Review by skeletorissatan
"A boring and tedious game that succeeds on one front but fails on many more."
It would be safe to say that Aliens: Colonial Marines has become one of the most highly anticipated games in recent years. It would also be a fair comment to make that this game could best be compared to the latest Duke Nukem outing in the sense that it is a long anticipated game that is a completely boring, samey game that did not make the best of its long development cycle. The game was first announced in 2001 as a means to bridge the gap between the second and third film in the Aliens movie franchise that would be released for the at-the-time new Playstation 2 console. This Fox Entertainment installment in the Aliens series was eventually cancelled after five years and Sega picked up the rights to the franchise. Gearbox Software then proceeded to push ahead work on a game based around the same premise and used the same name, although the two games are supposedly unconnected, and after many years hard work the game has finally been released.
The game itself is an attempt to recreate the universe that Aliens is set in perfectly by using the original blueprints of the LV-426 planet from the Aliens film and the Sulaco space ship from the series. The idea behind the game was to create a canonical and authentic interpretation of the Aliens franchise in game form which retained all of the undeniably scary atmosphere that made the first two films in the series such terrifying works and this is actually the games core strength. The overall feel of the game is one of absolute dread and sheer terror with such clever use of dynamic shadows and unsuspected attacks from Xenomorphs that it constantly feels as though you are going to be attacked from everything including the shadows themselves, despite the fact that this is often not the case. The first introduction of the titular aliens to the game is arguably the best moment of the game with a cinematic feel that is triggered by attempting to cut a fellow marine down from the wall and finishes up with a thrilling "last man standing" type of segment of the game in which you are lying on the floor with just your pistol for a few seconds. This is completely unexpected and makes the most of the fantastic use of shadows that are found within this game. Throughout your experience with Aliens Colonial Marines the one thing that you should come to embrace as sheer perfection is the level of detail in the shadows-every moving object in game casts a shadow exactly as it would in real life, and they constantly move around with the moving object so that what the player witnesses is a puppet display of ingenious shadow recreation that is designed to invoke feelings of sheer horror. This game is one that is very dark and one that cleverly uses its lighting to create some trickery for the eyes by quickly having a shadow flash across the screen and the feelings it invokes are ones of complete terror.
Aside from the lighting another positive that can be found in this interpretation of the Aliens universe is the authenticity and the way that each of the set pieces and levels in the game feel as though they are cut directly from the same branch as the movies were. Past attempts to correctly recreate the universe felt completely underwhelming as games such as Alien Trilogy and, most recently, the crossover with the Predator franchise that was released a couple of years back have proven. Thankfully this is not the case with Aliens Colonial Marines as every environment that one explores within this game was translated from the blueprints for the movies themselves with painstaking attention to detail. As far as recreations of movie environments go, this ranks up there with the best of them as each and every claustrophobic corridor that you are forced down holds down the feelings of nostalgia for the movies that one would expect from a game that has taken this long to put together. Just seeing the beautifully rendered version of the Sulaco captured by Gearbox within this game should create feelings of love for the game by any Aliens fan.
Sadly this game is not all that good when it comes down to it, with the game play of the game being reduced to nothing more than the standard claustrophobic first person shooter that has been done time and time again, except with the inclusion of Aliens. Replace the terrorists of the Call Of Duty franchise with Xenomorphs and you have the game that Colonial Marines has become. For the first few combat situations this game will make your jaw drop purely because there is nothing quite like having an Alien jump on you and attempt to rip your character's face off but after the first five or six encounters this quickly becomes tiring. The arsenal of weapons that you have to play around with in this game feel so overpowered that the combat situations eventually become nothing more than boring. That is essentially the only word that can accurately sum up the fighting in Colonial Marines. Whilst early game play previews made this look good and absolutely terrifying, once one is accustomed to the speed required to shoot at an Alien before it disappears, any fun that should be found in this game is quickly sucked from it. The AI of this game is not the flawless AI that was claimed by the developers and in fact the Aliens will attempt the same boring tactics in every combat situation-they will run away to try and heal and then spring at you from the front. The flanking that was promised by the developers is virtually non-existent except occasionally on the hardest difficulty, and even then it is easily countered. Were this corrected then the game would actually pose a huge problem for the average player as the aliens themselves are rather tough and can dish out a beating. One or two attacks will seal your fate in the game but in this game you should easily be able to take the Xenomorphs out before they get anywhere close to you. Another problem is that the graphics in this game are not particularly good. The textures and character models in this game feel four or five years out of date and the voice acting is the same overly macho style that one should come to expect from a shooting game of today. Whilst the actual atmosphere was recreated beautifully and the layouts of the environments are the same as was found in the Alien films, the visuals on this game are rather bad for a 2013 game.
The Multi-Player for Colonial Marines is a poorly implemented feature that occasionally yields a little fun that is missing from much of the game but sadly these moments are too few and far in between. Getting used to the cumbersome style of the aliens is a task in itself and when you learn to play as them this can be among the best moments in the game, springing onto the ceiling and ambushing a team of marines. However, playing as the opposite side really does become annoying and finding and killing skilled players playing as the aliens is a tedious job, The game modes are annoying and boring as well and do absolutely nothing fun nor unique with the game so that the most enjoyable game mode is, surprisingly, the good old Death Match mode.
Sadly this is another case of a game that has had ridiculously high expectations that fails to live up to them. This lasts around four to six hours and in that space of time you will rarely be challenged as the AI is so pathetically stupid in the game, and the actual game play is nothing overly special. This just feels like a game such as Call of Duty or Medal Of Honor with an Aliens skin. This is a game that is bargain bin material and nothing more and is an early candidate for the most underwhelming game of 2013.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Originally Posted: 02/12/13, Updated 02/19/13
Game Release: Aliens: Colonial Marines (US, 02/12/13)
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