Review: Aliens: Colonial Marines – We should know better by now…
Lets just get this over with shall we?
There were some reasons to have hope for Aliens: Colonial Marines. Despite the fact that Sega’s name was attached to it, despite the fact that there hadn’t been a genuinely good first person Aliens game in years, despite the troubled development process… ok, so maybe there was only one real reason to be hopeful: Gearbox seemed genuinely interested in providing Aliens fans with the sequel that we never got. We saw the previews and everything was looking good, it really was. An amazing attention to detail combined with what seemed like a real relevance for the original Aliens film in a game being made by those guys that did a little game you might of heard of by the name of Borderlands? Sign me up, right? Right?
Well, it seems that in space no one can hear you scream about how bad this game is.
Writing this review harkens some similar feelings I went through when writing my review of Jurassic Park: The Game. TellTale’s take on Jurassic Park may not have been the greatest game out there, but the story really made it fun and enjoyable to “play” through. Aliens: Colonial Marines sits in a similar spot. While it suffers from some of the pitfalls that any movie turned game turned essentially back into a movie would suffer from (there are levels that are stretched out probably four times what they would be if they were scenes in a film and of course there is significantly more action than the Aliens films actually had), the story matters and it is worth experiencing. It isn’t perfect, but the story in Aliens: Colonial Marines is much closer to offering the sequel we wanted than any of the actual films have been; and it even includes some cameos by several of the original film’s actors.
That is where the positive remarks end. Aliens: Colonial Marines is basically a train wreck in every other aspect. While the attention to detail for the film’s original locations is more than noteworthy, the fact that everything just looks bad, as in graphically bad, takes away from that attention to detail greatly (so much screen tearing!). The various human and alien characters don’t fare much better; especially the mannerisms of the Xenomorphs. The best way to describe them is jittery, like rather than having corrosive acid for blood they actually had caffeine, as in pure heart wrenching caffeine for blood. These aren’t the deadly stealth ninja aliens that we saw in the films, these are more like their tweaked out cousins; you know, the one who your aunt just pretends has some anxiety issues which is why he is so twitchy and agitated; also he may or may not have stolen your TV and sold it to a pawn shop down the street. Seriously, if they replaced the Xenomorphs with a strung-out Alf looking for a fix it would of not only have looked more appropriate but actually been scarier. Much scarier.
The game’s audio is a bit mixed, namely that the sound effects, all torn from the film are great, and the voice acting is solid, but apparently Gearbox hired a high school AV student to mix it all. Much of the voice audio sounds like it was recorded in drastically different places with drastically different quality equipment. Some of the voice performances sound as if they were recorded in a professional studio; some like it was recorded on the same microphone used by that Indian man who answered my tech support question last week. The difference in quality from one character speaking to the other was at times incredibly jarring and it was incredibly apparent when playing with gaming headphones on.
Then you have the gameplay. About thirty minutes into the MAYBE five hour campaign it became apparent to me that they should of called this “Call of Duty: Aliens,” instead. Not that this is an AAA game in the least, but rather that the game is a generic FPS in most every fashion. What is possibly worse of all is that about half the game is spent shooting other humans; because as we all know when you play an Aliens game you do so to shoot things that are not aliens… Pretty much every minute of the human vs. human firefights in the game is reminiscent of having dental work done. Being bad is one thing, but being bad at a style of gameplay no one playing the game wants in the first place is kind of like forcing a lactose intolerant person to eat ice cream, and then picking fish flavored ice cream as the type you’re forcing them to eat. I’m going to just say it, make an Aliens game that rips off Dead Space’s gameplay and we will almost certainly have a winner. Give us survival horror gameplay instead of this “walk forward and shoot shit” crap.
Aliens: Colonial Marines has a few genuinely great story moments, with a few unexpected surprises and it pays great homage to the original film. These moments are just enough to elevate this title from “burn it with fire” to “maybe rent it that weekend you ran out of beer, weed and the girlfriend is out of town.” It certainly doesn’t wash the bad taste of Alien 3 or Alien: Resurrection out of our mouths, but for die-hard fans of the Aliens film this is worth playing through once to just get an idea of what maybe could have been. Consider yourself warned though.
Final Rating: 3.5/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Time to completion: About 5 hours
Gamer Score Earned: 435/1000
Price Bought at: N/A (RedBox Rental)
Current Price: $32.97 (Amazon)
Recommend Purchase Price: Don’t unless you just have to own it, and then, find it for under $10.
Why you should buy it: The story doesn’t entirely suck.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: I guarantee you have a better game on your shelf waiting to be played.