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Aliens: Colonial Marines Review

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On 03/12/2013 at 10:00 AM by Jon Lewis

Game Over Man!

Not recommended, unless you NEED everything that is Aliens.

Unlike most reviewers, I feel like I had a unique perspective going into Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines. My fandom of the series only reaches back a few months, when friends recommended that I check out Alien and Aliens. While both movies were great, I didn’t really have the grasp on the series like most that grew up with the franchise. Also unlike most that went into this game, I didn’t have the chance to play it until after the backlash. Reports of the game being horrendous can be found everywhere, and while I agree to an extent, I feel that the majority of this game’s lackluster reception is due to the lofty expectations of diehard Aliens fans. However, nothing can stop Alien’s Colonial Marines from being a generic shooting experience that fell way below the standards of a great game.

In one of the most startling things I’ve ever seen in a licensed property, Colonial Marines takes advantage of the established cannon for the Aliens franchise and does whatever it wants with it, regardless of how much it doesn’t make sense. In the beginning, you are established as a soldier known as Winter who joins his fellow marines once they find that the USS Sulaco (the ship many Aliens fans are familiar with) is in Orbit over the planet LV-426, rather than planet Fury-161 like it should be. The thing that bothered me the most about this plot point is that it is never clearly described why this is happening, and they literally in game give you the “I don’t know why, but it doesn’t matter” treatment. Even as someone who isn’t fully invested in the Aliens lore, it’s frustrating to see such little thought poured into details that matter.

The rest of the game has players pairing up with other marines in order to figure out the mysteries around this ship and Corporal Hicks’s distress signal. The game attempts to create engaging characters that are likable, but rather than growing attached, I began to grow annoyed with them.  If anything, they were written well in the context of an Aliens movie, but in a game the same quirks just didn’t work. These characters came off as whiny, unlikable, and overall dull. Characters like O’Neal became memorable, but for the completely wrong reasons (bad dialogue and terrible AI).

The plot became even more disappointing to me when you consider the promises laid out by Gearbox’s staff. They claimed to provide an original cast of engaging characters, and they promised not to rely on already established characters from the movies. This is just completely false, as the game relies heavily on established characters, even bringing some back from the dead just to fulfill their plot points.

The plot and characters are indeed ridiculous, but the gameplay I must say isn’t as terrible as people said. If anything, it’s extremely generic. Levels often consist of mowing down enemies with the marines' almost broken arsenal of weapons. Aliens mindlessly rush you with no real strategy or logic to their actions. The game's other nemeses, which consist of rouge marines, mostly shoot at you, hoping to take you down because of their numbers. I say mostly, because often you will see marines just standing there waiting to get shot down. It’s really bad, but it was good for a laugh. I had quite a few over the course of my 5 hour play through. In short, the AI is quite awful.

One redeeming factor came in one of the earlier levels. This level strips you of your weapons and has you trying to dodge and run away from blind and raging Aliens. This section was surprisingly tense and even scary at parts. I easily enjoyed this section more than any other part of the game solely because it did something different and interesting with the mechanics.

One that was disappointingly underused was the motion tracker. While its major purpose is to locate Aliens, you cannot use that and your gun at the same time, so using it isn’t as effective as it should be. I used it to find objectives most of the time, rather than enemies.

There's also multiplayer, which has a decent wealth of game types. Normally, each mode puts one team in the shoes of marines, while the other team plays as the Aliens as they face off in game types like Team Death Match, and a new mode called Escape, where the marines try to reach an evac point while the Aliens hunt them down. This had potential to be fun, but I got just as bored with that experience. Aliens are flat out un-fun to play as, and are considerably weaker than humans (with a few exceptions), while the marines use the same by the numbers gameplay from campaign. There are glimmers of opportunity in the multiplayer, but overall I feel like they were missed.

Aliens: Colonial Marines was a huge disappointment. It was nothing like I expected, and did nothing to make me appreciate the franchise any more. If anything, it caused me to not care. The gameplay, while not broken, will likely not steal any fans from more polished shooting experiences like Halo and Call of Duty, and its campaign will likely not draw many fans in. I have a hard time recommending this one at all, so unless you literally HAVE to consume anything that is Aliens, this one is best passed on.


Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Matt Snee Staff Writer

03/12/2013 at 11:06 AM

what a waste.... a fine license, a bad game....


03/12/2013 at 11:15 AM

Luckily there was aliens infestation a couple years back...  when this game was supposed to come out.


03/12/2013 at 11:16 AM

How are the aliens weaker than humans? DId the people behind this game even bother watching the movies? Those things are insanely powerful! Even their blood is acid. This game sounds horrible lol.

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

03/12/2013 at 11:30 AM

The screenshots we have might not be a fair representation of actual in-game footage... just saying.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

03/12/2013 at 11:34 AM

yeah, the game looks nothing like those screenshots...kinda funny actually

Chris Yarger Community Manager

03/12/2013 at 12:58 PM

Overall though.. The game wasn't THAT bad.. It would've been well worth it if it were to have been released as a B-Side game and starting at $29.99.

Sure, the game sucked, but I still thought that it was at least worth a rental for the die-hard Alien fans.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

03/12/2013 at 04:52 PM

I can agree to an extent. the game is totally functional, and plays alright, and that once sequence i mentioned was pretty cool. However I just feel that there are tons of games that do it better, and that Aliens fans would be more upset than anything after seeing what they did with the story.


03/13/2013 at 01:50 PM

I agree with Yargz.  Add on that if you're new to shooters and like the Aliens theme it could be a fun experience if released cheaper.


03/12/2013 at 01:42 PM

That is disappointing, I kept up with this game awhile back and had high hopes for it. Well Ill just add it to my rental list on blockbuster.


03/12/2013 at 05:55 PM

This game was a clusterf***. Apparently, Gearbox took the money they were supposed to be using to make A:CM, palmed it off to other developers, and used Sega's money for Borderlands 1 and 2. Sega should get royalties for BL1 and 2.


03/14/2013 at 08:39 AM

It's so disappointing becuase It's so close yet so far from being the Aliens game I ve always wanted:

Design true to the films: Check

Authentic sounds: Check (though I am really disappointed that the aliens 'elephant noise' is absent when you shoot them)

seeing awesome bits from the movie: check

Then they decide to just put a potentially awesome product on sale half finished. Thats my biggest gripe with ACM, its not a bad game, it's just massively unfinished, and after six years development that is just appauling.


03/14/2013 at 02:06 PM

So much for a good aliens game. I was hoping this game would have been better because who doesnt want to go out and kill aliens? It sucks that this game was not done right.

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