About an hour into Aliens: Colonial Marines, it’s hard to find a reason to keep playing. At least that’s exactly how I felt during my solo campaign run. Xenomorphs — the creepy, black-suited extraterrestrials from the Hollywood films — often slipped past my dimwitted allies to attack me directly. In some instances, they visibly brushed shoulders with my teammates, as they pounced towards my avatar and took a swipe at my head. Honestly, it’s a strange sight to witness at first. Can the nimble Xenos even see my allies? It’s hard to tell, but one thing became clear to me at this point: I’m the only target on the field that matters, and unless I round up four buddies for a coop session, no one is coming to my rescue.

That point isolates an even bigger problem in ACM: Sadly, not even a balanced four-player squadron can rescue me from this abysmal campaign. The barebones plot unfolds on the visibly deserted remains of the Sulaco — the spaceship Ripley, Newt, and Hicks used to escape the infested moon called LV-426 in Aliens — and blazes a trail directly to the Derelict spacecraft from the iconic first Alien film. Get ready for a campaign tour through all of your favorite movie locations, but with all of them devoid of any weight or spectacle. Also, get ready to feast on flat textures, tons of clipping and collision oddities, and underpowered effects that feel borrowed from a game in the Nintendo 64 era.

Honestly, it’s hard to not notice a faint trace of sincerity behind ACM’s mountains of fan service, but the multiple developers behind this game squander even the smallest good idea with poorly conceived mechanics that completely miss the point of the film. Aliens is a war movie set in space. The Xenos represent a mysterious force that know the terrain, blend into the environment, and strike terror into the over confident Colonial Marines through guerilla tactics. ACM doesn’t borrow any of these cues. Each encounter is a predictable slog that’s signaled by a snippet of sound from a pulsing motion tracker, and the level design borders on serviceable at best.

Rarely in ACM does any character ask the right question, and the answers that do come later barely make sense. Early in the campaign, the stranded marines pass by an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC)– the same one Ripley used to escape a vicious Xeno encounter at nuclear-powered atmosphere processing station. Oddly enough, none of the Marines stop to investigate the APC or even acknowledge that it’s there. It becomes a constantly repeated problem. The story simply arrives at a setting only to push forward. Do you want answers? That’s nice. So next we have to head to another bland setting to fight some Xenos.

Even useful tools like the plasma cutter, bypass kit, and the motion tracker rarely prove their usefulness. In the film, few man-made obstacles can stand between a Marine and his objective. Sadly this doesn?t transfer to ACM. Here, doors can only be pried open if the scripting calls for it. You’ll see dozens of hallways with locked off rooms you can’t visit even though you technically have the tools to do so. You’ll rarely need the motion tracker to watch out for enemies since they rarely strike from the shadows.

ACM’s Multiplayer mode might serve as the only useful piece of this package. As an asymmetrical mode where players competitively face off in standard death match and objective modes, ACM still managed to set up some fun moments. For example, while I slinked around in the shadows as a Xeno, my teammate drew the attention of some hapless Marines. I swooped in, ripped the team apart and earned my kills. Mutiplayer forces the squishy Xenos to use teamwork, and the dark environments gave me plenty of opportunities to prepare my own ambush. These tense skirmishes prove that multiplayer understands the films ten times better than the campaign does.

Functionally, ACM works as a shooter, but that doesn’t make it an entertaining video game. Events that could bridge events between the films and game get squandered constantly, and the campaign does little to capture the tension and atmosphere of the blockbuster film. It’s a shame ACM ended up this way. On paper, a first-person shooter set in the Aliens universe makes a lot of sense; especially since blockbuster games in the sci-fi FPS genre have used it as source material for years. The weapons and sounds of ACM feel authentic, but the bland look of the game will make you think it shipped as an unfinished product. Unfortunately, ACM isn’t the tense, atmospheric shooter everyone initially hoped for, and this awful game offers little beyond surface-level fan service.

By Jose Otero