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Found 8 results

  1. Brittany Vincent

    Review: Aliens: Colonial Marines

    Developer: Gearbox Software Publisher: Sega Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC Release Date: February 12 2013 ESRB: M for Mature A retail copy of the game was supplied by the publisher for review. This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game. What's the definition of an unplayable game? "Unplayable" should obviously be taken to mean that the product cannot be played. In the case of Gearbox's Aliens: Colonial Marines, plenty of criticisms spring to mind, many of them negative. But unlike the spectators who watched me complete the game or those I played the game with, the world "unplayable" didn't cross my mind. I was fortunate enough to never have encountered game-breaking glitches, and though I was on autopilot for the entirety of the game, the lack of challenge wasn't cause for me to abandon it. I soldiered on, despite the multiple (at least seven) tweets of "I'm sorry" when my Raptr client tweeted my game activity. For the record, there's nothing more condescending than the insincere condolences of those who see you playing a "bad" game, thinking you're being forced or that you're too stupid to know anything else. This entry in the world of Alien games (mostly subpar) was especially rancid, but wholly playable. Bland, disjointed, and mediocre? You bet. But nothing different than what you might find in the bargain bin. What makes this game different is that we had every right to think it would be spectacular. And it fails spectacularly at what it set out to accomplish. The vitriol spewn at Colonial Marines by my partners is not all undeserved, though it mainly stemmed from the massive amount of hype generated by Gearbox for Colonial Marines as the new "go-to" Aliens title. To recognize any part of the half-baked plot as Aliens canon or any piece of the game as better than slapped together with minimal effort is ludicrous: it's clear it needed much more time in the oven. But amidst a sea of uninspiring gunplay, nonsensical plot revelations, and the most braindead xenomorphs I've ever come face to face with, there were some interesting moments as well -- decent voice acting, easter eggs for Aliens fans, and even a bit of dark humor. There just weren't enough shining moments to declare it a victory. Divulging the plot details isn't really necessary in order for you to understand what kind of game this is - you'll be able to pick apart every single bit of strangeness siphoned in by the writers, and it's frankly more frustrating than anything else. Considering the many bizarre twists near the end of the game, it's best to think of Colonial Marines as a "what-if" scenario with familiar characters and locations. Reading into it any further is disappointing. The things that do occur on the journey will draw criticism and questions, so be prepared to be scratching your head when you come in contact with someone you thought long gone. Other than these snippets which will cause you to question the motives of the Colonial Marines writers, your only objective in-game is to shoot. Shoot some more. Shoot Xenomorphs 'til they're dead. Shoot Facehuggers 'til they're dead. Walk around with a squad member until they're inevitably dead. It's very cut-and-dry. But even taking aim at enemies doesn't have much weight to it. Whether attacking Wey-Yu forces or aliens, there's no real "kick" when you land a hit, leading you to wonder if you're even doing any damage until they randomly fall down dead. Guns, even though they're meant to mimic the sound effects from the movies, carry the most grating noise I think I've heard in a first-person shooter. It's supposed to be emulating the pulse rifle, but instead it sounds like the sad whine of a dying gun. It's most unpleasant. The arsenal of weapons you'll pick up (some attached to characters from the Aliens mythos) is lackluster as well, and none of them feel particularly powerful until you try out a flamethrower. Even then, it's pretty yawn-worthy. Level design is lackluster and lazy as well, though the first couple of areas were worth it just to stare out at the wreckage and the same setpieces seen in the movies. Time spent wandering around earlier levels with a fleeting sense of childlike wonder quickly dissipated into annoyance as the last chain of four to five levels looked and felt exactly the same. They melted into one another like a goopy mess, much like the objectives themselves, which hardly varied beyond "open this door," "pull this switch," and "kill X amount of aliens." It creates a sort of monotonous symphony, one without variance or different sounds to keep it afloat. In many ways, it's just going through the motions of what an FPS should be with little regard for polishing its myriad aspects and more focus on keeping its head above water rather than refining unacceptable traits. What interesting moments I did glean from the game were creeping through egg-infested areas where you needed to simply stop moving for aliens to not attack you. It wasn't horrifying, but it did instill a quick sense of dread that I appreciated. Since the motion tracker wasn't exactly necessary throughout the meat of the game, this was one part that felt distinctly more Alien-like and thus as if more attention had been paid to it. These times were, of course, few and far between, and did little to create an engaging atmosphere every step of the way. Most of the time I was bored, listless, and ready to advance the plot. I moved forward, I shot things, and the level was completed. And looking back on it now, that's what I've done in every shooter -- even my favorites. But this particular one didn't really provide anything truly memorable except its shoddy visuals, sloppy multiplayer, and bizarre "canon" that did little to answer the questions I had. In short, Aliens: Colonial Marines is an exercise in the same slog we've been seeing for years. It just did things in a less appealing and acceptable manner. Coupled with strange design decisions, the fluff accompanied by its marketing campaign, and ludicrous amounts of buzz, it had so much to live up to. It did not. It's playable. And that's about all you can say about it. Pros: + Motion trackers, power loaders, and other Alien setpieces + Decent voice acting + Occasionally interesting bits (but not often) Cons: - Muddy, horrible graphics - Samey levels - Samey levels (what? we didn't think you'd notice) - Boring objectives Overall Score: 3.0 (out of 10) Poor Aliens: Colonial Marines fails miserably at instilling any sense of fear or adventure into its extremely short campaign. It's a shooter. That's about it.
