Review by Trisha_Goddard
Well, Aliens: Colonial Marines has certainly caused a stir hasn't it? Randy Pitchford is suddenly 2013's Jimmy Savile and everybody is ready to turn up at his house carrying pitchforks and burn it down. That's the danger when you take the best sci-fi action film license and don't deliver on it. It's a bit like those idiots over at Vicious Cycle mangling the EDF license with Insect Armageddon. Some things are unforgivable.
I'm no fool for hype anyway, and so I expected very little from Colonial Marines. Gearbox have never been that good in my opinon. Sure, Borderlands, and its sequel, was great but when they ruined it with that terrible DLC, I lost all respect for them after the terrible Moxxi and Robot Revolution packs and Duke Nukem Forever sealed that opinion. I only preordered this because I found it cheap online (£32) and because of the words "four player co-op" and "set on the Sulaco."
I had my exit strategy planned too. Grainger Games were telling me a quick trade in would net me £33. One pound profit. In your FACE, Randy.
So on Tuesday the 12th of February I fired up the game with doomed resignation having seen some of the review scores out there, all written by angry men who insist one throwing in a heap of Aliens quotes to show what big fans they are and to give their opinions more weight. Not that Jim Sterling needs any more of that, but whatever.
Initially I was surprised by the graphics. They aren't amazing by any means but I was hearing tales of PS2-quality visuals. Far from it, the game looks okay. The stilted animation, highlighted by the famous .gif of the boiler xeno, was also somewhat oversold by the reviewers. Admittedly there are glitches and the game has some of the worst v-sync tearing I've seen since Resident Evil 5 but it wasn't awful to look at and the setting (initially the Sulaco) seemed sound enough.
After a tense encounter with the first xenomorph in the game, things start to warm up. Your motion tracker beeping helpfully whenever you get too close to an enemy. Luckily Hudson was right. You've got a decent arsenal on your side, especially the pulse rifle which handles most encounters efficiently enough. You are able to upgrade your weapons too which helps as you go along.
After a while I realised something, the game hadn't gotten awful yet. I was enjoying the combat, albeit it a tad easy on the default difficulty setting, and the story and the atmosphere was bang on. Of course getting the atmosphere right in an Aliens game is a given anyway. Dark corridors, the beep of a motion tracker, a nicely sampled pulse rifle... it's ready made for developers but even so, Colonial Marines was more authentic than most.
After finishing the Sulaco levels and moving down to LV426, the atmosphere got even better. I grinned like a fool when I arrived in Operations and saw the room where Hudson is taken. This was virtual Aliens tourism. Little touches like finding the room Newt and Ripley slept in was another one. Especially when a quick inspection revealed the two dead facehuggers (one pinned behind furniture as expected) and an upturned bed. The Aliens fanboy in me was loving it, even if that was what caused the majority of bad reviews out there from disappointed fans.
As the story continued, I kept expecting things to tail off but they never did. What I got was a solid, enjoyable campaign with a heap of fan service on top. It's short (clocking in at just a few hours) and extremely linear (which is no bad thing in my opinion as there are too many sprawling shooters out there with no real focus to them) and may not give great value for money but I can't say I didn't enjoy it.
The story does occasionally take liberties with the series' canon which annoyed me a fair bit but overall they've done a decent job with the license.
After experiencing the entire campaign in single player I got into some four-player co-op which worked nicely once we realised that friendly fire was an issue. With other players, you do get that feel of the movie, especially the part when they first enter the colony. Set to the hardest difficulty the game presents a more credible challenge (although it's never that difficult) and led to lots of 'hey, look at this' moments for the Aliens fans in the squad.
Is Colonial Marines an excellent shooter? No. Far from it. It's a solid one though. With some enjoyable combat and entertaining setpiece battles. Is it the best Alien story ever told? Nope. It's a game. What did you expect? But it works for the most part and the new xeno types are a necessary evil if you want any kind of variation in your gameplay. Likewise the human enemies (who, disappointingly, are more of a challenge than the aliens) do help to switch up the action a little and they make sense in the context of the story.
For me it's a 5 or a 6 when it comes to the gameplay mechanics alone with an extra point on top for the virtual Aliens tourism. Is it a 7? Well, it's a 7 to me. That's how much I enjoyed it. Does that mean I recommend it? Well, your mileage may indeed vary. That said, everyone I know personally that bought this has wondered what all that fuss was about on Tuesday and has enjoyed what they've played so far.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/15/13
Game Release: Aliens: Colonial Marines (Limited Edition) (EU, 02/12/13)
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