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Impressions: Aliens Colonial Marines First Level

Words cannot describe how much I was looking forward to Aliens Colonial Marines. With delays followed by even more delays a release was looking bleak, but I remained hopeful, along with many other Alien fans. We’ve certainly waited a very long time to get our hands on the space shooter, and it’s turned out to be a wait ending in dismay and disappointment.

Those two words sum up my feelings only just after completing just the first level of Aliens. There is so much wrong with these first thirty minutes or so it really dampens your hopes for the rest of the game.

Let’s kick things of with the opening cinematic. It actually starts off well. It feels like the opening to the first Alien films, with a lovely camera pan through space over the Sulaco backed with the eerie soundtrack.

There’s even a distress video from Corporal Hicks but it’s not too nostalgic as he looks and sounds nothing like the Hicks we all know. This is the start everything that’s bad.

We are suddenly thrown into the dishing of orders from the in charge marine. The dialogue is cringe-worthy. Forced bad language and a real lack of flow between the marines sets the standard for the next thirty minutes. The lip syncing is painfully out of time as well.

After a very quick briefing it’s time to venture into the Sulaco to meet up with another squad that’s already run into some trouble. Strangely given no further information on their encounters.

Here’s the first few minutes of the game.

Returning to the Sulaco is nothing special at all. As you head across the bridge all the Sulaco looks like is a muddy Lego brick. The surroundings aren’t anything memorable either; a starless space and texture-less LV-426 leave you underwhelmed. It’s really saddening.

Once on board you’ll still be unimpressed. The lighting is poor, even an insult to Cameron’s Aliens. You’d expect dark corridors to be only lit by the spiralling warning sirens creating eerie figures in the distance. Instead it’s like walking into broad daylight. It’s terrible, and I really mean that.

The recreation of the Sulaco’s textures and key areas aren’t anywhere near detailed enough. Everything you see leaves you slightly demoralised. It’s hurtful of your memories of Aliens.

You then think maybe the gameplay can make up for this. The answer is sadly a no. It’s clunky and completely off the mark. The authenticity of the Pulse Rifle and Motion Tracker may be a plus but the latter is completely pointless.

Warnings of incoming xeno’s pop up regardless of whether you are using the motion tracker. This makes it impossible for a tense atmosphere to be created where you are in control of knowing your surroundings. A really woeful design choice.

The xenos run like this for the majority of the time.

The Pulse Rifle may sound like those in the film but it feels so underpowered. The bullets must be blanks and the grenade launcher couldn’t harm a fly. The recoil is also really difficult to control and almost immediately you find yourself switching to the shotgun for the remainder of the mission.

The AI of the xeno’s just adds further salt to the wounds. They are really easy to read in terms of their attacks and they don’t look nimble at all when traversing walls and ceilings. Their movement is so robotic and overall they bear no resemblance to the ultimate killing species we’ve seen in the films.

The remainder of the game doesn’t look bright. I’ve encountered so many poorly used assets, bad dialogue and strange design choices in the first level that I really don’t want to venture further into the game.

What really bugs me the most is the compete lack of a tense atmosphere in the game. There were so many opportunities in the first level to leave you biting your nails that were missed or either ruined with the terrible lighting or random spurts of dialogue from your fellow marine.

Let us hope things get better further into the game or the online features turn out to be the game’s godsend. Otherwise it’s Game Over Man, Game Over!