Kotaku

Gearbox Is Working On More Patches To Fix Aliens: Colonial Marines, But No Apologies Yet Gearbox recognizes that there are some...flaws with Aliens: Colonial Marines. That's why they're continuing to work on patching the game.


At their PAX East panel today, the developers announced a few more fixes that players will see in future patches.


Chris Faylor community manager at Gearbox mentioned the most notable changes:


  • More aggressive AI
  • Tweaked difficulty
  • Better data protection
  • More combat feedback (Smart Gun Tracking, Xeno Death Animation)
  • Improved PC Visuals
  • Support for Hot Fixes coming online

But... that's it. No apology has been mentioned officially yet. Just a commitment to future patches. But whether or not those will significantly change such a mangled game isn't clear. So far the bullet-pointed changes are too vague to make sense of.


They noted at the panel today that some people aren't happy with the outcome of the game. But they maintain that they are still in love with the universe. We'll see if that translates.


Kotaku

The consensus seems to be that Aliens: Colonial Marines isn't a very good game. But that doesn't mean Aliens can't make for entertaining playthrough videos. Ah, the wonders of YouTube.


Enter the always-amusing Criken, who has been uploading his playthrough of Aliens: Colonial Marines to YouTube for the past couple of weeks. He just finished the series this weekend, and it's definitely worth watching in its entirety. It goes through the good, the bad, and the ugly of the game. Mostly the latter two.


The benefit of watching these is that you can see what people go on about when they criticize Colonial Marines, but without having to play yourself. And you'll probably have a laugh along the way—pretty good deal, if you ask me.



The first video is above. Here are the next two:





It felt like something was off with the AI when I played, but man, I had no idea it could get this goofy. Then again, I could say that about a lot of what Criken shows in these.


Aliens Colonial Marines: Close Encounters of the 1st Kind [Criken2]


Aliens Colonial Marines: Close Encounters of the 2nd Kind [Criken2]


Aliens Colonial Marines: Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind [Criken2]


Kotaku

From Dream To Disaster: The Story Of Aliens: Colonial Marines


On December 11, 2006, Sega announced that they had snagged the rights to the much-beloved sci-fi franchise Aliens. Eager to get people excited, Sega quickly announced that they had two big games in the works: a role-playing game and a first-person shooter.


In the coming years, one would be cancelled. And the other probably should have been.


Aliens: Colonial Marines, the shooter released earlier this month for PC and consoles, has been almost unanimously declared a bad game. Two weeks ago, we attempted to figure out just how it fell apart, but we didn't have the full story. Today, we can paint a clearer picture.


In an attempt to sort through the rumors and figure out just what happened to Colonial Marines, I've spent the past few weeks talking to people with connections to the game. Some preferred to talk off the record; others agreed to let me report what they said so long as I didn't use their names. And the story behind A:CM—a story of dysfunctional development, miscommunication, and conflicting visions—has grown increasingly clear.


(Unfortunately, despite weeks of fan and press requests for an explanation about what went wrong with this game, representatives from Sega and Gearbox both declined to comment for this story.)


Just days after announcing their Aliens acquisition, Sega announced that they were making a first-person shooter with Gearbox, the studio then best known for developing Brothers in Arms and some of the expansions to Half-Life. When Sega made that announcement, pre-production had just started, according to multiple sources. There was nothing to show, because nothing existed yet.


Meanwhile, Sega contracted independent studio Obsidian Entertainment to handle the Aliens RPG.


"There was really good synergy between both teams about what needed to happen. It was a very love-love situation."

Over the next few years, both Aliens games were delayed multiple times. By 2009, Sega was going through some financial difficulties and both games were costing them a great deal of money. According to one source, Sega's producers said they had to choose between the first-person shooter and the role-playing game. They chose the shooter—and unceremoniously cancelled the RPG.


Also in 2009, Gearbox released Borderlands, the Diablo-esque shooter that went on to become a surprise critical and commercial hit. Because of this sudden success, Gearbox decided to immediately start working on Borderlands 2—internally codenamed Willow 2—so they decided to outsource the bulk of development on Colonial Marines—codenamed Pecan—to a company called TimeGate, best known for the first-person shooter Section 8. At the time, TimeGate was finishing up development on the sequel, Section 8: Prejudice.


