There's been a lot of talk this year about Aliens: Colonial Marines. Like Duke Nukem in 2011, it's been the game to hate. In fact this unanimous disgust for this game was so intense that it only amplified my desire to actually play it. And what I found was a game that was so enjoyable to me, I'm not even sure why I'd need to defend it. But then again I'm going by nothing but base reaction. Meaning I'm looking at this just as 'a game' rather than 'a highly anticipated game based on a license with rabid fans.'
Let me start by pointing out a few things that might make more sense out of my enjoyment for this game. First of we should discuss the First Person Shooter genre. Though I'm slowly learning to enjoy FPS games far more than I ever did in the past, I'm still far from seasoned. I've played very few of the modern staples. So in reality, I don't have all that much to compare this to that's been critically acclaimed (save for perhaps Borderlands).
I should also point out that while I am a huge horror fan, the Alien films have always been a bit closer to sci-fi (mixed with horror) to me. This means that while I am a fan, I'm not an obsessive fan. I don't rush out to see each film. I haven't even seen them all yet. And so the story here - supposedly cannon - really doesn't matter to me as far as how well it gels with the film series.
And lastly, I didn't follow this game's hype leading up to its release. I didn't pay much attention to the overly long production schedule. I didn't see the demos shown prior to release, so had no anticipations. Add to this that while the game was released this year, I didn't pay $60 for it on day-one, but instead picked up for $10 when GameFly was having a sale.
Now that we got those disclaimers out of the way I can start to tell you about my own experience playing. I delved in blindly, and to my surprise I found that the game was actually very linear. Whereas this might turn off other, more-seasoned FPS'ers, it was just fine for me. Earlier this year I played through Half-Life for the very first time. And while I fell deeply in love with that game and everything new it showed me about the genre, it was really nice to now play through a modern FPS where I didn't have to constantly resort to checking a walkthrough to figure out what my next move was.
Graphically, I thought the game looked excellent on 360. It was well detailed, ran smoothly (save for some glitches I'll get to later) and had excellent lighting. Of course I've since watched videos on Youtube comparing some of the demo footage shown before the game's release compared to the finished product, and certainly the final release has been compromised. But that said, the atmosphere always seemed to work really well for me.
As far as the aforementioned glitches, well they were around. As seen above is a screen shot I took on my phone camera. At one point I was being fired upon by turrets and wondering where my cover, O'Neil was. He should have been right behind me, but wasn't. I decided to backtrack a bit and found him two rooms earlier... stuck in a wall.
These NPC AI glitches were by far the ones I encountered the most. Sometimes one of your partners would seemingly forget he was even alive and would just stand frozen doing nothing for five minutes or so. Other times he would shake violently as if hopped up on uppers. At least twice I ran out in front of my squad only to find them suddenly waiting for me two rooms ahead. And once O'Neil even materialized in front of me out of thin air. So yeah, in that sense Colonial Marines feels a lot more like a budget title. And who knows, had it been released as such maybe we'd all think of it more akin to Earth Defense Force and wink-wink-nudge-nudge at these sorts of shortcomings.
But despite all that, I still found the game compelling enough to find time for it consistently over the last two weeks until it was beaten. And there were plenty of moments that really stood out to me. For example there's one section where you must escape from a rather large Xeno and find yourself sneaking around under his floor. At various moments he angrily bursts through your ceiling attempting to grab you, and the scare was effective enough to genuinely make me yell out startled. (My wife later took it upon herself to burst in to the game room screaming to shake me up a second time).
At another point you come across these aliens who can only see movement, so you must stay still when they get to close. And right as I got to an exit three of them came extremely close to me and I swore I was detected. It was actually tense enough of a moment that I caught myself holding my breath in real life.
The truth is that the game's eleven missions were actually quite well peppered with such moments that really made me enjoy every hour of gameplay. Although I'm still baffled at the ball-drop that was the final boss fight against the Queen. I genuinely have no idea why my squad of marines would think it was cool to let me handle her on my own. And I'm further baffled by the decision to make the boss encounter in a room so filled with barricades to keep her away from me, and so obvious as to how to defeat her. It did seem pretty anti-climatic considering how many more difficult sections had come before it.
