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Aliens Colonial Marines: buggy hunt

Tuesday, 12 February 2013 09:01 GMT By Dave Cook

Aliens: Colonial Marines launches today. Dave Cook returns to LV-426 to find out if Gearbox Software’s shooter has been worth the long wait.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Developed by Gearbox Software, Aliens: Colonial Marines is the official canon sequel to James Cameron’s 1986 movie Aliens.

The game has a multiplayer season pass option and online DLC incoming. We covered the pass details here.

Multiplayer success does require tactical play. Gearbox released a trailer that showed teamwork in action here.

The game is also heading to Wii U before the end of March. Check out details of the release here.

Sega and Fox formally announced Colonial Marines in 2008. It’s been in development for over four years, but it’s not clear where that time has gone. Maybe we’ll never know the full story of why the game took so long to make, but the end result certainly raises many difficult questions.

Billed as the official sequel to James Cameron’s sci-fi Vietnam flick Aliens, Gearbox Software’s shooter certainly plays faithful tribute to the look and feel of the movie. James Horner’s rousing orchestral score gives gun battles a jolt of urgency, while the ravaged innards of space colony Hadley’s Hope look absolutely perfect.

The campaign kicks off above planet LV-426 as lead grunt Corporal Winter leads an expedition to the Sulaco, home to the Colonial Marines from the movie. It’s not long before you’ve encountered your first Xenomorph and got to grips with the Borderlands-esque control method. It all starts to fray at the seams once Weyland-Yutani mercs storm the ship and open fire.

While battling aliens is scrappy at best, tussling with human enemies makes it clear that many gamers owe Call of Duty an apology. Lots of people really dislike Activision’s shooter franchise, but you’d be hasty to honestly deny that it boasts one of the best twitch-FPS control mechanics going. Remember, I said ‘one of the best’, not ‘the best’, before you verbally skin me alive in the comments section.

Aliens: Colonial Marines’ human skirmishes feel old by comparison, like a game that truly did enter development in 2008 and somehow became trapped there like some vacuum-packed corn bread. Predictable AI sees enemies playing whack-a-mole from behind cover, as your Pulse Rifle judders around with some of the maddest recoil ever. It still sounds epic, mind you.

However, once that segment is done with, the game feels like it properly gets going for a few minutes down on LV-426, as you navigate through the Hadley’s Hope colony and across the planet’s surface. Battling Aliens never gets tiresome, but chances are it won’t be enough for technically-minded players to paper over the frequently aged textures and robotic facial animation. The lip sync is also dire at points.

There are moments during the colony section that feel as if they might break the tedium. One segment sees Winter cocooned and stripped of his weapons, forced to walk slowly and silently between slumbering xenomorphs for fear of kicking the hornet’s nest. It’s probably the most tense section of the campaign, but Gearbox really hasn’t pushed the fear button that hard. It might grip you at points, but never really falls into the horror genre.

Other moments that should have excelled end up falling flat. At one point Winter climbs inside a power loader mech and fights a Raven – a larger, more aggressive xenomorph – in a scene reminiscent of the movie’s climax. It’s terrible. The loader’s swipes are inaccurate, and there’s a lack of weight to the battle. It feels like a wasted opportunity to make something memorable.

Here’s a trailer showing some
marines kicking ass. Oorah! etc.

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a tricky game to assess as it pales when compared to shooters like Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty, but it isn’t really competing with either IP. When measured up against previous Aliens titles, it utterly smashes Rebellion’s woefully poor Aliens Vs Predator into a million little pieces like a certain robot in another James Cameron film. But that’s not saying much.

I’m even tempted to say – as a fan of the film – that Aliens: Colonial Marines surpasses the original Alien Vs Predator in terms of aesthetically staying true to the source material, all technical problems aside. If you’re a big fan of the film and you simply must play this game, I’d consider getting it on the cheap, but those coming from a general shooter background will pick holes in it throughout.

This criticism mostly come from bugs. I experienced a lot of them while playing. One mission asked me to find two squad mates – Bella and Reid – who were supposed to have wandered off and got lost, except their avatars were still standing in the room with me. It was bizarre.

