Aliens: Colonial Marines Review

When I was playing Aliens: Colonial Marines I kept experiencing what you might call an intrusive recurring thought. That thought was, “This isn’t as good as Left 4 Dead“.  And it’s not. It’s nowhere near as good as Left 4 Dead and even more nowhere near as good as Left 4 Dead 2. But why the comparison? Well, all three games are based on the principle of humans versus monsters, and the humans are (mostly) played by us. The format is like a sort of drawn out survival mode, wrapped around the loosest sense of plot. Left 4 Dead’s plot was akin to ‘there is an outbreak of virus that is turning humans in to zombies (infected) who want to bite us, let’s escape’. ACM’s plot is something like ‘Marines go to check out the Sulaco and find it’s full of aliens (Xenomorphs) and some humans who have sided with the aliens (or similar), let’s kill them’. Yeah, I’m not very clear on the whole ACM plot. Most the time I felt like the game was randomly shifting between settings not because the story flowed that way, more from necessity.

I played the whole campaign in co-op mode with a friend who had been stoked for it’s release for a while. He wasn’t impressed either. It’s a bit like playing Call of Duty in space (which, strangely, is how Bill Thomas felt about Crysis 3), insofar as, it’s a shooting gallery thinly veiled as a story. Sure, it looks okay – okay as in for a mid-priced shooter. AAA standard ACM is not. We’ve all seen the comparisons between the demo video and released product by now, and have most probably all felt a little cheated. I can’t help but think that any joy found in the visuals is derived from revisiting recognisable locations, not necessarily from high quality. Political reasons behind this aside, pressure to release a game really shouldn’t force a mediocre outcome.

The cut-scenes are an anti-climax too; dreary, mundane and plodding, you might say. There is one particularly memorable level, set in a sort of prison, involving sneaking past blind, sleeping aliens. One decent level does not make a good game, though.

So, we completed the whole campaign, on hard mode (or whatever they want to call it) in thirteen hours, which is pretty darned short compared to most games. I don’t see much replay value either. In fact, throughout most the game, I felt an urgency to get through it out of sheer boredom and wanting to get it done.

Most people seem to knock the ACM campaign and add that multiplayer mode is much more fun. I agree. Multiplayer is much more fun, it’s still not as good as Left 4 Dead / L4D2, though. Not by a long shot. Yes, there is novelty value to be gained from playing as the Xenomorphs against humans in a versus set-up, but I found the alien mechanics to be clunky, repetitive and lacking charisma.

If you’re an Alien fan, this is worth a punt. If you’re a decent video game fan, you’ll probably be disappointed. ACM is an underwhelming experience all-round and unlikely to be a positive purchase for anyone but die-hard fans of the franchise.

Released: 12 February, 2013

Developer: Gearbox Software

Publisher: SEGA

Official Site

ACM on Steam 

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Hardware Used:

Intel i5 3570k
ATI HD 7850 2GB
8 GB RAM

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This entry was posted by Ian Brown.

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