Around November or December of 2010, TimeGate had a company meeting to talk about their next project. Things went well.


"There was really good synergy between both teams about what needed to happen," one source told me. "It was a very love-love situation."


"Everyone at [TimeGate] was pretty stoked," said another source.


So Gearbox sent over the game materials, and TimeGate's team started to work on project Pecan—although at least a few staffers were shocked by how little progress Gearbox had made on the game.


"There was obviously not four years of work done on the game," one source said.


According to three people familiar with the project, Gearbox didn't put a lot of work into Colonial Marines between 2007 and 2010. Instead, those people told me, Gearbox chose to focus on Duke Nukem Forever, Borderlands, and Borderlands 2. Colonial Marines was not a priority.


One source told me that when TimeGate got the project, Colonial Marines was "basically a hodgepodge" of assets, including the shader—or lighting processor—from Borderlands. "A lot of assets just didn't seem like they fit there," the source said.


I've heard conflicting things about how much of Gearbox's work was retained by TimeGate. According to one source, TimeGate threw everything out. According to another source, TimeGate's staff worked with what they had, even if that did require a ton of iteration.


But by all accounts, starting at the end of 2010, TimeGate was the developer of Aliens: Colonial Marines. Gearbox had oversight, and much of TimeGate's work had to go through approval by producers at both Gearbox and Sega, but the bulk of the project was TimeGate's responsibility.


From Dream To Disaster: The Story Of Aliens: Colonial Marines


In 2011, TimeGate started facing big problems. The first major problem was the game's story: even four years after Colonial Marines was announced, nobody had locked down a final script. Narrative designers at both Gearbox and TimeGate were writing and rewriting constantly, and TimeGate had to discard entire scenes and levels because of story changes during development, according to three sources.


"For a couple months, we were just kind of guessing," said one of those sources. "It's really weird to work on a game when you don't have a basic idea of how things will work."


And then there was interference—with three companies involved in decision-making on Pecan, bureaucracy was inevitable. According to one source, Sega's producers wanted Colonial Marines to feel like Call of Duty—in other words, more shooting marines, less shooting aliens. Upper staff at both Gearbox and TimeGate disagreed with this mentality, the source said, and there was a tug-of-war between developer and publisher on how the game should be designed.


"There was also the 'too many chefs' syndrome when it came to gameplay, where too many people gave feedback on both ends and it ultimately led to further delays," said a source. "In one case, working on a particular task took me a month to finalize, as there was inconsistent and delayed feedback."


Another issue: incompatible management styles. Gearbox and TimeGate are two very different developers that approached the game in two very different ways.


"You could not pick two companies whose general workflow is more diametrically opposed," said one source. "Gearbox is used to 'work, work, work, iterate, iterate.' TimeGate is the exact opposite—they're always about shipping the product."


Over the course of development, the team scrapped a lot of levels and missions, one source told me. One cut mission, for example, involved a scientist who would follow the player around and turn out to be a secret agent for Weyland Yutani, the evil corporation that plays an integral role in Aliens fiction. "He was scrapped because escort missions are stupid," the source said.


"We just spent a lot of time trying to make the game shippable," said the same source.


And then there's the demo. As many angry reporters have pointed out, Gearbox and Sega spent a great deal of time showing off a demo that looks nothing like the final product. People have demanded an explanation, and many have accused Gearbox head Randy Pitchford of misleading his fans.


The truth might not be as malicious as some have speculated. According to a few sources I spoke with, the demo for Colonial Marines was built by TimeGate—with animation assistance by Gearbox—and ran in real time. As is standard for E3 demos, it ran on a high-end computer with specs that would be unfeasible for a normal console game.


"We were told many times through demo production, 'Don't worry about performance, just make it awesome,'" said one source. "There was a reason [the demos] were never playable."


(Press attending E3 2012 could join hands-on multiplayer sessions, but the single-player demo was not playable there.)