  2. With so many video games released every year it would be foolish to expect all of them to be marvelous. In fact, a great deal of them are fairly mediocre while others are downright stinkers. Every so often, a game manages to be so bad that it causes an uproar. Gamers don“t just avoid these special games, they rant and rave about them for months and years down the road. Will Aliens: Colonial Marines join their dubious ranks? It hasn“t been long enough to tell, but in the meantime, let“s visit the hall of fame which no game ever hopes to be inducted into. Daikatana Games are regularly seeing longer and longer development cycles, some of which are more infamous than others. Daikatana was one such game that seemed to languish in development for a while. Many began to see developer John Romero as a pompous, spoiled guy rather than someone trying to create their dream game. It was an ugly situation leading to launch and even uglier once the product was out. Thanks to numerous delays, Daikatana hit the market looking graphically worse than other games of the same year, despite having hoped to be technically superior. Then there was the gameplay itself which suffered many glitches. Aspects touted as revolutionary, such as AI partners, ended up being more laughably broken than anything else. A patch came to make the game more playable, but by then the damage was already done. Devil May Cry 2 The original Devil May Cry was a rousing success in creating a truly exciting action game with a real sense of difficulty. With such a high starting point, fans eagerly waited to get their hands on Devil May Cry 2. Unfortunately, the sequel did not live up to lofty ideals set by fans and even failed to attain the same finesse of the first. Criticisms were lobbed chiefly at lowered difficulty, although that wasn“t all it got wrong. The character of Dante seemed changed in personality as well, which is still something fans have wrangled with (see DmC). Basically, it seemed that all the changes to the game were ones which brought it down a peg from the bar Devil May Cry had set. It“s true that games must be updated at some point to stay innovative but this seems more an example of how not to handle sequels. Duke Nukem Forever When modern gamers reflect on games that truly defined the worst of this generation, it is Duke Nukem Forever that tends to come to mind. Initially, this 3D Realms-developed title looked like it would be something monumental. As the years wore on, and as the game got tossed around, it seemed that the game would never make it out of development hell. After fifteen years, Duke Nukem Forever finally launched, but it would have been better if it never did. Gamers immediately found themselves disgusted by the game. Not only did it play like a relic from years ago, but it had the mindset of a goofy teenager. While the “humor” and narrative might have passed for good in the '90s, it did not fly in 2011. Waiting years for a game that just turned out to be bad made gamers rightly unhappy, and now it stands as a warning to any games with incredibly long development cycles. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial The infamous Atari 2600 E.T. game never had the chance to be good. In anticipation of the Christmas season, programmer Howard Warsaw was given only five weeks to create a game based off the smash hit film. He did what he could, but there wasn“t nearly enough time to create something good with the license. What was sold to customers was a sore excuse for a game that“s biggest resemblance to the film is an E.T. shaped sprite. As it turned out, consumers were not ready to accept such tripe disguised as a game. Instead, people returned the game in droves, as well as the subpar port of arcade classic Pac-Man. Of course, that doesn't mean other bad games weren“t coming out for Atari, but these were the biggest names that flopped. It“s one thing to say a game sucks, but a whole other thing to be pinpointed as a reason why the entire video game industry crashed in 1983. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty There“s one untruth that still lingers about Metal Gear Solid 2. It isn“t that bad of a game. However, it received completely warranted hate when it launched due to how Hideo Kojima knowingly duped the gaming audience prior to its launch. It“s something only Kojima could conceive and seems impossible to pull off in this day and age. Basically, everyone involved in Metal Gear Solid 2 made sure to keep the game“s true protagonist a secret. Gameplay footage showed Snake just as everyone expected. Once the game was out, though, people began to play and realized that the large majority of it focused around playing as Raiden. Described as a “bishonen” by Kojima himself, Raiden being the star instead of Snake made fans rabid for being totally deceived. With all that said, there are dozens of other games that received strong negative reactions from gamers. Some games that are much loved now were the subject of much hate, such as The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Resident Evil 4, Superman: The New Adventures, and more. On the other hand, some games that went mostly unknown in the past have gained a large following over their awfulness, such as the Nintendo properties on CDi. There will always be bad games coming out but hopefully players will be able to spot them from a mile away.
