(For the Updates scroll to the bottom)
Aliens Colonial Marines is garbage.
It looks like trash, it plays like trash and it will make you feel like trash. It's a lazy, pathetic mess of a game that feels like a C-grade shooter from half a decade ago. It's garbage. Tripe. Trash.
It instantly brings to mind the lazy, trashy, hopeless likes of Operation Raccoon City, Call of Juarez: The Cartel and, most omniously of all, Duke Nukem Forever.
It was actually released here on Saturday, so i'm power renting. By that i mean i buy the game, play it and use any DLC codes or online passes, then return it a few days later and get my cash back. Because im savvy that way. Maybe not savvy enough to have put down cash collateral to play this.
I've played the first few missions, and plan to update this blog as i continue. These are my thoughts, as blunt as they can be. They might seem a bit overly harsh considering i haven't finished the game yet, but i call 'em like i see 'em. And who knows, maybe it'll redeem itself. But i doubt it. If you have any questions about anything feel free to ask. I plan to do the campaign, then try out multi before finally returning it and getting my money back so i can get either Metal Gear Rising or Crysis 3 next week.
So lets get to the hate-spewing vitriol!
From the first cutscene you know things aren't going to be great. The graphics are dated, the framerate choppy, the dialogue and lip synching terrible and there's odd lens flare everywhere. Then you get to play. And then things get worse.
It subscribes to every trashy second-rate fps feature there is. You wait around for AI teammates to open doors, you press keypads and buttons to open up doors (which then take about ten seconds to open), you slow down to a crawl whenever your character has to touch his headset to talk to his boring commander. You have a segmented healthbar that regenerates, and collect glowing ammo and armour pickups. You find audio diaries and dogtags. There's even a throaway levelling-up/equipment upgrade system. Everything about it feels as though it was put together with 'my first FPS creator' software with an Aliens theme.
You spend a lot of time fighting human enemies. It sucks. They have the most basic AI ("basically boiling down to 'hide behind box, pop out and fire' and sometimes they just stand around doing nothing) and most guns have ridiculous unwieldy recoil so precision aiming is a no-go. Also many weapons feel weak or underwhelming. The underbarrel grenade launcher leaves a tiny explosion that only effects enemies if you get a direct hit and grenades fizzle more than bang. Oh and your AI teammates are morons too. They tend to run around in circles, shoot at walls and stand in front of attacking aliens without reacting. Sometimes they just rush the enemy and kill them all, then stand around and do nothing. Not that Alien AI is any better, they'll climb walls and stuff, jump in front of you then rush at you. And that's it for the most part.
The much-touted motion tracker is a useless feature. When a symbol appears at the bottom of the screen you're meant to whip out the scanner to see where enemies are. Except that it isn't all too accurate, you can't really tell where they are based on what the tracker says and enemies are so weak there's really no need to fear them. Basically when the little motion tracker symbol appears at the bottom of the screen you know enemies are about to turn up.
Story? No idea to be honest, even a few missions in. You go to investigate the Sulaco (the military ship Ripley and the marines flew to LV-426 in Aliens). There are Aliens on board, evil PMC troopers attack you and you end up on LV-426 with a bunch of forgettable marines and Lance Hendrickson.
I love Alien, and i like Aliens, and this isn't really any sort of fitting tribute. If anything its the most basic and superficial homage to Aliens there could be. There's a passing mention of Alien 3 at the beginning and Lance Hendrickson's ugly mug, and that's it.
Now what can i say i like about it? Not much. It is satisfying to shoot an alien in the face with a shotgun, but it's a fleeting sort of joy and doesn't even begin to make up for any of the other shortcomings and hideous flaws that run rampant through the rest of the game's design.
I, of course, have had a bad feeling about Colonial Marines for months now. First off it never looked particularly good. Sure they were focusing on being truthful to the source material, which is all well and good, but it still looked substandard. The second warning sign was the review embargo lifting on release day, which is always a troubling sign. And third, Randy Pitchford has been scarily enthusiastic in his promotion for the game, which is exactly how he was for Duke Nukem Forever (which he still believes to be a great game). So it was no grand revelation to see how it turned out. I only post this so as to hopefully warn off anybody who might be thinking of spending their hard-earned money on this.
You want a proper Aliens game? Go track down the original two Aliens vs Predator games on PC. Not the trashy new one, the two older PC-only ones. The Marine campaigns are tense, atmospheric and scary since you're genuinely weak and the aliens are freaky. That's the true Aliens game right there. The stealthy/kill-y Alien campaign and uber-powerful gadget-y Predator campaign are both just gravy. They're much better offerings than this piece of trash.
So that's my thoughts at this stage. I'll update them as i slog through it. I don't have my hopes up though. Again, ask any questions you might have and hopefully i'll satisfy your curiosity and you can avoid this thing.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
I thought that maybe playing more of the game would make me like it better. It didn't.
The campaign is short, lasting only 11 missions (with the final mission being a pissweak 3-minute 'puzzle' boss). Every other mission lasts under half an hour. It's also a repetitive, monotonous mess for the most part, with you travelling from one switch or door to the next. Attempts to mix things up suck.
