Aliens Colonial Marines: It’s not that great

When Aliens Colonial Marines was first announced, I can’t say I was excited.

The game doesn't look as good as this screen shot.
The game doesn’t look as good as this screen shot.

I mean, I love the Aliens movies as much as the next Aliens fan and still rate the original Alien and Aliens 2 as brilliant, brilliant movies, but I wasn’t super hyped for Gearbox’s game based on Aliens. I wasn’t yelling from the rooftops about it and waiting patiently until the game arrived.

I didn’t pay attention to any previews of the game so had no idea how progress was going in the six years it took to make the game. Yes, SIX years. I wasn’t even keen on reviewing it, actually: That’s how excited I was for Aliens Colonial Marines.

Good job, then, as ACM is one of the most generic, most uninspiring first-person shooters I’ve played in a long, long time. It’s not the worst game I’ve ever played – I can remember some early Xbox game about vampires that had no redeeming features at all – because it does do some things well but it’s just  …. it’s just not fun to play. I’m not sure I actually want to finish it, actually: that’s how bored I am with it.

I saw an Xbox Live friend, Bryan Lumb,  playing the game so asked him what he thought of it. I wanted to see if his opinion was the same as mine. It was. This is what he said: “It really isn’t worth it, tbh … I really felt lied to in terms of what was previewed and talked about beforehand.” And Brian isn’t alone in his assessment: you don’t have to search long to find dissatisfied and unhappy gamers who bought Aliens Colonial Marines.

Look at the sharp texture work on this vehicle abandoned outside the colony of LV-426.
Look at the sharp texture work on this vehicle abandoned outside the colony of LV-426.

If I’d paid $100-plus for it, I’d be wanting my money back. Seriously. Ask for your money back, people. I’m sorry that I rated 2010’s Aliens vs Predator so badly. Compared to this, it was quite a good game.

The game was said to be based on Aliens canon and was set sometime between Aliens 2 and Aliens 3. You play Christopher Winter, a marine, obviously, who eventually has to find out what happened to the colonists on LV-246. Yes, the planet that featured in Aliens.

I wanted to like Aliens Colonial Marines but between you and me, it was a chore to play, but it does do somethings well.

The audio and sound is top-notch, especially the sound of the marines’ pulse rifle. It really does sound as if you’re part of the colonial marine squad storming around Hadley’s Hope hunting down aliens. The music, too, is great, setting the scene and creating tension. It’s cool hearing the “bleep-bleep-bleep” of the motion tracker going off, when you can be bothered activating it.

I liked the weapons customisation that you can do to the in-game weapons. Loading out a shotgun or pulse rifle with a variety of attachments and additions is actually a lot of fun.

That’s about all the good things I can think of. So, what does Aliens Colonial Marines get wrong? Quite a lot actually.

For a game that took six years to create, visually, it’s an abomination. Just look at the screen grab to the right of this post. It was from an abandoned vehicle on the planet of LV-426. Computer screens and consoles are so bad that I thought I was playing an original Xbox game. I’m playing ACM on Xbox 360, but I hear things look better on the PC.

I tried an experiment with the laptops that I found sitting on workstations, too. I don’t know why, but when I play shooting games I like to shoot environmental objects: books, pictures, computers. I tried to shoot a laptop to see what happened. I unloaded four or five shells into the laptop and it didn’t even budge: it stayed on that desk like it screwed to it. It didn’t even shatter or crack the screen. Laptops are tough in space.

The same thing happened with chairs and stools. I tried to melee attack them over. Nothing. Has this game not heard of physics?

At one point I backed away from an attacking alien and passed through a wall, stuck between some no man’s land. Another time I got stuck in a tiny space, a tiny gap between two pieces of equipment, having to fend off attacking aliens coming through an open doorway with my shotgun until the last one melted away. I realised that if I crouched I could get out. I saw one of my squad mates almost skate from one spot to another. In one location, four enemies suddenly appeared from a short passage way that when I checked it later had a locked door. There was no way four guys could have fitted in their without being seen.

You can also clip right through NPCs while they’re spouting their incredibly cheesy and cliche-riddle dialogue [there are lots of ‘God’s speed” thrown about].  You should try it: It’s good for a laugh. At one point, I positioned my character just right so that my character was sort of stuck half way inside female NPC Bella’s head.  All I could see was half her head and her teeth, moving as she talked. It’s not pretty but it was hilarious. Textures also pop in an out, especially during the in-game cinematics and on the armour of NPCs. Talking about in-game cinematics, during one  the characters did these twitchy little movements as they stood in place, listening to an ugly-looking android Bishop clone talking about something. I can’t remember what he was talking about, but I did notice his strangely proportioned forearms.

The glitches continue. One time, when I was low on health – after falling down a hole in a walkway that I didn’t see because everything was so dark and getting attacked by an alien that popped out of a hole in the floor – I found a health pack in a room, which I dutifully picked up, as well as two pieces of armour. Health packs, ammunition and armour are scattered about the game world, as well as dropped by fallen enemies. To my surprise, though, this was obviously magical armour because two more magically materialised from where I’d just picked the first piece from. Magical generating armour. I wish all games had that.

Frankly, Aliens Colonial Marines is unpolished, it looks terrible and it feels half-finished. I played one multi-player match, which was a bit of fun, but I was eaten by an alien.

Truthfully, I don’t actually know whether I can be bothered trudging through the rest of the campaign to finish this game. I want to take a break from it and play something better. Something that will make me forget this game.  I probably will finish it, at some point, but not right now. My time’s too precious to spend playing crap games.

One thought on “Aliens Colonial Marines: It’s not that great

  1. Read on the interwebs today that some 15-20 of the dev’s team have been laid off now. Sad. Hard to know the full story ie poor devs, or time frame pressure from pubs to get it out?

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