A few great fan pleasing moments, well portrayed atmosphere in places.
Shocking graphics at times, ropey AI
Gameplay ( 6 )Graphics ( 4 )Music ( 6 )
- Total score 5.5
Aliens: Colonial Marines is not just any old game from the Alien saga; it’s actually (supposedly) considered canon in the saga, and expands the official storyline from where the film Aliens left off. This is ultimately the game’s most explicit strength and weakness. One one hand, shooting bucketloads of Xenomorphs while exploring planet LV-426 as part of the official continuation of the saga is, for Aliens fans at least, as exciting as FPS gaming gets. On the other hand, this sets the bar pretty high, and so expectations for Colonial Marines have reached an almost unattainable level over the last few months; and that’s where the initial feeling of crushing disappointment originates. However, don’t give up hope just yet, as unless your internet connection has been down for the last week, the unstoppable flow of mixed or poor review scores for Aliens: Colonial Marines will undoubtedly have tempered your expectations – and with more manageable exceptions, Colonial Marines can be good fun.
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first: the graphics, for one, are pretty shocking. If you’re the kind of gamer who doesn’t like screen tearing then you should probably brace yourself for a pretty rough ride through Colonial Marines. The screen tearing, on the Xbox 360 version at least, is appalling. It is, without question, the worst level of screen tearing I’ve seen on a console game for years. What’s worse, is that the graphics are sub-HD, and full of aliasing (i.e. jagged edges). To be blunt, it looks unfinished – which may actually be what’s happened here. That said, the atmosphere makes up for this somewhat, and exploring LV-426 is still pretty good fun, regardless of the muddy textures and general blur.
The gameplay is also a mixed bunch – when it’s good, it’s actually pretty good, and there are few sequences later on that will give even the weariest Aliens fan a modicum of pleasure. There are issues however, and there are entire sections of the game that could do with being cut out. One of the biggest disappointments with the game is that actually, there’s not that much Xenomorph killing to do. Huge sections of the game involve slaughtering the legions of Weyland-Yutani soldiers, and even when you are blowing away Xenomorphs, their AI behaviour is so bad that it feels more like putting a bunch of alien morons out of their misery than destroyingthe remorseless pack-hunting killers from the movies.
The storyline is also pretty weak, and without publishing any spoilers, leads you down a garden path only to abandon you with very little resolution at the end. There are some genuinely cool moments involving the remnants of a few well-known characters from Aliens however, and devoted fans of the film will find a few themselves in fanboy heaven at times. It’s just a shame that much of the game lets down these great little encounters.
The multiplayer is actually pretty fun, at least for a few hours, with a variety of co-op gameplay and adversarial multiplayer. There’s nothing that can’t be found elsewhere, but if you’re looking for a fun multiplayer experience that you can do worse that firing up Colonial Marines. The trouble is, and this sentiment echoes throughout the entire game, that you can do better; Aliens vs Predator (released back in 2010 and reviewed here) is ultimately the better Alien saga game. OK, it’s not considered canon, and it’s not the best Aliens game ever (that accolade goes to the original Alien vs Predator game released back in 1999), but it’s better than Colonial Marines and still a fun game in its own right.
If you’re a die-hard Aliens fan, and you have sufficiently tempered your expectations, then you’ll get some enjoyment out of Aliens: Colonial Marines, though it’s probably best to wait until it’s at a bargain bin price. If you’re not a fan of the Alien saga, then there’s not much for you here, but then if that’s you then you probably stopped reading this review after the first paragraph. If you’re somewhere in between, then you’ll likely find Aliens: Colonial Marines to be a wasted opportunity, but not an altogether bad one – just hang on for the inevitable price drop.