Aliens: Colonial Marines is a perplexing game in the sense that the reviews from other outlets have been far short of stellar but at the same time, offers a nominal level of fun that makes the game nearly worthwhile. In this first-person shooter (FPS) that borrows lore from the popular Alien movie franchise, gamers (or any other sane individual on Earth) will be frustrated with a game riddled with glitches and bad graphics. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean gamers can’t have some fun playing playing what amounts to be a poorly made game – and isn’t that what really matters? To better understand Aliens: Colonial Marines a breakdown of the game is necessary.
The writing for Aliens: Colonial Marines isn’t terrible but it is predictable, dull, and possibly very confusing. Players familiar with the Alien story may find it boring but for players who are not acquainted with the story the plot can be confusing and disjointed. Historical information and explanation was not implemented well. Another eye-roll inducing feature was the characters. Cliche hardass marine chicks and pep-talking commanders may hurt the story for some gamers. For others players it may make no difference who or what the story possesses because Aliens: Colonial Marines is about shooting aliens. If the primary goal for the gamer is spraying alien blood then Aliens: Colonial Marines should be entertaining.
Gamers can choose to play a solo campaign, co-op campaign, or versus mode. Players who choose co-op can either play up to 4 players online or 2 players locally. Whatever mode the gamer chooses, he or she should be prepared for glitches. Multiple glitches have been experienced with Aliens: Colonial Marines. Xenomorphs are truly awe-inspiring aliens as they jump through people and walls. Occasionally a lesser alien will become indefinitely lodged inside a wall causing the NPC (non-playable character) accompanying the gamer in solo campaign mode to freak the %#&% out, hindering game progression. It is not uncommon for guns to go missing from Winter’s hands in the heat of battle resulting in confusion and sudden death. In-game sounds would also glitch, often muting themselves entirely.
Other than the glitches gameplay was similar to classic first-person shooters. Gamers will run around shooting both human and xenomorph enemies then collecting the goodies dropped from their corpses. Ammo, medipacks, and armor are the precious loot gamers will need to survive the xenomorph threat. Gamers should also be on the look out for dogtags and legendary weapons that increase a player’s rank. Increasing a character’s rank is achieved through completing missions and collecting valuable items. As the gamer increases in rank he can purchase upgrades for his personal arsenal. The upgrades available for weapons are mediocre and forgettable. Occasionally Winters may kill an alien with a cool special kill, like feeding a pistol bullet directly to xenomorph, but ultimately weapons are uninteresting. Just use Winter’s shotgun for everything and everyone.
Sometimes the controls seemed counter-intuitive, especially when playing a xenomorph in versus, and some players may need time to adjust. Tutorials were pretty useless as the font coloring was poorly chosen and the instructions were difficult to read.
All this negativity aside, Aliens: Colonial Marines can still be fun to play. If the gamers enjoys regular first-person shooters then they’ll enjoy the familiar shoot-and-run gameplay. Where gamers may find the most fun is within the game’s versus mode. Versus mode allows players to compete either as xenomorphs or marines. Playing as a marine is no different from the campaign but it may be easier to survive if one collaborates with his partners. Playing a xenomorph (there are 3 types) requires learning new moves. Playing a xenomorph is fun, albeit it takes practice and determination to become a decent alien threat. Players can also customize the looks of their marines and xenomorphs by unlocking skins. There are four available versus modes: team deathmatch, extermination, escape, and survivor. Each mode comes with its own twist but all modes play on the same 5 maps. If there is any replay value in Aliens: Colonial Marines it will be with the versus mode.
Considering it’s 2013 the graphics for Aliens: Colonial Marines seem lazy, particularly with the xenomorphs. Xenomorphs are reminiscent of a minimalist style figurine spray painted all one silver color. Different types of xenomorphs, like the spitters, are distinguishable by their neon colored acid which comes off more cartoonish than threatening. Characters and xenomorphs look pixelated and attention to detail is lacking. An example of the laziness and poor detail was apparent with environmental damage. Bullet holes would magically disappear as well as dead xenomorphs. Larger xenomorph enemies were just enlarged versions of smaller ones, exhibiting little design thought. The graphics for Aliens: Colonial Marines were definitely not up to par with this era’s games and come off incomplete and rushed.
Although there are plenty of negative aspects to Aliens: Colonial Marines it does have one positive point. Aliens: Colonial Marines can be fun to play if it is embraced for what it is: a simple first-person shooter. Gamers who are looking for a thought-provoking, original, beautiful game will not enjoy this FPS. Anyone looking for a quick, easy shoot’em’up game may find artless enjoyment with Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Overall, Aliens: Colonial Marines is a glitchy, aesthetically unpleasing game with goofy, cliche character personalities. FPS lovers may enjoy playing, especially the versus, but they won’t be nominating it for any awards. The criticism of Aliens: Colonial Marines is fair and if developers had spent more time smoothing out glitches and sprucing up the game with some creativity, gamers would receive the game kinder.