Taking on the Aliens franchise for any developer was never going to be an easy feat due to the success of the movies, and the general consensus that anything remotely related to ‘Aliens’ would send a tingle of fear down anyone’s spine. There’s nothing more true in the words I’d like to say how amazing SEGA and Gearbox has developed Aliens Colonial Marines as a first person shooter – but quite frankly on first appearances it looks plain old and best compared to an early Xbox 360 game rather than something more recent. However, as the saying goes, “never judge a book by its cover”; or in this case the misleading marketing hype and screens prior to launch.
Sadly, Aliens Colonial Marines is just not scary; having been dealt this miserable blow from Dead Space 3 recently too, it’s made worse by the visual scenes of this game not even being on par with anything else in this generation over 4yrs old. Aliens Colonial Marines looks appalling graphically if not downright vile, but the gameplay itself I found rather enjoying and at times more satisfying to play than Dead Space 3 because it doesn’t have the same level of repetitiveness. This is one of those games that make you question what is more important – a game with great visuals that doesn’t play as good as you’d hope, or a game with not-so-good-visuals than plays rather well? Aliens comes into the latter, but the most important thing is likely to be a balance between the two, because the best way I can describe Aliens Colonial Marines is to imagine good sex with the ugliest person imaginable!
You just wouldn’t do it would you?
Taking the visual quality out of the equation and pretending we’re back in 2006, Aliens Colonial Marines has a decent storyline that is told through the character of Corporal Christopher Winter, a Colonial Marine that is part of a search and rescue team sent to investigate the U.S.S. Sulaco. He goes off in search of Ellen Ripley, Corporal Dwayne Hicks, and a host of other missing marines who were dispatched to an orbiting satellite LV-426, which is the location of the first contact between humanity and the Xenomorph species. If you haven’t been a fan or follower of ‘Aliens’, the Xenomorph are actually the Aliens - the deadly species who rely on a human host to impregnate and it’s offspring is born through ripping itself out of the human. You must have at least seen a clip of that moment sometime in your life?
It is at first a slow starter where your character will begin to follow orders and listen out for the next set of objective on-screen, but the majority of the game is exploration based where you face a wave of on-coming enemies both Alien and Human in almost every chapter. You set off equipped with a Motion Tracker to determine the location of enemies and important people on your man-hunt, as well as an arsenal of upgradable weaponry that include: Assault Rifles, Battle Rifles, SMG’s, Shotguns and Pistols. Each of your weapons can be customised with upgradable add-ons such as Sights, Extended Magazines, Grenade Launchers, Lasers and different Fire modes when you’ve acquired enough XP as the more you progress the more challenging the game becomes with enemies that require more fire-power to be taken down. The deeper you delve into the game, the more intense firefights in the later levels you’ll get to experience, so how you upgrade your weapons is crucial to your survival.
Aliens Colonial Marines does have a lot of action scenes throughout and is better described as a fun, run-and-gun your way through it shooter, rather than a game where you can slowly pace your way through the chapters, taking your time as the suspense and thrills eat at your nerves. There is nothing thrilling about it, nor is there much suspense – in fact, as it goes for first-person-shooters too it’s pretty generic, but it does allow for four player co-operative action and that goes down very nicely! You can always count on the addition of co-op to make an average game more enjoyable because you share the misery with more players or forget about everything else uninspiring around you through talking to your team-mates.
Not only does the game have co-operative modes (4 player online – 2 player local), but additionally there is a Versus Mode from the main options screen that opens up into varied multiplayer games. Team Deathmatch is team based where one team is the Humans and the other team a set of Aliens, but it plays and feels more like a Zombies mode than anything else where the advantage is always to the humans who can shoot long range compared to the Xenomorph Aliens who can mostly only grab and pull. Extermination is a Search & Destroy equivalent where teams must wipe out Xenomorph egg clusters in a 5-on-5 game mode, and then both Escape and Survivor modes are all about surviving Xenomorph infestations in different ways, both 4-on-4 mode.
The multiplayer in Aliens Colonial Marines is quite addictive with additional options to set your load-outs for Human and Attacks for when an Alien, as well as further customisation for your appearance, not that it matters much, but further unlocks are granted with the completion of challenges.
If Aliens Colonial Marines had been a visually impressive masterpiece design-wise with a darker, scarier presentation in its telling of the story, it could have been one amazing game if it had been done better! It’s like the development team has not matched the quality of the plotline penned by the writer, or the game went Gold at Alpha stage. It’s quite a let-down when the build-up for the game with pre-release trailers and screenshots teased something that looked very promising. Although in-parts some of the chapters are really fun to play, but as a whole it’s not enough to warrant being a game above average because of what the Aliens franchise represents and what you should expect from a game that takes on the role of a horror movie – this just doesn’t feel right for “Aliens”.
In short this game is only really worth bothering with if you’re a fan of the Aliens franchise and have to have everything with the name on it, but don’t expect to play something that will keep you on the edge of your seat as it’s a pretty run-of-the-mill shooter that looks like an absolute waste of resources. It could have been a lot better designed, and cannot get much worse! Online is really fun to play and a great alternative to other online shooters, but the novelty will be short-lived.