Aliens: Colonial Marines Critique: ET Phones It In

If there was any game that made me want to care about the IP when I didn’t already, this is the game that does it, but not for any good reason. It makes me want to care about Aliens so there’s actually something for me to care about in this game. I didn’t really pay much attention to it during the demo that got all kinds of rage due to the differences between that and this pile of mediocrity nor did I have any previous interest in the IP, so most of the well-deserved anger is mostly lost on me. Due to when I played it, however, most of the bugs that might have been interesting, like the Michigan J. Frog dancing bug that’s better than the game itself, had been removed by patches. Unfortunately, those patches couldn’t give the weapons more impact, a movement speed faster than “plodding,” or an actually interesting story hook to draw non-fans in.

The story is manageable, barely enough to keep the player going along their first playthrough. The gunplay is average overall, with the guns having the animations that would give them some of the aforementioned impact if they actually dealt any damage worth bothering with without needing to spend about 2-5 times as much ammo as you should need to defeat the middling enemy AI. The enemies themselves vary between the aliens that honestly should be annoyed that they’re associated with this game and the Weyland-Yutani mercenaries, which were the least-annoying enemy group to fight since they were predictable. Upon reflection, one could be forgiven for thinking that picking one enemy group and concentrating on that would have led to better enemies overall, but considering that this was a collaboration project between Gearbox and the deceased TimeGate Studios, (which considering the latter was the designer for the expansions for the first FEAR, may not have been much of a loss) picking one of anything and sticking to it might have been impossible.  If what I’d heard about what this game looked like before Gearbox got it from TimeGate is true, then the fault of the end product lies entirely with Gearbox, since the main reason it was taken from what was in the demo to what was “released” (that being a kind word) was that the game required too much hardware for the consoles at the time to handle…apparently when trying to scale the graphics and programming back to work on the PS3/360, they also scaled back the quality of gameplay, story, AI, and pretty much everything else.

If there’s one good thing about this game, it’s the leveling system, which in what I think is a first, is consistent between both the single-player and multiplayer modes, and requires you to perform Call of Duty-like challenges in gameplay to level up and unlock more weapon parts. Sad to say that a side-mechanic is the best thing about this game, but even considering the post-patch product, it’s amazing there’s anything good about this game at all.

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