Aliens: Colonial Marines review

When a game have Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen attached – two people who were involved in the “Aliens” movie which the game is a continuation of – they have a lot of the right ingredients for something amazing, yet they fail to utilize that potential.

To be frank, whenever I see the word Aliens, whether it’s attached to rather terrible movies like “Prometheus” or video games based on the original Ridley Scott movie I really cannot help but feel a bubble of childish excitement. You see, I grew up watching the Alien movies, so I have a really close relationship with the Aliens universe. So suffice to say, I was stoked when I heard a new Aliens game was coming out. Around release day I heard so many horrible stories about how disappointing it was, but I absolutely refused to let myself believe it completely. I wanted to at least see it for myself.

All the right ingredients, what went wrong?

When you emerge into the game everything is kind of a blur because you have a hard time figuring out where you are, and where you’re going. Michael Biehn’s wonderful voice soars out through the speakers, letting you know that the events taking place in this game are a continuation of the second Alien movie by James Cameron.

Biehn’s character from the movie Aliens, Cpl. Hicks lets you know that he’s escaped with two females and an android. The marines need help on LV-426. So, in terms of enticing you for an action game I think they did pretty darn well. But the plot falls flat on its face when you see the actual gameplay… I cannot even describe properly without using profanity how terrible the level design is. Not to mention the graphics are mind numbingly terrible.

This even considering the gun and sound design is spot on – in fact I did squee just a little bit when I fired my first shots after an Alien. The pure nostalgia in that sound, is really amazing. The shotgun as well was so true to the Aliens movie but it just isn’t enough when you want to gouge out your eyes every time you walk into a new playspace.

You know, I did notice a lot of great things; like the personal writing on the marine’s armor which I think were a great nod to Cameron’s Aliens where he told the actors who were portraying marines to make their costumes as personal as they wanted to. Or even the fact that the motion detector is really true to the movie as well, but it doesn’t quite work as you would expect it to.

Essentially there are a lot of smaller things that have been paid attention to in Aliens: Colonial Marines, but that doesn’t really matter when the characters are one-dimensional, their lips don’t move – makes me remember the early Resident Evil games just for the sheer lack of any facial expression – and that the level design is so wretched that you wish this game didn’t exist. In all honesty it seems like a really outdated and forgettable game. It doesn’t have enough nostalgia to be awesome or enough forward thinking to be an enjoyable experience.

What were they thinking?

I can’t believe that with such star studded (in Alien lore terms) voice acting, Sega and Gearbox couldn’t manage to make a better game. They do in fact have so many things going for them; point in fact, Lance Henriksen and Michael Biehn… How is it possible to muck something like that up?

When you pitch an idea to update the Aliens saga, make sure that you actually have a story that would make sense or give you some sense of accomplishment. I never felt like I was getting anywhere, even when I got higher ranks and upgraded stuff. It wasn’t even until the end of the game that I felt I was actually getting the real Aliens experience. The first half of the game rushes through everything and Xenomorphs are coming from every angle, yet you feel neither scared nor excited. It’s just a haze of badly shaped pixels that sometimes have the “look” of an Alien, so disappointing.

The game was originally planned for a release in 2009, and it feels exactly like that – a game from 2009. It is just so horribly underdeveloped, like a child that didn’t get the right instructions when growing up so it’s stuck in a beta-phase, which is such a shame. It had the real potential to be amazing.

Final thoughts

With Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen on board, this should have been a dream project for all fans of the Aliens saga. Ever since that quiet disappointment of Prometheus, I thought this game would be the one to bring back the excitement of James Cameron’s action adventure. But instead it just falls short in every aspect that it can. I really really wanted to love it, but I had to claw my way through most of the game… Not because of difficulty or frustration, but because I quite frankly rather wanted to watch paint dry than spend a second more on this game. Sorry Cameron, Biehn, Henriksen and not to mention H.R. Giger (the creator of the Xenomorphs). It’s probably better for all of us if we pretend this doesn’t exist. Cheers!

Hit; The little details throughout the game, especially the sound design and the personalization of the NPC’s armor was a great addition and I’m glad that made it in. It did at least make it feel like it was Aliens inspired.

Miss; Graphics feels unfinished. There are so many glitches, NPC’s teleport before your very eyes, and the game feels terribly rushed in general. Which is crazy since it was so long underway.

Need; A creepy and intense atmosphere. Something that builds up slowly instead of just throwing you into a mayhem that doesn’t really make sense.

Written by

26, gamer and all around fun loving girl. Freelance video game reviewer and lover of everything nerdy. Currently getting a Master's Degree in Experience Design and my free moments are spent on gaming, having fun, traveling and loving life! Stay Nerd people!

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