Aliens: Colonial Marines has been in development for so many years it almost became a running joke. And then over the last 12 months Gearbox and SEGA really got to grips with the game and showed off some pretty stunning demos at trade events.
Set after the Aliens film and before/during the events of Alien 3, Colonial Marines sees you take control of Cpl. Winter as a group of Marines make their way to the ship U.S.S Sulaco and, later in the game, LV-426 (the planet Aliens takes place on). Their mission is to find and rescue the missing Ripley, Hicks, Newt and Bishop.
So the set up is kind of cool and as someone who loves the second Aliens movie I was really looking forward to finally going on another ‘bug hunt’. Sadly, what follows is a 5 hour trudge through a lot of similar looking corridors with a few open sections to break things up.
Graphically the game just looks like a pale shadow of what was shown before release. Even if that was on a maxed out PC I’d expect the PS3 version to get somewhere close, look at Battlefield 3 for example. Colonial Marines can look good in places but lacks the polish and lighting of the pre-release stuff we saw.
The AI is quite bad and becomes more noticeable in co-op play because on several occasions all the enemies just targeted ‘Player One’, ignoring the other Marines entirely. For a large chunk of the game you’re fighting human soldiers as opposed to Aliens and it’s just not that fun.
My main complaint with Aliens: Colonial Marines is the hit detection on the shooting. So many times I scored a direct hit with the red dot sight, only for it not to register at all. It makes the shooting so frustrating because I never felt fully in control of the weapons.
Sadly this also makes it way over to multiplayer, which is even more infuriating. The amount of times I was killed by another player while spraying bullets into them was ludicrous and made the online side of things a disappointment.
It’s not all bad, it has to be said. The pulse rifle sound effect is fantastic and the blips of the tracker are cool. I do wish they had used that to better effect though. Just a dash of horror in amongst the shooting would’ve been great. Some of the levels were enjoyable but the least said about the return of a character from the film the better.
The characterisation and voice acting doesn’t do the game any favours, with more than one character suddenly having an attack of the ‘Cole Phelps‘ and randomly shouting lines when you’re right next to them. Considering how strongly you care about the characters in the Aliens films it’s disappointing to have no connection with the ones from the game.
Unfortunately somewhere along the line (and the events of that ‘line’ are a hot topic – check out Jim Sterling’s recent post) the game has gone backwards since the gameplay we were shown last year. I don’t ever recall seeing a game look so removed from the demos we saw. I know people always say Killzone 2 didn’t quite match up to it’s initial trailer but at least it was close. And the Aliens demos were GAMEPLAY demos, not rendered trailer footage. See below for a comparison video:
Aliens: Colonial Marines is a serviceable first person shooter with some dodgy hit detection. This is not the Aliens game we wanted or even the one were we shown before release. A massive missed opportunity that could’ve started a series of these games.