inFocus

“No Hope For Hadley’s”

Game Info
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Gearbox/Time Gate
Genre: First Person Shooter
Release Date: 02/13/2013
Meta Score

Aliens: Colonial Marines is not a game that will be measured in reviews, but instead in autopsies and obituaries. My experience with the game was not pleasant.

In my college years, the writers I studied under often told me that you can never insult another writer without first pointing the good. Criticism without compliment is nothing more than mean. So in the spirit of the times, I will offer this: Gearbox, this game was better than Duke Nukem’ Forever. Uh, and… the boxart was really well done.

There isn’t much more to compliment than that. If I were the nicest reviewer in the world, I would say “This game can be, at best, a generic shooter with nothing new to offer,” or “This game would have been quite respected if it launched in 2006,” or “The aliens mostly look like aliens”. But, let’s get to this.

Story: Ugh. I feel like a chestburster was stuck in my brain. Be forewarned, I’m going to spoil everything about this game’s plot (there isn’t much) because I can’t get across just how bad it is otherwise.

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This game is supposed to be a continuation of Aliens, but at the very start, you have to decide whether you consider this or Aliens 3 to be canon. You are on a ship called the Sephora, come to investigate the USS Sulaco’s distress signal sent out 17 weeks after the events of Aliens from the orbit of LV-426 (it’s near Florina-161 at this time in Aliens 3).

You play Corporal Winter, a soldier type who is there to give you a reason to be there. Not in the neat Half-Life I AM GORDON MOTHER F’ING FREEMAN way, but instead in the this-character-has-no-point way. Seriously, in thinking back on the game I confused my main character with Sergeant O’Neal, the NPC that is with you at all times, because I couldn’t remember anything about my character. He’s that bland.

Winter, O’Neal, and Private Bella (the girl O’Neal is sexing up) investigate the Sulaco, but, oh surprise, Aliens attack. People died, Bella gets face hugged, Weyland Yutani betrays you and decides to blow up the ship and you’re forced to fight your way through a bunch of mercs. Oh, I didn’t tell you? In a game about xenomorphs, you spend almost half of it fighting humans who are much more powerful (and scary) than the titular aliens.

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The Sephora gets ker-blowed, so the whole crew lands on Hadley’s Hope, and Captain Cruz tells O’Neal and Winter they can find a some medicine in a Wey-Yu station to de-chestburst Bella. Turns out to be a trick, Bella dies and you’re tasked with saving a marine. That marine turns out to be, dun-dun-dun, Hicks.

SURPRISE! Well, surprise if you didn’t notice the giant STARRING MICHAEL BIEHN in the credits at the start of the game. Turns out that he wasn’t killed like the movies showed, he instead was woken up by Wey-Yu and that was some other Hicks that got killed.

He’s here because screw you they could, but he doesn’t really have a story purpose. A queen attacks and you escape on an FTL ship, using a loader to knock the queen back to LV-426. Hicks kills Weyland, but it turns out to only be a Bishop clone, and the credits roll, leaving you to realize that this entire story had literally no point. The story is pointless and yet it still feels bloated with excess, a hard feat to manage considering the game is only five hours long. But by the time it ends, you’ll probably be quite glad you’re finally done.

Gameplay: The guns are inaccurate, most weapons are pointless, and animations are janky, the… well, let’s just list the glitches I encountered:

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  • My pulse rifle never loaded. I assume it was the pulse rifle and not the assault rifle, but I’ll never know because I wasn’t ever able to get it to appear in my hand (I wouldn’t test the weapons until multiplayer). Luckily, my open palm that looked as if it should have been holding a rifle actually revealed itself to be the deadly fist of Wing Chun Grandmaster Corporal Winters, allowing me to melee as fast as I could press in the right thumbstick. I actually remapped the controller to let me melee even faster. Too bad that didn’t help when-
  • All the marines insta-targeted me. Near the start of chapter two you fight some humans, but in the room I was in, all the marines were autolocked to me, turning at the exact same time everywhere I went. It took many reloads before I could melee them all to death.
  • The first encounter might be pretty neat. You’re stuck in a room with a single alien, it’s dark, and the thing comes at you from all sides. But I was stuck without a gun and the alien got his head stuck in a wall, so I ended up punching the alien in the anus repeatedly until it died.
  • This:
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  • All the marines in a room didn’t activate. I walked through and crushed their wind pipes with my superior wing chun skills and none of them even bothered to complement me on my Yip Man impression.
  • I got a dead facehugger stuck to my hand. I went, it went. Kinda like a pet. I called him Fred until a restart screen robbed me of him.
  • I beat a man to death and when he hit the ground, he appeared standing again. Maybe the future is populated only by martial arts masters.
  • O’Neal’s face texture didn’t load. For most of chapter three, my partner was a low rez version of Clayface (and he looked better in Arkham).
  • No Aliens loaded in the drop bay sequence. All my marine buddies were firing at nothing as I wandered around looking for the air lock releases.
  • Reid got stuck in permanent crouch position and walked through an entire battle like a ninja. I was able to admire her skill as I was waiting for enemies to come to me since wing chun requires proximity.
  • I was sent to find out what happened to Reid and Bella, and as soon I turned down the hall, they were standing there idly. When I got to the place they were supposed to be, they weren’t there, though they still spoke to me.
  • An alien I killed hit the ground then shot straight up at 300,000 km/s.
  • The final battle played itself. You’re supposed to run away from the Queen while tapping buttons to activate the loader (literally, a final boss you can’t actually fight), then wait for her to walk on the loader and shoot her out the bay. But the Queen glitched and walked to the bay door for me, sitting there and waiting for me to hit her with the loader. Well, thanks Queenie.

