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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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    Must have more MOBA? Win one of our 1,000 Heroes of the Storm beta keys and see if you’re more Blizzard than LoL. Can’t wait for June 2? Of course you can’t. We have 1,000 closed beta keys for Heroes of the Storm to give away this week, allowing you access before Blizzard’s MOBA goes […]

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X Nintendo Direct airs tomorrow, April 24

    A Nintendo Direct devoted entirely to Xenoblade Chronicles X will air this Friday, April 24. The video showcase will start at 11am PDT/2pm EDT/7pm UK. After the showcase, a new Nintendo Treehouse: Live presentation featuring the game will air. This is the second Xenoblace Chronicles X Nintendo Direct, but the first in English. The first […]

  • Blizzard will have 500 game stations set up at gamescom 2015

    Blizzard is heading to gamescom 2015 in August and it will have 500 game stations set up for attendees to get their hands on five of its titles. The developer will be set up in Hall 7 and those who stop by will be able to get hands-on with the latest content for Heroes of […]

  • PS4 price cut to £299 in UK

    Sony has dropped the price of the PS4 in the UK. For a limited time only, you can grab the console for £299.99 from Argos, Game, Tesco and Very. Go to Amazon.co.uk and you’ll get it for £289. You’ve only got until April 28, then it goes back up to £349. Go, go, go. For […]

  • Mad Max: first ever gameplay footage revealed

    Today, we get to finally take our first look at gameplay from Mad Max. Avalanche and Warner Bros. have shown off the first gameplay trailer for Mad Max today. The trailer below offers a look at melee combat, car combat, customisation and much more. Give it a watch below: There are a few new screenshots […]

  • Overlord: Fellowship of Evil has four-player co-op like we figured

    Codemasters has pulled the veil back on the next Overlord game, and its a four-player co-op game called Overlord: Fellowship of Evil. Rhianna Pratchett is back to write the story. The game may be co-op at its core, but it can still be played single-player. Each of the four playable character have strengths and weaknesses, […]

  • Update now available for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Pokemon X and Y

    Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire along with Pokemon X and Y are being updated by Nintendo to fix a few bugs and in-game text. There’s also the possibility of a few hacks and exploits being fixed. Per Nintendo Life (via Serebii), both patches are 250-270 blocks in size, and it’s a mandatory update which […]

  • Side-scrolling cover shooter Not a Hero gets a demo

    Not a Hero, the upcoming game from OlliOlli developer Roll7, has received a demo. The demo for Not a Hero was made available today on Steam. In the game, you play as Steve, the campaign manager for BunnyLord. A time-travelling rabbit who’s running for mayor of London. Think this is an absurd premise? This trailer […]

  • You have until April 30 to export your Green Day: Rock Band tracks to Rock Band 3

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  • Batman: Arkham Knight minimum, recommended, and ultra PC specs revealed

    Batman: Arkham Knight is looking like it’s going to be quite a taxing game. Nvidia has released a list of the minimum, recommended, and ultra PC requirements for Batman: Arkham Knight. Here’s the full thing: Minimum OS: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1 (64-bit Operating System Required) Processor: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz | AMD Phenom […]

  • Bloodborne patch 1.03 is live, reduces loading times, fixes suspend/resume bugs, more

    Patch 1.03 is now live for Bloodborne. The patch reduces loading times, adds item descriptions to loading screens, and fixes other various bugs. From Software has pushed update 1.03 live to all Bloodborne owners. As promised, it reduces loading times by approximately 5 to 15 seconds. Another new addition is showing item descriptions instead of […]

  • Battlefield 4: first look at Community Map in action

    Get your first look at the map designed by the community of Battlefield 4. Battlefield 4′s community-designed map is a reality. DICE has recently updated CTE to include an early version of the map. It’s not fully textured as Westie is about to show you, but the layout is nearly finalised. Westie goes over the […]

  • Microsoft apologises for uploading misleading Witcher 3: Wild Hunt footage

    Xbox’s YouTube channel uploaded a video of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt yesterday that was captured from the PC build. The most recent gameplay video for the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt appeared on the Xbox YouTube channel and showed a quest from the game’s opening section. A few minutes after it had gone live, […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator’s new game is Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

    Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is the game Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets has been working on. Patrice Desilets has just announced that the next game his indie studio Panache Digital Games is making is called Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. The announcement comes from Desilets’s keynote at the Reboot Develop event in Croatia. The trailer started […]

  • Bloodborne: Cathedral Ward closed door mystery solved

    The mystery of the locked door at the bottom of the Cathedral Ward in Bloodborne has been solved. Bloodborne, like earlier From Software games, is filled with doors that don’t open the first time you try them. Some will give you “locked” messages, others “does not open from this side”. Some of these will open […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets is revealing his next game now [UPDATE: ended]

    Patrice Desilets, one of the original creators of Assassin’s Creed is hosting a presentation where he’s expected to talk about his next project. Patrice Desilets has emerged once again. This time he’s attending development conference in Croatia. Desilets is giving a live keynote and there’s a good chance we’re going to hear about his next […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: everything you need to know about gear upgrades & The Reef

    Bungie revealed plenty of important details in last night’s Destiny stream. Let’s go over everything. Alex wants to make sure you don’t miss any of the information revealed yesterday. Most of it affects all Destiny players too, even those who don’t intend on buying House of Wolves. During the first stream, Bungie explained the armour […]

