Aliens: Colonial Marines is the best first-person door-opener ever. That, unfortunately, is all the game has going for it.
This supposed first-person shooter takes place after Alien 3, a well-loved movie in a well-loved movie franchise. Perhaps the first mistake by Gearbox Games, the lead developer for the Colonial Marines, was taking on a project with tons of fan boys. The second mistake made was the outsourcing of up to 25% of the development to focus on Borderlands 2.
Rumors and allegations aside, Aliens: Colonial Marines certainly does not, look, feel, or act like a modern first-person shooter. Playing on the PC, the graphics were only at the level of the first Mass Effect. Even worse, you will often find yourself standing inside of a fellow marine while they are speaking, or shooting a Xenomorph through a wall that they pass right through.
If you have read the terrible reviews and news surrounding this game, its developers, and its publisher and still decide to pay $50 for this game, then you will be in for a 6 hours of linear playtime where you sometimes shoot Aliens and other humans for apparently no reason. You do not find out the reason for slaughtering hundreds of Weyland-Yutani soldiers until very late in the campaign.
Regardless of who or what you are shooting and why, it does not feel like you are doing it too often. In fact, it feels like you are either cutting open a door or welding a door shut more than attempting to shoot at aliens with your various guns that fail to shoot straight.
In one mission, you will not even shoot at all. Instead, you will attempt to sneak by a newfound type of Xenomorph called a “boiler”. These boilers explode when they discover the source of a noise. This mission failed at creating fear in me. Instead, I laughed at how the aliens walked around on two feet like they had a pole stuck up their backside until I turned a switch to turn on a power generator. The boilers then flocked to the generator, appeared to have seizures and then blew up.
I did not experience the same amount of issues that some reviewers, such as Arthur Gies of Polygon, had, where all of the aliens ran straight at him. I instead saw hints of better AI as the game wore on. In my opinion, though, the sub-par enemy AI of the aliens was completely overshadowed by the horrendous friendly AI. Time after time my fellow Marines would watch as a Xenomorph made a charge at me without shooting a bullet. This could easily spell death as the aliens were more bullet sponges than full-on threats. I also noticed that acid did burn me, which Gies said he did not experience. If I killed an alien right in front of me, I did see my health go down a tad from the acid that exploded out of a defeated alien. However, this was negligible thanks to the regenerating health bar, which went back up to the top of whichever third you were in when you began taking damage. I’m assuming that these and the many other issues that reviewers experienced while playing early downloads provided by SEGA were fixed in the day 1 patch.
That is not to say that many issues did not remain in the game. For instance, I was in a power loader in one level, and had killed the boss alien, but there were still standard Xenomorphs all around. Instead of forcing me to kill the remaining enemies, I just hopped out of the power loader, transitioning into a cut scene wherein all the Xenomorphs had disappeared.
The ending of the story, while being a cliffhanger and leaving the possibility for a sequel open, does have an interesting twist, and is worth getting to if you can stand the terrible dialogue that is on par with the Kick-Ass trailer that had many fans canceling their preorders. It is frustrating, though, that you have no idea of the outcome of your original mission that is shouted at you as you exit cryogenic sleep in the beginning cut scene of the game, which is to save Hadley’s Hope on planet LV-426.
As far as playtime is concerned, if you play the campaign the way it is supposed to be played, you can probably complete it in about 6 or 7 hours on “Soldier” difficulty, but there is also the possibility of just sprinting by most of the aliens and getting to a checkpoint where whoever you are with will just teleport straight to you. Nifty, right?
You can also play the campaign cooperatively with up to three other people, but I wouldn’t, as there are even more issues present there including random teleporting and voice chat that is not synced up at all.
I have been growing tired of tacked on multiplayer functionality that is simply not fleshed out, and unfortunately, Aliens: Colonial Marines has me pulling my hair. Player controlled marines versus player controlled Xenomorphs sounds great on paper, but in game it is completely one-sided thanks to the terrible control schemes for the aliens. Once you figure out how exactly to perform different moves as an alien, it doesn’t quite matter either, because sometimes those mechanics work and sometimes they don’t.
At least the gun upgrades and skins make a bit more sense here than in the campaign, but this also doesn’t matter since the rifles fail to shoot where they are aimed half the time and the shotguns remain overpowered to say the least.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is an extremely underwhelming FPS that fails at everything it attempts. The campaign could have been great, the multiplayer could have been great, and the co-op could have been something that people raved about, à la the Borderlands series, but in its current, unfinished state, this game is a terrible purging of its source material. At least it has all the door-opening action you could ever want.
VGU.TV Grade: F
Disclaimer: This review is based on the release date PC version available from Steam, and was purchased by the reviewer from Get Games.
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64
CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 635
RAM: 6.00 GB Dual-Channel DDR3
GPU: Sapphire Radeon Vapor-X HD 7770 1 GB DDR5