Reviews: Aliens Colonial Marines

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Hot Garbage (spoilers)
I get what Gearbox Software was trying for. I really do. Taking the Alien franchise back to LV-426 for a Fanservice-laden romp through familiar locales and setpieces was an amazing idea, but it's clear that the production team were either tied down by development timelines or they just didn't seem to know how to marshal all the disparate elements together in a way that was fun or interesting.

If you are familiar with the AVP games, you already know the story. Colonial Marines are dispatched to a backwater planet to investigate "strange signal x", and come across a massacre and eventually discover the titular xenomorphs before trying to escape. It's bog-standard, even with the heaping dose of continuity nods and references.

The first level alone is proof enough of this. "Distress" has you entering the USS Sulaco and finding a xeno hive, then having to fight through the infested decks with your wingman, Keyes. Despite the fact that the dev team took great pains to replicate the design and interior of the ship from production sketches, it's still a corridor shooter with bullet-sponge xenos that have laughably pathetic AI and run at you with seemingly no regard for stealth or intelligence.

Despite the attempts to give the Marines characterization, it never works and they never come across as anything more than one-note caricatures. You don't care about Bella, especially because you know she's dead meat when you first meet her. O'Neill is equal parts annoying and infuriating, with his AI pathfinding deciding to take a holiday every so often. Ashly Burch's attempts to give Reid some "badass" moments come across as half-hearted. Keyes is the gruff authority figure from any war film you've seen in the last three decades.

Having human enemies wasn't a bad thing on paper, but they're prevalent far too much, and the entire Wey-Yu subplot really has nothing to do with anything beyond Hicks' survival. They act at the speed of plot, somehow setting up an operation where they harvested a Queen and are pumping out eggs, yet are casually dismantled by a handful of grunts and are never explored in any detail until the final cutscene.

There are a few amusing elements (gun customization, the hidden weapons, some of the Easter eggs), but they're so few and far between that it just feels like a chore to play this.
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As far as licensed lames go: It's so okay it's average.
I'm gonna say I was one of the people really hyped up for this game, and I even rewatched Aliens in anticipation. However, when it got mixed to negative reviews, I decided to hold off buying it and rent it from Redbox instead. Here are my thoughts.

The Good:

The Aliens are fun to shoot. They come in a large variety of types and you'll feel a total badass when you mow 'em down. At many points, they were scary, too, which is even better.

The story is okay for the most part (some weird bits are in the "Bad" section). The characters are likeable enough for me to care about them.

The weapons are AWESOME. All the movie weapons sound authentic, and there's a whole bunch of other weapons too. What's more, they're all customizable, too. Finally, unlike many other games, you can carry all of them, so no need to worry about missing out on your favorite gun (for the most part anyways).

There's a lot of attention to detail. Everything is modeled as closely to the movie as possible, and there are character weapons lying around, as well. Ever wanted to run around with Hick's shotgun, Hudson's Pulse Rifle, and Vasquez's Smart Gun? Well, you can!

The Bad:

Why does Keyes blow himself up? As the entry in YMMV explained, it makes no sense whatsoever.

Why can't I use the Smart Gun whenever I want? It's my FAVORITE weapon in the entire franchise, is it's only in it for two levels, and one of them is a secret you have to find.

The graphics look like ass. The textures are constantly popping in, and the general look of it looks barely better than Doom 3, which came out nearly 9 years ago.

There's a TON of bugs. as none of the months it got delayed used for bug testing? There's clipping, AI issues, occasional gamebreaking bugs that require a reset etc. Hopefully these get patched later, but jeez.

The human enemies are NOT fun to shoot. I play an Aliens game to shoot XENOS, not humans. Also, these guys have impeccable accuracy, unless you have Hudson's Pulse Rifle, they're also frustrating to kill. If you get close, you're dead. Easily the worst part.

Verdict:

I generally liked it. It's better than most licensed games, that for sure. However, if you were looking an uber awesome game starring your favorite alien, you'll be disappointed. It's serviceable for nostalgia, but it's not the Aliens game we waited 6 years for.
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AVP: R was only slight worse- which says a lot
Anyone who knows me knows two things about these films: 1) I love A's 1-3 and 2) I freakin' hate the AVP films..oh god I hate them. I hate them more than I hate non-M TV which again says a lot (I've written a thesis paper establishing my hatred of non-M TV). Before I begin this let me write a short preface to maybe offload a modicum of the degree of disappoint I had with this title. When I went to Gamestop to pick up my copy admittedly I had a totally realistic expectation given the trailers, the previews, etc for this game...especially since that dreadlocked pile of idiotic stupidity was not making an appearance and it was immediately following "Aliens".

In fact I had looked forward to this game for months- the almost inexplicable lack of quality titles for an obviously talented, rich, multi-genre creature (survival horror, squad-based, action/survival horror) the product has potential. Not to mention it is a nearly empty universe...aside from the Aliens and the humans/androids (we can now add the Engineers) there really is a lot of fill-in that could be done and A:CM seemed like it was primed and ready to fill-in what happened after the "Sulaco" left for its journey into Ripleyacide. I even set aside my misgivings about the xenomorph and FPS for this. Seriously though, I was pumped and took the game home (people knew not to call me on its release night..my girl knew better, even my 15 year old dog seemed to know I was in do not disturb mod) and then the game totally sucked. I'm not so much bothered by the lack of technical capability (after all, I really loved DA:O's look when most reviews didn't) but the story was to the ninth level of hell awful. Nothing was implimented well, the characters were boring and even the motion detector (the best thing this title had going for it)was poorly utilized and the Aliens were zerg rushing morons- no suspense. There was only one effective emotional moment in the game and none of the iconic weapons were implimented well, they seemed grafted in....At best the game was in the 'meh' category and at worst it was woodchipper bad...and I cannot figure how it became so terrible. This title was so bad I felt Gearbox themselves had lied about it and have decided to stop buying their products even though I loved Borderlands I and II...that's how bad this game was-it destroyed my affinity for its developer...
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It isn't terrible
Warning Spoilers

The Bad:

Loads of graphical errors, once saw a floating alien corpse, lots of pop-up, obvious way to hide loading screens is obvious with the doors, certain characters were instantly unlikable, is it supposed to be the same ship from Prometheus, because I saw Fifield's scanners, Mercs feel like they are there so someone will shoot at you, why is The Crusher only fought once, reuse of areas from the films feels kind of lazy, Disappointing Last Level, Anti Climax Boss, certain sound effects seem off, and really bad lip syncing.

The Good:

No game breaking bugs that I encountered, I do enjoy they way you carry all weapons you collect, Co-Op is fun, some frightening moments, The Crusher and The Raven were cool, liked some of the weapons, and blowing away Aliens is nice.

Overall:

Rent and if you like, wait for the price to go down alot.
  comments: 1
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