Hey, Hicks. Man, You Look Just Like I Feel.
I have a weird disorder that makes me continuously want to give things a chance even though they’ve disappointed me so much in the past. It usually starts with them putting out a few things that I love, and then usually devolves into a series of shit in a row that I still try based on my love for the past. After enough of these, I can break myself of this habit, but not of the addiction. I still WANT to try these things, but I can restrain myself. Well Alien and Aliens were great movies, and some of the early Alien games did some things very well. Then there was a bunch of shit in a row. Has that continued to their most recent release? We’ll find out as I review Aliens: Colonial Marines, developed by Gearbox Software, published by Sega, and including the voices of Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Mark Rolston, Al Matthews, Travis Willingham, Derek Phillips, Nisa Ward, and Jason Douglas.
The “story” of this game takes place between Aliens and Alien 3. 17 weeks after the events of Aliens, people in the world desire to make more mistakes. A ship responds to a distress signal from the USS Sulaco, in orbit around LV-426. Xenomorphs are everywhere, and killing as they are known to do. Then Weyland-Yutani sends in mercenaries to kill you as well. Then they ruin what Alien 3 already ruined. Then other stuff and the game ends.
This game was pretty shitty. Let’s get that out of the way up front. Well, let’s be honest and agree that we all already knew this game was going to be shit, but let me tell you about it because I was dumb enough to rent it. It’s hard to pin down what is worse though. There are tons of problems with this game that could be what causes it to be terrible. I’ll start with the story. The story was crap. It’s simplistic while simultaneously ruining the continuity of the Alien franchise. I believe I’ve already complained about the fact that Aliens got the audience super involved in Newt and Hicks as characters, just to have Alien 3 crap all over that by killing them before the opening credits had even completed. Well this game ruins Alien 3’s story by having Hicks show up in this game. How did he get off the rescue vessel without bothering to save Newt and Ripley, but having plenty of time to drop a decoy body in his place? This game will answer that by having someone ask Hicks and him responding with, “Long story.” Great. Fuck your face. I hate you. Best I can assume is that they were able to get Biehn to be a voice in this game and they would figure out how that worked out later. And then it came to crunch time and they had forgotten to do anything about it. “Write it off. Fans of the Alien franchise aren’t at all protective of their continuity. Also, I know it LOOKED like Hadley’s Hope was destroyed by Ripley on her way out, but you can act like that didn’t happen either.” They even happily spoil their own story in the game. There’s a point where we’re supposed to be surprised that our teammate Keyes has an alien in him, but all you needed to do was look down from the place you freed him to see the dead facehugger on the floor to realize that he was infested. And speaking of infested people, they also didn’t pay attention to the fact that the Xenomorphs don’t really bother attacking people that are already infested with the aliens, so why would they attack that Bella girl? Ripley got out of that on more than one occasion.
The look is also crap. The videos of people look awful and are never even trying to convey emotion on their faces. And they have the dude whose face they’re using! Why can’t you do a scan of Biehn like they do in so many other games? Hell, I’ll settle for you slapping Biehn’s face down in a Xerox machine and stapling pieces of paper to the character. The acting would be no more stiff than what you’re already showing us. They also have a pretty hard time capturing the feel of the Alien movies. The ship they’re in early on is too clean and bright for a place where a sci-fi/horror movie is supposed to be taking place. They got a little better at it later on, like when they were aboard the Derelict ship and just had to recreate the H.R. Giger look. They also were able to get the guns to look right, and you’ll be able to tell because you’ll be looking at them a lot. And though the nerd in me appreciates that they included the motion tracker, the gamer in me doesn’t like having to stare at it while being unable to shoot while holding it.
You’ll probably be shocked to find this out, but the gameplay is also not enjoyable. On the surface, it’s a standard first person shooter. With slightly more playing, you’ll find that it’s also an awful first person shooter. Too difficult in parts, and made more difficult by stingy armor and health drops and stupid AI. I understand the idea of trying to capture the feel of the movie by making the Xenomorphs very difficult in their ability to swarm you and by making you take damage if they get too close because their blood is acid. All that stuff is in the movie, so why shouldn’t it be in the game? Because it makes the game not fun. If I were in the movie, I’d probably die because Ellen Ripley is the only one allowed to survive in the world of Aliens. But why would I want to play that? The short answer is, “I wouldn’t.” That is also probably the long answer. Another issue I took was with the battle they threw in with the Power Loader. It’s a nice reference to the movies where Ripley gets into the big yellow suit to fight the Queen, but they probably should’ve made it more interesting than just having me swing wildly hoping I connected, and then wrapping it up by making me twist one of the Loader hands like a drill with no graphical reaction from the Xenomorph. And if the Xenomorphs aren’t hard enough for you, don’t worry because your teammates will probably do something stupid to get you killed. Multiple times in this game would I be going for a frag grenade kill, just to have my AI teammate run in front of me causing me to blow myself up. In fact, the only reason I found the challenges in the game difficult was because of the AI teammates. There was a challenge for never missing a shot from a rifle, which would’ve been vaguely difficult on its own, but my teammates decided that they should amp that up by getting in my way and fucking everything up.
I can tell you the same thing about both the multiplayer and the achievements: nothing. I don’t know how many achievements the game has or how easy they are because I didn’t care enough to get them. That’s one of the biggest insults I can give a game. With as big of an achievement whore as I am, I could not stomach playing this game further to get them, regardless of their difficulty. And with as bad as the single player campaign was, there’s no way they knocked it out of the park with the multiplayer. I wasn’t even willing to give it a shot.
Aliens: Colonial Marines was an expectedly terrible game. The story was either uneventful or filled with events that ignored the story set up by the movies it based itself on, it was mostly ugly, and the gameplay was frustrating. There is nothing in this game that would lead me to recommend it to you at any price. Aliens: Colonial Marines gets “We can’t afford to let one of those bastards in here” out of “This bullshit that you think is so important, you can just kiss all that goodbye!”
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