We all have our own personal “most anticipated games” list. It's easy to these days when games are announced even years before they’re released. We add games to this list for a variety of reasons: it’s a sequel and we loved the previous games, it’s made by a studio we like, it’s based on a book/movie/whatever that's one of our favorites, etc. Well, for several years now Aliens: Colonial Marines has been very high on my list for most of the above reasons. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Gearbox fan. The Alien movies have always been some of my favorite. I love good story based face shooters. I could go on and on, but it breaks down to the simple fact that I’ve been waiting for this game for a very long time now. And now that I finally got my hands on it, a single thought keeps going through my head: WTF happened?
I’ll just start with the most obvious; graphically speaking, there’s nothing to be excited about here. There’s the occasional nice vista or backdrop to look at, but animations are stiff and fake looking. Effects such as fire and such, which in this day and age seem so easy to get right, aren’t. They’re just blah and unimpressive. The sounds of the game do nothing to distract you from the visuals on the screen either. Voice acting is bland, dry and emotionless. The sound effects are humdrum and boring. All in all this game very much feels like a game that was started almost a decade ago, and never upgraded aesthetically during the development process.
But that can all be salvaged by a good story right? It’s the Aliens franchise, it HAS to have a good story right? You’d wrongfully think so. There IS a story. You are on a rescue mission with some other marines to infiltrate the Sulaco at some point past the Aliens movie story. You’ll see some familiar places and references to memorable parts from the movies. That’s all well and good, but the horrible voice acting and even worse dialogue/script ruin it. You’d expect suspense, thrills, horror… This is Aliens afterall… But no, there’s none of that. I jumped in my seat more often while playing Far Cry 3 than I did with Aliens: Colonial Marines. Well, I take that back, there was one section of the game which had a bit of suspense and drama to it. Without giving any spoilers, I will say that it is the ONE section of the game that played completely different than the entire rest of the game, which is probably a good reason why it stood out.
Ok, so Aliens: Colonial Marines doesn’t offer much in the way of visuals or story, surely the gameplay will save it right? Well, I’ve played worse shooters. Not many mind you, but I have played worse in my life. If you’re looking for ANY form of challenge, just stay away. I don’t believe I’ve ever been challenged less in a shooter in my life. Aliens charge at you, you shoot them, rinse and repeat. And you’d think when dealing with enemies that can climb walls and skitter across the ceiling there would be some suspense about when and where they’re attacking from… No, not so much. The perfect example of how bad it is, at one point you’re covering an ally who is opening a door. Not an unfamiliar situation in the shooter genre, granted, but usually somewhat fun and enjoyable. In this case though, the aliens come across the ceiling, drop down onto the catwalk, climb over a crate and come at you… One after another, pretty much all along the exact same path… You barely have to move your crosshair at all. It’s just ridiculous and unenjoyable.
But hey, it has coop right? Coop makes everything better… No, not always. In some instances when some levels of a game obviously weren’t made with coop in mind, cramming in coop tends to ruin things. In that one level I mentioned above that was different and enjoyable… Well, not so much if you’re playing with a friend. It’s almost unplayable if you’re trying to attempt it in coop. And things tend to lag a lot when playing coop for some reason, which obviously makes unenjoyable sequences of a game even more painful.
There is multiplayer, because well, you just can’t release a face shooter in this day without including multiplayer right? It has the modes you’ve come to expect: TDM, CTF, etc. They’re what they are, there are better out there. Survivor mode is a bit more enjoyable. It plays pretty much as the title would lead you to believe. The Marines try to survive for a set amount of time. Escape is even more fun. Again, it’s as self-explanatory as you’re prolly thinking it is: the Marines need to escape. There’s a fun coop aspect to it which is sadly missing from the non-competitive coop in the story mode.
It probably sounds like I just described the worst game ever made. It isn’t, I’ve played worse. It’s bad, granted, but I don’t think it would seem nearly as bad if it didn’t have the Aliens franchise tagged onto it and the heightened expectations that comes with it. There are several things that can be fixed with expansions, patches and DLC. There’s definitely a really good bit of potential here, and Gearbox definitely has the ability to fix most of the problems. But as it stands now, it’s just a nightmare.
One really fun level.
A couple of fun and interesting multiplayer modes.
Absolutely no challenge whatsoever.
Dated graphically and full of glitches.
Abysmal voice acting
Coop play very obviously added as an afterthought.
Very short campaign, not enough bang for the buck.