The Alien Critic Reviews...
The Alien CriticReviews...

TAC Reviews...Aliens: Colonial Marines

 

Released in 2013 for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Alien Colonial Marines is a first person shooter that takes place after the events of Alien3 and follows a group of colonial marines that has been sent to LV-426 to investigate a distress call made by Hicks at the end of the film (which we didn’t see).

 

Aliens: Colonial Merines Boxart

 

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I thought this game was bad…ooops guess I’ve spoiled the big reveal regarding my opinions for this game. But as it came out in 2013 and was immediately slated by critics and fans alike it should come as no surprise that everyone who has checked out this game found it to be absolutely appalling. Still, one of my skin sack’s friends had a moment when he was buying some stuff and this game was an optional additional purchase so he bought it. We played Alien Isolation together whilst Colonial Marines sat gathering dust on a shelf in his flat, I noticed it one day and asked if I could borrow it, because like I said I’d heard it was bad but I wanted to see just how bad it was.

 

This is actually the 20th Century Fox approved sequel to the events of Aliens, I am just going to repeat that so pay attention, this is considered canon and so the events seen here are accepted into the lore of the Alien universe.

 

Okay, so just bear that it mind as you read the following review.

 

So Hicks sent out a distress call from the drop ship whilst Ripley was presumably off rescuing Newt, and now seventeen weeks later a squad of marines have been sent to investigate. They find the Sulaco adrift in orbit over LV-426 and initially there is a “mystery” surrounding how the vessel managed to return to the planet when it had previously been in orbit of Fury 616. Once there you discover the ship is infested with the alien life form and mercenaries loyal to Weyland-Yutani, who have taken over the ship and returned it to LV-426. To make things worse for our protagonist other marines have already been impregnated by facehuggers.

 

You start off on ships in orbit of the planet but after a while your ships are destroyed and you must flee to the planet’s surface where you find that the colony, whilst severely damaged, is still more-or-less intact despite the reactor going critical at the end of the film. From there your mission becomes attempting to remove an alien embryo from one of your marine companions, before going after an unnamed marine that was captured from the Sulaco…its Hicks by the way…and ultimately getting off the surface of the planet alive.

 

Right, so the events here are canon, I know I have said that but it is very important that you remember...

 

Is this game really as bad as everyone says…??

 

Well, yes and no.

 

I have to say that because I had heard so much about how truly atrocious it is, my expectations were set so low I have to admit that it was initially a bit of a guilty pleasure to play it. The graphics are poor for a PS3 console, the lip synching is laughable, and the AI of both the aliens and your marine allies is shocking bad. I was playing the first level chuckling to myself at how truly awful this game is, your allies who are supposed to be these grizzled bad asses that are actually completely inept. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about…in the opening level you rescue a fellow marine that has been cocooned, and impregnated, now he is obviously dead, right?? He is a dead man walking, but he goes along with you anyway and as you are crossing an umbilical between the Sulaco and the marine’s ship the Sephora the chest buster starts to break out of him so he grabs a grenade and detonates it. Blowing up both himself and the umbilical (which I should probably mention is between two space ships so yes you are in space) at least one marine is blown out into the void to die, and your character barely survives. What do we think was going through the mind of this complete prick when he grabbed that grenade, his thoughts clearly weren’t with his fellow marines because if they were he wouldn’t have detonated a fucking grenade in a fragile umbilical tube. Did he think “well if I’m dead then I’m taking as many people with me as I possibly can”. Truly a hero ladies and gentlemen, truly a hero.

 

The AI is suicidal and for the majority of the campaign you are accompanied by two other marines: O’Neill who wields a smart gun and Bella who is been impregnated with a facehugger so for her (and you) this is a race against time to get the alien out of her before she dies. There is absolutely NO point to either of these characters, now O’Neill is carrying a smart gun, and during the game you also get to have a smart gun on three - yes only THREE – occasions and when you do have it the enemies are pathetic. The smart gun will kill most enemies in a couple of hits, it is like the game gives you a bit of time to just play in God-mode, the question is then: If O’Neill has a smart gun for the entire time then how are there any aliens or mercenaries left for anyone else to kill?? When I had the smart gun none of my “allies” had to fire a shot because I mowed down enemies like they were nothing, I am pretty sure that due to his level of intelligence the higher ups in the colonial marines decided that O’Neill was too stupid to have a proper gun so loaded his smart gun with paint balls or bb rounds instead. This retard is nailed to your feet for most of the game, however, there is a section in which some weird alien captures you, cocoons you, and you wake up having not been impregnated with a chestburster. Now here you have no weapons and must escape through a sewer whilst blind aliens try to hunt you down. Yep blind aliens hunt you down, you have to be stealthy and stay still when they are around, and move when they are not. This is executed relatively well, you are alone and that works, but once again O’Neill’s ineptitude rears its stupid head when you encounter him and you are separated by a grating. So, you are alone, unarmed and have now found a fellow marine, you’d think he’d help you, but nope, of course he doesn’t. I was shouting at the TV for him to pass me a pistol through the bars so at least I have some way of defending myself but nope he doesn’t give you a gun he just urges you to keep moving. He could have passed you a gun, he could have handed you a knife, or maybe he could have thrown a couple of grenades your way, but NOPE, he just urges you to continue onwards. Well thanks for that Captain Fucking Obvious if you hadn’t been here then who knows what I would have done – oh yes I’d have headed onwards!!!

