Aliens: Colonial Marines Review XBox 360
One of the biggest movie franchises is back this time in a first person shooter that is set directly after the Alien’s 1986 film and acts as a direct sequel. Gearbox has been working on the game “for a number of years” and my expectations were set high as the Gearbox team working on the game have a large soft spot for the movies.
The overall design is awesome as any Aliens fan would expect. Most of the textures and level design are akin to the movies to such a degree that you feel like you’re actually watching the first movie. Except no where near as good.
When it comes to cell-shaded games and cartoonish animation, Gearbox are the leaders of the pack. However, with CGI animation on humans they seem to leave a lot to be desired.
The first cut scene had me wishing it was more Borderlands 2 styled, as the faces bore no expression and it seemed as though the animators had been watching too much South Park (Terrance and Phillip’s flappy heads when talking) and tried to mix that with CGI humans. I was taken out of the games atmosphere due to this as all I could thinks was “puppets are more entertaining than these “marines”.
However, the game has many flaws. The aliens are too skinny and some textures vanish from them and also some of the background from time to time. I shot an alien point blank with a shotgun, only to seemingly blow off half it’s head and all of it’s heads textures, leaving behind what looked like dropping something into a glass of milk. In one of the cut scenes after you crash land on a planet, you get to hear only ONE side of a conversation and most of the time you find yourself having to constantly turn the sound up for the cut scenes and then back down for the action. This was more than frustrating, it felt like the audio engineers didn’t bother to even test portions of the game or that no one bothered to test the game and although the fan service is very high, its no substitute for overall game quality
Leveling has been introduced in the game, probably due to how much we all raved about Borderlands 2 and due to the popularity of COD, BF3 and other FPS games. In ACM the leveling has no impact on your stats at all, however your weapons level up allowing for attachments such as a spring loaded stock, laser sights, iron sights and other useful attachments you should expect from FPS games.
Its rather interesting that Gearbox decided to implement this into the single player though, as we would usually see this feature in multiplayer only or being able to purchase attachments with in-game currency. I just do not see the point of leveling up for attachments. I assume that they didn’t want to put a “store” or some kind of character in the game to do that job, as it would not be fitting for an aliens game.
The weapons look mostly like they do in the movies and have some good and bad like any game, okay that was a lie. Mostly bad.
Grenades are grenades. You throw them, they go boom. You can cook them (prime and hold before you throw to shorten fuse time), but don’t hold too long or your face will be spread all over the wall.
The Pulse Rifle (famous from the movies) makes you feel like your Marine is drunk. These are seasoned, hardened marines that cant seem to aim, even when standing still. The reticule when you zoom moves around that you’re not able to hit head shots except by chance, and even headshots don’t one shot kill.
The shotgun is as you would expect, amazing at close range and does the job it should, mostly it seemed a close quarters one shot kill VS other humans, against aliens it was a three shot kill so it was not that bad. However, you rarely get the chance to get up close and personal with other humans, as they tend to have each other covered from firing points so you never want to risk it, making this gun an “alien killer” only.
The Plasma Rifle the fact that its too slow to fire on anything means this gun is ineffective. Maybe if aliens all stood still? Avoid this weapon at all costs.
Hand guns are hand guns, ineffective for the most part and mostly useless.
Ammo is spread all around the levels and though at times your favourite gun may run out of ammo, you always have a back up gun ready to spread Aliens on the walls.
Motion Tracker: and this is where they get it right, but how could you not? The motion tracker can be a little confusing, but it shows everything from enemy positions and ammo, to mission objectives.
In one level though you get a “Smart Gun” that has a HUD that seeks out enemies, the target finder freaks out with multiple targets and seems like it was designed like that to balance out the “god mode” gun, otherwise that part of the level would be far too easy no matter what difficulty you were on. Also in the level that you get it, my smart gun dropped out of my hands half way through and there was no reason given. Maybe I reached the end of the level where it was needed. The frustrating part was that it dropped halfway through a corridor right when a swarm was headed my way. In another level you get a Flame Thrower that seemingly runs out far before it’s useful.
And just when you were wondering what else was thrown in to the level design pot, a level has you being forced to sneak with no weapons past Xenomorphs and resulted in getting killed a number of frustrating times as they awoke and tore me limb from limb.
I was rather sad that you only get to use a loader twice and both of those times the game ejects you from it when the encounter or use is over. Really? Guys, this is the STATUE you produced for the CE, let us use it! Also, no use of the APC or any of the cool vehicles. I feel an APC mission would have been amazing.
I only just touched on multiplayer, but it was long enough to get frustrated and wanting to throw my controller. I jumped into a team death match and was assigned as a Xenomorph, the one thing I do like is the fact that the controls are displayed for the class you wish to choose (3 to choose from). However, no matter what I did the human team cut me down before I could even reach them. Time and again, I was blown apart over and over for a score of 11 deaths, one kill and wondering why developers insist on putting multiplayer in almost every game these days.
If your a fan of the franchise, and I mean a die hard “All I ever talk about at parties and social events is Aliens” fan, then this is the game for you.
The pacing of the game is varied enough between moody suspense and frantic action. The overall design of the visuals are amazingly accurate due to Gearbox’s love of the franchise and obtaining original design documents to design the game from) and the weapons design is exactly as it should be, and mixed with a game that finally gets the motion sensor just right, makes you as a fan feel right at home in the Aliens universe.
For everyone else though, this game will disappoint you and you get the feeling that all the love in the world made the developer biased and overall hurt the game more than it helped. I can’t help but start to wonder what else Gearbox has been working on for a number of years that I need to avoid in the future. I’m a big fan of Aliens (the movie), however all the fan service in ACM is unable to make up for the flaws in the game, especially being a big FPS fan. The main focus with any FPS game should be getting the guns right. They are the main feature and they need to work well, not be frustratingly unable to hit a target so you end up spam-firing.
This style of game is not dead, but when your character models are from 1995 it just does not fly with gamers. No facial expressions on your actors means that the emotional investment is non-existent. The game play is not varied enough and feels like the usual “on rails” shooter than companies continue to pass off each year.
5/10 Face Huggers.