Lowered Expectations

Happy Weekend TAY!

Back-to-school began last week around my house which means more structure than the free-flowing life of summer vacation. It is, of course, hardest on my son but soon the pile of homework will start growing...then it becomes everyone’s problem.

The kid and I filled our time together on the last weekend of summer with The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and we also played as much as we could during the first week of school. However, a couple hours here and a couple hours there doesn’t feel like we are putting a dent in the game. That’s ok, it is fun to just tool around exploring.


My son and I have finally agreed on a system for controlling the game that seems to work. Every ten minutes we switch who is in control unless you die and then you forfeit your remaining time. It works pretty well (except for having to change the y-axis direction every time) and keeps us from jonesing for the controller for too long.

I also finished Aliens: Colonial Marines last week and had a surprisingly wonderful time with that.


I played a modified version of Colonial Marines that many who bought the game on release likely never saw. Not only did I play the fully patched version of the game, but I was able to correct the serious AI issues with a recently discovered fix for PC. I also modded the game which improved numerous aspects (full changelog here).

As I hadn’t played the game previously, I don’t really know the impact of the mod. Apparently, the lighting changes are fairly significant and I would also think the bodies not disappearing is a big deal. Nothing adds to the tension like seeing xenomorph bodies piling up at sentry guns with ammo counters nearing zero.


I liked Colonial Marines, though I did go in expecting utter crap. It is far from perfect and the design feels a little dated, but it ended up being loads of fun and kept me wanting more.

I played on the Hardened difficulty which is one below the hardest difficulty the game offers. The toughest difficulty level removes the HUD and I wasn’t sure I wanted that for my first playthrough. However, I found the game challenging enough that I don’t think I’d want it any tougher.

I love the Alien franchise and couldn’t be a bigger fan of Cameron’s film. I was fifteen years old when Aliens hit the theatres and I remember vividly digging my fingers into the armrests as those marines plunged to LV-426 in the Sulaco’s dropship. You can debate film all you want about Cameron’s kick at the film-can, but Aliens changed the face of science-fiction films forever and helped shape many of the video games you enjoy today.


I think I avoided playing Colonial Marines for so long because I was afraid that this game would taint the impression Aliens made on me. It seems silly, but art can have such an effect on people. (also Fox declared Aliens: Colonial Marines as canon)


And...I made it out ok. Aliens: Colonial Marines is sometimes squirrelly (though I think immensely less so with the AI fix) and makes you shake your head how hard it tries to fit its narrative into the events from the film, but it really does try. (worked better for me than The Last Jedi...eesh, shit the bed there.)

It feels like a lot of respect and heart went into the concept of the game and, patched up on PC, it was a worthwhile endeavour. I spent another $2.69(!) at Humble Bundle the other night to buy the Aliens: Colonial Marines Collection which comes with the game and all its DLC (cheaper than just buying the DLC separately) so I could play the added single player content.


I played through the lengthy Stasis Interrupted DLC campaign and was very pleased. I think I could write another two pages of how much better the DLC is on a whole than the vanilla game. It was impressive how much they understood what did and didn’t work in the main game and fixed a pile of issues; it was a much tighter game with a much better story.

I’m so happy I’m not disappointed. I’m thankful I had a lot of distance from the over-promised and broken software that was originally released; that acid didn’t burn me.


And now I’m just starting to play...

So, what are you playing this weekend?