 

Bella is obviously a character that you are supposed to have an emotional attachment to, with her death scene attempting to tug at your heart strings…but because her AI is as crap as everyone else’s you are not sorry when she dies. She keeps saying that she has kept a bullet for herself and makes O’Neill promise he’ll kill her when the time comes, now when she is lying on a medical bed saying her goodbyes, she starts to convulse and O’Neill waits until the alien has ripped through her ribcage killing her incredibly painfully before he fires a shot that kills the alien chestburster. So he allows her to die very painfully when he promised he would not, and then kills the chestburster when it emerges. Again this guy is supposed to be someone we are rooting for?? He is as big an asshole as everyone else, just put a bullet in her head when it becomes obvious that she cannot be saved, do her a favour, hell I’ve vaporised friends for less…

 

Basically even though you have NPC support they are USELESS, their weapons are so weak they might as well resort to using harsh language. At one point I had to get into a power loader and fight this big alien, the power loader has two attacks, one which I am going to call the bitch-slap, and the second is the poke. These cause the power lifter to smack the alien with the back of its hand, or stick its other arm straight forward and poke the alien in the chest. To make things worse there are a bunch of smaller drone aliens around you, now at this point you have three other marines in your party, you would be forgiven for thinking that they will deal with the smaller aliens so you can deal with the bigger one but…NOPE…I was killed a bunch of times by the drones who were scratching at my feet whilst I’m bitch-slapping the bigger alien for all I was worth because the marines around me were shooting at passing butterflies or something.

 

I knew this game was going to be bad and it really was, but for a while bad in a funny way, you know, so bad it is good kind of thing. But there were so many occasions when so-bad-its-funny really started to test my patience, being shit is one thing but getting killed time and time again when an alien or human enemy has snuck up behind me when my fellow marines were supposed to be watching my back did cause my blood to boil once or twice.

 

There is a fair amount of fan service here, the developers seem to be trying to give fans some connectivity with the film, however they fall completely and utterly flat.

 

The game gives you the option to find so-called Legendary weapons, these are Hudson’s Pulse rifle, Hick’s shotgun, Vasquez’ Smart Gun as well as Gorman’s pistol…[frown]…er…not really sure Gorman’s pistol is a legendary weapon but okay I’ll go with it…Vasquez's handgun...(again a weapon we saw her use once but she did pin an alien to the wall with her foot and shoot it with this weapon so ok I'll let that slide) and finally Frost’s Flamethrower, a weapon he used to roast another marine as he was carried away by a drone, again a legendary weapon??? Anyway, I assumed that these guns would be cleverly placed in the levels which would correspond to events in the film, you know like finding Frost's flamthrower in the Hive or something. At one point you find Hudson’s body with a hole in his chest, so after he was taken he was impregnated and killed by a chestburster, okay…fine…so I scoured the area around him thinking that he would have held onto his gun as long as possible until the ammo ran dry before he was finally cocooned. But NOPE…you go up some stairs and the gun is right there. None of these legendary weapons are hard to find and with a minimum amount of exploration you will be able to find them. Some, like Gorman’s pistol is simply sitting on a table out in the open, you don’t even have to go looking for them, you just trip over them as you play. Plus where is Ripley's Flamethrower/Pulse Rife?? THAT is a legendary weapon but it is not one you get to find and as there isn't any tape in the game you cannot imitate Ripley and tape weapons together to create something more powerful.

 

You also get to visit the Derelict, this should have been one of the coolest things ever for a massive Aliens fan like me. But it is like so much in this game. It is there for its own sake. You see Bishop’s severed legs in a cargo bay but so what?? After I spotted them my character started to comment but his voice over was drowned out by the commander talking into your earmike at exactly the same time so why were they even there?? You see parts of the colony of LV-426 seen in the films but again the design of the colony and the layout of the rooms doesn’t seem to bear much resemblance to the colony seen in the film.

 

By far the biggest problem with the game are the enemies themselves, fighting aliens is fine, yes they have the survival instincts of a jammy dodger being dipped in a cup of tea but at least they jump around on the walls or ceilings. As much as it thoroughly pains me to say it, this is the only thing that this game does a little better than Alien Isolation…[...I have literally just cringed as I wrote that...]…but it is true. In Isolation the alien plodded around on the floor, if you were crouching under a desk or something you’d watch his feet go past so when you had a reading on the alien you knew he’d be at your eye level. In this game the aliens will climb on walls and ceilings, I wonder if the alien had moved on the walls and ceilings in Isolation it would have been impossible to deal with because you wouldn’t have known if it was in the vents or on the ceiling without sticking your head out of cover to look. So yes, the aliens moving on the walls or ceilings is a little more like they move in the film, BUT and this is a huge BUT when the aliens do come at you they drop to the floor and run at you, conveniently in a straight line so killing them is easy. If one does get to you, just mash the square button to fight it off or simple twat the thing in the face when it gets too close to shoot it. There is nothing like the fast paced lethal alien in Colonial Marines that you go up against in the spectacular Alien  Isolation.

