Throughout the many years of development of Aliens: Colonial Marines Gearbox VIP, Randy Pitchford, has been selling Aliens fans on his authentic Aliens experience. Reminiscent of Duke Nukem Forever, Gearbox kept this title at near-vaporware status for years, with Randy popping his head out every once in awhile to tout actual Aliens sets, characters, weapons, gadgets, and voice talent. Does the Aliens: Colonial Marines experience match the lip service?
Players assume the role of a Colonial Marine named Winter, assigned to the ship USS Sephora. The Sephora responds to a distress call made 17 weeks ago by Cpl. Hicks, voiced by Michael Biehn, aboard the USS Selaco. Upon arrival, Winter discovers that the Selaco, once again in orbit over LV-426, is in much greater peril than when Hicks sent the SOS transmission: Xenomorphs moved in and Weyland-Yutani mercenaries are working hard to keep the Selaco out of military hands. The event stemming from this 3-way in space places all surviving passengers from both ships on the ground.
Life on the LV-426 terraforming colony is not what it’s cracked up to be. The planet is unstable and prone to magma displacement, it is literally overrun with Xenomorphs, and the Weyland-Yutani Corporation presence violently resents intrusion into their little pet science project. Winter, his CO, and his squadmates hit the ground running, setting up a base of operations in Hadley’s Hope, the destroyed colony from the second movie, to provide a rendezvous point for surviving marines.
The survivors must now focus on obtaining a means off of the planet and putting an end to Weyland-Yutani’s Xenomorph farm once and for all.
Get Away From Her, You Bitch!
The developer made an admirable attempt at movie authenticity: half of Bishop still lays in Selaco’s hangar and the overturned bed in the sick bay in Hadley’s Hope is still there. The layout is definitely genuine and immediately recognizable to Alien fans. Space Marine gear from the movie is also very authentic: motion trackers, pulse rifles, flamethrowers, turrets, and assault rifles look and sound like they did in the movie. The power loader Sigourney Weaver used in the climax of Aliens is even an available weapon. Michael Biehn and Lance Henriksen jumped on board to lend their voices to Hicks and Bishop, respectively. Unfortunately, the authenticity can only carry a game so far.
What Am I Supposed to Use? Harsh Language?
Fucking-A-Right there’s going to be some harsh language. I barely got aboard The Selaco when I discovered that this game was seriously fucked. My first encounter with a Xenomorph turned unintentionally hilarious when he started dancing instead of fighting: I would describe it as a Jitterbug. The animation, especially Xenomorph movement, is incessantly sporadic. If they’re not crawling on the ceilings or walls the animation just doesn’t look right.
The graphics in general look pretty shitty. I recently played Doom 3 and the graphics in that last-gen game look better than Aliens: CM. When we finally meet Cpl. Hicks he looks more like Steve Buscemi than Michael Biehn. The chest-bursting scenes were a particular letdown for me. In open areas the Xenomorphs appear out of mid-air and have a tendency to get stuck in ceilings and floors.
The campaign narrative takes almost nothing from the Aliens movies, instead borrowing heavily from Mass Effect and Halo elements to propel the story. The foreshadowing is so ham-fisted that surprise is impossible and I found myself wondering why the characters act this way.
Game Over, Man!
My last gripe about the single player campaign is the brevity of the experience. I plowed through the campaign-killing mercs, Xenos, and collecting dogtags-in just under eight hours. A new personal best! I wasn’t rushing the game, there just wasn’t enough content to keep me from completing it quickly. The multiplayer content is going to have to kick ass to keep this turd afloat.
For some reason, the multiplayer content looks better than the single player campaign. Movement is not as erratic and I saw absolutely no jitterbugging bugs. The weapon upgrades from the single player campaign can be used in multiplayer, and loadouts are customizable. Xenomorphs have their own upgrades, which are earned through multiplayer matches.
The co-op campaign is the same shitty single player campaign that you just blew through.
The more you kill the better your score.
This is a 5 vs 5, Xenos against Marines, that centers around marines placing explosive charges on egg clusters with the Xenos running interference.
Four Xenos attempting to prevent a team of four Marines from escaping hostile territory.
Four Marines making a last stand against four Xenomorphs.
The multiplayer is not substantial enough to support the SP campaign. There are some unique game modes in multiplayer, but they get old very fast. Gearbox tends to hit with every other release, so I’m sure the next one will be a blockbuster. Don’t waste your money or more than a weekend with this piece of shit.