Is Aliens: Colonial Marines the Alien game we’ve all been waiting for?
Aliens: Colonial Marines is like buying a romantic present for your significant other, then writing an ex’s name on the card. The thought is there, but the execution is sorely lacking. After numerous delays, and a handful of different developers, the title resembles a mismatched jigsaw.
Since 1979’s original Alien film, several games based on the franchise have been released. None of them come close to matching Colonial Marines attention to detail and fan service. A surprising number of the original cast lend their voices to this title, and there are many audio-logs and collectibles hidden away in the campaign. The story takes place between Alien and Alien 3. Marines are despatched to investigate mysterious goings-on on board a derelict ship, and quickly learn that they aren’t alone.
While it’s no Dead Space, Colonial Marines does a fairly good job of creating an atmosphere in the early stages. Most people will know the deadly predators that are lurking in the shadows, and how dangerous they can be. Creeping around in the first level, motion sensor in one hand and rifle in the other, is a rare thrill of the game. It is, however, quickly spoiled by the frankly rubbish enemy AI. When a Xenomorph finally pops out, it does little more than stroll slowly forwards (on hind legs, weirdly) and feign a swipe at you. Hardly the lethal beasts we were expecting. The less said about the human enemy AI, the better.
Multiplayer shows more of the touch that we’d expect from Gearbox. Dropping in and out of co-op campaign is easy, there are challenges to complete for XP (although in a nonsensical order), and online multiplayer has interesting modes that pit a team of Xenomorphs against human soldiers in objective based modes. Again, the ideas behind these parts of the game are smart and interesting, but the execution simply isn’t good enough to warrant much playtime. Controlling the aliens is clunky, and the more adventurous attack options are almost unusable.
The graphics in this game are as sub-par as the rest of it. The effects of the lengthy development process and the many different minds that tried to shape this title have really taken their toll, leaving Colonial Marines feeling unfinished and undervalued.