Product Type: Sega PS3 games
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Prepare to have your face ripped off!
Aliens: Colonial Marines (PS3)
Member Name: Danscomp
Aliens: Colonial Marines (PS3)
Date: 13/02/13, updated on 18/02/13 (77 review reads)
Advantages: Alien universe. Ooky familiarity.
Disadvantages: Very basic, predictable plot. Not enough thought has gone into the game.
I was there. I was one of the lucky few. London. Shaftesbury avenue. The Trocadero. 1994. Alien war. Yep. I got to be escorted by Colonial marines through an alien hive. Bursts of gas, strobe lighting. Empty eggs all around. And a guy in an alien suit that would ambush us poor shrieking civilians at the most inconvenient of places.
It was like the first time I saw Aliens at the movies, but on another dimension entirely. I went with my best friend of the time. Someone who wet his pants and legged it, shortly after pushing me towards said flailing beastie.
It's all good. We got into the APC unscathed. He was nearest the back, next to a conspicuously empty space. And it didn't take any great leap of the imagination as to what would happen next. The lights went off. The strobe went into hyperdrive. My best friend had a new playmate.
I put my hand firmly on his shoulder, and kept him there. In space, no-one can hear you scream. In the back of an APC, everyone can.
I've been hoping against hope for a gaming experience that harkened back to that time, that did justice to the film that inspired it. Aliens vs Predator came close. Could the much delayed Aliens: Colonial Marines do better, despite SEGA being involved?
The answer is : Almost.
I got the game yesterday. Release day. There had been a review embargo, and now all sorts of scathing reviews were flooding in. SEGA, from their fully armed and operational battle station above Endor put out two large updates that day. The result was, when I played in the evening on my PS3 I experienced no clipping issues. In fact, no bugs at all. Even armour, health and ammo pickups had become easier to find, if not to pick up.
Graphics are a little dated, though they are at their best when displaying damp alien chitin transforming corridors into scenes that look straight from the film. Your first encounter with a Xenomorph is satisfyingly scary. The sounds of your weapons are spot on. The alien squeals as they attack are fantastic.
What isn't so great is the rather hackneyed storyline. It is fairly elementary grunt-stuff. Nothing that happens is surprising. There's a certain comfort to this, but again. Frustration now and again that it degenerates into a simple bug hunt. Voice acting is ok, but no great shakes. Disappointingly, even Hendrikson and Bien's additions seem fairly lacklustre.
Another bizarre decision is the one to pit you early in a long and very boring sequence against mercenaries. Levels like this feel tacked-on and incredibly dated. The Alien universe is cool because of the Aliens. Fellas, it's not brain surgery. Thankfully, one done we can go back to concentrating on which egg hasn't popped and holding up your motion tracker, whimpering as pulsing dots close in from all angles.
Déjà vu, monsieur?
Where this game works best is when it links in with the movie. Locations from the film recreated faithfully enough that you get goosebumps. Hadley's hope may have lost its cooling tower and most of the roof, but there's enough left to wonder about in, as you endeavour to locate legendary weapons.
While we're talking weaponry, again, the developers have made a hugely strange decision to give you a pulse rifle with less than half the rounds in the movie. It argues that this is because they are more damaging, presumably a larger calibre, but it jars horribly. Only when I'm wielding Hudson's pulse rifle in short, controlled bursts out in the rocky weirdness of LV426 do I really feel home.
There are other weapons. Pistols, some sort of weird cobbled together mercenary rifle when you just want to use the pulse rifle, inferior or not. There are a couple of shotguns, a flamethrower that feels as though it's powered by methane. The smart gun is fantastic, but you get to use it rarely.
I'm perhaps half way through the game. Having just passed a creep-level in the sewers that provides a frustratingly good example of how the plot and game mechanics can be used properly, we're back in BAU. Business as usual. It's as though none of the developers have heard of, or seen Dead Space. There are so many cues they could have picked up on, and adapted.
A nice touch is that you earn XP through the game that not only is used to upgrade stuff in the single player campaign, it can be used in multiplayer. I have yet to try multiplayer or co-op play in the main game, but both are supposed to work rather well. In multiplayer, you can also try your extendible mandibles at being the ones in front of the guns, rather than behind them. For this alone, I will give an extra star.
Your squadmates will call out warnings to you, which can help getting jumped by an alien. There is a quicktime section that you can use to kick an alien back. This just feels wrong. These things can rip their way through a thick, steel door, yet can be intimidated by your size eleven's. That's some serious foot odour, hoo ah!
There is no cover system in this game. Why not? Yes, you can squat down behind a conveniently placed obstacle, but it just feels so very, very elementary after Mass Effect 3. The levels have a sort of semi-random construction, which lends more readily to a replay through at a higher difficulty that you may otherwise not have bothered with.
Game over, man!
In summary, this is a flawed game. Is it flawed because of SEGA's involvement? In my humble opinion, almost certainly. As long as they own the licence, we will never see the Aliens masterpiece that we hope so much for. I am, however, happy to report that not even SEGA could screw things up quite as badly as Scott screwed up Prometheus.
Thanks to Dooyoo, I used an amazon voucher which meant that this cost me £10. I could trade it in a month from now, and still make money. I shall try not to spend my 100 miles for this review all at once, though ;)
You can pick this up on the PS3 for a little under £40, If you can wait, do. It will be cheaper very soon.
I've now completed the game and played multiplayer. As a result, I'll have to lower this to a three star rating. The last act is painfully unfinished, bearing all the hallmarks of a product rushed to market. I stopped buying anything with SEGA on it based on prior experience. I hoped that this game would be better. It isn't. It will be the first game I've ever traded in.
Summary: Touched by the SEGA stick, but still better than Prometheus.