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Aliens: Colonial Marines review


Release date: 12 February 2013
Format: PS3, PC, Wii U, Xbox 360
Developers: Gearbox Studios/SEGA
Type: FPS
Engine: Red Ring (modified Unreal Engine 3)
Modes: Single-player story mode; four player co-op mode

This long-awaited release in the Aliens franchise has been in development for almost 6 years, and has left many gamers wondering what exactly Gearbox was actually doing during that period: it certainly isn't reflected in the final product.

The official blurb:

"Buckle up, soldier! Welcome to Aliens: Colonial Marines. Created by Gearbox, the critically acclaimed and fan-favourite developers of Borderlands and Brothers In Arms, this first-person shooter is steeped in the eerie, claustrophobic and terrifying atmosphere that made the Aliens films successful worldwide. You and your friends will become the most badass military outfit in the galaxy the US Colonial Marines. Its down to you to not just survive but wipe out the Xeno infestation."

Set on planet LV-426, the graphics, while faithful to the Aliens movie which inspired them, are fairly obsolete, with poor textures and many clipping and glitching issues. And here's a point to note: this uses DX9... The gameplay is a standard, linear, corridor-shooter affair. The enemy AI is poor and predictable and leaves many of the encounters feeling like a simple game of whack-a-mole. At the other end of the scale, your team AI often leads to the good guys getting stuck behind walls or completely failing to notice and engage the aliens - who themselves completely fail to notice your team mates and focus solely on you.

The soundtrack is very good, and would assist in heightening immersion if only the game wasn't so buggy. The glitching ultimately is just too frequent and too annoying to allow any scare factor to build up.

Overall, this is a game that looks and feels like it was released 5 years too late. Diehard fans of the Aliens franchise might take something positive away from the experience but everyone else will feel cheated. Heavily hyped before release, many purchasers will be regretting pre-ordering this game, particularly as it is almost guaranteed to be reduced to at least half-price in the next few weeks. This is a game best avoided unless you a) are a huge, HUGE franchise fan or b) see it in the bargain-bin. Think Duke Nukem Forever...

Score: 4/10


Checkpoint XP Farming:
During Level 10, when your objective is "Destroy the AA guns (3 of 3)", you'll come across a soldier that's using a flamethrower against an alien and "Checkpoint Reached" will appear. Down the hill from where you are now you'll find a bunch of enemies. Simply reload the checkpoint as many times as desired and you'll get up to 6000 XP an hour and chance to complete many additional challenges for more XP.

Spawn XP Farming:
During Level 10, once you've taken out the third AA gun, you'll reach a destroyed building after you've passed the rocky exterior. Stop before leaving this building. There's a drop down after the exit door that leads to a big area with unlimited spawning aliens. Stand in the exit door and look to the far left of the courtyard and you can take out the aliens that appear above the spotlight with any scoped weapon. Remain there for as long as desired to get XP and complete additional challenges for more XP. When you run out of ammo, simply reload the previous checkpoint.

Legendary weapon locations:

Hicks' Shotgun:
During Level 1, when you're exploring the gravity well, you will reach the top floor where several aliens will attack. Don't meet up with O'Neal just yet, explore the side rooms on this floor first to find some armor and the legendary, which has a faster rate-of-fire and improved firepower.
Gorman's Pistol:
During Level 4, when you're in the tunnels with O'Neal, you will come across a door that O'Neal stands next to until you cut it open. Ignore him and take the path to the left of him and on the table at the base of the steps you'll find the legendary, which has improved firepower.
Hudson's Pulse Rifle:
During Level 5, after you've gone in the elevator, you'll be going up to meet O'Neal and get your weapons. After he opens the door for you, go straight ahead and check out the offices to find the legendary on the floor, which has improved firepower, greater accuracy and doubled clip-size.
Vasquez's Smartgun:
During Level 6, after retrieving the enemy personell at the end of the level, you'll encounter some soldiers in an outdoor area. Once you reach the next building, go down the stairs and open the door. Look in the left corner of the room to find the legendary, which has improved firepower.
Vasquez's Pistol:
During Level 9, just as you get into Hadley's Hope, turn left, and explore the path to find a room with some armor and the legendary, which has a faster rate-of-fire and improved firepower.
Frost's Flamethrower:
During Level 10, when you're trying to destroy the third AA gun, you'll find a container with an RPG inside. In the same container you'll find the legendary, which has improved firepower.


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