I wish I could tell you that Aliens: Colonial Marines is a great game.
Hell, I wish I could tell you it was even a “good” game.
Sadly Gearbox Software’s latest effort fails spectacularly on nearly every level, and even the most dedicated fan of the Alien franchise will have a tough time find anything redeeming about this game.
The most glaring flaw is the graphics. While Gearbox stayed true to the look and design of James Cameron’s 1986 film, the visuals themselves were far from passable for a AAA game made in 2013.
From the stiff and expressionless character models to the low res textures, spotty lighting effects and bland environments, the visuals of the game look embarrassingly dated. When compared to the graphical quality of recent games like Dead Space 3, Aliens: Colonial Marines just looks plain ugly.
The look of the game might be forgivable if the gameplay itself was innovative or interesting, but that is not the case. Aliens: Colonial Marines plays like most other first-person-shooters on the market.
The xenomorph artificial intelligence is disappointing. There’s almost no hint of the savage cunning the creatures use in the films. They rarely do anything more than run directly at you. Your character is equipped with a motion tracker that allows you see where the attacks are coming from. This would have made for an interesting game mechanic, but you’ll almost never need it thanks to the head-on blitz style of the xeno’s attacks.
The game’s human enemies, mercenaries from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, are slightly smarter. They will occasionally use cover and try to flank you, but even so, who buys an “Aliens” game to fight generic human enemies?
Ammo and health items are plentiful even in the more difficult parts of the game. The tense atmosphere of the films is nonexistent. Playing the campaign with up to three friends cooperatively makes things slightly less boring, but finishing the game is still a slog. The game’s final boss fight is underwhelming to say the least.
The game also features four multiplayer versus modes which cast players as teams of marines and xenomorphs. The most worthwhile of these modes is “Survivor”, which tasks a group of marines with getting to an extraction point as they are pursued by the xenomorphs. This mode, while entertaining, is something you have likely played before in Left 4 Dead.
With poor graphics and boring gameplay, the last potential leg the game has left to stand on is its story. Here too, Aliens: Colonial Marines misses the mark.The plot is predictable and really just a vehicle for getting the player from one location from the film to another. While it is fun to run though environments from the movie, you never really feel like you are getting any deeper insight into the world of the film.
One of the few elements the game got right was the sound. Marine weapons like the pulse rifle and smartgun sound identical to the films. The game’s score, written by Gears of War composer Kevin Riepl, sounds like it would be right at home in Cameron’s film.
As a gamer and a fan of the films, I had high hopes that Gearbox would take the classic, well-loved franchise and run with it. Instead it appears that they farmed out much of the single player campaign in order to work on other projects. What’s worse, is there is a possibility that Gearbox knew it had an inferior product on its hands and deceived the gaming media, and gamers themselves about it.
Whatever transpired behind the result was a game that looked like Alien, barely, and didn’t feel like Aliens beyond the superficial nods to the source material. In the end, when you strip away the “Aliens” from Aliens: Colonial Marines, what you are left with is a generic FPS with subpar graphics that really isn’t worth your time.