Thursday, 10 November 2016

Aliens: Colonial Marines/ Xbox 360

In space nobody can hear you scream; however your neighbours most probably can and will the first time that you settle down to play this game.
It isn't a game that is very well liked by the masses, but I am not the masses and do not share some of the opinions that this is one of the worst games ever made. In fact I have quite the opposite of opinions and feel that this is a must play for non Alien and Alien fans alike. I can understand when delving into the history of the making of the game as to why it was panned on arrival. It is a game that was planned many years before and then constantly given new release dates up until its final release date, which was very late in the life cycle of the seventh generation of videogame consoles; 2013!

 This of course was a time that the new generation of consoles was on the horizon, so you could be forgiven for having a lack of appreciation for new releases with one eye on the future of gaming.
As I explore the gameplay, I will talk more about my personal and repeat journey with a game that will terrify you relentlessly if you are willing to look past the reviews.

The Plot

Set somewhere after the events of Alien 3 and considered to be an official part of the Alien franchise canon, some shit has gone down with Corporal Hicks (Aliens) who makes a distress call after being ejected along with Ripley (not in the game), Newt and Bishop from his cryotube whilst on board the Sulaco. Along comes a rescue team of marines (on board the USS Sephora), who include the main character that you control in game, Corporal Winter. Whilst carrying out an investigation, some more shit goes down as it is discovered that Weyland-Yutani private military have been using Sephora marines as hosts to the big ass aliens that have a knack for causing havoc wherever they show up (ask the Predators about this). The military attacks the Sephora from on board the Sulaco and in retaliation the Sephora fires back, meaning both ships end up going boom bye bye. Winter and a handful of marines evacuate, crash landing on the hell hole that is LV-426, of Aliens fame. From here the story centres first around finding help for marine Private Bella Clarison, who is impregnated with one of those little fuckers that likes to find its way out through a hole in the chest; then after she dies around finding Hicks and later Michael Wayland. Oh! there is an alien queen in this one also.

Gameplay (FPS/Alien Horror)

In short this is your typical first person shooter type of game, with such common elements as collecting weapons, dog tags, audio logs, etc, etc, as you make your way through the missions; however unlike a lot of today's games there aren't any side missions, you play directly through the storyline in a seek and destroy type of way, making a stand at the end of each mission against an onslaught of aliens or military men right up until the final showdown with the alien queen at the end, which unfortunately is a bit of a let down. As has been the case with a few of the fps games that I have completed recently, the ending comes a little too quick and easily after what has been many hours of playing getting to it. This hasn't stopped me from wanting to go back through the game and as of this writing I am currently into my third run and have downloaded the DLC. Why you may ask with such a bland description would I want to go back through once let alone twice? Well for a fan of the Alien movies I can honestly say that although lacking in anything special, at times this game, Colonial Marines, does feel like a genuine Alien chapter which isn't just littered with references to the movies, it actually has familiar places and faces from what I consider to be the best Alien movie, Aliens. Ok so the voice acting isn't the best (especially from Michael Biehn), with some conversations feeling like the person you are talking to is rudely butting in before you can finish your sentence and the look of the game overall is of one that looks in places like a highly polished Unreal project and in others like a game that was either rushed into fruition or just not given the full Unreal treatment. Perhaps this is because of the alleged lack of respect from developers Gearbox, whom Sega reported had taken away staff from the project to work on Borderlands or because of the accusation that Gearbox had in fact had to use millions of their own money because of Sega's underfunding to finish the project. Whatever the case may be, both developer and publisher should have more of an understanding of how petty behaviour can lead to costly losses of public respect and respective sales of future releases. Nuff said. You can overlook these minor defects and see that the game in its entirety is a credible attempt to make a game of a movie that has such a massive audience of fans globally. Right from the get go you are thrust into the action and from then on out there is little time to catch a breather as cut scenes are generally short and each mission can take up to an hour to complete; with 11 of them in total giving you a sizable campaign with the option of DLC, that will further explain what happened to Corporal Hicks.

For an mod of this game with a huge bundle of updates to graphics and gameplay follow the link.

The game just about manages to hold onto the claustrophobic atmosphere of the earlier Alien films. You will genuinely feel the hair stand up on the back of your neck every time the tracker beeps to signify that an enemy is nearby. The human AI put up an intelligent fight, moving in groups and not just sticking to one place; as for the alien AI, they move fast, often in packs, coming in different sizes, sometimes spitting or exploding. You will need to move quickly and fire with precision to avoid having that dreaded inner mouth firing out to puncture a hole in your head. The humans you can deal with like you are playing most fps games, but the aliens are more of a challenge, often getting the better of you causing a checkpoint restart. Checkpoints in game are fairly close together. You can switch off a game and return to the checkpoint that you last saved at, meaning that you don't have to sit and go through a mission beginning to end worrying that if you do not you will have to go back to the start of a mission should you need to take some responsibility for your life; like going to work. There are a fairly large arsenal of fairly large guns to blast away with, with a nice little touch of being able to find legendary weapons from the Aliens movies most familiar characters; weapons that are hidden in some of the mission environments, that can be viewed on each missions check list of extras to find. The six legendary weapons that can be found are as follows:

  • Hick's shotgun
  • Gorman's pistol
  • Hudson's pulse rifle
  • Vasquez's smart gun
  • Vasquez's pistol
  • Frost's flamethrower
Each of the legendary weapons has its own unique abilities, cannot be customised, and with the exception of two can be used in multiplayer mode. For me it was a nice reminder of when the weapons were used in the Aliens movie; for example when Hick's shot the back of the head out of an alien that was attempting to pull open the doors of the APC he was escaping into, releasing a splash of its acid onto his chest plate that quickly starts to burn through it. You have four weapon slots that can be used for two main guns, a sidearm and an explosive which can all be accessed fairly quickly through the d-pad and not as quickly rearranged through the back button. Most of the big weapons can be upgraded with attachments to give more firepower and accuracy and bullets are found scattered or dropped by enemies frequently. Combat admittedly does get a little frustrating at times, but mainly because the aliens are moving and leaping quickly.... So what else would you expect? The sound and music are straight out of the Aliens movie. If you have watched the film then you will appreciate the heart pounding music, sounding like pipes clanging, that kicks in when the shit hits the fan and the distinct firing of the pulse rifle as you attempt to hold onto your own shit. Both create a sense of intensity that will increase your urgency to move quickly whilst cautiously checking around every corner. To sum up, Colonial Marines is Alien horror at its best in a game format. And to finish up, you also get to strap up inside a power loader for some more Aliens like movie magic.

Colonial Marines at times does look a little rough around the edges and will suit fans of the films better than non fans. I had a blast of nostalgia throughout my first play and for this reason I give it a score of 7 out of 10.

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