Aliens Colonial Marines had a lot of hopes pinned on it, but seems to have left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth – especially the consumers.
When I first saw trailers of Aliens Colonial Marines I must confess – I perhaps lost myself in the hype a little. I am a fan of the Aliens franchise in general, and really enjoyed the Alien vs Predator games – especially the marine campaign. It was tense, dripped with atmosphere (and saliva too if you got caught unaware by a nest of Xenomorphs) and despite flaws – felt good to play.
When Aliens Colonial Marines was first released and before I got a chance to play it, I’d already started hearing disturbing rumours across the internet. Ripples of disappointment for a myriad of different reasons. But, I refused to let my excitement for the game down. What type of reviewer would I be if I let such things bother me.
The game installed – and there was one small alarm bell in my head. Subtle it might have been, but I noticed the install file wasn’t even 6GB in size. I immediately thought one thing – low resolution textures. I didn’t want to damn anything at this point, but I already felt a little worried.
The gory graphics…
The game had installed and I readied myself to start playing the game. Headset in – recording software ready. I loaded up the game to pre-configure it before I started recording, in other words, max the graphics out, set the resolution – that type of thing. I dutifully raised the graphics sliders – and then I saw “field of view” – but alarmingly, with NO number attached to it. Call me old fashioned – but what number is it I’m even adjusting it too. I gritted my teeth, and assumed that the slider would likely be 60 – 75.
I can tell you that the graphics in Aliens Colonial Marines are a mixed bag. On one hand, the textures seem low resolution (barely better than its console counter-part can muster). Character models are so-so. I’ve seen far worse… and for the most part, Aliens are well animated – including as they skitter along the walls. Lighting is nice I will say, it isn’t quite Far Cry 3, but Colonial Marines on the PC looks fairly decent. Organic textures of the Xenomorphs nest looks pretty nice too.
Another great day in the Marine Core!
Aliens Colonial Marines controls like pretty much any other FPS you’ve ever played. There is a button for the motion tracker – and while to its credit, it’s not necessary to have it ‘out’ to hear beeping, you can’t see it. This is very different from Alien vs Predator which ‘bakes it’ into the UI or weapon. I much prefer this approach, just to be clear. By the time you pull out the motion tracker, realize you’re about to be a snack and try to pull out the pulse rifle to shoot the thing, half your health has gone bye-bye.
The main problem is that the motion tracker might as well not be there… and here is the biggest issue of Aliens Colonial Marines (more so than even the bugs, we’ll get into those later though). It isn’t scary. A writer team could’ve set the game in space with a bunch of hungry dogs and a group of men who didn’t like another group of men’s ideals, and you’d have the same effect. The title just doesn’t feel like an Aliens game. There isn’t any tension – mostly because you’re regularly in contact with a team mate and the game puts you in so much combat, and you’re so well armed to deal with it, that it doesn’t feel a threat.
Aliens come, you shoot, they scream, they die. Repeat. One gets past your bullets as you reload… munches a few times, you’ll be fine. Another time, another hits you and you’ll be dead. What I’m saying is, damage doesn’t feel consistent. One minute I’ve full health and die, another I can barely have any health and by shear will my character resists from bleeding to death.
At the end of the day it feels like I’m playing Halo with Xenomorphs, but with far worse production value. There are a few generally tense moments – but they’re fleeting things that try to hide in the shadows. Worse of all the writing is hit and miss. Lines seem forced, and the characters sound like they’re trying to care about a situation when they frankly, don’t. As their home ship explodes one pipes up and says “we used to live there.” the tone and manner make it sound like you’re trying to console your friend by saying “sorry you ate so much” as he complains about feeling sick after an all you can eat event.
And then… there’s the bugs.
All games have bugs. It’s a fact of gaming now that as games become increasingly complex, things will be missed. The odd exploit here, the odd crash there, I can grin and bare that. What isn’t acceptable however, are characters glitching through the floor, models ragdolling through walls and door frames. What’s even worse is the AI of your team mates and enemies.
You can quite literally be in combat with half a dozen enemies, shooting them not more than a dozen feet in full view of your ‘buddies’ and they’ll just stand there. OR, they’ll just disappear off the second you’re not looking at them (glitching in many cases) to the next location. And by the way, this can be in the middle of full on combat.
Enemies can just be chilling out across the room, talking to their buddies as you empty pulse rounds in them. Aliens Colonial Marines isn’t buggy – its a game that feels like a beta release. A preview build.
I’d expect the developers to send this to me and say “this is to test out, remember that we’re still in development, but you can tease your viewers with some stuff meanwhile”. Not “this is a full price release.”
And while not a glitch – the Physics in this game are terrribblleee. Grenades cause virtually no damage. Have you ever played Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. Remember what happened when you used a grenade and it just exploded near the foe and they flinched and carry on? That’s pretty much what happens here. WORSE than that, not even a small crate will go flying.
Overall – Aliens Colonial Marines couldn’t have picked a worse time to be released. We’ve just had DMC Devil May Cry and Dead Space 3 , and to further compound the problem it finds itself sandwiched between Crysis 3 and the new MGS. I have a hard job recommending this title to anyone. I really wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t force myself to even say “it’s good if you’re a fan of the Alien series”. If you are, you’ll feel insulted by this. If you’re an FPS fan, well, you’ll hate the bugs, the samey gameplay and just lack of innovation… not to mention the piss poor graphics.
Give Aliens Colonial Marines a miss.