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Aliens: Colonial Marines PS3 Review

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating


Aliens: Colonial Marines

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Image © Sega
There is a visceral power for gamers of my generation in the opening minutes of Sega's highly-anticipated and long-delayed FPS action game, "Aliens: Colonial Marines." That's Hicks! And he's talking about Newt & Ripley! It's like "Alien 3" never happened. As much as I'll defend David Fincher's third film in the "Alien Quadrilogy" (which is more than most people), I'll never forget that sinking feeling when hardcore fans of "Alien" and "Aliens" realized that they were basically going to discard all that came before. After everything that went down in "Aliens," Hicks & Newt were just killed between movies?!?! No way! It felt like a cinematic crime. And so the fact that Sega and the developers of "Colonial Marines" were going to pick up after "Aliens" and give us more of what that movie offered while keeping with canon of the series...well, the potential for greatness was immense. And then the game really gets going. There are times when "Aliens: Colonial Marines" is straight-up broken or incomplete. It's a mess, a game that bears the mark of a title that was passed around through different developers for years and chopped like a bad movie that no one wanted to release. There are pure action elements that work here for those of you looking for a solid FPS but only the most hardcore "Alien" fan would call this anything but a wasted opportunity.

Game Details

  • 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


Aliens: Colonial Marines

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Image © Sega

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.

Graphics & Sound

Wow, "Aliens: Colonial Marines" looks awful. There have already been some patches to fix the creatures that can move through closed doors or spin around like breakdancers after they die but all the patches in the world can't fix all of the lackluster design on display here. Creature and NPC movement is awkward. Ship design is virtually non-existent -- it looks a template called "'00s Sci-Fi Game." Enough of the action in "ACM" has a kick that if there had been effort put into the design of the creatures and environments then the game could have clicked together. As is, there's always something to remind you that the developers here were simply lazy in its creation.


Aliens: Colonial Marines

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Image © Sega
"Aliens: Colonial Marines" should have been such a slam dunk that its failures have become even brighter in the eyes of some critics. Most of the reviews so far have been downright brutal. Too much so. The game has undeniable flaws that only the most loyal fan of the franchise would ignore but it is not impossible to look beyond them and enjoy the title as pure sci-fi FPS action. One just wishes it had been so much more than only that.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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