Ammo and armour pick-ups stick out of or sink into the scenery, and therefore can’t be picked up. When knocked down into a last stand state your avatar’s head can be knocked through walls, blocking your vision, and some of the checkpoints early on are brutally spaced apart on harder difficulty settings.

What should have been a fun boss encounter saw a giant bull alien stuck stationary in one spot high above the map. All I had to do was shoot it from the ground until it keeled over and fell back to earth.

Bullets sometimes pass through foes and explosive weapons like grenades offer a pitiful blast radius. Anything less than a direct impact will guarantee a kill. Aliens will often ignore your AI team-mates and zero in on you, as if they don’t exist. The game fights you at every turn.

A little chat about online

By far the strongest element of the package is multiplayer. When battling through the campaign, players will level up, and this also ranks up their online character. Each level earned brings unlock points that can be spent on new weapon elements.

From reflex scopes and incendiary ammo, to stabilising stocks and underslung shotguns, there’s a welcome but curtailed assortment of gear to earn, as well as gun camos, solder faces and armour decals. Xenomorphs can also level up during multiplayer and they too will unlock different body hues.

Due to the tactical play on offer – Xenos swarming marines from hidden vantage points, or marines combine motion trackers and firearms to prepare for attacks – multiplayer best matches the tense vibe of the film.

Team Deathmatch is a hoot, the panicked rush of Escape mode – which I covered in detail here – is a genuine riot and Survivor is your obligatory 4v4 horde mode offering. Only Extermination falls flat due to the need for solid teamwork. Playing with strangers sees it descend into an irritating mess when trying to defend alien egg points from attack. Squad up if you can.

This multiplayer trailer shows off
Survivor mode. It’s 4v4 horde basically.

But is the game worth getting on multiplayer alone? Well, if you have friends who want to properly get into it then yes, try the co-op campaign to rank up, then get involved and working together in PvP. Everyone else should exert caution when considering a full price purchase.

This truly is a case of personal opinion. Speaking objectively, the game has many flaws and feels old, but that simplistic, old-school corridor vibe may still appeal to fans of the original Alien Vs Predator, and that’s about it. You could argue that the game feels almost quaint, but should we settle for second best in a year that will see polished shooters like Crysis 3 and BioShock Infinite go to market?

For every fleeting, enjoyable segment, there’s an irritating one waiting around the corner to dampen the mood. As a fan of the film I’m personally willing to overlook a handful of issues, but they’re too frequent and blatant to warrant £40-plus for the privilege.

I think – when stacked against technically superior shooters out there – a lot of people will feel like they’ve time travelled to 2008. Even then, there were better shooters knocking about. Aliens: Colonial Marines simply should have been better, and I’m genuinely intrigued to learn more about how the game ended up this way.

Disclosure: To write this appraisal, Sega sent Dave an Xbox 360 copy of Aliens: Colonial Marines. No other merchandise or advertising was offered or accepted.

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12 Comments

  1. ballz

    well i thought avp2010 was crap but this beats it in every aspect; who the heck will pay full price for this ahaha

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Paranormal Pett

    my pre-order turned up yesterday…..I’m a sad panda.

    Dave, did you get a lot of screen tear whilst playing? I seem to get an awful lot.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Dave Cook

    @2 I don’t pay attention to screen tear. It doesn’t hamper my enjoyment of games. There were many technical issues, let’s just say that.

    @1 It’s better than AvP 2010 imo.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Clupula

    Oddly, your review made me start to consider the game, simply because I’ve never liked modern FPS, but I love old school 9000 enemies all trying to kill me type FPS games. It’s why I think I’m one of the few people out there who actually really enjoyed Clive Barker’s Jericho, except for the ending. And bugs can always be patched…

    Not at full price, mind you. But eventually…

    #4 2 years ago
  5. manamana

    Just wanted to thank you Dave. For your overall sincerity and the precautios “not *the* best” part. You need to be hugged, man. ;-)

    Btw: It urges me to play that broken beast, am I ill?

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @5 Hah, thanks :D Honesty is what you get with me, seriously. If it’s bad I’ll tell you it’s bad.