The demo looked better than the game does because the demo didn't have to be optimized for old hardware. Though these games are created using powerful PCs, any console game has a "performance budget"—the ceiling above which an Xbox 360 or a PS3 cannot go. The Colonial Marines demo was way over performance budget, and the development team had to cut back significantly for the final product.


"We were constantly cutting back more and more in terms of texture, shader and particle fidelity, in order to fit into the jacked memory restraints," said another source.


"The game feels like it was made in nine months, and that's because it was."

In the middle of 2012, once Gearbox had finished most of Borderlands 2, they took the project back from TimeGate. And Gearbox changed everything—partially because what TimeGate had produced was not very good, two sources told me, and partially because it couldn't run on the PlayStation 3.


"[Gearbox made] big changes to lighting, texture and shader complexity," said one source who had not played the final game, but was familiar with some of the later builds. "Design elements were altered or redone entirely. It looks like a lot of [TimeGate's] assets remained intact, with the exception of lower-res textures and faster-performing shaders."


A number of TimeGate staff were removed from the project and, in some cases, let go from their jobs. And while Gearbox's staff knew that they didn't have enough time to fix this disaster of a project, according to one source, they felt like they couldn't ask for another extension from Sega. Not after seven years.


"The game feels like it was made in nine months, and that's because it was," said a source.


As for the rumors? The scuttlebutt at both Gearbox and Timegate revolves around potential lawsuits—some people at Gearbox are worried that Sega might sue them as a result of this project, and some people at Timegate have heard similar rumblings. One anonymous blogger claiming to be a Sega employee accused Gearbox of lying and breaking agreements with Sega, but we have been unable to verify that, and some of the other blog posts—like the story of a drunken barbecue conversation about killing off Sonic—call the blogger's validity into question.


Those are all just rumors. The exact terms of Gearbox's contract with Sega remain unclear, and neither side has spoken up. Over the past few weeks, I've had several conversations with representatives from both Gearbox and Sega, but neither would comment on the record.


While some details remain sketchy, we're starting to see a more complete picture of how Aliens: Colonial Marines turned out so awful. Bureaucratic meddling and a troubled development cycle have turned this game from Alien fan's dream to unmitigated disaster.


Kotaku
PC Modders Still Hard At Work Fixing Aliens: Colonial Marines
PC Modders Still Hard At Work Fixing Aliens: Colonial Marines

You may have heard that Aliens: Colonial Marines has some problems. Among those problems is the fact that the PC version of the game looks like pretty raggedy. The ship interiors and darkly-lit alien worlds taking very little advantage of recent advances in PC graphics technology.


While the game itself—the levels, the writing, the audio—may be beyond saving, that's not going to stop intrepid PC modders from doing their damnedest to improve it. Soon after the game came out, several mods surfaced that would enable DirectX 10 support and enhance Colonial Marines' lighting effects, which were a notable weakness of the vanilla game. (Top image is another slider of the SweetFX mod via DSOgaming.)


Other users have taken to tweaking the game's .ini file to make it more detailed and add support for modern video cards, as well as increasing the number of dead space-marines the game can show, among other things.


Steam user adonys has posted this comprehensive list of .ini tweaks, along with some downloadable .rar packages containing all of the modifications. It's a work in progress, and I haven't had a chance to test the tweaks out myself, but they sound worth a shot.


Among adonys' findings when studying the game's settings is the fact that the game doesn't even appear capable of recognizing modern PC graphics cards. You'll have to go in and manually add support for advanced functionality.


- none of the new generation video cards are listed into the compatibilities files, and therefore my 680 GT OC was loaded with the default batch settings no 4, instead of 5 (which is the maxed out one).


Huh.


It'll be interesting to see just how far modders can push this game beyond its initial flawed state.


(Via Eurogamer)


Kotaku

Aliens: Colonial Marines Should Have Followed the Example of Sports' Gaming's EliteInside a publisher or a studio, there are few surprises when a video game bombs in its reviews. Before it goes from gold master to warehouse to retailer, the focus groups are empaneled, the "mock reviewers" are contracted, and their verdicts are in. Everyone knows roughly where the game will land in the all-controlling 100-point scale of Metacritic. It takes hubris and delusion on the scale of Too Human or Kane & Lynch to be blindsided by a bad review score these days.



