Posts tagged #gearbox

Aliens: Colonial Marines – First Impressions


I’m a xenomorph fan and like most xenomorph fans, I was excited for Aliens: Colonial Marines. When the game broke its street date and was released a few days early, reviews and opinions started pouring in. Most of what I read was negative. Of course, I was pretty shocked. From everything I had seen on the game, it looked like it would be really good and close to the feel of the Alien films, but all these opinions were saying the opposite along with other negative criticisms about various aspects. Ignoring these early impressions, I decided to take the plunge and proceed with purchasing the game for PC.

In a word: I like the game. Is it the best thing I’ve ever played? No. Does it show signs of being in development limbo for several years? Yes. But from the 3 or 4 missions I’ve completed, I can say that it’s a good game. At this point, I’d probably give it a 7/10. The only thing I could agree with from these impressions is the fact that some of the AI is kind of dumb at times, but mainly on the part of the human characters.

After the game was actually released, official reviews started pouring in, most of which were horrible. IGN’s review stated, “You don’t ever actually feel like you’re actually in danger. You don’t 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.”
I have to disagree with almost every bit of that.

Let’s take these one by one, shall we?

1.       “You don’t ever actually feel like you’re actually in danger.”
Apparently IGN didn’t play the mission where you have no weapons, are being chased by some sort of giant xenomorph (not a queen), and have to move slowly throughout the underbelly of Hadley’s Hope in fear of waking up the sleeping “acid-filled exploding” new aliens. I was genuinely creeped out by this section. I felt like I was in plenty of danger as I didn’t want to die by waking one of those jokers up; when one did wake up, I had to remain perfectly still since these new xenomorphs operate completely off of sound. When it came right up to me, slowly circled, and eventually trotted off, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Plenty of danger, indeed.

2.       “You don’t feel overwhelmed.”
There are a ton of xenomorphs that show up all the time which you have to fend off, sometimes having to protect a squadmate as they complete some kind of task. How do you not feel overwhelmed?

3.       “…the game never gets even remotely close to… the genuine feelings of fear and dread that simmer throughout James Cameron’s cinematic classic…”
Excuse me? Did you guys even watch Aliens? If we were talking about “simmering fear and dread” in the original Alien film, I could get behind your point, but we’re talking about Aliens. Aliens was a high-octane, action/sci-fi flick. Ninety percent of the movie was spent blasting xenomorphs and another five percent was Ripley fighting the queen with a loader. There were some “fear simmering” moments (which accounts for the remaining 5%), like the infamous turret scene, but the majority of the film was action oriented.

4.       “…the xenomorphs are so mindless.”
While I don’t completely agree, I can see where they’re coming from. The xenomorph AI isn’t as complex as it was in the most recent Alien’s Vs. Predator title, but it’s not terrible by any stretch. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “mindless,” though. Less advanced than AvP, sure.

Another thing related to the AI (which seems to be one of the game’s largest criticisms, including IGN) I don’t agree with is when IGN writes, “The problem lies with the aliens themselves; they’re not smart enough to hunt in packs or take you by surprise; they just willfully hurt themselves in front of your short, controlled bursts.”
Again, the xenomorph AI isn’t the greatest in the world, but really, when has AI in a game ever been smart enough to “hunt” the player? The only thing I can think of is in AvP when the xenomorphs will sometimes try to get behind you rather than attack you head-on, but I wouldn’t call that “hunting.” Like I said before: That’s something that shows the AI in this game isn’t as advanced as it was in AvP. But in all fairness, AvP and A:CM are two different types of games. They’re both first person titles, but AvP had varied game types by being able to choose between the 3 species… Two of which you had to play as hunters. Here, you’re stuck with the marine and only the marine in a story that needs to be a little faster paced like the film it claims to be a sequel to.

Also, everyone needs to be aware that this game is pretty old and has been in development for quite some time. It has switched developers more times than I have fingers and toes. No matter what Gearbox (the last developer) did to the game, the only thing that would have “fixed” the outdated features in the game would be to rebuild it from the ground up, which would have delayed the game even further. That being said, the game is pretty good for having been a complete and utter disaster when it comes to developing software.

Once I finish the game, I will give my full review of it. But as of right now, I’m really enjoying it and, for me at least, Aliens: Colonial Marines is mostly a success so far.

-Josh
Source: IGN