Building (Critical) Consensus: Aliens: Colonial Marines
Yesterday’s release of Aliens: Colonial Marines was anticipated by gamers and Aliens fans alike. How could you not be excited when the beloved sci-fi franchise was getting a game developed by Borderlands developer Gearbox Software. The result was a resounding thud with Game Rankings and Metacritic scores under 50%.
EGM (9/10): Colonial Marines is a consistently solid, occasionally spectacular shooter that does more than enough to honor the Alien name. It was going to be a tough task from the onset, but despite a ton of potential pitfalls for the talented team at Gearbox, they’ve gone a long way toward reminding us that, for folks who love the craft of building great games, the best challenges only seem impossible.
(Naturally, quite a few journalists and readers have accused the above review of being bought by Sega. Given that it’s so much higher than the average score, the accusation is understandable. Reviewer Brandon Justice does have a history of questionable reviews, though. He infamously gave Halo 4 a 7/10 while lamenting the inability to aim using iron sights.)
The Escapist (3/5): It’s been noted that the game’s story is now official canon, and given that it’s been a mighty long while since we saw a high-quality interactive Alien experience, all eyes are on Colonial Marines to blow fans away. Unfortunately, the final product suffers from a litany of technical issues, a ho-hum narrative, and gameplay that will leave you almost entirely devoid of any emotional investment.
IGN (4.5/10): Like any decent theme park attraction, Aliens: Colonial Marines presents a fairly convincing facade but its thrills are forced and entirely superficial. You don’t ever feel like you’re actually in danger. You don’t ever feel overwhelmed. In fact, over the course of its six hour campaign the game never gets even remotely close to replicating the genuine feelings of fear and dread that simmer throughout James Cameron’s cinematic classic, simply because its xenomorphic enemies are so mindless. These aliens aren’t sophisticated human hunters, they’re merely acid-fuelled fodder for the seemingly neverending rounds in your pulse rifle. Consequently, Colonial Marines is for the most part a disappointingly mundane, run ‘n’ gun first-person shooter that fails to captivate once the initial rush of nostalgia has worn off. At its worst, it’s simply feels unfinished – which is a surprise given how long it’s been in development.
Game Informer (4/10): I’ve been playing Aliens games since the days of Doom mods, and for all the technological advances we’ve seen, this stands among the worst – including the Jaguar version… Take away the Aliens license, and you’ve got a shooter that has no reason to exist.
Eurogamer (3/10): It’s shocking stuff, certainly one of the most glitchy mainstream releases of this hardware generation, and the sort of thing that would barely pass muster as a low budget game from 2002.
Joystiq (1/5): Aliens: Colonial Marines isn’t disappointing because it couldn’t live up to lofty expectations, it’s disappointing because it turned out to be such an unfettered disaster.