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.

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7 Comments on Aliens: Colonial Marines ‘Stasis Interrupted’ DLC Review – Terrible

Kevin

On July 31, 2013 at 6:19 pm

“We’re talking about a DLC that’s reason for existing is that fundamental conceits of the original game’s plot needed to be explained over again.”

*Cough*MassEffect3*Cough*

Aedelric

On August 1, 2013 at 12:51 am

Please excuse my language but Aliens three was .

If anything destroyed the franchise, it started with that movie. Killing of Newt and Hicks was the worst move possible for the story.

I have not played A:CM yet, but I am sure it would have been much improved if that pretended Aliens 3 & 4 did not exist.

Economic Rape

On August 1, 2013 at 4:00 am

Well spotted, Kevin. After ME3 as well as the Prince of Persia reboot’s DLC epilogue (which was allegedly already in production before the game was released because they knew the ending wasn’t going to be very well received – but they had the gall to charge money for it, at least BioWare made the Extended Cut free) games developers have now entered a seriously worrying pattern of releasing games before they’re finished then retconning them afterwards while trying to claim it’s good customer service. Valve gets a lot of flack for taking ages to release their games but that’s exactly the way it should be, making sure it’s as good as it can be instead of just hoping you can fix it afterwards. What should have been a great tool for fixing unforeseen bugs and glitches – internet patches – has now become an excuse to rush games onto shelves before they’ve been properly playtested so they can meet a completely arbitrary deadline.

Hell, why stop there? Why not patch Heavy Rain so it makes sense and charge people $20 for the privilege?

Phil Hornshaw

On August 1, 2013 at 6:09 am

@Aedelric

You’re right, I’m not a huge fan of Alien 3 either, but Colonial Marines doesn’t ignore it, it just jumps through some intense mental hoops in order to retcon the story. The only thing that’s different is that Hicks survives. The story of A:CM isn’t exactly a great way to bring him back, and it doesn’t do much with him.

Aedelric

On August 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Seems a missed opportunity to me, if they were willing to rewrite parts of the story and gloss over events. Then they should have not done it half-heartedly, what they should have done is make it a direct and unique squeal to Aliens ignoring the events of the later films entirely.

Still, I doubt they would have got permission from the copyright holders to do something like that. Unfortunately between Riddley Scott screwing up Prometheus (Such a shame as I love the director) and the atrocious reception A:CM received, it seems like I will have to wait many more years before I get an Alien film/game that may be good.

I am sure I will eventually play this one, perhaps when it is super cheep through the steam store.

csm

On August 7, 2013 at 2:22 am

Durp durp but der whole me is an ending durrr. Read da advertising it sez dat sumware cuz my 5 yere old tort me 2 rede durrrrrp

ProphDoom

On July 24, 2014 at 3:26 pm

I know this review is a year old but I felt compelled to comment because – after playing the entire game and three quarters of the DLC – I discovered that you can swap out your primary and secondary weapons by holding Y and choosing a new gun (that I don’t remember collecting) for that slot.

I’m sure weapon-swapping was explained somewhere in the game. I was probably just being thick. I would also like to say it suddenly made the game vastly more enjoyable. But I can’t.