    I’m sometimes honest to a fault though, you can see that in my arguments with some reader. I mean no harm by it, just speak my mind before I have a chance to think.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. ArcticMonkey

    Gearbox should’ve cancelled this game, maybe they couldn’t contractually? But this hurts their name brand… This and Duke Nukem, gamers know the story, but their name is on the box.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. ninjanutta

    Its playable but i didnt pay for it and it dont look bad on pc.It just is not very good at all,5/10

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Andytizer

    Bugs, fixes and workarounds for PC version: http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Aliens:_Colonial_Marines – including intro skipping, Steam failed to start and disable mouse smoothing.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. OlderGamer

    Like I said yesterday, a good game to pick up on a steam sale. Taking a pass at launch. This was one of the only big box games I had on my list for the year, how sad is that?

    #10 2 years ago
  11. ps3fanboy

    Gearbox have totally fucked up the Alien game, it is outrageous!. They can fuck off and their Borderland crap is overrated too… i ain’t buying another game from YOU ASSHOLES!!

    #11 2 years ago
  12. GavinUK86

    I really like the game. It has that old school shooter vibe that I miss. The atmosphere is spot on too. I’m playing the PC version of course, I did try the 360 one but that was truly awful.

    #12 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Evolve’s fourth monster, the Behemoth, as well as the four new hunters are shown off in new gameplay video. Evolve’s latest gameplay trailer gives everyone a good look at each of the four new hunters and the massive Behemoth monster. The hunters can be bought either separately or though the hunting pass, while the monster […]

  • PS4 firmware update 2.50 causing issues with Killzone: Shadow Fall

    The suspend/resume feature in PlayStation 4′s 2.50 firmware update is causing some issues with Killzone: Shadow Fall. Killzone: Shadow Fall developer Guerrilla has said that the game is experiencing some issues in some instance where the suspend/resume feature is used. The timing of when players put the game in suspend mode does have an effect, […]

  • Bungie on Destiny matchmaking: “We believe there’s no substitute for a pre-made team”

    Crazy though this may seem, it’s possible that Destiny shipped according to plan. History points to community as a crucial component, far from the contingency that many now suspect. Paul Davies spoke to Bungie for clarity. “The community always engineers the best solutions for bringing players together. While Matchmaking is a great resource for introducing […]

  • Bloodborne works with suspend/resume, but only offline

    PlayStation 4′s newly-added suspend/resume feature works with Bloodborne as you’d expect, but only while offline. PlayStation 4 received the long-awaited suspend/resume feature today as part of firmware 2.50, and people are starting to test it out with various games. Bloodborne does work with the feature, but only if you play offline. Playing online is arguably […]

  • This is what Crossy Road looks like in first-person

    Crossy Road is fun and addictive. But in first-person, it’s mostly frightening. YouTube user Andy Front Films likes Crossy Road so much he decided to show off what it would look like in first-person. If crossing roads quickly and watching around for cars and trains, all of this as the camera chases you felt intense […]

  • Take a small behind-the-scenes peek at Mass Effect 4

    BioWare cinematic director Ken Thain has given us a very slim look behind the scenes at some motion capture work from the upcoming Mass Effect game. The upcoming Mass Effect game, whether it ends up being called Mass Effect 4 or not, will most definitely incorporate some form of motion capture work. How do we […]

  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – 8GB day one patch on PS4, 16GB on Xbox One

    Day one patches for Borderlands: The Handsome Collection are pretty hefty. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection require players to download lots of gigabytes to make the experience as smooth as possible. The PlayStation 4 version has an 8.31GB day one patch. The Xbox One version however has […]

  • Get a PlayStation 4 with Bloodborne and The Last of Us for $435

    If you’ve been waiting for the perfect game to get to buy a PlayStation 4, there’s no better time than the present. Amazon is offering a good PlayStation 4 bundle at the moment. For $434.99, you get a PlayStation 4 console, The Last of Us, and Bloodborne. The Last of Us is of course the […]

