Developer(s): Gearbox Software
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Wii U
Release Date: US/EU – February 12th 2013 (Wii U version TBC)
PlayStation 3 version tested
It takes a lot these days for a first-person-shooter to impress me. It’s a genre of gaming that has grown up so much over the past decade, arguably more so than any other. The FPS is now the type of game that draws in that ‘other’ crowd who have no interest in playing Ni No Kuni and just want to get behind a gun and fire the trigger.
Since the rise of Call of Duty over the past few years most FPS’ have aspired to copy it’s formula or leech off it’s success. I would be quite happy if I could say that Aliens: Colonial Marines was a familiar Call of Duty like experience but with Aliens – unfortunately though I can’t even afford Gearbox Software the plaudits of being good copycats. Even a clone of 2010′s Alien vs Predator (minus the Predator part of course) would have been a vast improvement here.
The most iconic thing about the Aliens franchise are the Xenomorph’s themselves. The initial reveal of these creatures in any medium has also been a tense situation as with almost anytime they showed up. But after the somewhat lacklustre initial reveal here they will turn into cannon fodder. I wasn’t worried about going into any section with them, there was no fear as they followed the exact same pattern at every opportunity. After they crawl in from somewhere they would take one or two jumps before lining themselves up in front of you and jump straight towards you. At times I stood still waiting for the Xeno’s to make the move in front of me and then duly despatched them without a hint of remorse or any significant effort.
I was extremely disappointed at the lack of substance Xeno’s have here. I’ve always detested the look of them, not because they were poorly designed but because they are a truly frightening prospect. The love and care that these creations have received in films and previous games is thrown out the window here.
One level in particular has you sneak around Xeno’s and when you’ve not been spotted you can see them walking on two legs with an animation style that even my almost three-year-old son would be upset by had he crafted it. One of film’s most heinous and nastiest creations has been reduced to nothing but a poor joke here.
But luckily for the Xenomorphs they won’t gain all the attention when it comes to dissecting Aliens: Colonial Marines, as the rest of the game is just as bad. For a game that has been six years in development it looks like a last generation title at times. Some textures genuinely look like they’re from a PS2 as they smudge and smear their way across your HD screen. At this late in the console cycle I would expect much much better and so should you. Characters are lifeless, walls and panels look outdated and even the sound-effects cut in and out with regular mishaps.
One thing that has also been associated with the subject matter here has been darkness, suspense and tension. Suffice to say the only time I suffered any sort of abnormal heart palpitations was when I encountered not one but two patch downloads on the same day. The potential to build up to some really great moments isn’t even really attempted here despite the source material, it’s a real shame. It’s more of a shooting gallery than an atmospheric trip into the world of Aliens.
The actual act of pointing and shooting however does appear to work but I could never shake off the feeling that I am just playing as a floating gun. Games such as Halo and Killzone pull off the trick of adding sufficient weight to the player in order to give the illusion that I am actually playing through the eyes of someone. Aliens: Colonial Marines makes me believe I am a gun and I can float, there isn’t any weight to player movement and the gun’s don’t feel like they pack any real punch. You can actually aim and fire a weapon though so that’s a good thing, right?
Apart from the campaign Aliens: Colonial Marines also offers several multiplayer modes. The more interesting of which allows you to actually control a Xenomorph, but like most of this game it sounds cooler than it actually is. In one mode called ‘escape’ you are tasked with either stopping the Marines from escaping the area as Xeno’s or the other way around. It’s a nice idea but like the rest of the multiplayer the marines feel very overpowered when compared to the Xeno’s. There’s also a real lack of maps meaning that all modes can get tiresome and boring quite quickly.
If your a fan of the Aliens franchise in general you may find some mild interest in the nods to the old films located in Aliens: Colonial Marines. But other than that I’d be very hard pressed to recommend this to anybody. This is an unfinished game that ran out of time to be developed on.