 

You spend the majority of the game fighting mercenaries from Weyland-Yutani who have apparently declared war on the colonial marines. Seriously how powerful is this company, how can they justify slaughtering colonial marines or keep sacrificing scientists to try and harness the power of the aliens. I did like the fact that the aliens and marines will fight one another. More than once I was content to sit back and watch as the two would kill each other. However, your team's retarded AI once again gets really annoying, I would be happy to sit back and watch the two slaughterer one another, only my AI partners would go running ahead to engage the enemies which would draw their attention straight to me. So whilst my teammates are plinking away that the aliens with severely under powered weapons I then have to deal with both types of enemies myself. I don’t want to play Call of Duty, I wanted to play an aliens game, I have no desire to sit behind cover which seems to be made of cheese because enemies can shoot through it, picking my moment to attack humans with guns. The mercenaries can hit you from across a room with a shotgun that will take off a huge chunk of your armour, if you try the same tactic your weapons will do nothing. The pulse rifle you carry is atrociously inaccurate, aim at an enemy’s head and squeeze the trigger and you will be killing the pocket of air about two feet above and to the right of the enemy you were aiming at. You can upgrade your weapons but the upgrades are not really worth anything, the only upgrades I decided were useful were clip and firepower. Or I would have upgraded the firepower but you had to be something like a level 25 marine to do it and I was not interested in getting xp. The noise of the guns, even though movie authentic, is really, really grating when you are hearing it constantly for the majority of the game.

 

I have to say though that I liked the way they described the process how an alien embryo grows within a host. The game says that as it grows the embryo attaches itself to every organ in the chest cavity, so even if it could be removed it has already acted like a cancer within the host causing their organs to fail. Therefore there is no way to remove the alien without killing the host. I don’t know exactly how this fits in with the other alien games or Alien Resurrection in which the alien was safely removed from Ripley’s clone but I thought it was quite an interesting idea, still it was not enough to save everything else.

 

This game is bad, so very, very bad. I did have some fun with it because I was expecting it to be awful. It is so bad it is funny. Play it to laugh at it. Thing is, your smile will fade pretty quickly once you remember that this game is canon…yeah, remember I told you to bear that in mind…I reminded myself of that fact a couple of times and all I could think was that this was a great opportunity completely wasted. As I mentioned above, you do visit the Derelict at one point but you just walk through it fighting a few mercenaries along the way, then walk right back out again, so what was the point of including it in the game.

 

I have heard the multiplayer is good but I don’t care about interacting with humans online so if that hauls it up from the pit of crap it is wallowing in then I wouldn’t know.

 

Plus why bring back Hicks?? Why not Hudson or one of the other marines that we did not see get killed. Michael Biehn obviously doesn’t care about the character and puts no effort into the voice acting, I like the character of Hicks, but here he is pointless and should have stayed dead. It would have been so much better if Bill Paxton had returned to reprise the role of the scene stealing Hudson.

 

Ultimately Aliens Colonial Marines is a massive waste of potential, it could have been great and considering how good Alien Isolation was, it just goes to show that no one cared enough to put the effort in here to make a good story, characterise the other marines, or programme the aliens or humans to do something more interesting than run at you or hide behind cover firing at you.

 

Finally the end game boss, you fight a Queen on your ship, there are no other aliens and there are plenty of crates that you can hide behind. I got hit once when I stood out in the open because I was pretty sure that the Queen couldn’t reach me. Turned out she could but it did not do me much damage, health and ammo was plentiful so it didn’t matter. You have to flick four switches in a hanger to retract a catapult-thing, then run around behind another button and hit that when the Queen walks in front of it. When running out to hit these buttons you can run through the Queen, she is not a solid entity, so you don’t have to worry about running around her to get back to an area she can’t reach you in. Run, hit button, back to cover…you know what is coming people…rinse, lather, repeat until the final cut scene plays.

 

I am using my Thumb to therefore push Aliens Colonial Marines Down into the cesspit of shit where it belongs.

 

 

2.5/10 – So bad-it-is-good starts to get pretty old pretty quickly. I saw the game through to the end but it is terrible. Other critics are completely right. The game is just a waste of time, potential, money and brings back a character that should have stayed dead. Considering this is canon it just adds insult to injury and until the magnificent Alien Isolation came along it looked like the aliens would never be given the treatment or the respect they deserve.

 

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© Chris Sharman