EA Sports knew where NBA Live 13 would have ended up last year just as surely as Gearbox Software knew what was coming this week for Aliens: Colonial Marines, whose disastrous review scores have spawned finger pointing, bait-and-switch allegations, nasty rumors and, worst of all these, the animated .gif meme.


Yet as much as EA has been beaten over the head for the failures in its NBA simulation, it can look to the ongoing Colonial Marines fiasco and feel some measure of vindication. Because this is what happens when you can't meet the high expectations of the license you're handling, and you don't have the presence of mind to call a timeout, even if you're seconds from the final buzzer.


Troubled games in other genres are, for the most part, delayed. In sports, because of the annual publishing demand, if you miss a year, that sucker has been canceled, which is vastly worse. The huge sums guaranteed by contract to the leagues licensing these games, and the ignominy of failing to publish anything, even the "roster update" slur hurled in comments and forum threads, make a delay of any type exceedingly rare in sports. Until 2010, sports video gaming had gone 14 years since the last licensed simulation had been canceled (Madden NFL '96, for the first PlayStation.)


Indeed, up to a week from its release in 2010, all signs still pointed to EA Sports launching NBA Elite 11 despite obvious internal signs of a troubled and substandard game. EA's CEO, John Riccitiello, told Kotaku in early 2011 that after the demo came out, the company did an internal review, and pegged NBA Elite as about a 60 on Metacritic, at best, as the discs were being stamped and the cases shipped. A series of embarrassing glitch videos on YouTube, coming from the game's demo, seemed to seal its fate. NBA Elite 11 was canceled one week before its launch. Despite the recall order, enough copies made it into the wild to become high-priced collector's items on eBay. If any retail game has been pulled so close to its street date, much less by a publicly traded company whose publishing calendar is information affecting its stock price, I'm not aware of it.


At least when EA Sports realized it had a bomb on its hands, it had the guts to fall on it.

"We could have shipped a product we weren't proud of dead against their game [NBA 2K11] that they are proud of and that we would have been proud of to ship ourselves," Riccitiello said at the time. "We would have probably lost 5-1 in the marketplace against that and firmly cemented a reputation for being one to ship secondary sports titles." Thus, Riccitiello said, he alone decided to effectively cancel the game, though it was described at the time as a delay.


Despite no direct competitor, no league opening day reminding folks the game wasn't out, and licensing costs likely a fraction of the more than $60 million EA Sports probably lost on NBA Elite, no one at Sega or Gearbox could make the same call with Colonial Marines. Yes, this series had a development history of repeated delays going back six years. Sega was unlikely to tolerate another request for more time from Gearbox. And this game, frankly, may have published because the existential threat of lasting brand damage wasn't as great as what EA Sports faced with its NBA title. Gamers expect sequels in the shooter and adventure genres if the title is successful. In sports, they expect them every year, and the fallout from a bad release can send a series into a tailspin with years left on the deal.


Most of the fallout, rightfully, lands on Gearbox's doorstep in Plano, Texas. If the studio wanted some advice on the lack of wisdom in going ahead with a broken, licensed product, it could have gotten plenty from its friends at 2K, which publishes Gearbox's hit Borderlands. Major League Baseball 2K9 dealt a crippling blow to the series when it released in a marginally playable state. 2K Sports had pulled development from Kush Games at the last minute, handing the project to in-house developer Visual Concepts on a nine-month schedule.


It seems to be the inverse of what is said to have happened with Gearbox and subcontractor TimeGate, the first studio credited in Aliens: Colonial Marines and the outfit responsible—or blamed—for much of the game's singleplayer mode. But we see the same results: Appalling visuals, animation glitches, and gameplay that offers almost no challenge. You can find comments in 2009 from readers looking forward to the next edition of Major League Baseball 2K. Despite a remarkable recovery in 2010, this sentiment has been rare ever since.


