Aliens Colonial Marines review

Aliens Colonial Marines review

T3 4
  • Aliens Colonial Marines is a shooter set in the universe of James Cameron’s Aliens, which comes on like a cross between Quake and Dead Space

    Aliens Colonial Marines review

    Love

    • Pulse rifles!
    • Well-written story
    • Fun multiplayer

    Hate

    • Rubbish textures
    • Stodgy character models
    • Alien ‘jazz’ hands

    Alien: Colonial Marines is being billed as the sequel to James Cameron’s seminal 1986 film Aliens, and to be honest, that’s more weight than this game can shoulder. Aliens isn’t just one of the best horror films ever made, it’s an iconic cultural touchstone and one of the only sequels to ever improve on its (already brilliant) source material.

    Alien Colonial Marine can’t – and doesn’t – live up to that legacy. However, once you remove the millstone of cinematic history from its neck and attempt to take it for what it is – a consistently fun FPS in which you get to blast HR Geiger’s nightmarish brainchildren – you might find yourself addicted to it.

    Aliens Colonial Marines: Plot

    The single-player campaign puts players in the boots of a Colonial Marine – OOORAH!! – called Winter who is part of a team dispatched to find out what happened to the Marines aboard the Sulaco (the ship in Aliens).

    Once aboard, Winter and his fellow soldiers find the Sulaco has been overrun by xenomorphs and, after grabbing the flight recorder, they wisely decide to get the hell out of there.

    Because nothing is that easy in the Aliens universe, they soon find their escape route cut off and themselves trapped aboard the Sulaco with a lot of murderous aliens closing in on them.

    That may sound like a pretty thin premise, but the story of Alien Colonial Marines is one of the best things about the game. As Winter as his mates try to survive against the alien onslaught, they start to uncover some shady practices involving their dead comrades, the xenomorphs and a corporation called Weyland Yutani.

    As if on cue, corporate troops enter the fray, intent on putting bullets through the Marines, to make sure none of the information they’ve discovered ever leaves the Sulaco. The action continues at a clip, with the player descending to the planet LV-426 and the colony of Hadley’s Hope.

    The plot is populated with some pretty interesting characters, who are both deeper and more complex than the usual military types who populate shooters these days.

    Aliens Colonial Marines: Gameplay

    Naturally the campaign gives players plenty of opportunities to shoot guns at snarling aliens and over the eight hour campaign they’ll get their hands on some of the iconic hardware from Cameron’s movie.

    The pulse rifle, with its rapid fire bursts and under-barrel grenade launcher is the game’s standard issue firearm, but players will get hold of flamethrowers, shotguns and – arguably the best weapon in the game – the smartgun, which allows them to target and obliterate multiple targets with using a reticule.

    All of the weapons look and sound like their counterparts in the James Cameron movie and all of them are an absolute blast to use – as is the iconic motion sensor, which beeps urgently whenever enemies are near.

    Players earn XP for every kill they make and every collectible they find – in the form of dogtags, audio diaries and legendary weapons. All of this feeds back into the profile they’ll be able to take into the multiplayer mode and gifts them points they can use to unlock augmentations for their weapons.

    These include firebombs for the pulse rifle, laser sights for the shotgun and reduced kickback on machine pistols.

    Aliens Colonial Marines: Multiplayer

    Once they’ve blitzed the campaign, players will probably want to head into the multiplayer and it’s here that the game offers a match of two halves. When battling online, odds are heavily tipped towards those players who can be bothered to work as a team.

    Whether they play as the aliens or the marines, players will find that, unless they work together, they’ll be wiped out in short order. Lone wolves need not apply; in all likelihood they’ll annoy the hell out of their team-mates and be picked off easily by their adversaries.

    The online mode has team vs team and objective based match types. Playing as the marines usually involves staying in a tight-knit group, watching each other’s backs and keeping an eye on the motion sensor.

    Playing as the aliens is a little more liberating; the HUD is in infrared so you have the drop on your human adversaries, which gives you a bit more leeway in how you approach for the kill.

    Both sides have special weapons situated somewhere on the map; aliens have husks such as the exploding Boiler or the massive Crusher they can control, while marines can grab a smartgun or flamethrower if they’re prepared to brave the dark.

    Aliens Colonial Marines: Visuals

     

    There’s a lot to admire about Aliens Colonial Marines, which is good because there are one or two glaring drawbacks to the proceedings. For a start, the graphics could have been given a polish; on PC the environments and character only dip in quality if the player zooms in close, but on Xbox 360 they approach a standard that could be described as ‘dire’.

