Aliens: Colonial Marines is a game that has a troubled and long past while in development. Originally conceived over 10 years ago for the Xbox, it has been pushed back nearly as long as Duke Nukem was and we all know how that ended up. So through all of that Aliens had a nice one up on what Duke Nukem presented, a solid demo. Playing the demo some time ago (seriously a long while ago) gave me some hope for this long awaited game. The guns were kick ass, the tracker system was simple and effective and the Xenomorphs felt scary and refined. Did they make it just as good with the final product? Well…
The story is a simple Alien franchise storyline. Group gets somehow embroiled with Xeno eggs and an infestation happens releasing these fearsome and annoying creatures with acidic blood to boot. I won’t explain this story to you because you already know how they work (if not go rent Aliens and come back). What I will explain is how this is the problem, they use a storyline we already for the most part know and understand. We know LV-426 and what went on there, we know that Ripley fought the Queen and killed it, we know “GAME OVER MAN!” While I understand taking this time period as it is the most well known, I just… I don’t get why it always has to come back to this time period.
Why not take a new colony that goes dark and roll with that. The nice thing about the Aliens story is that you can technically throw it anywhere in the galaxy and it works. When they involve a story that is already known I feel like they wanted to connect you more to a movie instead of this game. The story feels forced, it feels like the nostalgia is what is suppose to be the biggest selling point and I just wasn’t buying it. Why not just make Ripley the main character and let me play through the entirety of Aliens?
Story Grade: C
The gameplay has ups and downs. I felt that the weapons look and feel was correct to what I’ve seen from pulse rifles and smart guns in the movies. As I said of the demo, the tracker system is fantastic. It makes it so that the tracker is not cumbersome or an annoyance and is instead a legitimate asset when hunting for Xenomorphs.
That is about where the good parts end. The game honestly feels like I’m playing Quake 4 with nearly the same style storyline. Replace the Xenomorphs with the Strogg and literally keep the Marines exactly the same. You can write the same exact gameplay and everything using the Quake story and model. The Xenos are… well to be nice unintelligent. I understand that they are essentially mindless body snatchers who abduct humans and attach their weird face humpers in order to breed, but I remember seeing pictures and video years ago of this game. Back when it was on covers as a shooter that would change the landscape. I remember reading that Xenos could go through vents and grab you pulling you through and giving you an open mouth brain punch. That they would swarm from everywhere and use tactics to try to flank you. None of this occurred in the final product.
What we instead got was a watered down version of what this game could have been. It started off strong, but that was years ago and lots of development time ago. It felt like there was no direction and that many things were forced, like exploding Xenos. That was completely unnecessary and was more an annoyance than an obstacle. Everything was sad face in the end.
Gameplay Grade: D+
This truly is a title that was 50/50 in the regard of graphics. I loved the gun design, it stayed true to the style of the franchise, the Xenomorphs felt unfinished and the environment didn’t wow me in any facet. Everything felt done, but without any extra coats of paint to finish and polish it off. From the Sulaco to LV-426 nothing seemed to be completed. It seemed reverse of normal issues within game graphics. They nailed all the small things like the motion tracker and weapon designs, but failed dramatically when it came to enemy creation, environment design and doing finishing touches. It’s never good when you look at something and feel like more could and should have been done.
Graphics Grade: C-
The sound is both hit and miss as well. It’s a common theme. The weapon fire and reloading is good and I give credit because again a lot of these guns have specific sounds and actions we remember and they get it right. The Xenos only seem to be able to make sounds when they are literally within 20 feet of you and other than that they are absolutely silent. I wanted them to make their trademark hissing sounds while they stalk me, that is the fear they instill, beyond that they are very average because they are easy kills.
Unlike fellow space games that make you crap yourself like Dead Space, this game doesn’t utilize creaky sounds, metal crashing or vent thumping to terrify. Xenomorphs are suppose to be sneaky and make you jump from the sounds going on around you, yet this is not something that is used really at all.
Sound Grade: C-
The multiplayer is essentially a combo of Aliens vs. Predator and Left 4 Dead. There is regular 4v4 and 6v6 death match of Marines vs. Xenos and also an objective mode called Escape where the team of Marines has to evacuate to an extraction point and a team of Xenos has to keep them from reaching their destination. Escape is fun, but also feels unrefined and is too linear making it too easy for the team of Xenos to set up ambushes and keeping the Marines from either splitting up or taking different ways to keep it interesting. The death match is just typical and doesn’t offer anything that makes it stand out among its peers, that is really all you need to know about that.
The replay value is extremely low. I never felt too high on it at any point while playing. Nothing made me feel that this deserved more than a single try. The campaign doesn’t offer any incentives to play it again and the multiplayer experience can be played on games made in 2009.
Multiplayer/Replay Grade: D
Aliens: Colonial Marines falls flat and never really had a chance. After being tossed around like a drunk girl at a party for the better part of a decade, very little has been accomplished. Quake 4 looked better and played better and was made in less than half the time it took to make this game. The reliance on nostalgia and lack of unique story or gameplay made this a difficult game to be positive about and trust me, I tried.
The lack of much direction and mentally challenged AI handicapped this game as well. I personally cannot stand when a game forces you into stupid situations such as being the lone Marine to search for an entire squad or when a game forces me into a car race (hi Grand Theft Auto), I can’t stand that and Aliens: Colonial Marines does a fine job of linear gameplay and forcing me to do annoying and repetitive things.
I really was saddened by this game because years ago when it first was put out there as an idea and a game concept it seemed awesome. Then we got stuck with Aliens vs. Predator a game that was as awful as it was awful (not a mistyping for the record) and then we were told that Aliens: Colonial Marines was still on the way and it was, but not before the game was built, destroyed, built again and then released. At this point making an Aliens based game is a waste of everyone’s time because they have had plenty of chances to get it right and still haven’t. Let’s end it with this gif to explain how bad it gets.
Overall Grade: D+