"Marines, We Are Leaving!"
The Aliens universe seems like it'd make a great setting for a video game. In fact, it seems like it would be easy to make a great video game from this series. In the past years, the franchise has produced only a handful of games, and only some of them decent. Developers always seem to miss a solid mark in creating an Aliens game which would break new ground and become a powerful classic. Dead Space took major inspiration from the franchise and made itself something to remember for years to come. On the other side, Alien games have overall, been forgettable. However, by far not the worst Aliens game ever made, Aliens: Colonial Marines will probably be remembered as the largest disappointment on the video game side of the franchise.
It would be easy to bash this game outright, that is, if I only look at the hype SEGA was attempting to generate throughout the masses about Aliens: Colonial Marines. They were preparing gamers for what would seem to be an amazing and relevant Aliens game. Yes, it's hard to let things like hype get in the way. Trust me, after putting in Aliens: Colonial Marines and giving it a good play, I had to take a deep breath and look at it without all the baggage.
Alien: Colonial Marines, at its best, is a "plane-Jane" FPS without much effort or care put into the overall development. Is it fun? Sure, sometimes. Is it good? In this age of gaming, we have to look deeper than what is on the surface.
Aliens: Colonial Marines suffers most from not bringing anything new to the table. Worse yet, it takes what's old and stale and somehow makes it look more rotten than it should be. Clunky gameplay mechanics? Check. Only 11 mission campaigns that offer no variety or flavor? Check. A story that is neither emotional, interesting or thrilling? That's there too. The overall verdict on Colonial Marines (to which I came quickly) is that it just seemed vastly unpolished.
As Alien fans, we have hoped and dreamed for years of a film which takes place between Aliens and Alien 3. Unfortunately, we have received a plethora of films that haven't been about that. However, Aliens: CM is that story. Touted as official canon, this is supposed to be the official follow-up to the James Cameron film. While it was a good idea to go in this general direction with the plot, Aliens: Colonial Marines simply fails to grab. The story isn't good, nor is it bad. The writing just simply plays it safe, offering nothing new or shocking or, sadly, even creative. So if this is canon and this is supposed to be a relevant Aliens title, a super-important piece of the franchise, I fail to see it.
Graphics make things worse. There is an attempt to recreate a lot of the ground seen in the film, Aliens. That's all well and good, and they even do a fine job of achieving that, but the overall design is simply bland. Shouldn't I feel unnerved and terrified while walking through a hive? Witness the uneasiness of a place that is swarming with hostile life forms (see Dead Space). Cameron's film mixed action with uneasy terror. There are only one or two settings here that even come close to that.
Missions have you bouncing around, not doing much of anything at all. Multiplayer is tacked on, typical, not very extensive, and it's essentially the same game, but this time there are other people to share in the often painful graphic twitches and unenthusiastic gameplay. Aliens: Colonial Marines fails to unweave itself in any thrilling manner during its playtime. Often times the game feels like it is rushing itself to be at an end because it realizes how repetitive and underdeveloped it actually is.
The up side to Aliens: Colonial Marines? It's not the absolute worst game ever made. It's playable, very playable. Again, I said "playable", not good. Hardcore Aliens fans will actually probably enjoy it for one simple fact: that it's part of the Aliens franchise. When the film Alien Resurrection came out, I had spent so much of my youth watching the original trilogy, it didn't matter what the film was like. I saw Resurrection over and over again because the world had been so dry of Alien films. Yep, I desired one that badly. Maybe it's the same for Aliens: Colonial Marines. I played it to the end simply because this world still lacks copious amounts of Aliens games (or maybe I just hoped it was going to get better). Do I recommend it? Not unless you know what you are getting into.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is something messy, rough, not up-to-par, but still, at its heart, Aliens. Even if Aliens: Colonial Marines is not the game we were promised, I still found moments of joy while shooting up xenomorphs. Even so, it's not going to take Aliens: Colonial Marines long to drop in price, and maybe then, only for the hardcore, would you want to pick it up.
GameDynamo's Score for Aliens: Colonial Marines (PS3)
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