Aliens: Colonial Marines Review (PC)

good
key review info
  • Game: Aliens: Colonial Marines
  • Platform: PC
  • Gamepad support: Yes  
  • Reviewed on:
  • Written by: Andrei Dumitrescu
  • Show system requirements
Alien delivery

There’s a corridor ahead of me, filled with organic matter that seems to eat away at the metal of the human ship, and I dread going through it because I’m already aware of the dangers that lurk within.

With flashlight at the ready and Pulse rifle ready to fire, I move forward, shooting a quick burst at a shadow before I even think to pause and get my motion tracker out for a second and check for threats.

There are two enemy dots pulsing there, so I put the tracker away and move ahead slowly when my computer-controlled partner bursts ahead, gets jumped by an alien that creeps out of a vent and a desperate fight develops as more enemies join the fray.

I try to shoot and back away, reloading when all the xenomorphs are at a distance or occupied with poor O’Neal, but one manages to get close enough to take a bit out of me and eliminate all the armor protection I had.

I decide to drop a grenade to even the odds and after a few more shotgun shots and more Pulse rifle fire, all the aliens are dead, leaving small pools of acid on the floor.
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Pulse fire
Hug time
After moments like these, I love the experience that Aliens: Colonial Marines, the first-person shooter from developer Gearbox and publisher SEGA, has to offer and this is just a small sliver of what the game delivers in terms of single player, coop play and competitive multiplayer.


Story

Aliens: Colonial Marines is part of the official continuity of the series and that fact alone, along with meeting with Ridley Scott himself, raised expectations about the narrative component of the game.

The game is focused on Christopher Winter, a Colonial Marine who is currently tasked with exploring the U.S.S. Sulaco and then LV-426, initially searching for the lost soldiers and Ellen Ripley.

Soon, because of both alien interference and PMC working for the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, the profile of the mission changes completely and the Marines are forced to fight for their very survival.

The Gearbox team has been careful to link Colonial Marines as closely as possible to the series on which it is based, but their story can simply not match the quality.

Most characters lack a true personality, there are some continuity breaking moments that will surely annoy fans and there are many cliches that belong more to the Space Marine repertoire than to the darker space of Aliens.

The introduction of PMCs linked to Weyland-Yutani also makes little sense given the universe.
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Creeping around
Meet the team
The story is not atrocious by any means, but fans of the series will likely be disappointed while most other players will probably ignore it after the third or fourth single-player mission.


Gameplay

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a classic first-person shooter, sometimes infuriatingly so, with the player tasked to get from point A to B while killing all enemies, be they human or alien, that stand in his path.

The levels are largely linear and there’s little space to experiment with tactics and flanking, apart from the big battles that tend to cap a story chapter.

The weaponry is true to the series and feels solid and weighty, imperfect but necessary tools to stop the various xenomorph types, some taken directly from the movies and some created by the development team.

Unfortunately, the aliens have lost much of their ability to scare or surprise, apart from the always terrifying facehugger, and there are mostly progress bumps to a player that almost always has enough health, armor and ammunition to clear a room without fearing any threat.

The problem is that even in such state, they represent an improvement over the human enemies that appear in the campaign, simple cannon fodder that should have been left on the cutting room floor at Gearbox.

Aliens: Colonial Marines needs to be praised for its implementation of cooperative play, which allows up to four gamers to play through the stages of the single-player campaign.

The video might contain some limited spoilers:



It’s easy to select a group of friends to run around with and work as a team, covering all angles, using the tracker and generally paying more attention than just one player. It is a superb experience that captures some of the essence of the series.

Cooperative play is especially rewarding in the bigger pitched battles, which have aliens streaming in from a number of directions, with players frantically firing, trying to coordinate their movements and reviving each other when one of them falls in battle.

The only problem that coop has is that all gamers who take part are treated like the main character, which creates some cognitive dissonance.

The gameplay mechanics are solid in Aliens: Colonial Marines, but the game lacks punch, never manages to find the right tone to do the universe justice or create the long-term memories I still have of the 1999 Alien versus Predator title.


Graphics and audio

Aliens: Colonial Marines is not a graphics powerhouse, but the game is fluid and captures the style of the movie series on which it is based.

The characters sometimes move in a weird manner and the animations for the aliens seem a little limited, but in the middle of a firefight or while running to reach a certain objective, there’s little time to notice such problems.
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Corridor shooter
Health pack
The sound design is also adequate, with suitably gruff voices for the Marines, Lance Henriksen as Bishop sounding a little bored (perhaps fitting for an android), a dramatic yet unimpressive soundtrack and a good take on the ratatat of the classic Alien weapons.


Multiplayer

If the single player is a disappointment for Aliens fans, the multiplayer modes should redeem Colonial Marines in the eyes of many players.

The four modes are designed to take the mythology of the series into account and all of them rely on teamwork for both humans and xenomorph players, which makes it a good fit for those who like action packed matches but also a little bit of cooperation and tactical thinking.

When playing as the Marines, even if one has solid weaponry and experience with the game, the sound of approaching aliens is always threatening, a cue to take a few deep breaths and get ready for some mayhem.

The alien side offers more options when it comes to movement and planning, because the xenos can see through walls and always know where their enemies are waiting.

It’s a cat and mouse game where soldiers need to stay together and use their superior firepower while the aliens need to be constantly on the move and use feints to draw out marines and then slaughter them individually.

The asymmetric multiplayer is fast and playing both sides delivers an experience that sits squarely at the center of the Alien franchise.

The biggest problem at the moment is the fact that many players tend to abandon matches already in progress, spoiling the experience of all others involved.


The Good

  • Solid shooter mechanics
  • Fun multiplayer

The Bad

  • Limited story appeal
  • Some animation glitches
  • Lack of scares

Conclusion

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a good effort that takes the core of the movie series and translates it into the first-person shooter space, but a poor story and a distinct lack of actual scares make the result less than impressive.

Many fans of the franchise will hate the game for its inconsistencies and for the liberties it takes with its narrative.

Others will criticize it for lack of dedicated servers on the PC and the limited alien experience in multiplayer.

But overall Aliens: Colonial Marines is a worthwhile first-person shooter experience that shines in multiplayer and could support a community of enthusiasts in the long term.

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story 6
gameplay 8
concept 9
graphics 8
audio 7
multiplayer 10
final rating 7.5
Editor's review
good
 
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