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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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    The Alpinestars Car Pack for Forza Horizon 2 is out now on Xbox One and its the only way you will ever be able to afford a 1992 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport. Unless, of course, you win the lottery or are left in some rich person’s will. In that case, I’ll take the ’53 Corvette, […]

  • Shadow of Mordor – Game of the Year Edition is now available in North America

    Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Game of the Year Edition has been released in North America. It will be made available in the Europe on May 7 and in the UK May 8 for £49.99 on consoles and £34.99 on PC. As previously announced, this edition contains all previously released DLC content as well as […]

  • Two GAME exclusive versions of Halo 5: Guardians now available for pre-order

    GAME has announced two exclusive versions of Halo 5: Guardians, and both are now available for pre-order exclusively through one of the retail chain’s 318 stores or online. The £79.99 Limited Edition Halo 5: Guardians, which delivers new digital content wrapped in a steel book. There’s also the £199.99 Halo 5: Guardians Limited Collector’s Edition […]

  • Deals with Gold: Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Bioshock Infinite, more

    Microsoft has announced its latest Deals with Gold discounts for Xbox Live Gold members. Franchises on sale include Far Cry, Call of Duty, along with individual titles Assassin’s Creed Unity and Bioshock Infinite. The full list is below. Bioshock Infinite discounts are available for both Xbox Live Gold and Silver members. Xbox One Far Cry […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has released, watch the launch trailer here

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has launched on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You can watch the launch trailer for it below. Boxed copies in Europe arrive from May 15, and in Australia/New Zealand on May 14. You can grab digital copies from the following online services: Steam, PlayStation Network, Xbox Store.

  • GOG’s online service GOG Galaxy is now in open beta

    GOG Galaxy, the DRM-free online gaming platform from the folks at GOG, has left Alpha and is now in open beta for all to try. As previously announced, the online service, similar to Steam, is option. Players do not need to play online as all games are stored by the service and can be played […]

  • DayZ-inspired Goat Simulator DLC GoatZ is out this week on Steam

    Goat Simulator players can download DayZ-inspired DLC this week called GoatZ. According to Coffee Stain Studios, GoatZ is “the only survival game on Steam that isn’t in Early Access.” Jokingly of course. The DLC features: Mandatory crafting system because everyone else is doing it. Zombies that bug out. There’s a pun here about actual living […]

  • No, Far Cry 4 is not currently free on PSN

    You may have seen a few Tweets from people saying that the PS4 version of Far Cry 4 is available to download from PSN for free. This is not true. A few readers have tipped us off to what looked like a glitch on PSN that allowed players to download the full version of Far […]

  • Metal Gear Solid: The 1984 Collection confirmed to be a clothing line

    Konami is teasing a Metal Gear Solid thing called “The 1984 Collection.” The Metal Gear Solid Facebook page posted this image about an hour ago: The caption reads, “Step back into the 80′s with our new MGS collection coming very soon! Stay tuned!” This is supposedly in reference to the clothing line that was announced […]

  • Portal, The Simpsons, Jurassic World & Scooby Doo packs listed for Lego Dimensions

    Lego Dimensions is likely getting a few unannounced content packs. One of which is themed around Valve’s Portal. A set of unannounced content packs for the upcoming Lego Dimensions have been revealed by US retailer Walmart. The listings include packs for The Simpsons, Scooby Doo and Jurassic World, and most interestingly, Portal. The listings have […]

  • This is the most authentic recreation of GTA 2 in real life ever

    Affordable drones have many uses. Most of them are not nearly as exciting as recreating GTA 2 in real life. I am surprised it took us this long, but someone has finally captured footage using a drone that resembles the protagonist’s experience in the classic GTA 2. These aren’t just shots of cars from a […]

  • PlayStation 4 sales reach 2m in the UK

    Sony has sold 2 million PlayStation 4 consoles in the UK, faster than it did with the PlayStation 2 – the company’s best-selling machine in the country. MCVUK is reporting that as of last weekend, 2 million PlayStation 4s have been sold in the UK. The data is based on GfK Chart-Track estimates. This makes […]