    Furthermore some of the alien animations are unintentionally hilarious; on all fours they look suitably menacing but when they attack on two legs, they look like they’re approaching with jazz hands outstretched.

    Aliens Colonial Marines: Verdict

    Aliens Colonial Marines may be a little too rough around the edges for a lot of players. Its graphics are patchy, its gameplay straightforward and overall it doesn’t feel like a big budget sequel to one of the greatest horror films ever made.

    But Aliens Colonial Marines remains fun and consistently engaging throughout. Just be aware, there are some kinks going in and temper your expectations accordingly.

    Aliens Colonial Marines release date: Out now

    Aliens Colonial Marines price: From £24.99 (on PC)

  • Aliens: Colonial Marines offers an online deathmatch experience that looks like goofy fun, if you’re playing the aliens, and utterly terrifying, if you’re playing the humans

    Aliens Colonial Marines review

    Love

    • Pulse rifles!
    • Well-written story
    • Fun multiplayer

    Hate

    • Rubbish textures
    • Stodgy character models
    • Alien ‘jazz’ hands

    The intro paragraph Aliens: Colonial Marines is all about teamwork. Much like co-op shooter heavyweights such as Left 4 Dead and Borderlands, Gearbox’s new sci-fi horror title forces players to work together through by tapping into basic survival instincts. It’s very simple, really: if you don’t work together, you’re dead meat.

    Aliens Colonial Marines: Gameplay

    Well, you’re dead meat if you’re playing the titular soldiers anyway. We can’t report on how much teamwork factors into successfully playing the game’s Alien characters as, at our recent hands-on with the game in Dallas, we were only allowed to control the human Marines. The Aliens were piloted exclusively by Gearbox’s development team.

    We can tell you, however, that playing the Aliens looks like a lot of fun. The creatures made famous in the films directed by James Cameron and Ridley Scott are agile, lethal critters. They can leap huge distances, see the heat-outlines of their quarries through walls and scuttle nimbly along any surface, be it horizontal or vertical.

    This gives them the ability to attack the Marines from pretty much any direction at great speed. The results of this are always very messy.

    This means that, as a Marine, you spend a lot of time frantically turning your gun in every direction, lest one of these slavering beasties emerges from the darkness and rips you in half. It also dictates the overall strategy of the poor sods controlling the Marines.

    Aliens Colonial Marines: Multiplayer

    It takes very little time to realise that unless they stick together, the Marines will lose. So in short order, we found ourselves as part of a posse heading towards the most well-lit parts of the multiplayer map, cramming ourselves into confined spaces and trying to turn entry-points to our position into grisly bottlenecks.

    Aliens Colonial Marines: Weapons

    To aid us in our efforts, we were given access to the film franchise’s iconic weapons and equipment. One of the more precious items in the game is the motion sensor which allows the Marine players to see how close the Aliens are to them.

    As far as the weapons go, there’s the pulse rifle, which acts like a machine gun, the assault rifle, that offers more accurate firing, but in shorter bursts, and there’s even Hicks’s shotgun, which is great for close encounters.

    In the deathmatch we played in, there was also a massive smartgun – a heavy rapid-firing canon that does most of the aiming for you – available for the souls brave enough to venture into the darkened map.

    Aliens Colonial Marines: Maps

     

    The one map that Gearbox allowed us to play on was an interesting reconstruction of the wrecked base Hadley’s Hope from the movie Aliens. The environment worked well as a shooter map – plenty of catwalks, corridors, and vents for the Aliens to move through, and all of it centred around a couple of cargo bays.

    The lighting added to the atmosphere significantly, with most walkways being shrouded in shadow, and pockets of bright light offering beacons of hope for survival. It looked and felt every bit as if we had been plunged into the terrifying world presented in James Cameron’s movie.

    Aliens Colonial Marines: Verdict

    In terms of putting its best foot forward, Gearbox did a sterling job with its multiplayer demo. The game plays brilliantly, looks suitably creepy and the experience of controlling the Marines ramps up the tension to white-knuckled levels. If the story mode lives up to the standard of the online segment, Aliens: Colonial Marines could well be one of the best games released all year. We can’t wait.

    Aliens Colonial Marines availability: Autumn 2012

    Aliens Colonial Marines price: TBC

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  • Aliens Colonial Marines

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