Graphics: Aliens: Colonial Maries looks bad. Even when the textures are loading properly and there are no disparities in the lighting, it would still be generous to say it looks almost as good as King Kong did when the 360 launched. The character models are dismal, exceeded only by the wrecks of facial models. The characters all have dead eyes that never look directly at you, and their mouths move like characters from Angela Anaconda.

The environments are dismal. Hadley’s Hope actually looks alright; Gearbox managed to nail giant blue rocks with no lighting. Wait, the rocks were supposed to look blue because of the lighting? Well, there goes that one.

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To be fair, it does seem a bit harsh to judge a games graphics in comparison to other games that are out today, but games aren’t created in a bubble. Like Duke Nukem before it, this game simply can’t compare with other games coming out. While at one time the graphics may have been great, today they simply fall by the wayside. It’s especially sad considering the AvP game looks better than this.

Another major problem with the game is that the screen tearing is ever present and excessive. The screen can tear in six or eight places at once on the consoles, and it never lets up.

Sound: There are three major problems with the sound in this game. The first is the “authentic movie sounds” used for the weapons. I’m not one of those people who is going to tell you how annoying the pulse rifle sounds (maybe because I didn’t really have to hear it, using melee and all), but I will say that all of the weapons sound cheap and tinny, like audio recorded at a low bitrate. It wasn’t a major audio problem, but the game certainly wasn’t nice to listen to.

The second problem was the glitching. Some lines of dialogue would get looped to me over and over again. Some lines would play at the same time as other lines. Sometimes the same character was saying two different things to me at once. And other times the audio wouldn’t load at all and I’d read the subtitles as they popped up on the screen.

But I was fine with the subtitles only because the third problem is by far the biggest: the voice acting for this game is the scariest part about it. Far more terrifying that the aliens, even more horrifying that being stuck in a sewer with xenomorphs that hunt by sound, was the prospect of hearing more of the game’s dialogue.

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Every. Single. Line. from O’Neal and Bella was delivered with the utmost melodrama. I get that they were scared, but there were no highs and lows in the audio, it was always screaming and whining. Travis Willingham’s performance for O’Neal is probably the best one in the game, but it’s like listening to a daytime soap opera. Nisa Ward’s work as Pvt. Bella deserves recognition for have over the top it was. And I suppose we should give Jason Douglas some props for his work as Cpt. Cruz: I could understand at least 20% of what he said when he wasn’t mumbling into his mic.

But by far the most peculiar performance comes from Michael Biehn. This man not only a big actor who’s been in near 100 movies, he literally was the character from the films this game was based on. He is voice acting for a character he built, and he gives not only the worst performance in the game, but one of the worst V.O. jobs in gaming history! He’s voice is dead, lifeless, mumbled. He sounds like a guy failing at doing an impersonation of Michael Biehn. They must have only had one take to get him to read his lines, because I can’t see how anyone would have heard this and thought, “Well, we got our audio.”

And Lance Hendrickson: you were good.

Replay: I can’t see why you would want to, but if you find yourself by some stretch of logic liking this game, you there isn’t much replay in the single player. It’s a couple hours long, and your standard difficulties are there. It also has a few collectibles, including 6 nifty weapons from the movies (that are pretty neat). It should not take you long to find everything as this game literally takes place in a straight line and all the collectibles are on the way.

There is also a multiplayer component that is surprisingly alright. It’s nothing special, and it doesn’t do anything new, but the novelty of playing as an alien may be a draw for some. The aliens when fully leveled though are able to completely decimate the humans to the point of it being unfair, and the game does have a tendency to lag, but given how borked the character animations are, you may not notice it. If you’re borrowing the game, give it a shot, but it’s not worth going out of your way to play.

PlayStation 3 gameplay video shown below

 

Even if you are a huge fan of the Alien franchise, I would not recommend this game to you. Had I not encountered a single glitch I’d say it was a pointless, non-canon addition to the Alien universe with a bad story and worse voice acting. But as I played it, it’s completely broken. Had you told me this game were in beta stages, I would have asked you how it got that far. Aliens: Colonial Marines had a chance to refresh the franchise and deliver a great gaming experience. Instead, it’s a waste of time that will quickly be forgotten. RIP Colonial Marines.

Written By: R. Burke Kearney