After over six years in development, it’s no surprise that Aliens: Colonial Marines has generated hype. It’s about time we had the chance to get our pulse rifles ready to put down some Xenomorphs. A word of advice, though; don’t get your hopes up.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is a first-person shooter set directly after the events of James Cameron’s Aliens. A distress signal was sent out by Corporal Hicks requesting assistance, and a platoon of marines is sent to investigate. The campaign is around six hours, and can be played both in single player and in online co-op.
The best way to describe the gameplay is merely “standard.” The shooting is what you would come to expect from Call of Duty: aiming down the sights of a gun, shooting enemies and throwing grenades. It’s all there and never really feels different from any other shooter. Players will be pitted against both Xenomorphs and human mercenaries. Fighting enemies is never really a challenge. The Xenos run straight for the player, and the human enemies never seem to leave their cover, even when under assault from a flamethrower. The enemy AI is just plain bad in many cases. Of course, that doesn’t stop them from being deadly. I died multiple times because a Xeno clipped through an object that I couldn’t go through.
The story falls short throughout the campaign. The voice acting consists of poorly written dialog and uninspired performances. The final payoff to the entire game is underwhelming, and questions are never really answered. It got to a point where I just tuned the story bits out.
I played on PC, and the lighting effects and visuals do look good in some areas. The animations, on the other hand, are very clunky. It seems like the Xenos can’t make up their mind on what they want to do sometimes. I do have to give the game some credit. The art style and presentation both stay true to the source material. The soundtrack seems to have been taken directly from the movie, and the sound effects are perfect.
Aside from constantly going though corridors and holding off enemies while team members open doors, there are a few sections of the game that have decent moments. The sewer level was particularly tense, but for the most part, the game feels like a shooting gallery with Aliens as your primary target.
Through both the campaign and the competitive multiplayer, player’s profiles will level up after getting kills and completing special objectives. During the story mode, players can collect audio logs, dog tags and special legendary weapons to use in the campaign. Leveling up will give the player points to spend on unlocking new attachments for their guns and the creation of new loadouts for the multiplayer.
The multiplayer has different modes that put two teams (marines and Xenomorphs) against each other. The Xenomorphs go down way too easily. Most players would think it would be more enjoyable to play the Aliens, but the Xenos are a clunky mess. Crawling on surfaces is a chore, and the fact that one marine can take out an entire gang of Xenos makes playing them a frustrating chore. Playing this mode will offer up more XP for your rank and unlock new abilities for the Xenomorphs, which will increase survivability against stubborn marines.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is a mixed bag for me. It seems to have the right set up for a decent Aliens game with the presentation and look, but due to the boring story and clunky enemy AI, there is no tension or exciting action. The co-op is probably the best way to play, but players need to choose a higher difficulty if they want any kind of a challenge. The competitive multiplayer feels unbalanced. The marines are overpowered, and the Xenomorphs control like a malfunctioning Power Loader. The redeeming qualities are so few and far between, that it’s hard for me to recommend this game, even to the hardcore Alien fans. Aliens: Colonial Marines is so riddled with problems and boring stretches that it can be painful at times, but if you are still dead-set on picking up the game, the PC version would be the one to choose.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PC.