There is a severe lack of enemy variety. You have two main types of aliens; the normal ones from the film and another type that spits at you. There are three (pathetic) 'boss' aliens, and one bizarre exploding obstacle type during a forced stealth section. Facehuggers appear in two levels and are both easy to deal with and also non-threatening to the extreme (they only attack you if you go right up to them). there are also two types of enemy soldiers; normal ones and armoured ones, and they both suck.
You get to use the smartgun from the film. It's basically a minigun with auto-lock-on. Guess how well that works? You can't actually aim it for the most part, it will automatically lock onto enemy targets, regardless of how far away they are. So if an alien is right next to you but the smartgun has locked on to another alien further away, you will take damage. The other weapons are functional but boring. the shotguns are powerful and fun to use, but all machineguns are wildly inaccurate with ridiculous recoil making parts where you shoot human enemies more of a hassle than they need to be.
You also get to use power armour on two occasions, and both occasions suck. The first time you only get to cross a room and open a door. The second time you fight a boss, but the controls are so iffy it's horrible (the thing sometimes turns on its own). Not fun.
The story is totally non-existent and the characters are terrible throughout. You wander around LV-426 under the guise of trying to find a way to rescue dozens of stranded marines (who you rarely ever see) for a few hours and then random things happen, but there's never any real goal for the most part. The ending cutscene, however, is a giant middle finger. Not only is it stupid, it's a blatant sequel hook. It also ignores a lot of the things you were meant to be doing. Duke Nukem Forever had a better ending.
A lot of the trailers and developer diaries have been gushing about the fact that Hadley's Hope, the setting for two of the missions, is intricately designed to be accurate to the set from Aliens. It doesn't make the game any better. In fact the missions in Hadley's Hope suck; you're stuck in tight corridors with minimal aliens and have to do a lot of backtracking. Other links to Aliens are minor and stupid. Lance Hendrickson's robot has maybe ten lines in the whole game, and the surprise second film cameo is profoundly stupid (both acknowledging Alien 3 but also pretending it didn't happen).
The game is also a glitchy mess, filled with rampant clipping issues, disappearing enemies, bugged out animations and sound glitches. It's unfinished and unpolished.
Colonial Marines is an Aliens game in the most shallow, superficial sense. It simply grafts xenomorphs into a substandard FPS game. It lacks heart and soul and exists as only a hollow shell of a game.
I'm going to give the multi a go soon to see how that holds up, but i doubt it'll impress me.
UPDATE 2 UPDATE 2 UPDATE 2
Multiplayer is unbalanced, has many of the same issues as the campaign (and a few more) but is admittedly more fun than the solo offering. It's just not particularly new or unique. A lot of other games have similar man vs monster modes that do things better (Singularity comes to mind instantly). All multi modes consist of two rounds where each team has a turn playing as both the marines and the aliens. Your enjoyment entirely boils down to lag and teamwork. IF there's lag and nobody is working together you're going to have a bad time. Otherwise it works fine enough, its just a bit underwhelming.
Marines have access to all the weapons from the main campaign. Unfortunately a lot of them are useless. Flamethrowers, shotguns and underbarrel grenade launchers are the best. Marines are really weak and slow compared to aliens. Basically if an alien player gets the drop on you you're screwed. Marines can also find better weapons like smartguns or rocket launchers around the maps.
Aliens play in third person, and its all a bit finnicky. You move fast and have regenerating health and can kill marines in two or three hits for the most part. You can also see marines through walls, so things are extremely in their favour. Aliens can choose from three main classes, a stronger alien, one that spits acid and one that's faster and climbs on walls. Sometimes an alien player will play as a giant alien that deals massive damage and is harder to take down.
The multiplayer modes actually makes proper use of the motion tracker. Since levels are more open ended than the hallways of the campaign its useful to see where enemy players are coming from. So that's the nice thing i can say about it.
You have four modes on offer. Team Deathmatch, Extermination, Survivor and Escape.
Team Deathmatch is the least interesting. There's not much else to say about it, it's team deathmatch. Whichever team works together the best wins but because this is a shooter you'll find moron marines running solo and getting slaughtered.
Extermination is basically base capture. Taking place on a large map, the marine team needs to head to a designated spot and hold it for a few seconds to claim it. Aliens have to prevent this. Whoever captures the most areas as the marines wins. And that's it. It's basic but probably the best mode as it promotes teamwork and strategy.
Survivor is actually pretty fun, but needs better balancing. Four marines need to survive five minutes while four aliens try to kill them. The marines start with full armour, and have lots of ammo and access to a sentry turret. However once dead they're gone. Marines have a series of objectives they can perform to fortify defenses. It's fun on paper, but the odds are severely in favour of the marines. The respawn time for aliens is a whopping ten seconds. As the marine team it's really easy to ignore objectives, find a room with only one or two exits, set up the sentry turret and wait it out. You'll inevitably have some dumbass who will break off from the team and run off to find aliens and get himself killed or something.
Escape is a bit naff. Four marines have to get through an area while respawning aliens try to take them out. As the marines you open doors, weld things and press a lot of buttons to continue. As aliens you just try to kill stuff. A bit boring really.
And that's it.
The reviews are pouring in now, and most seem to mirror what i've said. Colonial Marines is bad.