First look: Aliens: Colonial Marines (Xbox 360)

We play test the latest video game in the Aliens franchise

While in recent years the Aliens franchise has spun off into the Alien vs. Predator territory, with a pair of well crafted and balanced first person shooters from Rebellion and Monolith Productions respectively, developer Gearbox decided to return to the roots of the franchise and focus on Marines fighting Xenomorphs. Even with the exclusion of the Predators, the Alien franchise has been a good fit for video games, with Acclaim’s Alien Trilogy in 1996 expertly capturing the claustrophobic and horrifying experience of being trapped with a merciless race of aliens. With the benefit of improved technolgy, hopes were high for Gearbox to do that and more with Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Long time coming

However, all has not been well with Aliens: Colonial Marines. First is the game’s extended development time, which left many people wondering whether it was vapourware or not. Long development time is not an automatic sign that a game will be bad, with L.A. Noire being a good example, but nevertheless it is usually not a good sign. Notably, games such as Duke Nukem Forever and Too Human are examples of this.

The other curious design choice was to set Aliens: Colonial Marines following Alien 3, a movie that was universally reviled by moviegoers and the director has even distanced himself from the film over the years. Then there was the fact that the footage of the current build of the game differed from the mock-up video released early in its development. The good things that can be said about Aliens: Colonial Marines is that it is a functional, if short, first person shooter.

Lost in space

The game is quite linear in nature and never gets complicated in any way, so actual progression through the single player campaign is relatively painless. However, the issue is that the whole experience is not very exciting. The tense atmosphere from Alien Trilogy is missing, and so is the well tuned gunplay and enemies from the Alien vs. Predator games.

Coming this late into the console cycle, with the launch of the PlayStation 4 looming on the horizon, the game also lacks punch in the visual department, with environments and character models decidedly on the unimpressive side. Various sections of the game show promise and at times capture the mood of the Alien franchise, but for most part Aliens: Colonial Marines misses more than it hits.

Pros

- Relatively stress free single player campaign.

- Authentically recreated weapons from the franchise.

Cons

- Fails to fully capture the essence of the franchise.

- Average in all respects, particular in the graphics and audio departments.

Bottom Line

Fans of the franchise might get a kick out of Aliens: Colonial Marines, but non-fans are better to look elsewhere for their first person shooter needs.

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Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

PC World
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