Right from the opening cutscene of Aliens: Colonial Marines, I was geeking out. The game’s James Horner-inspired soundtrack sets a moody, heady tone and I was very excited to take on this would-be sequel to the 1986 film, “Aliens”. You are a marine aboard the Sephora, a Colonial Marines vessel sent to investigate the overdue marines from the film. Upon arrival, you find the Sulaco, their troop ship, in orbit around their last known location, LV-426. You fans of the film series may be asking what the Sulaco is doing there, as we last saw it outside the orbit of a prison world in “Alien 3”. All will be answered…
Nostalgia reigns supreme in Aliens: Colonial Marines, and sharp-eyed gamers will notice that Gearbox Software has translated the aftermath of the events in “Aliens” to the game levels chillingly-well. In the Hadley’s Hope missions, they have gone so far as to include the exact broken grates where Hudson was pulled down into the floor during the battle of the Operations Room. Acid holes match up and there are even callbacks to the special edition scenes of the film. If you are an Aliens fan, you are in for a treat. I can’t begin to count just how many Easter Eggs from “Aliens” you will find in this game.
The gameplay of Aliens: Colonial Marines is smooth enough (for the player, but more on that later). Moving about, crouching, melee, and iron sight shooting all work well – unlike the wooden controls of Rebellion’s AvP game from a couple years ago. Most weapons have a realistic pop-up effect due to recoil and it can be quite a challenge to keep a sight picture on your fast-moving target as the muzzle jumps about. Moving around causes your weapon to sway into the direction you are moving slightly, adding a realistic effect to player motion. Using the welder seen in the film is a bit of a no-brainer. You simply walk up to a door and hit “E” to begin sealing it or opening it. This option has to be scripted in per door – you can’t weld any door you like. The welding in “Aliens” took a while and added to the tension of the moment. Welding in the game goes by much quicker. I think the suspense would have been better served by slowing it down, making you think about the Xenomorph that may or may not be sneaking up behind you.
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