  • Upcoming Battlefield Hardline patch to nerf the K10, buff battle rifles

    Battlefield Hardline’s first patch will focus on weapon balance and a few changes have been proposed. Battlefield Hardline lead multiplayer designer Thaddeus Sasser posted a few of the balance changes that the team is considering for the next patch. K10: reduce bullet damage to 33 Saiga and PTR: reduce recoil to bring more in line […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and a new Resident Evil game coming this year, according to research firm

    According to digital games analyst SuperData, a new Resident Evil game is due this fall and that this year’s Call of Duty is Black Ops 3. In its latest report on digital console games, research and analytics firm SuperData revealed that a new Resident Evil is coming this fall. “We anticipate this month’s downturn to […]

  • Bloodborne: you can add gestures to your messages

    As players get deeper into Bloodborne, they keep uncovering so many of its little new additions, including this one. Bloodborne, like all of the Souls games before it, allows players to leave messages for other players. These messages could be used to point players towards impending doom, treasure, or just be sarcastic and witty. What […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 is now live

    PlayStation 4 firmware update version 2.50 has started rolling out. Reports are coming in saying that Yukimura, PlayStation 4′s firmware 2.50 has been made available to download. The update is clocking in at just 245mb, so get downloading. 2.50 brings with it many new additions, including the suspend/resume feature, backup and restore, accessibility options and […]

  • Harley Quinn DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight is a prequel

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s Harley Quinn pre-order DLC is set before the events of the main game, according to Amazon’s description. Today we learned a few details about the pre-order DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight, namely the Harley Quinn one. According to the description on Amazon, the DLC takes place in the lead-up to the events […]

  • Bloodborne Vicar Amelia summon mystery solved

    Bloodborne players unable to summon near Vicar Amelia: here’s your solution. Bloodborne’s secrets are unfolding by the hour as clever players piece together From Software’s cunning design. Yesterday we reported problems summoning in the Cathedral Ward, before the Vicar Amelia boss fight. It turns out this isn’t a bug – or if it is, it’s […]

  • Steven Spielberg will direct film adaption of Ready Player One

    Steven Spielberg will direct the film adaption of the sci-fi, virtual world, video game themed novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film in June 2010 and hired screenwriter Zak Penn to rewrite the previous draft written by Eric Eason, according to Deadline. The book takes place in […]

  • Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets shouldn’t forget about the custom audio

    Here’s a friendly reminder for Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets: be sure to download the Headset Companion App from the PlayStation store if you haven’t already. As previously reported, the game supports a custom Bloodborne audio mode which can be uploaded. It contains custom audio created by developers specifically tuned to enhance the audio. This […]

  • EA explains why FIFA Ultimate Team transfer prices are now platform specific

    EA has posted a blog entry explaining its FIFA Ultimate Team transfer market price ranges which now include platform-specific pricing in order to best the coin sellers. EA said it has implemented the changes to FUT over the last several weeks because it should be “fair and fun for every player,” ultimately coming to the […]

  • Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness now available

    In case you forgot, Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness was released today. It is available on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The third episode releases on iOS devices and Android tomorrow, March 26. The Sword in the Darkness finds Asher Forrester heading to Mereen […]

  • Bloodborne players are already documenting their crazy antics

    Bloodborne has been available for almost two days now in North America, and already players are posting interesting clips and character customization choices for the game. Below are interesting takes on creating a character and videos of a frustrating death and another full of blood coming from a very painful place – monster or not. […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team celebrates sixth year in existence with giveaways

    FIFA Ultimate Team is celebrating its sixth year in existence with special events running from today until March 29. According to EA, every FUT fan will be handed one free pack every day, and those who play at least one match in the FUT Birthday Cup will have a chance to win rare “tradable In-Forms” […]

  • Halo Online is a F2P PC game in development exclusively for Russia – video

    Halo Online is a free-to-play game which will launch this spring in Russia, and is in development with Saber Interactive. According the reveal event attended by IGN Russia, the game was designed to run well on lower-end PCs and runs on a modified Halo 3 engine. The game is set on a secret UNSC space […]

