Aliens + Gearbox= A Winner….Right?
Gearbox Software has become a major player in the video game world with the rise of the Borderlands franchise. Both entries into the series have been massive critical and retail successes and Gearbox has reaped the benefits. So it was no surprise that their game based on the beloved Aliens film was high up on many people’s list. A true sequel to James Cameron’s sci-fi classic from the developers of Borderlands. What could go wrong?
First off we have to put things in perspective. Gearbox did not finish this game. In actuality, no one outside of the developer really knows exactly how much of this game was worked on by actual Gearbox employees. You see this game has been in development for six years and Gearbox…actually we will get into that a bit later.
Aliens: Colonial Marines has you playing Winter, an everyman marine that is sent to investigate the distress signal set off by Hicks in the film Aliens. Somehow the U.S.S. Sulaco has made its way back to orbit around LV-426 and you and your squad are sent in to see why the ship has mysteriously appeared back there. Right off the bat you cannot help to realize that the script and voice acting in this are horrid. I don’t even mean like in the hard ass military jargon or anything because there are plenty of games that get that right without being laughable, but Colonial Marines is like one of the direct to DVD Starship Troopers bad.
You can tell that some love of the Aliens franchise was in this at one time. Some of the environments, James Horner’s score and even bringing back veteran actors Lance Henriksen and Michael Biehn to reprise their roles of Bishop and Hicks. But everything that was supposed to make this game a treat for Aliens fans is handled so poorly and lazily that all of the good that made it in the game is overpowered by the heaps of utter uselessness that was in the final product.
Is This Really Happening?
I don’t know exactly where in the development process things went wrong for Colonial Marines, but it is evident that this game needed to be re-worked or scrapped altogether. For almost two years we have been shown demos that showed off a pretty good looking game graphics wise, but the game that awaited me was riddled with so many graphical hiccups that it truly appeared as if I were playing first year 360 title. I could probably put Doom 3 on the original Xbox up against this and this would win…but only by a small fraction. Lighting problems, floating shadows, rampant clipping and piss poor between mission cinemas keep you detached from any sense of world immersion. When aliens explode from gunfire its not so much disgusting collapse of a body as it is a sloppy explosion into eight square pieces.
If you are used to FPS’s that have minute controls and like to pull off quality headshots then I suggest you go looking elsewhere. Sloppy aiming is rampant with almost no sense of true control in the middle of a firefight. Even with the additon of add-ons (in a poor attempt to make the game seem deeper) to various weapons you will still have a frustrating time trying to pop off aliens or Weyland-Yutani soldiers with any precision.
One of the best things about the movie Aliens was the sense of helplessness. The fear that the xenomorphs brought was undeniable. You find none of that here. With the exception of one decently designed level in the sewers of Hadley’s Hope where you are without weapons and must make your way through aliens that can only sense you by sound, you always have a host of weapons on your person. At one time I had eleven weapons at my disposal as well as grenades so any fear I would have from the aliens was non-existent because of me basically being an unstoppable badass. When there is no sense of dread, there is no Aliens.
The multiplayer is just an added on feature that feels like it is there because it is what is required in today’s games. Even the chance to play as the xenos trips up with huge balance issues that make the marines the hunters not the hunted. Sloppy controls hinder any kind of fun that could be gleaned off of this. Multiplayer runs well enough and I had no problem finding parties , but when it is as generic and stunted as this it would almost be a blessing if you couldn’t.
My Soul Hurts
Please do not be fooled by Aliens: Colonial Marines. You may read this and think this review is coming from a place of hate from an uber-fan, but I assure you this is not the case. While I am a fan of the highest regard for this film franchise I still went into Aliens with high hopes despite the hellish development stories and other reviews. I played this game with a set of rose colored glasses and still came out feeling like I had sh** thrown at me.
Beyond my wildest imagination I could not imagine that after six…damn…years that this game could have shipped like this. Even if Gearbox subbed out the game to secondary developers there should be more than what is offered up to gamers here. For a quick comparison here are some of the games that have come out in the last six years:
-Mass Effect trilogy
-Red Dead Redemption
-Grand Theft Auto 4
-BORDERLANDS 1 and 2 from Gearbox!!
Think of all the millions of hours and GOTY awards that have been split with this list of games over the past six years. How can anyone tell me that this game should have taken this long to make and come out this bad and broken? Even when the story takes a chance and reveals a MAJOR character long thought dead is actually alive, the explanation given is simply “that’s another story”. No it’s not!! That is the story! That’s why it is such a big deal!! And therein lies the problem with Aliens: Colonial Marines. We have waited so long for a great Aliens game and expectations were met with something unexpected.
NERD RATING- 4.5/10