After six years in development, Aliens: Colonial Marines finally leaps out at FPS fans, latching onto their trigger fingers, and keeping their faces hugged to the TV screen. Can it live up to the hype or has Gearbox pulled another Duke Nukem Forever?
For fans of the Alien franchise the good news is that Aliens: Colonial Marines (ACM) has been developed as a video game sequel to James Cameron’s Aliens movie, and takes place 17 weeks after the events of that film. Players fill the army-issued boots of Corporal Christopher Winter on a search and rescue mission to find Ellen Ripley and investigate what went wrong on the USS Sulaco.
Familiar environments featuring new xenomorph species
From the onset, ACM places you within an interactive version of its silver screen counterparts, thanks to the authentic sounds, look and feel of the movies, with Gearbox making good work of its full access to the movies’ sound recordings and set design.
When making your way through the eleven missions of the single player campaign, you need to venture through the claustrophobic hallways of the seemingly abandoned USS Sulaco, and eventually end up on the xenomorph-infested planet, LV-426. Once there, you won’t find any respite from the xenomorph scourge at the ill-fated colony known as Hadley’s Hope, before exploring the Derelict spaceship most recently seen in Prometheus (review).
A great tie-in with the film is the chance to boost your weapons arsenal by picking up legendary weapons from the movies, which include Private Janette Vasquez’s smart gun and Corporal Dwayne Hicks’ shotgun.
A bloody end to the tale of interspecies romance gone bad.
You will need these in your battle against wave upon wave of xenomorph attacks. The monotony of these common battles are broken up by occasional firefights with Weyland-Yutani mercenaries as well as a few run-ins with some new species of xenomorph.
These rarer class of xeno include Spitters, who lack the aggression and armour of the common xeno foot soldiers but make up for that by being able to hurl a lethal dose of acids across great distances. This enables them to safely take-out sentry guns from far away, or simply give the nearest marine an unwanted acid bath.
Making a far more creepy debut are the blind Boilers, who are attracted to noise and barrel down on you on a suicidal run that ends in a rather nasty acid bath.
Even more frightening than either of these is the behemoth known as the Crusher, whose impenetrably thick hide and massive cargo-door busting head means you might as well have be using a water-pistol.
Points of concern
These formidable foes may put Jaws’ teeth count to shame, but they do not have much going on upstairs,, since due to a weak A.I. they quite conveniently leap in front of your weapon scope during every single encounter.
This, coupled with the fact that you are able to carry a variable arsenal along with you, switching between an array of high-powered weapons, including the famous pulse-rifle and flamethrower, means that close encounters of the xenomorph kind are rarely scary nor suspense-filled.
Another disappointing feature is the graphics, which might be decent overall, but nowhere near class leading, as both Far Cry 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops II (review) outgun it in this department. The forthcoming arrival of Crysis 3, which launches locally this Friday (22 February), means ACM is a new title featuring yesteryear’s graphics.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is by no means a terrible FPS title, as it features a decent storyline that allows you to retrace the virtual footsteps of some sci-fi cinema giants.
However, this title showed a great deal of promise, which the final product reneged on due to lack lustre graphics and AI. It had the potential to rock the FPS scene, but what you end up with is a run-of-the-mill FPS title, and just like Duke Nukem Forever, maybe a little less hype was needed to manage expectations.
Alien franchise fans looking for a cinematic gaming experience that is faithful to the movies, could rent ACM for the weekend, but gamers looking to fork out cash for a great FPS title have better options including Far Cry 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Halo 4.
Players get to play through an Aliens movie experience.
Faithfully recreates the look, feel and sounds of the movies.
Graphics not up to par with the latest and greatest FPS titles.
Suicidal Xenomorphs jump in front of your line of sight every single time.