Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Aliens: Colonial Marines - The Contrasting Reviews (aka am I just a pushover?)

I was reading the PC Gamer review of Aliens: Colonial Marines (here) and have to admit, I agree with many points he raises. However, despite agreeing with many things, there's an interesting slant in the review that is obviously weighted toward the negative, which makes it hard for me to appreciate how the reviewer can look at the same issue I may have encountered, but where he sees "crap" I had fun, instead. I guess....with all the accusations of shillery in the video game journalism business,* when an opportunity arises to slam something, they must take it with all the gusto they can? When a game displays a flaw/feature that, while not debilitating or even problematic necessarily, is nonetheless possible to spin as negative then it must absolutely be so, lest the reviewer be called out as the shill we all suspect he/she is? I have no idea.

On the other hand, am I just so jaded as a game player (and not a pro reviewer by an stretch) that I automatically engage with a game on its preset level of expectation? I knew A:CM wasn't going to be another Mass Effect, but in the Aliens universe....even though I would love to see such a game, of I instead played it with a contrast to other, similar titles (Crysis 2, Halo 4, Aliens vs. Predator) and in that context I found it rather enjoyable....more so, in fact, than I have any of the aforementioned titles, even though I also enjoyed (or am in the process of enjoying) each of them. Hell, I actually felt compelled to play A:CM all the way through, in one sitting. I didn't grab up Halo 4 to finish it....nope. A:CM was good enough to keep me going to the end. short, I think my review of the single player campaign still stands. I enjoyed it, I did not find it as trite or hollow as, say, the PCG review....and among its peers I found it perfectly acceptable. Could it have been more? Of course. But such was not the game they designed, or advertised it as. In the scope of "today's first person shooters featuring space marines and aliens," it was a pretty fun ride....and for an older "casual" gamer like myself who's interests lie in relaxed engagement first and "proving my geek cred" a distant second, this was about exactly what I needed to play this week.

The more I read the frothing mad rage reviews about this game, the more amusing it gets. If only I hadn't actually played the game and found it fun, then I might be able to participate in the witch hunt of a triple-A title that didn't quite meet expectations.

*And I know that by implying they slant a review negatively just to avoid accusations I am putting them in a double bind no-win scenario. Life as a journalist is tough.


  1. This is actually perhaps one reason why console gaming is dying - there's no room for mediocre or so-so games anymore. Unless a game has really high production values, it's usually rated poorly and any game even with modest production values (and thus costs) that doesn't sell millions is a financial failure.

  2. That's a really good point. It's the Triple-A title curse. PC gamers will complain (sometimes rightfully) about cheap substandard console ports, and console gamers will snub the game because it doesn't bump the bar up a notch over the last top-rated title to hit the market. I'd really hate to be a developer on these games, you need a thick skin.