  • SteamWorld Dig Xbox One release expected in late May

    SteamWorld Dig is coming to Xbox One, developer Image & Form has announced. A firm release date hasn’t been announced, but the studio expects the title to arrive on the system in late May. “We’re preparing quite an elaborate Easter egg for the Xbox One version – a gaming thing that we really wanted to […]

  • SMITE celebrating first anniversary with a sale on skins, Ultimate God Pack

    Hi-Rez Studios is celebrating the first anniversary of SMITE with a sale. From today through Friday, March 27, the Ultimate God Pack, which includes all current and future Gods, will run you $19.99. Alll individual pre-launch skins are 50% off, and all Gem Packs will award bonus gems. In addition, from March 27-29, all SMITE […]

  • Borderlands 2 has sold around 12 million copies, says Gearbox

    Speaking with Microsoft’s Major Nelson in his podcast, Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford stated Borderlands 2 has sold somewhere around the 12 million mark. As of August 2014, it was announced by Take-Two in its financial report the 2012 game had sold-in 10 million units. Pitchford noted in the podcast he learned of the figures […]

  • Broken Age releasing on PS4 and Vita same day as Act 2 on PC

    Double Fine Productions has announced it will release Broken Age on the PlayStation Store next month. Act 2 will also be released on PC. The full Broken Age adventure will release on PlayStation 4 and Vita on April 28 in North America and April 29 in Europe. It features cross-buy and cross-save. Broken Age Act […]

  • Star Citizen earned another $1 million within two weeks – total hits $76 million

    Star Citizen continues its funding streak with backers pumping another $1 million into the game’s development in the last two weeks. The total earned for the space sim has now reached $76 million ($76,015,532 to be exact) with 851,395 backers contributing to the staggering figure. Star Citizen’s latest update was version 1.1 which included two […]

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline top Media Create charts

    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline were the big ticket debuts during the March 16-2 period in Japan, with each game claiming the top three slots on the Media Create charts, respectively. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD moved 92,094 on PlayStation 4, while Resident Evil Revelations 2 moved 73,373 units on […]

  • You can now learn English or Spanish on Xbox One with the Rosetta App

    Want to learn English or Spanish? Rosetta Stone has an App for that on Xbox One. According to the language teaching firm, Rosetta Stone’s Discover Languages, the new application teaches English and Spanish by way of immersive simulation. Users will virtually travel to learn vocabulary and grammar “necessary for real-world interactions.” Here’s how it works: […]

  • PayDay 2 and PayDay: The Heist have sold over 9 million units combined

    The PayDay franchise is a lucrative IP for Starbreeze and Overkill, as both games combined have sold over 9 million copies as of November 2014. The company has also sold over 8 million paid DLC packages since PayDay 2 was released in 2013 (via NeoGAF). In its Q2 half year report issued in February, net […]

  • Nintendo wants to “surprise” customers with NX, not expand upon existing hardware

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has firm wants to “surprise” players with its new NX system. Speaking in an interview with Nikkei, translated by Kotaku, Iwata wouldn’t go into details on the new system, but stated expanding on a current gaming system would be “dull.” “In the past few years, the idea of what [encompasses] a […]

  • Kojima Station show suspended

    In another episode in the the ongoing kerfuffle between Hideo Kojima and Konami, the publisher has suspended the Kojima Station web show. Recent tweets from the newly created Japanese Metal Gear Solid account confirm that Kojima Station will not be broadcast tomorrow, but would not provide a date for the next episode. The Tweets were […]

  • Watch Battle Royale for free this weekend on Xbox Live

    Square Enix is celebrating the launch of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD by offering Xbox Live members in the UK a free rental of Battle Royale. Starting Saturday, March 28 and through Sunday, March 29, Xbox Live members in the UK will be able to rent Battle Royale through the Xbox Video Store, for free. The […]

  • Bloodborne journal, part 1: managing anxiety on the path to the Cleric Beast

    Bloodborne is both like and unlike the Souls games. Brenna descends into Yharnam with reluctance and trepidation. Need help succeeding in Bloodborne? You need our Bloodborne walkthrough and boss guide. Bloodborne isn’t Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls. Let’s get that out of the way right off. I enjoyed both Dark Souls games, but it was […]