Enjoyable but not essential sci-fi shooter, writes John Walshe.

For a host of film fans around the globe, the opportunity to boldly go where Sigourney Weaver has gone before, taking on the toothy xenomorphs in slime-filled spaceships sounds like manna from heaven. And there are parts of Aliens: Colonial Marines that are great fun. But it probably wasn’t the sharpest idea for the developers to release this sci-fi shooter around the same time as the third Dead Space game, the series which pretty much wrote the rulebook for edge-of-the-seat shooters featuring evil aliens intent on your demise.

Compared to DS3, Colonial Marines falls short, which is a pity, because there are some elements of the game that are genuinely good fun, most of which involve exploring some seriously creepy environments, assault rifle at the ready, or blowing holes in the xenomorph hordes while one of you fellow marines cuts through a locked doorway. The multiplayer options are also impressive, especially when you take on the role of the aliens: there’s a perverse joy to playing the damage-resistant Crusher, the saliva-spouting Spitter and the seriously disturbing Lurker.

The single player campaign is set after the events of the original movie trilogy, when the intergalactic soldiers of the title are sent to the planet LV426, where previous marines have disappeared while on a rescue mission. Before you can say, ‘Don’t let the spidery thing grab you by the face’, you’re knee-deep in xenomorphs, acidic blood and all, in a desperate fight for your life against those nasty aliens and an army of human space mercenaries from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation.

The action is pretty much relentless. However, it’s let down by some pretty basic glitches, such as the lack of decent ally AI: cooking a grenade, ready to smoke out the bad guys, only to have it rebound off a fellow marine’s head and blow your character to smithereens is frustrating when it happens the first time. When it keeps happening, it’s a definite black mark. Also, the inability to steal weapons or ammo from defeated enemies is a real pity, and could have led to some welcome variety in the gameplay.

Sometimes, you get a real sense of the claustrophobia that made the films so successful and there are a few knowing nods to Ripley’s astral adventures that tickle the tastebuds, but too often the game settles for OK, when it could and probably should have been superb, given the source material. Mildly enjoyable, but not essential.

Platform: PS3, X360, PC
Publisher: Sega
Cert: 18
Score: 3/5

John Walshe