
challenges will grant you some cool stuff such as unlockables to customize your
weapons such as adding a flamethrower to your pulse rifle ala’ Ripley style, and
XP that can be used to unlock other goodies and more.
But what really takes away any real thrills from the Aliens universe, is the
whole “run and gun” feel of this game. Instead trying to find a balance between
stealthy/survival suspense and guns blazing action, you’re literally supposed to
go in and shoot anything that moves. The overall feeling you get is “Call of
Duty with Aliens” while playing, especially since there’s so many weapons and
ammo all over that further takes away any kind of scares / survival factor here.
It also doesn’t help that your AI-controlled teammates are about as smart as a
bag of hammers and will most likely get you and themselves killed on the
regular. The aliens you encounter must’ve spawned from some of these guys, as
they’re not too bright as they tend to leap right into your crosshairs and just
wait to be shot with ease.
And if that wasn’t enough, even if an alien was to leap onto you, you can
easily fight it off and do a one-shot fatality to kill it and keep on moving on
like nothing happened. So those looking for some hardcore alien action will
definitely want to keep on looking, because you won't it here.
The bad news doesn’t stop there, as now we get to the graphics. You can’t
help but notice as soon as you start playing that the textures have a
muddy/unclear look to them. For a game that was supposedly in development for
six years, you’d think Gearbox would’ve cleaned up the visuals from when they
started on it back in ‘06 or ‘07. There’s also a lot of screen tearing
throughout, which takes you out of the already limited Aliens experience. Then
to top things off, there’s graphical glitches such as your weapon disappearing
for a short period of time or just indefinitely, which requires you to reset the
game to make them come back. At least the sound effects are spot-on, however, as
weapons, vehicles and Aliens sound exactly as they do from the movies. Oh, and
the awesome Michael Biehn, of course.
The multiplayer section is probably the best part of the game. You and a
friend can do a drop in/drop out co-op for the single player campaign, or use
split-screen. There’s also a 6-on-6 online mode with the usual suspects of team
deathmatch, capture the flag, etc in which you can play as the marines or the
aliens. It seems the developers chose to favor the humans more, as the aliens
have muddled controls that make using them a chore and near impossible to win
with given their melee attacks versus the long range weaponry of the marines.
You’re also able to use the XP and rewards earned in the campaign and apply them
to your online profile as well.
Given the massive potential inherent in the Aliens franchise. Aliens: Colonial
Marines could and should have been so much more had developer Gearbox
put more effort into the final product. While those less familiar with the
Aliens universe may find something to enjoy here, especially in the multiplayer
mode, serious fans will probably be infuriated with how poorly their beloved
franchise has been treated. Featuring murky graphics with bad screen tearing,
bugs/glitches, and a confusing single-player campaign, most might prefer a
chestburster ripping out of them to spending any real time for this lackluster