  • H1Z1 gets female characters, skin colour options planned

    In an effort to improve diversity in the game, H1Z1 developer has added female characters. Female survivors can now be found throughout the world of H1Z1. Developer Daybreak added the new feature in a patch released last Friday. You will be able to choose a female avatar in the main game and in Battle Royale. […]

  • Possible teaser site for Castlevania creator Koji “IGA” Igarashi’s new game opens

    Either Castlevania creator Koji “IGA” Igarashi is working on a soon-to-be-launched Kickstarter for his new game, or someone is pulling an elaborate prank. At PAX Prime last year, during Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 panel, a flyer was handed out to attendees that showed what appeared to be a 2D game of some sort with […]

  • Destiny weekly reset for May 5: Heroic and Nightfall strikes detailed

    Tuesday is here and Destiny’s weekly reset is also here. Bungie announced that your weekly Destiny grind has now begun. The Nightfall and Heroic strikes are now live too. This week’s strike is Winter’s Run. Rainbow burn is back for the Nightfall, which means you do more damage with all elemental weapons, but also receive […]

  • PC version of Project Cars delayed in Australia due to severe weather

    Recent weather conditions in Sydney, Australia are responsible for a slight delay of the PC version of Project Cars in the country. Sydney recently suffered from storms that caused flooding in some areas. One of those is the place where publisher Namco Bandai was storing PC copies of Project Cars. The stock was “severely damaged,” […]

  • Twitch’s new process makes it easier for streamers to appeal flagged content

    Twitch has updated its appeals process concerning videos that have been flagged by the audio ID system. Towards the end of last year, Twitch introduced a new audio recognition system that scans archived streams and automatically mutes the audio whenever copyright music is identified. The system has been in-use ever since and Twitch has today […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a day one patch, but it’s not a major one

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will indeed have a day one patch, to make the first-time experience as smooth as possible. Like many modern games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will have its day one patch. According to the developer however, it wasn’t born out of necessity. Miles Tost, level designer at developer CD Projekt […]

  • CoD: Advanced Warfare owners get free pistol today

    Advanced Warfare developer Sledgehammer Games is adding a new pistol to the game, free to all players. The M1 Irons is a new pistol that comes to Advanced Warfare starting today. The weapon is offered as a thank you gift from the developer. Sledgehammer says the Irons is good at range and packs a punch. […]

  • Fall down the Skullgirls Big Band music video rabbit hole with me

    Skullgirls is a pretty amazing fighting game, but did you know it’s also a passable music creation suite? Earlier today I was idly perusing an episode of PlayStation Underground showing off Skullgirls 2nd Encore, a re-release of the indie fighter packing in loads of new features and coming to PS4 – with full cross-play! – […]

  • The many uses of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood’s pipe weapon

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood adds a sick new weapon to BJ’s arsenal: a pipe. In Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a pipe is not just a pipe. Not only can you bash nazis with it, you can use it to climb walls, reach hatches, and even break through some walls. Plus? You can dual wield it. […]

  • Mortal Kombat X teaser gives first look at Predator

    Mortal Kombat X’s next celebrity guest was teased during the latest Kast. Today’s Mortal Kombat X Kast was mostly about all about Jason, but also included a very brief nod to Predator. You can watch the full livestream to see the tease in situ if you’re really keen, but IGN shared this convenient edit: There’s […]

  • Rock Band 4 has count-ins, drum fills and vocal harmonies

    Rock Band 4 will more closely emulate the feeling of being a real musician with some neat personalisation touches. For Rock Band 4, Harmonix elected to double down on player ownership of their experience rather than technical precision. To this end, it has implemented a number of cool new features. I am wildly envious of […]

  • Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, Lost Planet 3 developer shuttered

