Aliens: Colonial Marines Review
Every major sci-fi and action series has that one chapter that they would take back. Star Wars has Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones has his Crystal Skull and James Cameron's much loved Alien saga has Alien 3. Now, over ten years later Sega and Gearbox Software have teamed up to rewrite history and give fans the ending that they crave. An ending that they deserve.
They didn't. They made it worse.
To say Aliens: Colonial Marines is a disappointment would be a major understatement - it's downright terrible as both homage and as a shooter. AI is seemingly non-existent level design is terrible, and the game lacks even the slightest bit of polish. What's worse, it manages to almost mock the source material it holds so closely, belittling it's past and closing the door on any sort of future.
"The level design is so absurdly terrible..."
It didn't have to be that way though, in fact Colonial Marines does a fantastic job in making you think that you're in for the experience of a lifetime. Right from the start, the game hits all the right notes; it looks the part and even name-drops a number of fan favorite events from the films. Then you start to look closer and you realize that Aliens: Colonial Marines is a mess. Your AI squad mates are moving like robots, and the world around you feels unfinished. The level design is so absurdly terrible that combined with the game's lack of pacing (I was told to cut Lt. Keys down in an early mission before even hearing or seeing that he needed assistance - thanks for the spoiler).
What's even worse is how the game treats its main attraction - the Xenomorph aliens. In the films, the Xenos were smart and intelligent. They would hunt their prey and terrify them in the process. In Colonial Marines though, they're the exact opposite and seem more like mild annoyances than beings intent on our destruction. There's absolutely no intelligence here, as the once feared aliens seem to jump directly in front of your gun and only notice you if you're directly in front of them; seriously, on more than one occasion I was able to walk directly past a crouching enemy, just by going slightly around them.
The game also takes very few steps to cover-up some of their design mechanics, as the entire universe seems like it's waiting on your move. Very early in the game there was a moment where one of my squadmates was freaking out because the aliens were coming over the railings and about to attack. I readied and aimed my gun but nothing happened. I sat through my allies screams to get ready for a good few minutes before I took a few steps forward, which triggered the event. This isn't an Alien property - it's a South Park style parody of one.
"...become just another overused mechanic."
The rest of the game feels all but broken as well, as the game doesn't even function as a playable shooter. Weapons here have no weight or kick, and feel much more like toys than they do actual firearms. The game does feature melee combat mixed with action set pieces and a few quicktime events that do serve to break up the monotony of the standard gameplay, but after while they feel the same and become just another overused mechanic.
Of course, this would all be remotely tolerable if the game did an even halfway decent job paying homage to the source material it holds so dear, but of course - it doesn't. The game takes place between the events of Alien and Alien 3. A new group of marines has answered a distress call from the USS Sulaco (the space station from the original Alien for the uninformed). As noted before, the game at least makes an attempt here - it name drops some of the series regulars and shows some of the cool tech from the first movie, but it's all done so half-heartedly and in an obvious effort to cash in. Almost insultingly - the developers chose to rewrite the history of the films and bring back a much famously killed character. How did they explain this? They didn't. At all.
Few games disappoint like Aliens: Colonial Marines. It's not a great shooter, in fact, it's not even a decent one. It's not a great chapter in the Alien saga - it's almost insulting. Who should play Colonial Marines? No one. Ever. It's that bad.
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