Platform PS3, Xbox (Wii-U TBC)
Release Date Out Now.
Like every other fan of James Cameron’s Aliens have been looking forward to this game for the best part of a decade since it was first muted for PS2. Although Gearbox do maintain that this is a very different game from the one first shown it was still my chance to play as a Colonial Marine and that remained the main hook.
The development cycle has been a difficult and mysterious one. Alarm bells should have started ringing after the most recent delay forced the release date back yet again taking it to 2013 from Gearbox’s first announcement back in 2008. I had hoped that this latest delay was just to polish it up and to ensure the attention to detail that was promised was there. Gearbox had also reported that a delay was necessary to add in some recently acquired new voice talent including some notable characters from the films.
The second warning (not including all the negative reviews) comes as you start the game up for the first time and you see that familiar reassuring Gearbox logo. Then something weird happens when the next screen pops up it shows four or five other studios also listed? That is never a good sign, how many people have had their hand in this pie?
The game opens up with a very strong start, it sets the scene and starts building up to your first encounter with the Xenomorphs. That familiar sound of the motion trackers blipping works wonders to build the tension.
Then out of the shadows a Xenomorph attacks and as quickly as he appears he vanishes again into the shadows. Panic starts to set in as you spin around not sure where the next attack will come from. This is what we have been waiting for but unfortunately this is the first and last fight that has anything in common with the movie.
After that it fits a pretty standard shooting fish in a barrel (or Xenomorphs in a corridor). The Aliens run straight at you with the occasional one choosing to come in across the ceiling or from under a platform. I was not looking for a survival horror game and was happy to play as a bad ass marine with plenty of ammo kicking some ass, but the sheer number of Xeno’s that you can easily dispatch quickly removes any sense of fear that they should have as one of the most deadly predators out there. Soon it becomes so common place that when you are faced with shooting either an Alien or a NPC you choose the NPC as he is more dangerous.
Presentation is a mixed bag, some of the art work is really good and the sound is spot on. Those Pulse Rifles sound so good when you fire them. Unfortunately though this level is not maintained throughout the game. Textures are average at best, screen tearing, character wobbles, missing animations and other glitches that are not game ruining but rather they ruin any chance of getting immersed in the game.
The Weyland Soldier come in only 3 forms so you often end up getting attacked by waves of the same person. When you shoot them they often just appear on the ground as if the animation of them falling was never included in the code.
Game play is average at best. I did not encounter any game breaking bugs that stopped me progressing completely to the extent that I needed to reset, but I did get killed because of stupid things like small containers blocking my escape (rather than the usual stupid mistake on my part that normally gets me killed).
All the missions involved walking around initially on the Sulaco and then on to LV 426’s surface and inside Hadley’s Hope and a few more locations from the film. There is the glaring omission of any vehicle sections from the campaign despite having drop ships and APC’s regularly show up throughout.
The campaign story is bare bones, you initially arrive on a search and destroy mission but as usual it is not too long before the Weyland Corporation turns up and throw a spanner in the works. They are up to their old tricks and trying to develop the zeno’s as weapons which of course goes all wrong. It really does a good job of missing opportunities to flesh out the “lore” from the series. Doing little to fill gaps between Aliens and Alien 3 and even goes so far as to mess with it to such an extent that it just creates more questions.
You do of course get to retrace some of the more iconic settings from the game the Sulaco, LV 426 and the crashed Space Jockey ship. There is a new facility full off test subjects and scientist built to fit the storyline but otherwise you are walking down familiar corridors. This is iconic stuff and the art team have recreated it with a lot of love and attention to detail but unfortunately it is quite a dated setting from a gaming perspective.
When Aliens came out it set a new standard for the Space Marine but over the course of the last 20+ years the gaming community has used it over and over again to such an extent that the only appeal for a corridor shooter like this is for the diehard fans.
In saying all that I did enjoy myself (being one of those diehards) running around those iconic locations, having a Pulse Rifle in hand and being able to blast Aliens no matter how easy is still pretty cool. Cutting open doors, setting up turrets and taking down an Aliens with your pistol when you are knocked on your ass make up the most enjoyable bits. This just goes to further reinforce the disappointment overall as any of the enjoyable bits would have been so much better in a better game.
Overall : Aliens is still enjoyable as a guilty pleasure (like the way crappy B movies are so bad they are fun). The artwork is nice to look at, the weapons and leveling system are quite good but there is so much left to finish in the game and so many missed opportunities it is hard to recommend anyone to buy this at full price.
It looks and plays like a game that a bunch of talented amateurs put together in a moding community, not something a full studio (or five) built for full RRP release.
Definitely too many cooks on this one but the sad thing is it has probably killed any chance of us getting the game we have been waiting to play for decades.
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