Aliens: Colonial Marines ‘Stasis Interrupted’ DLC Review – Terrible
I have to say I went into Stasis Interrupted hopeful — perhaps with delusional, idiotic hope, in fact, but it always feels important to try to keep an open mind for reviews. “The game was manhandled by players and the press for sucking so bad,” I told Game Front EIC Mark Burnham. “Maybe they went back and really tried this time.”
And at first, I thought I might have been right. It really did seem better for a few minutes there. The opening 10 or 15 minutes of the DLC are remarkable in that you didn’t immediately pick up a gun — and you get to play as a female character (which happens to be incidental, but still!). Instead of becoming an ass-kicking marine, you start out as a young woman who wakes up and pulls off a facehugger, then spends the next few minutes sneaking through the Legato and avoiding rampaging xenos and a WY cleanup squad that’s torching everything that moves.
My biggest issue with every Aliens game ever made is that they seem to miss the point of the film: The marines are “ultimate badasses” and yet are absolutely incapable of dealing with the alien threat, despite technological superiority (hence the Vietnam corollary). Starting Stasis Interrupted in a completely different way, with a helpless, potentially Newt-like character, was a welcome refreshment. It also played up the horror inherent in the situation, especially when player character Lisbeth hides out in a locker and watches as fellow survivors get eaten.
But then it all goes to hell, because in the space of the same 10 seconds, Lisbeth picks up four weapons and a full set of marine armor, and turns into a killing machine.
What’s more, getting back into the shooting highlights just how nearly nonfunctional so much of Aliens: Colonial Marines really is, despite updates that have ensued since release. Xenomorphs are still among the dumbest enemies ever created; WY PMCs still sit and wait for you to kill them, often obviously exposed. Hit detection and aiming are still a serious problem, to the point where one wonders why iron sights are even included in the game.
A:CM was built for co-op and this conceit remains in Stasis Interrupted, but the AI partners left for single-player mode are possibly more broken than ever before. Most of the DLC is spent fighting alongside AI Hicks, who is the worst guy to be in a foxhole with since Leggett tried to kill a tank with a pistol in Gearbox’s Brothers in Arms (at least that s–t happened in a cutscene and was meant to be dramatic).
Hicks constantly gets broken. He’ll abandon you in important fights, run in the wrong direction through levels, disappear entirely at key moments, and fail to fire on enemies in a number of situations. In the second mission, which takes place aboard the Sulaco, it was as if he was secretly using me as bait to flush out or kill all the xenomorphs, and then had a tendency to show up right after the action, like, “Whew, close one, huh!” Where the hell were you when xenos were surrounding me, you goddamn bastard?
Not that there’s anywhere to go to get lost. Levels in Stasis Interrupted remain pretty limited, repeating the environments and assets seen in the main game, with pretty much all the same gameplay and highlights.
There’s an battle with a rhino alien that requires players to circle-strafe and avoid its charging attack. There’s a ton of running through corridors, fighting off waves of PMCs. There’s even an encounter with the alien queen that requires players to hide from her in areas she can’t reach, over and over. The biggest set pieces are the most annoying — the queen fight is especially s–t because it’s hard to see where you’re supposed to go, and you’re supposed to “run to cover while the queen is distracted,” Hick says. I assume Hicks was supposed to do the distracting, but this is another one of those moments where he’s content to sit on the sidelines and watch you get murdered over and over by a mostly not-distracted giant queen alien.