- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Gearbox Software
- ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
- Release Date: February 12, 2013
- Website: Aliens: Colonial Marines
- Genres: FPS, Action, Co-op, Multiplayer
- Pros: Clever Concept, Great World, "Aliens" Canon
- Cons: Nearly Incomplete, Dull Action, Looks Like a 2006 Game
It is after "Aliens" and a distress signal is received from Hicks (Michael Biehn in the Cameron film). A group of United States Colonial Marines travels to the U.S.S. Solaco, orbiting LV-426 and, of course, covered in aliens. Xenomorphs drop from the ceiling, crawl out of grates, and spit acid at every soldier that crosses their path. And if shooting the aliens that haunted America's dreams in the '80s isn't enough, enemy soldiers hired by the infamous Weyland-Yutani Corporation are trying to kill you too. Why? Don't ask questions. This is not a game built on plot. It's built on alien on human on human combat. And in multiplayer mode, you even get to control Xenomorphs. Maybe that will stop the bad dreams
Just hearing names like Bishop, Hicks, and Weyland-Yutani in a video game has a nostalgic punch for those of us who bow at the altar of Ridley Scott and James Cameron's sci-fi masterpieces. The sound of a pod opening slowly to release a face-sucker. The whip of a Xeno tail in the corner of your eye or the clank of a grate opening somewhere nearby that indicates you're not alone -- these are inherently powerful tools of suspense for the right developer and there are times when just the concept of "Colonial Marines" allows for entertainment value.
However, a game is not concept. There are nearly too many flawed elements of "Aliens: Colonial Marines" to count. From the very first cut scene in which the voice work and cut scene animation don't seem in sync, it feels like something is wrong. Call it a rush job (although given the delays that seems unlikely) or just the mark of a game that has been in development so long that it looks and plays like something that would have been more acceptable in 2008.
And it's not just the truly mediocre look of the game. Every few minutes brings a new annoyance. The checkpoints are bizarrely spaced. You have to be right over armor and weapon pick-ups and looking down at them. Enemy cover is magical -- a red dot on the forehead doesn't matter if he's crouching down behind a box. Aliens will literally flash into frame, not dropping from the sky or coming from the ground -- as if a cloaking device was turned off. By the time I saw two aliens sharing the same space, one's head moving over the other, I had to come to expect it.
It might not be so tragic that the game looks as incomplete as it does if the actual storytelling and mission design were more inspired. There's a whole lot of "guard me while I open this door" and nearly every level is disappointingly linear in construction. However, I'd be lying if I didn't say that I sometimes got a kick out of shotgun blasting a Xenomorph and it's made even more entertaining in a multiplayer mode like Team Deathmatch, which pits marines against aliens. Yes, killing three aliens in a row in the campaign is more fun than it should be but it doesn't compare to when you know there are three angry people cursing your screen name after you do it.