Aliens: Colonial Marines Review Round-Up

By Michael Epstein email: , Updated Feb 13, 2013 03:29 PM EST

I really wanted Aliens: Colonial Marines to be a good game. As a fan of the films and the mythos I've always wanted a game to capture fear and frantic action of the Aliens franchise. Between the pedigree of the developer, Borderlands 2-makers Gearbox, and the emphasis on the game's "canon" storyline, I had high hopes that this was going to be it.

Imagine my shock when I found that reviewers almost unilaterally panned the game on launch day. Buggy, broken, and poorly designed, it's hard to pick out what went wrong with Colonial Marines because apparently nothing about it went right.

For a game trumpted as having a story that rivals the best movies of the series that inspired it, there were a lot of complaints about Colonial Marines' narrative and storytelling. Polygon's Arthur Gies, branding the game with a 3 out of 10, called the story "incomprehensible." Eurogamer reviewer Dan Whitehead also gave the game 3 out 10, lamenting that the game is extraordinarily bland due to a complete lack of character development:

"There's no Ripley to offer a human dimension on the carnage, there's no ineffectual leader or backstabbing corporate man," Whitehead says. "There's not even a cast of salty and memorable grunts, just faint echoes of archetypes who speak in clichés. One of your fellow marines doesn't like being called "nugget" and had a "sex thing" with a sassy female comrade. That's about as deep as characterisation goes."

Polygon's review also notes that, contrary to pre-release spin for the game, Colonial Marines does not stay faithful to story of Alien and Aliens: "Rather than work around existing fiction that most licensed games follow, Gearbox has instead taken it upon itself to play the part of revisionist."

As a first-person shooter, it appears that Aliens: Colonial Marines seems... uninspired. Kotaku's Patricia Hernandez, who does not reccomend the game, complains the player's arsenal is boring and, in some cases, poorly designed:

"None of the guns are fun to use, even when you upgrade them. Actually, they can be a major pain. The pulse rifle for example "features" a similar sound to the guns in the movies, but it's not a pleasant sound. The movies could get away with it because actually, they didn't feature an extravagant amount of shooting."

More importantly, most reviewers agree that the game, which is based on an action-horror franchise, ever builds any tension or even attempts to frighten the player. "There's little suspense, nothing to absorb you or spur your curiosity," according to Gamespot's Kevin Van Ord. "Colonial Marines is tone-deaf to what makes the Alien franchise what it is--and what makes the best shooters so exciting." Gamespot gave the game a 4.5 out of 10.

I know what you're saying to yourself: "At least it's a pretty game, right?" According to reviewers, the game's visuals fall flat as well. IGN reviewer Tristan Ogilvie, giving the game 4.5 out of 10, cites a laundry list of bugs and technical problems that make the game look terrible, regardless of what platform it's played on: "Noticeably low res textures, shoddy lighting, screen tearing, rampant aliasing, environmental objects that pop in out of nowhere and vanish again - including the gunin your own hands - it all combines to make for a shooter that's substantially below par this far into the hardware generation."

The general theme of the reviews for Aliens: Colonial Marines is a single overwhelming statement: This is not a well-made game. On top of the criticism, the game's release has triggered he says/she says controversy over who's responsible for the game's failings. In the end, it doesn't who made what part of the game, or why the production was splintered. The bottom line is that the game was bad, much worse than the franchise deserved. In the words of Mr. Van Ord: "The Alien franchise deserves better than this."

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