  • Mod-friendly Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access in May

    Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access next month for a full release, Stardok has announced. The developer called the game the “largest and most diverse strategy sandbox to date,” as players have a variety of tools such as diplomatic treaties to resource exchanges, and United Planets resolutions to hundreds of research directions for […]

  • Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim is out next week on PC – here’s the pre-order trailer

    Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim will be released next week on PC, and today, we have a pre-order trailer for you. The game will be made available on April 28 for $19.99/€17.99/£13.99 on GOG, the Humble Store and Steam. Along with improvements over the original PSP version, it will contain less backtracking, controller support […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – full gear set up to level 34 in PvP and PvE, upgrades, more

    The Destiny: House of Wolves livestream this afternoon was chock full of information. Read onward for our full report. According to Bungie, Petra Venj, who serves the Queen, is the main story agent who leads the player through the main series of quests. Players who complete bounties will be able to level up in her […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – watch the livestream right here

    Bungie will host a Destiny: House of Wolves livestream at 2pm EDT today, and you can watch it right here. Watch live video from Bungie on www.twitch.tv The stream will introduce the new social space, The Reef, as well as gear upgrade paths. House of Wolves contains new Strike missions, The Prison of Elders three-player […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team: week of April 22 team includes Barcelona, Chelsea players

    This week’s FIFA 15 Team of the Week is now available for FIFA Ultimate Team players. Each team member, as with previous weeks, is selected base on the previous weekend’s matches. Here’s the list of players now available: Starting GK: Claudio Bravo – FC Barcelona (Spain) CB: Leonardo Bonucci – Juventus (Italy) CB: Ömer Toprak […]

  • Sony’s Spring Fever Sale winds down with Shovel Knight and Call of Duty discounts

    It’s the final week of Sony’s Spring Fever Sale which means more games have been added to the mix. Shovel Knight, which launches today is one offer, and the rest are all Cal of Duty titles. The Taken movie series is on sale as well. With Shovel Knight available today on PlayStation 3, PS4 and […]

  • Drivers for Xbox controllers, voice messages, more features available in Xbox One preview

    Microsoft has announced new features coming to Xbox One and the Xbox App on Windows 10 through the preview program this month. Some of the new features have been requested by the community for both Xbox One and Xbox One SmartGlass. Here’s what to expect, straight from the horse’s mouth: Xbox on Windows 10 Game […]

  • Total War: Warhammer has been announced for PC, Mac, SteamOS

    Total War: Warhammer has been announced after previous teases from The Creative Assembly touched upon it. The game will contain “gigantic monsters, flying creatures, legendary heroes and storms of magical power.” It is also the first in a trilogy which includes two additional standalone titles and extra content packs. It will feature thousands of warriors […]

  • This video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a quest from the prologue

    A new video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been released, showing off the Precious Cargo quest contained in the game’s prologue. The quest tasks Geralt with helping a merchant retrieve a mysterious box from the swamps. The scene looks familiar, but we’ve seen so many videos for the game it’s hard to tell […]

  • Limited public beta for The Elder Scrolls Online kicks off tomorrow on consoles

    The limited public beta for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited will launch on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One tomorrow, and Sony has provided details on the tester for those who’ve been invited to participate. The beta test contains the full version of the game and will run from April 23-27, and will start and […]

  • Dying Light debuts in second place on Media Create charts

    Techland’s Dying Light made its debut in Japan lats week, coming in a respectable second place behind Nintendo’s Girls Mode 3: Kirakira Code. The zombie shooter sold 25,530 units on PlayStation 4, while the top earner for the week moved a little over 55,000 units on 3DS. Another western release when landed on the chart, […]

  • Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven will release in the west this June

    Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven has been given a release date by XSEED Games, which announced the localization back in February. The title will launch for 3DS in North America on June 2 digitally and through retail. It will be an eShop only title in Europe and Australia when it releases on June 4. A […]

  • This Overlord video teases four new faces of evil

    A new Overlord game is in the works, going by the previous teasing and this video – which teases the possibility of four-payer co-op. Or just four characters to choose from. We don’t know just yet – all we know is the team is asking you to “join the fellowship.” A new entry in the […]

  • GTA movie will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar’s Sam Houser, the BBC confirms

    The GTA movie Game Changer will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar co-founder and president Sam Houser, theBBC has confirmed. The BBC also confirmed Bill Paxton will play Jack Thompson, a role Paxton already confirmed last week when speaking with Deadline. Here’s the synopsis per the BBC: “Conceived for an adult audience, this special 90-minute drama […]

  • Take a look at Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold’s Classic Mode

    Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold’s Classic Mode has received a trailer today. Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold will come with two modes, Classic and Story. Classic Mode was trailered today and in it, you’ll get to make your party by choosing from 13 classes. You’ll be able to customise them too using the character creation tool. Revamped […]

  • Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows to come with new challenge mode

    Shovel Knight’s upcoming expansion Plague of Shadows will bring with it a new challenge mode. Shovel Knight developer Yacht Club Games has revealed the challenge mode, one of the new additions coming to the game with the free Plague of Shadows expansion. “Are you more into digging than distillation? Already have your Feats book long […]

  • Nvidia releases complete graphical guide for GTA 5

    Those with GeForce cards will be happy to know that Nvidia has released a comprehensive graphical tweaks guide for GTA 5. Nvidia usually produces graphical guides for the big AAA games, and GTA 5 is no different. Their guides offer in-depth coverage of each in-game setting, how much they affect framerate, if they can be […]