GAMING REVIEW: 'Aliens: Colonial Marines' a pale riff on the film
Title: “Aliens: Colonial Marines”
Format: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Developer: Gearbox Software
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
The Grade: C–
What is it?
A video game continuation of the sci-fi classic, “Aliens.” Gamers take on the role of colonial Marines investigating the disappearance of soldiers and civilian personnel on LV-426. This is the planet where Ripley, Hicks, Hudson and a host of other memorable characters were overrun in the James Cameron’s film, “Aliens.”
Franchise loyalty. The film that this game is founded on is evident throughout. Gamers will get to use the welder on doors, jump in a power loader and use a motion tracker to locate the position of friends and foes. Players will also notice some familiar sounds. The pulse rifle sounds exactly like it does in the movie as does the blip of the motion tracker. A few cast members from the film (including Lance Henriksen as Bishop and Michael Biehn as Cpl. Hicks) even have small roles in the game.
Multiplayer Mayhem. I tried out the multiplayer for “Colonial Marines” last year at E3 and the aliens were way too powerful. Thankfully that issue has been resolved and the multiplayer is so well balanced I found it to be my favorite part of the game. Marines do well if they stay together but when they wander off are huge targets. Aliens have xenovision, the ability to see through objects. They can also scurry through vents and climb walls. I found all four MP modes a blast to play.
What’s this game called again? For a game called “Aliens” there’s an awful lot of non-alien enemies. In order to mix up the action, “Colonial Marines” forces gamers to face off against hired guns from the Weyland Corporation. This might have been an interesting twist but, even for those players who are deep into “Aliens” lore, the plot of the game quickly becomes a confusing mess. The unique storytelling and drama from the “Alien” films is absent here.
Moronic AI. You could forgive an action game for being bereft of story if the gameplay was compelling, but that’s certainly not the case with “Colonial Marines.” Instead of attacking stealthily like they do in the films, xenomorphs charge right at you in single file lines. Weyland mercs are no more challenging, as they love to pop out from cover giving you easy targets to hit. Friendly teammates are amazingly indestructible, taking enough bullets and slashes that they should die 100 times over, but they never do. There’s never any sense of danger at any point in the game.
Subpar game presentation. While many of the sound effects are well done the rest of its game presentation leaves “Colonial Marines” looking sloppy and unpolished. The dialogue for the convoluted single player story is uninteresting and lazy. Even worse is the graphic presentation, which is borderline cartoonish and looks last gen. Several areas reminded me of “Halo” on the original Xbox.
I’m disappointed fans of the “Aliens” franchise, myself included, weren’t given a better product. Unfortunately, games with ties to well known films have been historically mediocre and this title is no exception. If you’re a hardcore “Aliens” fan, the excellent multiplayer offering may be enough for you. But if you’re looking for a solid shooter with real thrills there are much better options than “Aliens: Colonial Marines.”
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.