    Spark Unlimited has gone down with all hands. The Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z and Lost Planet 3 developer has been shuttered and all staff laid off. Chief technical officer John Butrovich confirmed the news in a statement issued to IGN. “Spark Unlimited is closing as a video game developer. The ongoing opportunities for smaller mobile […]

  • PS Now subscription available on PlayStation 3 this month, Vita coming soon

    PlayStation Now’s all you can eat service has finally been dated for PS3. Subscriptions to PS Now, Sony’s cloud-based gaming service, will be available on PS3 from May 12 in the US. The all you can eat package will also be made available on select Bravia TVs and Sony Blu-ray players on the same date. […]

  • GTA 5 is even better with a gravity gun

    GTA 5 modders have made a dream come true, adding a gravity gun to your arsenal of mayhem-causing weaponry. GTA 5 isn’t ready for this. It looks like a heck of a lot of fun, but the poor old Los Santos po po can’t deal with the resulting carnage at all. If Rockstar were ever […]

  • “Mod makers should be able to make money from their creations,” says DOOM creator

    DOOM co-creator John Romero has weighed in on the paid mods debate. Paid mods are a hot issue right now. For years, Valve has been enabling content creators to make money from their work on Counter-strike: Global offensive, Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2, but when it partnered with Bethesda to offer the same for […]

  • Watch WRC driver Kevin Abbring smash through a DIRT Rally challenge

    WRC driver Kevin Abbring has been participating in Dirt Rally’s daily events – and kicking ass. Dirt Rally seems to have ticked one of the most difficult to attain boxes of racing development – creating something professional drivers like to play, and which rewards their years of experience. Codemasters published the video below showing Hyundai […]

  • Mortal Kombat X patch to bring PC version up to console standard

    Mortal Kombat X PC will be fixed tomorrow, NetherRealm has promised. The PC version of Mortal Kombat X has come under fire for poor performance, including stuttering frame rate and bugs as plenty. About 45 minutes into a recent Twitch stream, NetherRealm boss Ed Boon said an update will drop tomorrow to address many of […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: all new Crucible maps detailed

    Destiny’s House of Wolves DLC will add four new maps to the Crucible, the game’s competitive multiplayer mode. Let’s take a look at all of them. Alex brings you new footage showing all of the four maps that will drop with House of Wolves. He goes over the layout, landmarks, gameplay styles, and other important […]

  • Custom Xbox One Star Wars controllers look very tempting

    Microsoft is celebrating May 4 by showing off concept designs for Star Wars-themed Xbox One controllers. May 4 is of course Star Wars Day and the controller concepts you’re about to see are just that, concepts. Or at least that’s what they said they are. There are four designs and they don’t look very practical. […]

  • Project Cars launch trailer is an anthology of race cars, set to the beats of Deadmau5

    Project Cars comes out this week and there’s just enough time for one last trailer. Project Cars, Slightly Mad Studios’ ambitious racer that has been in development for ages, is finally coming out this week. The racer received plenty of changes throughout its development based on community feedback and the final product will be in […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront dev reveals planet Sullust

    Sullust, a planet that has not been previously shown, will be featured in one of Star Wars Battlefront’s maps. Star Wars Battlefront developer DICE revealed today that planet Sullust will be one of the game’s locations. The planet was mentioned in the films and other Star Wars works, but was only shown today. DICE posted […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: Tower vendor changes

    House of Wolves will change the inventory of some of Destiny’s vendors and add new roles to others. Here’s everything that has been announced so far. You know that House of Wolves will bring a new social space to the game in the form of The Reef. But did you also know that the good […]

  • Nintendo apologises for Amiibo shortages, will reissue some out-of-stock figures

    Nintendo released a statement today to apologise for fan’s frustrations in finding some Amiibo figures and promised to handle distribution better going forward. Nintendo has been criticised recently for its lack of communication when it comes to new Amiibo figures. Something which has lead fans to not know if certain figures are limited to some […]