27 years after James Cameron’s Aliens first hit the silver screen, its sequel launches onto modern video game consoles as Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Developed under the creative control of Borderlands 2 developer Gearbox Software with the aid of Section 8 studio TimeGate Studios, the game promises to have all the scares, all the suspense and all the acid dripping Xenomorphs from the iconic sci-fi movie franchise.
Is Aliens: Colonial Marines worthy of the franchise? Or should it be stacked in the back of the closet along the likes of Alien 3?
The story of Aliens: Colonial Marines picks up a few years after the movie Aliens. The player is put into the shoes of Winter, a Colonial Marine sent to the planet to find out what happened to the U.S.S Sulaco.
Winter and crew find the settlement infested with the deadly Xenomorph creatures but push on to grab the Sulaco’s flight recorder. On their return back to their ship, their path is blocked and so the team must find a way out while uncovering some of the truth behind Weyland Corporation’s ulterior motives.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is about the story. The whole point of this game, as far as I’m concerned, is to learn a little more about the Aliens overall story. To discover more about some of the side-plots brought up by that movie and to advance the story a little further. In that regard, the story in Aliens: Colonial Marines ticks the box.
Characters are interesting, there are plot twists and turns and a lot for fans of the series to pick up on and complete their understanding of this universe.
In terms of gameplay, Aliens: Colonial Marines plays out a lot like games such as Crysis. Levels encourage exploration which is a nice change in first person shooters of recent times. There are plenty of weapons and upgrades to find, too, including “Legendary Weapons” which fans will recognise from the movie.
Four player co-op is enabled through missions, too. While this takes away from whatever “horror” aspect the game may have, it is fun to blast away at Xenomorphs with friends. The drop-in/drop-out aspect of co-op makes it unobtrusive. This feature is particularly good in Hard Mode, where the enemies are beefed up to a very challenging level.
In terms of presentation, Aliens: Colonial Marines is a bit of a mixed bag. The graphics are great. Being able to discern actual locations from the movie will give fans a real kick.
Likewise, the Xenomorphs (aliens) themselves look really cool. Developing black enemies into a video game is a tough gig for even the best developers, but the team have managed to pull off the look of the creatures well. They will crawl up walls, jump out of vents and grab you from behind.
Sound in the game is atmospheric and feels authentic to the movie, as does the overall tone of the game, the colour hue, the effects. This is indeed an Aliens game.
That said, there are some notable problems.
The AI in the game leaves a lot to be desired. Enemies will sometimes walk away from you, or sit down as if waiting for something to happen. This isn’t a proven issue, though — it seems to happen randomly and is hardly repeated in the same location twice.
Also, there are cases where the screen will “pop” your character from one location to another. The word “glitchy” comes to mind. It’s hardly game-breaking, but it can be annoying at times.
Multiplayer, on the other hand, is a delight. One mode in particular, Team Death Match, is loads of fun despite it being located on only one map. Multiplayer pits Colonial Marines against Aliens. Aliens have special abilities depending on their type, however the multiplayer doesn’t feel unbalanced by any means.
Both sides have upgradeable character classes which change the look and abilities of your team. Weapons, items and perks can be obtained by gathering experience through the online multiplayer.
Multiplayer mode gives the title much needed longevity after the story mode has been completed. Playing online is fast and frantic and is one of the highlights of the game.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is a game that real fans of the original movie will love (particularly those who have seen the BluRay version). It pays enough fan service to keep you interested, and the game is challenging enough to make it all feel worthwhile.
Some might be turend off by the random glitches littered around the game but overall Aliens: Colonial Marines is a well rounded experience with super fun multiplayer.