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Gearbox Software released the long-delayed co-op shooter Aliens: Colonial Marines today on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. According to the reviews, the game unfortunately wasn't worth the wait. Critics across the world have crapped all over the game.
The notable exception to the hate parade is EGM. They apparently loved the game, giving it a 9 out of 10. In their review, they declare it "one of the most robust story-driven co-op experiences to date" and a "clear winner." I imagine you'll see one of those quotes in the launch press release for the game.
Everyone else found plenty to hate in the game. The story, pacing, boss fights, and length of the campaign were all criticized. Still, the game's not completely unredeemable. Some critics mentioned that the competitive multiplayer modes were fun, especially when you're playing as a xenomorph.
Ten of the more intriguing reviews we found are excerpted below. Hopefully the quotes can give you a decent sense of what to expect from the game and help you decide on whether or not to buy it.
EGM - "All things considered, Colonial Marines is a consistently solid, occasionally spectacular shooter that does more than enough to honor the Alien name. It was going to be a tough task from the onset, but despite a ton of potential pitfalls for the talented team at Gearbox, they’ve gone a long way toward reminding us that, for folks who love the craft of building great games, the best challenges only seem impossible."
OXM - "This is really a review of two games: a derivative story campaign (that you can play solo or with up to three friends in co-op) and a riveting, far superior multiplayer mode that allows you to compete as marines or alien xenomorphs in online matches. Considering Colonial Marines’ relatively long gestation period — roughly six years — it seems more attention was paid to fine-tuning multiplayer than to the campaign."
PC Gamer - "Aliens has already been strip-mined by the videogame industry: if Colonial Marines was going to avoid vanishing into the mix, it needed to have something to say, and it doesn’t. Its attempt to explore the relationship between the Weyland-Yutani company and the military is ham-fisted in the extreme, taking Carter Burke’s reptilian corporate maneuvering and repackaging it as – deep breath – enemy mercenaries who wear corporate-branded baseball caps over their balaclavas and who fight the marine corps for some reason (?) to do with profit (??) derived from engineering new kinds of xenomorph (???). Your guess really is as good as mine."
InsideGamingDaily - "An obligatory leveling system thrown on top of the campaign unlocks the standard set of gun add-ons like red dot sights and under-slung rail weapons. The system is basic but manages to add the only intellectual slant to the gameplay; sub-missions give you alternative challenges to fulfill for experience bonuses. These provide the only reasons you’ll ever have to use some the game’s limited arsenal aside from sheer curiosity, but it’s just a boring and obvious carrot thrown on top of boring game design."
DigitalChumps - "Boss fights are present, but constructed of lazy ideas borrowed from bigger and better games. How many times have we had to get out of the way of a charging boss, only to detail massive damage by shooting its temporarily wrecked visage in its exposed back? Sitting inside that iconic power loader seems like a great idea for a different boss fight, but it operates in such a sluggish, marginally interactive manner you'll wonder why it wasn't cut from the game. Likewise, the final boss is a seductive joke and the player is tasked with dispatching it in the most apathetic and uninteresting way possible; it's literally shoved out the door. Colonial Marines persists in hoping its audience will be so engrossed and captivated in its lore they’ll forget they've shot these guns and killed these bad guys more effectively and more distinctively in other, better games."
Videogamer - "There's no conserving ammo, no sense of an overwhelming force, and as such very little tension: a crushing blow in a game where you're supposedly fighting the universe's most dangerous creature. The Aliens pose little threat, and are usually only a – sigh – QTE away from being rebuffed. They never really form enough of a swarm for players to take them seriously."
Telegraph - "This studio gave us Borderlands 2, an accomplished, raucous celebration of firepower in which shooting was a fizzling, thunderous joy. This feels more like Duke Nukem Forever, the infamously delayed bad-taste shooter which Gearbox recently resurrected and sent to market full of archaic folly. There’s the same sense that playing the game is also excavating years of protracted development, with Colonial Marines having at one point been set for release at the end of 2008 before apparently being de-proritised, half-forgotten and finally restarted."
Escapist - "Once you best the 6-8 hour campaign - and suffer through an absolute butchering of some long-held Aliens narrative themes - it's time to try out the surprisingly solid multiplayer modes. While the head-to-head options will likely be an afterthought for many franchise faithful, the online throwdowns actually manage to capture the Aliens feel better than the campaign itself."
GamePlanet - "Playing as Xenomorphs is completely delicious, and utterly unlike playing as a marine. A player can cover distance in mere moments, clamber on walls and ceilings simply by holding the left trigger, and pounce towards a marine player to eviscerate them with claws, tail, or extra jaws. They play almost like a ferociously fast Ezio from Assassin’s Creed with corrosive acid in his noble Italian vasculature. In fact, a skilled alien player can use exactly the same strategies employed by the AI, right down to skittering into vents that marines cannot take advantage of."
GameSpy - "Strangely, and perhaps fittingly, it's all wrapped up on a frustrating note that sets up some sort of Aliens tell-all continuation of the story without giving any actual answers. Undoubtedly, it will somehow be addressed with the season's worth of multiplayer and single-player DLC Gearbox and Sega have announced. So if you really want to find out what happens next, it appears you'll have to pay for the privilege. Personally, even as a huge fan of the Aliens universe, I don't plan to take them up on the offer -- I can read the answers on Wikipedia without paying to play more of a weak, ugly first-person shooter.