(ed note: Like Polygon, we’ve decided not to post the screenshots provided by Sega for Aliens: Colonial Marines. The game looks nothing like the screenshots provided to the press.)
At this point, it’s kind of a waste of time to write a review of Aliens: Colonial Marines. Most people have heard of the development trouble that Colonial Marines experienced, and they’ve heard that it’s a flat-out bad game.
How bad, you ask?
It’s honestly one of the worst games I’ve ever played, and it’s easily the most disappointing game I’ve ever played.
Visually, Colonial Marines is a mess from the start. There’s a massive amount of screen-tearing that happens during cutscenes, and the in-game graphics are drab, filled with uninspiring art direction and flat, low-resolution textures. It looks like a bad theme-park attraction for most of the game’s overlong campaign. The game takes you on a tour of the different iconic environments of the Alien film series, but it all looks cheap and flimsy. Strobe lighting looks off, the fog is thin when it’s even existent, and the Xenomorphs themselves look like they’re made of rubber.
They’re rubber-brained, as well. Far from the efficient killing machines portrayed in the films, these Xenos run straight at you, providing a large target to blindly fire at. They don’t move in unexpected ways and never use any advanced tactics. They don’t utilize the various air ducts available to them, or even make an effort to dodge. They should operate similarly to the Stalkers from Dead Space 2 and 3, but instead they are content to literally run in a straight line directly at heavily armed marines. The weapons feel overpowered, chopping down Xenos with little trouble, further reducing the threat level down to near zero.
The combat scenarios aren’t interesting, either. Much of the game is spent protecting people as they attempt to open a door, then running into the door and (supposedly) closing it in terror behind you. The ease of combat renders these segments toothless, as you’ll find yourself casually strolling into the rooms, wading through corpses of aliens strewn about.
The game seems to want to lean in the direction of survival horror, but it is careful to never overwhelm you with enemies. One key section (that everyone has seen at this point) sets up a scenario in which you have to build a turret and use it to help you defeat what is sure to be waves of enemies, yet the developers at Gearbox/Timegate forgot to actually add the aliens to this sequence, apparently, as what should be a flood of Xenomorphs is barely a trickle.
Fighting humans is only slightly more challenging, if only because the laws of physics don’t apply to the human foes that you’ll face. Enemies fire through cover often, making it look like the walls are shooting at you. They actually do move and coordinate attacks, but the difficulty spikes due to the outright cheating the game does in these segments ruins them.
I’m not as up on my Alien lore as some of the other people reviewing this game, but it’s evident that the plot is nonsensical on a basic level. The inciting incident makes no sense, as a marine sabotages the mission and the safety of his comrades for basically no real reason. Throughout the opening section, the marines openly wonder what caused all of the damage on the Sulaco, even after facing off with the aliens. Every human character in the game is completely brain dead, and the drivel they speak only serves to highlight the stupidity of the characters.
Speaking of stupidity, the UI in Colonial Marines is perhaps the worst I’ve ever seen in a game. It’s supposed to look like text from the 70s, which is itself a genuinely cool idea, but it’s impossible to tell what the different parts of the UI even say. Worse still, it’s like the developers knew the UI was horrible, so there are elements of the UI which disregard this styling altogether. It’s just one bizarre design decision on top of another.
Somehow, Aliens: Colonial Marines is half-baked, despite having a protracted development time. It feels rushed and empty, almost like an alpha build of a much better game. Yet, this is what has been packaged and sold. We may never know exactly why this game turned out this way, but we know for sure that it’s awful.
A copy of Aliens: Colonial Marines for the Playstation 3 was provided to us by the publisher for the purposes of this review.