Developer(s) – Gearbox Software
Publisher(s) – Sega
Designer – John Mulkey
Producer – Brian Burleson
Whilst playing through Aliens: Colonial Marines, I came to believe that the game does not reflect on it’s positions on the sales charts, unfortunately; especially since it was developed by Gearbox Software, who for some time have been known for creating one of the best first person shooters of the seventh generation; Borderlands. I found that the most interesting thing about this game was a few facts about its development cycle. A previous title of the same name was being developed by Check Six Games, and published by Fox Interactive, but it was cancelled in 2001 before its release on the PlayStation 2. Even the story was supposed to be extremely similar to the one in the game released last year, but was to be set in between the events of the films Aliens and Aliens 3, whereas the game that was released takes place after the trilogy. But even regardless of these damning similarities, Gearbox have since come out and said that both games are unrelated. After I played it for an hour or so, however, I was much less intrigued.
Graphics – 6.5/10
Conceptually, the game is as what anyone would expect, really. It stays as true as possible to the source material of the films; futuristic but gritty settings, coupled with the frequent appearances of the iconic extra-terrestrials synonymous with the original film trilogy, such as the xenomorphs. Several actors from the original films even reprised their roles. But the way I see it, the overall atmosphere of the game is nowhere as scary or even as dark as I would have liked it to be. That’s one way whereby the game hasn’t stayed true to the spirit of the films, and I thought it to be pretty disappointing; as that’s what I think the best thing about the film trilogy is. On top of that, the game is extremely glitchy, and a lot of graphical polishing should have done before this game was put on shelves. I also found that there was not much added to this game by the developers in terms of concept, and my asked myself what the point of that was. After all, why would developers take an already existing license, and not add any flare to it to try and it make it their own? Doing so worked for the Batman Arkham series after all.
Gameplay – 5/10
For a linear first person shooter, I found it to be moderately enjoyable at the very best, and I don’t believe it would have endured anywhere near as much success as it has done if it didn’t have the popular Aliens license slapped all over it. The lack of substance in gameplay would not help if the game’s visuals and story were comprised of an entirely new concept. I think what Sega tried to do was to create a title that was evolutionary, and not necessarily revolutionary; and I believe they failed to do so miserably.
Controls – 10/10
I’m glad to say that there are no problems with the game’s controls scheme, but I think if there was, then I would have some even more serious problems. How hard can it be to get the control scheme of the first person shooter right? Especially nowadays, when the market is flooded with them. I found that the shoot button is R1 as opposed to the traditional R2, but honesty, that’s semantics.
Lifespan – 3/10
Another source of frustration I encountered whilst playing through this game was that it only lasts about 4 hours on average, which is short even for an average first person shooter. It’s a lifespan on par with Halo 4, which doesn’t do this game any favours. Most other modern linear first person shooters, such as Halo: Reach or anything in the Call of Duty or Battlefield franchises last for about 6 to 8 hours on average, but unfortunately, there isn’t enough gameplay substance in this title to even make it last that long.
Storyline – 4/10
Taking place after the events of the Aliens trilogy as I said, it follows the story of the Colonial Marines conducting a rescue mission on the planet LV-426, as they are caught between both the iconic aliens and the Weyland-Yutani corporation and find themselves fighting for their own survival. As readers may suspect, it does indeed work better for fans of the series than it does to newcomers, but even if you happen to be a fan, certain plot threads can become quite predictable. For example, any fan knows what will soon happen after a character has had a xenomorph on their face for several hours, and they claim they’re alright after it falls off their face and dies.
Originality – 0/10
I found that with this game, there was nothing to differentiate it from other games either in terms of gameplay or general concept. It’s based on an existing license, which has been prominent since the late 80s, and there’s nothing about it that makes it stand out in the first person shooting genre either; which is, as I said, very unworthy of Gearbox Software.
To summarize, Aliens: Colonial Marines is nowhere near worthy of the attention and commercial acclaim it has garnished since last year in February. Gamers may expect an atmospheric and enjoyable game, as indeed I did to a certain extent, but it’s mostly a disappointment… mostly.