The motion tracker bleeps. And again. You know something’s moving and it’s close to you, maybe a couple of doors down from the blood soaked room you’re standing in. It’s dark, you can’t see anything – There’s no point going back, the only way forward is to continue. Bleep. You slowly approach the dot on the motion tracker, trigger finger to the ready. Bleep. Bleep Bleep Bleep. It’s a towel stuck on a ceiling fan.
The above was one of my favourite moments in Aliens: Colonial Marines. A moment of uneasiness, the tension slowly building and a moment where your imagination is doing all the work for the game. Any fan of the Alien series will appreciate the work that has obviously been lovingly poured into the game to make it full of little fan moments and easter eggs, as well as making the locations as familiar as possible. Unfortunately there’s a lot for fans, and anyone who’s played a FPS in the last 10 years, to get annoyed and frustrated about as well.
You see, the Xenomorphs are simply not scary. They’re not intelligent, they’re not hunters. They’re just cannon fodder with blood that can hurt you if you stand on one of their corpses. They move and look somewhat as you remember them with a couple of jagged frames of animation, but the death animation is the equivalent of a toddler throwing their toys out the pram. The guns are also too powerful, mowing down tens of the things in only a few seconds, or the shotgun killing most enemies with one shot no matter where they are in the room. This also presents a problem when facing human enemies (which happens more often than I’d like in Aliens games), as their guns can suddenly mow you down in only a couple or even a single, if played on the highest difficulty of shots.
It’s not all bad though, there are a few times where the action is fun and it’s a very nostalgic game to play (regenerating health is out, the hunt for health packs are back. Your character can carry his whole armoury of weapons with him and can change weapons whenever he likes). In fact, the game occasionally plays like an Alien mod to Duke Nukem 3D and although that’s a very bizarre thing, it’s something that occasionally can be fun.
I’d seen the multiplayer showcased at a couple of shows and always wondered why the Sega team would play as the Xenomorphs for the majority of the time. That was until playing the multiplayer for myself to find that unless the Xenomorph team is very experienced, the Marines are more than likely to win every match. The teams are random, so you’re never quite sure what kind of team you’re playing with until the match has been deemed unwinnable. Multiplayer is very fun when there’s only a couple of marines to a whole team of Xenomorph’s though, so if matches were purposely made so the Xenomorphs would outnumber the marines, I feel the fund would increase ten fold.
The whole game is a real shame, as you can really tell there were true fans of the films behind the game. There’s so many call backs to the movie series and it’s the closest we’ve come to actually exploring scenes from the film. These parts are always handled very well and you always get the sense it was made for the fans, by fans. Which makes the bad sides of the game stick out even more.
Unfortunately Aliens: Colonial Marines contains many good ideas and elements of a great license game that are executed poorly enough to make it a substandard game. Fans will get something out of Aliens: Colonial Marines but it won’t be a whole lot of fun to do so.
+ Easter Eggs.
+ Great locations.
– Bad AI.
- Several (gameplay) bugs mixed with poor animations.
- Obvious scripted enemy spawns ruins atmosphere.
- Xenomorph’s not scary.