captain_tolerable's Aliens: Colonial Marines (PC) review

This Game Should Have Been Left Behind.

Coming into this game it's difficult to look past the hype that was generated. Difficult to ignore the subpar trailers and videos that litter the internet before release. Luckily for me I did a fine job forgetting this game even existed until a few weeks leading into the release. There isn't much to say besides the years of development are over, and it certainly has...released? For lack of a better word because it feels as if this game should have been released five years ago.

See this? Get used to seeing it for four hours.

Looking past the hype and diving into the single player campaign you find yourself, a marine named Winter, readying his Pulse Rifle and preparing to leave through an airlock aboard a ship. Two things to note during this opening campaign: You better get used to seeing ships, small rooms and corridors and you better love using the Pulse Rifle, because you're about to see them all for a good 90% of the Campaign. Things quickly spiral out of control when the airlock you're walking through collapses and you must make your way to the other side. This is when you find yourself aboard a ship going out of control, your fellow marines speaking frantically over their microphones. I wish I could find myself scrambling but so far I don't really feel much of anything, it's a drag through the tutorial level where the game sporadically attempts to tell you the mechanics whilst you try to find a missing marine who's name I've already forgotten. When I finally make it to the mentioned marine, suspended on a wall in a traditional Alien manner, you run into your first enemy. The enemy Xenomorph hides and weaves through the corridor, and your mission is to kill it. I ready my Pulse Rifle and look around the entire area, the dim lights doing little to help me locate the sinister alien. After a few minutes of doubling through the area once more I begin to grow impatient, I head back near where I came from I found the Xenomorph simply...standing there, doing absolutely nothing. I shoot it and the story continues, the music easing quickly after. It leaves me wondering what I even accomplished.

Stay Frosty, Never Leave a Marine Behind, Blah Blah Blah

Forgotten names, environments, and dialogue. It is important to keep in mind that the writing in this game is equivalent to a C-Movie.The majority of the time you will be partnered with a fellow marine by the name of O'Neal. O'Neal's most memorable traits are the tattoos all over his body, his atrocious jokes and how he is glued to your hip for every mission of the game. Shortly after the first mission we are tasked to find another marine by the name of Bella, a name he remembers, until a few seconds after revealing that "We had sex once, okay boy scout?" Thanks for the information, O'Neal. When you establish contact with Bella, she mentions that she found a "thing" on her face and that it was dead now, convinced of her safety. In case you were wondering this is called foreshadowing. There's honestly not much else to say, this is what you should expect coming into the single player. It's exciting, right?

Move Your Ass, Grunt

The atmosphere and levels hold a special distinction of being even more insulting than the plot of the game, in the fact that it all looks the same. Every. Single. Level. It's all the same, the locales blend into each other and the amount of darkness and grey shades is oppressive and it overpowers just about everything in the game. I can't bring myself to care about anything in the game. Any semblance of exploration is quickly shot down as all paths in the game are closed off, forcing you to follow the same exact hallway every single time, your AI partner pressed against the wall as if the game is telling you to hurry the hell up. This is amplified further when you find yourself on the surface of a planet, a planet I forgot the name of. You and O'Neal encounter an ambushing vehicle, turrets blazing. I quickly find cover behind a wall and head towards the edge of the closed off arena, where I find a piece of armor and a barrel which I can shoot for an explosion. I took this as a sign of what I have to do and shoot the barrel, it does nothing. I'm left wondering what the hell I should do. I try hopping over the vehicle, I try running through the obvious hole in between the wall and the enemy but am caught by the invisible wall and die shortly after. It turns into frustration, as I try it one more time, in a fit of confusion I shoot the barrel again, from a particular angle, stupidly in front of the vehicle and it triggers it retreating. I was baffled, I shoot the barrel from one direction off to the side and I am locked into the event, yet I shoot it from the front whilst I'm getting shot at and I'm allowed to move on? This game flat out punishes creativity.

They've Not Only Crossed the Line, They've Reinvented It

I had to intentionally trigger this by charging into it and whacking it a couple dozen times with my pistol. In case you actually want to see something neat in the single player.

It evolves from a forgetful on-rails experience through Sci-Fi Hell into a boring, irritating trudge as the oversights and the bugs show their ugly faces. Most of the time you're either fighting the same exact Xenomorph or the same exact Human grunt with quite possibly some of the worst AI I've seen in the past few years. Humans will charge into you whilst you're spraying down a hallway, being cut down instantly. I found myself charging into an area to speed up the progression in the level and the Human AI will still attempt to take cover near a wall I am exactly next to, as if the game isn't taking any change to how fast I may play and the AI does not react at all. This is amplified during the end of the game, where you're tasked to make it to a ship in order to keep it from taking off. I charge through the area and Xenomorphs attack me, littering the area...of course I say attack, what I really mean is they follow me mindlessly because my charge through the game completely invalidates any sense of tension or difficulty. The most difficult time you will have in this game is when the Human grunts fire through walls to hit you or a context sensitive Xenomorph ambush triggers whilst performing an action, immediately wailing on you even though you can't do a thing about it due to being locked in an animation.

I don't understand the idea of forcing you to have the same exact three weapons, either. For a good majority of the game you're either using the boring Pulse Rifle, the boring Shotgun, or the boring Pistol. You find legendary weapons along the way that act as collectibles and change up the monotony for a few moments but you're brought back down to reality when you discover that your weapons do not carry over from one stageto the next. I found a Smartgun, which is an auto-aiming heavy machine gun and is what your partner O'Neal uses for a good majority of the game. I have fun being able to cut down both Humans and Aliens with relative ease and find myself not charging through a level mindlessly. When I get to the elevator and the level changes however, the Smartgun is gone, even though it has half of its ammo pool left. I'm left with the same boring Pulse Rifle, Shotgun and Pistol combo.

The game hits its climax at Hadley's Hope, where the game attempts in vain to drum up the excitement and tension but fails spectacularly, as arthritic Xenomorph that chase you in a straight line, later on the same can be said for the Humans but with guns. I never felt threatened at all during this entire exchange, as the mindlessly drab story is echoed in my ears from my fellow marine friends. The game's final boss seems to hearken back to the original Quake's first boss, in terms of mechanics and difficulty. You are tasked to pull levers while avoiding the giant big baddy a total of three times and then hit a final lever, which kills it instantly. The entire final exchange takes less than two minutes to wrap up a brief four hour campaign.

Stay...Frosty?

From reading this I wouldn't be surprised if you thought I hated this game entirely, not so. I felt the Multiplayer was thought out well and had an enjoyable time when I dipped into it. There are a much wider variety of guns to choose from and abilities that you can choose as an Alien. Funnily enough, the game is much more exciting as you fight sentient Aliens who can absolutely outsmart you. It's true fun though it only makes me think "what could have been?" when I look back to the Single Player monstrosity. This game is nowhere near worth 50 dollars, and the almost assuredly community dead-on-arrival Multiplayer isn't worth getting into when coupled together with one of the worst, and not to mention lifeless, Single Player Campaigns in recent memory.

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