Everything is going according to plan. Then, without warning, everything just nosedives, and the only solace you can find is that it will soon end. This is the experience of playing “Aliens: Colonial Marines,” developed by Gearbox Software ─ famous for Borderlands 2 ─ and published by SEGA.
“Aliens: Colonial Marines” differs from the Aliens vs. Predator games of yesteryear in that it is the canonical bridge between the movies, “Aliens” and “Alien 3.” This is a mockery in every sense of the word. The game begins after the events of the movie “Aliens,” with the most generic space Marines who have seen Ridley Scott’s “Black Hawk Down” too many times spouting “Oorah!” and “No Marines get left behind!” There are no real personalities or characters to latch onto, so the whole affair feels separated and inorganic.
It’s a shame that the story, which goes to some ridiculous places, answers nothing and raises more questions than it answers.
“Hey, how did the ship get back here?” asks one character during the briefing.
At one point, another character asks a very basic and reasonable question, and the answer is “That’s a longer story, all I know is that I want to get back at the company!”
It makes the game, which now has a place in the Aliens lore, feel irrelevant and inconsequential.
“Aliens: Colonial Marines” nails the audio from the films with the pulse rifle and motion tracker sounding exactly like they did in the film. The music also offers creepy and unsettling tunes, as well as the quick and intense pieces when the action picks up. The setting and atmosphere is distinctly Aliens, with very excellent lighting effects.
Sadly, these are the only high points of the game as gameplay and A.I. miss the mark of what an Aliens game should be. Gameplay is nothing more than running down a corridor, pushing a button, running down a corridor, shooting aliens and getting nostalgic over something from the film. Rinse and repeat. It’s this kind of repetition that numbs your brain into a state of complete deadness.
The A.I. for the aliens fares much worse. Rather than stalk the player and hide in the walls of the environment (like they did in the films), the aliens have decided that tactic takes too long, so the solution is to rush the player and the teammates with their arms flailing. At certain points in “Aliens: Colonial Marines,” you’ll have to do battle with humans. Their A.I. has them stand in one spot shooting and at certain points running completely past your entire team and into another room behind you.
The presentation for this game is also severely outdated. This is not a 2013-looking game, and it looks unfinished as far as the textures and character models are concerned. Nearly every wall texture looks blurry and muddled with character faces that look like the distorted evil twins of their real-world counterparts. When characters are “emoting,” their faces never move convincingly enough and have stilted facial expressions and puppet-like lip syncing.
The player will have to jump in the powerloader (the yellow walker thing Ripley used to fight the Alien Queen in “Aliens”), but it has no sense of weight and tangibility when using it: You’re just walking normally.
Multiplayer is interesting enough as it lets you play as the aliens or the colonial Marines, but it leaves much to be desired. Playing as the colonial Marine is probably the more exhilarating faction to play as because the aliens can come from anywhere. Yet playing as the aliens, you feel slower and weaker by comparison. One of the modes dubbed “Escape” has a team of marines set to reach a certain point, and the aliens have to stop them. It is probably the more interesting mode but it is lifted straight out of Valve’s “Left 4 Dead” series of multiplayer games. The aliens and Marines can be customized aesthetically and through their load outs so those who are familiar with the Call of Duty series should be right at home.
“Aliens: Colonial Marines” leaves players broken, depressed and feeling conned by Gearbox Software and SEGA. Players were assured through the developer preview diaries that this was a game being handled by fans of the films. I was confident that this was a game being handled by people that loved Aliens and knew how much the video game wanted to do the franchise justice. This is a lax effort that only exists to swindle faithful Aliens fans out of their hard earned money. At the time of this review, the Alien anthology is $23.99 on Blu-Ray and $30.99 on DVD at Amazon. I suggest you spend your money on either of those, as they’re more faithful to the Alien universe than this game.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MaroonandGame.