  3. Hype is a massive force in the gaming industry and it always has been. The main reason that the 1989 film The Wizard saw big audiences was due to one thing. No, it wasn“t the deeply affecting narrative, but simply the fact that fans knew that footage of Super Mario Bros. 3 would get some screentime. In the current age, we hear news as it happens and are spoon fed tiny teasers, concept art, and pre-rendered videos. The industry“s continual hyping up of games is in full swing. However, the industry has recently suffered at its own hands right in front of gamers. Aliens: Colonial Marines is a game that was reviewed negatively by the majority of gaming press. Over the years it continued to see videos and gameplay footage from media events to keep fans aware of the upcoming game. Seven years in production later, the game launched to intense criticism and ire. This was not the game that was promised to fans time and time again. Instead, it was labeled a mediocre shooter that didn't deserve the name of Aliens. A few days after this all started to go down, Bungie officially announced their much anticipated game Destiny. Instead of swarming the media with alpha game footage, they did just as companies have been apt to do in the past. Showing concept art and talking up a big game, they did not actually give anyone a fair look at the actual game they were excitedly announcing. Normally, this would be business as usual, but with Aliens: Colonial Marines still a fresh wound, some have begun to question the industry“s actions. Why is it that we as fans may be thrown into fits of ecstasy over such unimportant bits of information? No matter the age, it only takes a certain franchise or company to get many to revert back to squealing schoolchildren in an instant. There is something magical about hype and its role in promoting upcoming titles. Game companies have become masters of media and manipulation. If they know they can get away with simply espousing key phrases then that“s exactly what they“ll do. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn“t. For example, one needs to only recall Sony“s 2006 press conference where Kaz Hirai announced a Ridge Racer game on PSP. He had wrongly assumed the fanbase for the game was so enthralled that they would clap madly at him simply saying the name. Instead, Hirai was stuck on stage making his iconic “Riiiiiiidge Racer!” comment to a silent audience. Most of the time though, things play out much differently. As was the case with Duke Nukem Forever or Aliens: Colonial Marines, games get built up thanks to the press (and other forms of media) only to be torn down by players once they get their hands on time. Some have suggested that media is deception, and in many ways, that is exactly what is being presented. Deceptive marketing is not only a part of the gaming world, but it is not all done with malicious intent. Think back to Dead Island, which was given a truly emotional pre-rendered trailer. That one video sent shockwaves through the community as gamers uttered a collective “I need it” before pre-ordering the game. Was Dead Island anything like that? Certainly the visuals were different but so too was the story. Although there was a narrative, it was hardly as heart-wrenching as what had been displayed in the trailer. Developer Deep Silver may have hoped to create such an emotional experience when they began, but that was far from what the end product was. Games routinely go through many changes over the course of creation. What they choose to show at trade shows and in interviews is only what they know will make them look best. Aliens is not the first game to have done this and it will not be the last. In the case of newly announced Destiny, they are probably not deeply into production as of yet. As such, you can“t expect them to hold firm to every comment said in their introductory videos. Those are simply the hopes and plans for what Destiny will become, but not proof positive of the game being all those things when it finally launches. However, we have been trained to believe that all the preview media is indicative of what a game will become. Certainly it makes sense to assume that things will at least be similar to what they are being shown and discussed as beforehand. Still, development of a game is a long, strenuous process and a lot gets left on the cutting room floor. As gamers, we must learn not to go gaga over previews, teasers, and whatever else the gaming world is tossing at us. Can we divorce ourselves from the infinite amount of previews and developer updates, though? It is practically ingrained in our DNA to listen when a favorite developer speaks. There is something exciting about feeling like you“re in on the shaping of a game. Anticipating a game is fun and a way to feel a part of the community at large. Still, it doesn“t do us a lick of good. The only way we will know if a game is truly fun to us is if we have it in our hands and are playing it to completion. That“s not to say that previews can“t be fun, just that we must be sure to keep the analytical part of our minds on. If designers and developers are just talking to a camera and saying all the cool things that a game will have that does nothing for players. Concepts are just concepts until proven as functioning (and fun) in gameplay. When watching trailers and other forms of media, think about their purpose. Are they stripping away the veil of privacy to give you a view into development? Or are they simply saying and showing cool things with the purpose of hyping up the audience? Are the things displayed and said facts and proven as existing in the game or are they ideas? As long as you can keep from devolving into a rabid consumer while checking out preview content, you will hopefully be able to avoid the stinging pain of games not living up to their potential in the future.
  4. It's been a while since we've gotten some news on SEGA and Gearbox's upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines, but the House of Hedgehog revealed a brand new story trailer for the game today. It doesn't necessarily tell us anything we didn't know before, but it's still nice to see a trailer that explains everything. Details on the story were actually first revealed back in 2008 when it was announced that the plot would take place after the events of the third Alien film, and that this game's events would be considered canonical by 20th Century Fox. The story puts the player in the shoes of Corporal Christopher Winter, a colonial marine who is part of a search-and-rescue effort sent to find out what happened to the U.S.S. Sulaco. Aliens: Colonial Marines is currently scheduled to release on February 12, 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and PC. You can check out the trailer .
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