How do you top a sci-fi horror masterpiece by a director in his artistic prime? Short answer, you don't.
James Cameron wisely decided to play up to his strengths and do a completely different kind of movie with Aliens. He was never going to surpass or even replicate the horror, tension and claustrophobia from the first movie. It's like with Jaws, once you've seen the shark, it's not so scary anymore. Instead, Cameron gives us a very well built, kick ass action movie that's chock full of thrills and stands alongside Alien as one of the best movies of the 80s.