Monday, 25 February 2013

Aliens: Colonial Marines - Review

Spanning six years to develop, the sequel to the Aliens franchise has finally been released. Aimed to be the true sequel to James Cameron’s film, the question rises if it will be the game fans of the movie has been waiting for.

Straight off the bat the game displays it’s poor AI in both your marines and the aliens. Aliens would just blindly charge at you, disregarding their health while AI partners would walk around in battles not giving any assistance and if they do, it ain’t enough. Playing in any difficulty below or at soldier mode would lead to in dull and insanely easy experience.

You are Corporal Christopher Winter, a Colonial Marine who is part of a search and rescue team sent to investigate the U.S.S. Sulaco in search of Ellen Ripley, Corporal Dwayne Hicks, and the rest of the missing marines who were dispatched to LV-426. How did the ship survive? How did it end up to your location? You would expect answers to these questions, and sometimes the game decides to give you a poorly written excuse.

Team mates looks helpful.. only in scripted scenes.

However in a twist of events, the game lands you in an unwelcome fight against gun wielding humans. Presenting themselves as mercenaries, these new enemy proves to be much more of a challenge than the aliens. In a game where aliens are the main focus, the humans posed a much higher threat, just imagine the lack of focus.

There are merely 3 aliens-only levels in the game while human mercenaries would grace you with their presence for the rest of the levels present. Posing much less of a threat compared to the mercenaries, some players were reportedly able to run through an entire alien level without firing a bullet in the highest difficulty. These brings the question, just why is the human a much bigger threat than aliens in an ALIEN game?

Graphics and sound wise, the game looks decent but lacks high resolution textures on certain places and places where the aliens crawl from, such as ventilation shafts appear to be a endless black hole, a very lazy move by the art team. Sounds from the movie could be heard that evokes nostalgia however lack of bass in some guns leaving them feeling more of a toy and makes shooting not so satisfactory.

Environments and atmosphere is nailed perfectly with certain set pieces that will leave you at awe. Music queue in at just the right time to build up the tension and Gear Box Software manage to even include certain new weapons without sacrificing the lore of the movie. With new guns that feel like they had been there the whole time, it is certainly a commendable effort.

The story, the most important aspect of the game for fans of the movie, was a major let down. Parts of the story was filled with nonsensical events and while it presents it self in a good manner, the story still feels contrive and excuses for certain story elements goes as simples as a “I don’t know’ or a hand-wave off. Built up for tense survival moments with the aliens was ruined by the introduction of mercenaries which are much more of a threat.

Gameplay proves to be much more of a linear corridor shooter than a survival horror, a genre that would fit much better in an Aliens game. Scenes of the original movie can be scene and weapons held by the original crew can be found and use which fans would no doubt appreciate. However the rather disappointingly short segment where the game lets you control the iconic smart gun was a major let down.

The multiplayer experience is much more different and enjoyable; with 3 different and exciting modes that pits Marines against aliens in an intense struggle for survival. Human teams would have to stick together to avoid being mowed down by the aliens and gives a much better of survival feel than the single player, possibly due to the poor AI.

Wait, what!? Why are you shooting me?

But what has probably caused the most controversy would be the absence of elements presented in the game’s E3 2012 demo. Certain scenes were never seen and the flame wielding power loader was never shown for the entire game. Rumours of the game development being passed on to multiple development teams has also been surface and raises issues if the game is in such a state because of it. Sega even wanted to sue Gearbox Software for license infringement but has decided against this.

Final verdict: 5/10.

Overall the game proves to be nothing more then a scripted corridor shooter and while It sets the environment and atmosphere decently, it losses focus by emphasizing more on mercenaries than the aliens. Poor AI displayed in every single enemy and marines ruin the difficulty and makes thing easy and dull.

Multiplayer provides a much better experience but with nothing special to be held onto and unlocks that can be obtain within three days, it would be nothing shot of a weeks affair.

A mere ‘meh’, this game would be enjoyed by sci-fi fans but a kick in the teeth to hardcore fans of the franchise. Personally, I had some enjoyable moments with certain part of the game but the frustration from poor AI, lacklustre story and linearity prevents me from going through a second round. Sometimes I wonder how did this game even took 6 years to make.

Reviewed by Marc
Common Engineering student and hardcore gamer and a victim of Minecraft, Marc also have a passion for zombies and shooters. A soldier in the battlefield and a bad ass virus in [Prototype], he will be willing to test any game out there except for Dear Esther; Is that even a game? . Normally spotted playing billiards or at the arcade hogging the Jubeat Copius machine, he is also setting up a relatively small business dealing in electronic products and gadgets

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