But at the end of the day I'm glad I played this game. I don't regret purchasing it, and in fact I'm even bummed at the reception it got which would pretty clearly say "no sequels dudes." Considering its sunken price tag, I'd at least suggest some of you out there with some interest and open minds give it a shot. I'm certainly not saying it's the best game out there, but it's certainly not the worst either - no matter what it is you've heard elsewhere.
Like you I didn't have any anticipation for the title because I didn't know it was coming until it appeared on Steam one day. I'll snap it up one day cheap, but I'm burdened with the the fun that was Alien Vs. Predator 1 and 2 on the PC.
I bought the Collector's Edition of this day one, and if the internet (RFGen is way cooler than the internet) were anything to go by, I was the only one who didn't regret it.
I'm a big fan of the franchise (well, the first two movies anyway) as well as FPS's, and I still really liked it. I didn't unabashedly LOVE it, and it definitely had flaws, glitches, and a supreme lack of polish. But I enjoyed the campaign, and again in co-op, and the multiplayer is surprisingly nuanced and fun.
It also has the best 80s action movie dialogue:
I won't try changing the mind of the haters, but I certainly enjoyed it.
We played this "together" and talked about it a lot and so I was going to come in here and tell you why you are still wrong...but your article includes a Monty Python reference so I'm just going to let it all slide.
That said, bombatomba's point that there have previously been good Aliens FPS titles (the AVP series on PC) might have factored into a lot of the collective disinterest in this game. Those games set the bar for how to handle aliens in the genre, and this game falls far below it.
Nice write-up Noise. I haven't played the game yet but I almost snagged it on that same gamefly sale (a coworker bought it so I'm just going to borrow it from him when he's done).
It gets really annoying when mainstream publications gang up on a game in such a hyperbolic way. In almost every case, it just makes me want to play the game more.
Don't believe the hype.
Well, with all due respect, Noise, I do feel that this game warrants the negative reception that it got. Although I understand you were isolated from everything leading up to its release, there's a story here that is worth exploring. Long story short, gamers were promised one thing, then given another (of lesser quality). The expectations, set by promises made by Gearbox, left us with a misconstrued opinion of the game and led many to purchase it under false pretenses. Having a review embargo certainly didn't help, and the studio must have known that die-hard fans always rush out to support their franchises ASAP, meaning that no one really had any warning and basically felt as though we got a bait and switch, based upon the false demos that were being shown for the product. So, sure, if someone was totally insulated from all the hype and wasn't aware of the types of promises that were made, for $10, I understand how the game can be seen as serviceable, perhaps even enjoyable. But to really understand our plight here and why the behavior leading up to this release infringes upon our consumer rights and truth in advertising, please see all the reasons at the following petition. You just may have a different opinion about this game when it's all said and done and I'm curious to hear what your thoughts may be at that time.
do you petition movie studios for refunds when the trailers feature scenes not in the film?
nothing about this game or its marketing and sale "infringed on your consumer rights". It's a mediocre game that many people paid too much for because they thought it would be good. That happens in every medium all the time. You can't sue for disappointment.
@gamer2112:I really enjoyed that game. Even if beat-for-beat it really reminded me of Doom 3 (interesting, considering the engine.) That admittedly less-than-stellar collector's edition started my dangerous slide toward wanting LE and CEs...
For all it went through to finally get released, I thought it was extremely enjoyable, from art design and pacing to some interesting tweaks on a fun FPS. I know its storied history, but lost design intents or excluded content previously shown did not in the least deter me from having a great time with the finished product.
Um, I was talking about Prey. I enjoyed Colonial Marines, though not as much. But I weigh all faults squarely on the final product.
I grabbed the CE for this yesterday.
I am looking forward to a potentially sub par game.
Since i rarely if ever watch game play videos or check out anything about games before they come out i have no way to complain about deception.
Like slackur i will probably enjoy it for what it is instead of rage about what it could have been or was supposed to be.