I went to the launch event of Aliens: Colonial Marines.
There were snacks.
And blue drinks.
There was a demo by one of the devs, going through a level, showing off what was apparently a game incredibly true to the spirit of the franchise, because all the guys that worked on it were such fans.
And I remember thinking at the time, "Well, it looks ok I suppose, but let me not judge right now."
Yeah, well the wait didn't improve my opinion much.
Fans of the franchise Gearbox might be, but in much the same way that some fan-art is a poor shadow of the original, Aliens: Colonial Marines is a poor shadow of the Aliens franchise.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is, like many of the Aliens games, an FPS, in this case developed by Gearbox Software who are most well known for their hit franchise, Borderlands. Perhaps because of this success it's particularly disappointing that this game is so bad.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with the basics.
Set a number of weeks after the events in Alien, a team of Colonial Marines answer a distress call from the USS Sulaco. You play as Corporal Christopher Winter, a fairly generic Colonial Marine who boards the ship in search of the missing marines. Of course a massive Xenomorph infestation is discovered and what follows is a fight to survive, as well as a conspiracy. It's really pointless to go deeper into the story than that because it's so superficial and underdeveloped anyway that there isn't much more to it. You battle Xenomorphs. Some people get infected. They die when the things burst out of their stomachs in much the same way as you remember from the movie.
Apart from the unique enemies created by Gearbox especially for this game, enemy types include the Facehuggers, Chestbursters as well as the Drone, Warrior, Queen and Runners from the Alien movies. There are a couple of other variants including a nasty mofo that sprays molecular acid but overall the custom xenomorphs don't add much to the game as a whole.
Moving to the visuals, Colonial Marines has been in development for about five years, and it looks and plays like a game five years old. Gearbox for some odd reason decided to discard all the advancements made in the FPS genre over the last few years, including a cover system in Colonial Marines for no apparent reason.
Not just that, but the textures look dated, the animation is glitchy and sub-par, the AI is ridiculously bad and the characters development is shallow and uninteresting. Overall this game is a crushing disappointment.
There are some nice touches in the fact that you can pick up iconic weapons, including Ripley's, as you make your way through the ship, but rather than deepening a meaningful experience you end up feeling more as if this is just tagged on to the end. The weapons don't handle particularly well overall either, so picking up custom weapons really just gives you something to do to break the monotony.
Aliens: Colonial Marines isn't worth the money. The best thing I can say about it is that I really like the free t-shirt I got at the launch. I wear it a lot.