As the title states, I definitely don’t think Colonial Marines deserves the heaps of hate it has been so abundantly receiving; far from it. While the game definitely isn’t good enough to win any awards come GOTY time, it’s a solid enough cooperative first person shooter to at least warrant a rental, contrary to what everyone else has been saying.
Aliens CM picks up right where Aliens 3 left off, to my knowledge. The plot is shallow at best, maintaining a run-of-the-mill superficial narrative throughout. But let’s get real, the Aliens movies were never about their amazing plot lines and beautifully crafted characters. They were about seeing aliens with mouths inside of mouths eat the guts out of space marines who thought they were tough. In that respect, Colonial Marines delivers.
There’s enough action to keep any trigger-happy marines happy, and there’s a lot more marines vs. aliens content than other reviews had previously lead me to believe. You only spend a fourth of your time versing rival Weyland Yutani troops, with the emphasis being on the aliens and a darkly lit survival horror atmosphere. While it’s never actually scary, I definitely got more chills within minutes of Colonial Marines than I got in all of Metro 2033. There are moments where you’ll gingerly shine your headlight at a corner of the room, only to see a yard long tail scurry out of view and leave you nervous to tread onwards. With that said, the actual gunplay eliminates all possible tension and previous suspense in favor of a more arcade-y shooter experience. Once the aliens show themselves, they stand on two feet and just start slashing wildly, leaving themselves wide open for your insanely huge arsenal of firearms to penetrate every inch of their black-shelled bodies. It’s mindless shooting that requires no ammo conservation whatsoever, as the minute you run out of bullets for one primary weapon you can swap off to any of the other seven which renders you an overpowered beast on the battlefield.
The previous description of the gunplay is extremely prevalent in co-op. With a full squad consisting of four half-decent players, you can level any alien or Yutani threat in your way without so much as breaking a sweat on soldier difficulty or lower. I experimented on Ultimate Badass difficulty for three missions, and even then there was little challenge with a full squad of kick-ass teammates. The fact that there wasn’t much challenge didn’t make things boring, it just allowed me to experiment with some of my lesser-used guns and gave me an opportunity to go all-out Rambo instead of smart, conservative marine. If you can play in co-op, it’s definitely the way to play. The online community isn’t exactly bustling, but I managed to have a minimum of two teammates with me at all times in my campaign playthrough.
While the cooperative multiplayer faired well, the competitive didn’t soar quite to the same heights. In the very first round of team deathmatch I played, I glitched through a wall texture and sat in a green, enclosed space unable to move until the round was over. Things did get better after that and I didn’t experience any other glitches, but it was a seriously bad introduction to Colonial Marines’ competitive aspect. The multiplayer modes themselves aren’t anything special, with the usual team deathmatch, base defense, survivor being present along with a neat mode where you have to advance through a stage as a marine without getting killed off by an enemy player’s alien. The issue is that no one plays any mode other than team deathmatch and survivor, so I rarely got to enjoy a match of the other two modes which were surprisingly fun in the short windows I had to experience them. Playing as an alien is a fun diversion, and although the controls are clunky and are seriously underpowered when versing an alert marine, it still allows for some fun tactical espionage when you and your alien compatriots team up on an unsuspecting soldier and take him out with a brutal tail mauling.
Overall, I actually had a fun time with Aliens: Colonial Marines. I don’t know if it’s because I went in with zero expectations because of all the bad press surrounding it, or because I watched Aliens 2 and Prometheus over the weekend. I just enjoyed it in the way that a young kid enjoys running through a sprinkler. Sure, it feels stupid and inferior to the vastly superior pool, but it’s great for what it is. That, combined with all of the cool references to the Aliens films, made for a game that I think everyone should at least give the benefit of a doubt and rent.