When EA Sports cancelled NBA Live a second time, most took its rationale as PR. The label's vice president, Andrew Wilson, said at the time it was "clear that we won't be ready" by the assumed launch date, and that EA Sports would cancel the game "and stay focused on making next year's game great." OK, sure. It was an embarrassing day for the publisher, and deservedly so. It had a workable, even acclaimed codebase in NBA Live 10 and, somehow in the three years since that release, has been unable to follow it with any functioning product.


But you know what? At least when EA Sports realized it had a bomb on its hands, it had the guts to fall on it. To keep a waste of everyone's time off of shelves and—going back to the early summer—to refuse to actively, let alone aggressively, market a product with known deficiencies. Sega and Gearbox couldn't or wouldn't do any of that. To cancel or to publish, whatever the choice, at this late stage these two were bound to pay. The difference is in how long they will.


Stick Jockey is Kotaku's column on sports video games. It appears Sundays.



Kotaku

In Defense Of That Alien: Colonial Marines GIF Everyone Keeps Making Fun Of By now, if you've been keeping up with Aliens: Colonial Marines, you've probably come across certain GIF of an alien waddling through a sewer level. See above. I know, I know. It looks silly, it looks ridiculous.


And I'm here to defend that level.


The GIF doesn't inspire confidence in the game, no. Just the same, that sewer level was actually a highlight of Colonial Marines for me.


Basically, that level requires you go navigate some sewers and to make your way back to your squad. The catch is, it takes away your guns and any means of defense. You're vulnerable, and the aliens are still running about and they can still kill you.


You're supposed to keep quiet as you try to find the exit. The point is to avoid alerting the type of alien you see in the GIF—now, this is the incredibly stupid part. They're blind aliens that are attracted to sound and explode on contact.


OK, let's ignore that for a second—how much sense a Xeno like that makes and whatever. Where the start of the game highlighted tension and anticipation, most of Aliens: Colonial Marines is a mediocre shooter that empowers you too much to truly capture the feel of Alien. You can gun everything down, and most aliens run straight at you.


This level, though? As stupid as it was, I actually felt some fear. That's what happens when you have to stand perfectly still as an alien sniffs the air around you, or when you're trying to find a way out while these walking bombs are grazing by you.


I couldn't shoot my way out of that situation. And I had to look at the aliens eye to eye and not freak out. Which is to say, in that level, I believed the utter threat of the aliens, despite how silly they looked. And even though I'm sure the level could be done better, it was a segment of Aliens I actually enjoyed playing.


Kotaku

In Defense Of That Aliens: Colonial Marines GIF Everyone Keeps Making Fun Of By now, if you've been keeping up with Aliens: Colonial Marines, you've probably come across a certain GIF of an alien waddling through a sewer level. See above. I know, I know. It looks silly, it looks ridiculous.


And I'm here to defend that level.


The GIF doesn't inspire confidence in the game, no. Just the same, that sewer level was actually a highlight of Colonial Marines for me.


Basically, that level requires you go navigate some sewers and to make your way back to your squad. The catch is, it takes away your guns and any means of defense. You're vulnerable, and the aliens are still running about and they can still kill you.


You're supposed to keep quiet as you try to find the exit. The point is to avoid alerting the type of alien you see in the GIF—now, this is the incredibly stupid part. They're blind aliens that are attracted to sound and explode on contact.


OK, let's ignore that for a second—how much sense a Xeno like that makes and whatever. Where the start of the game highlighted tension and anticipation, most of Aliens: Colonial Marines is a mediocre shooter that empowers you too much to truly capture the feel of Alien. You can gun everything down, and most aliens run straight at you.


This level, though? As stupid as it was, I actually felt some fear. That's what happens when you have to stand perfectly still as an alien sniffs the air around you, or when you're trying to find a way out while these walking bombs are grazing by you.


I couldn't shoot my way out of that situation. And I had to look at the aliens eye to eye and not freak out. Which is to say, in that level, I believed the utter threat of the aliens, despite how silly they looked. And even though I'm sure the level could be done better, it was a segment of Aliens I actually enjoyed playing.


Kotaku

How Aliens: Colonial Marines Fell Apart


Aliens: Colonial Marines is a bad game, by most accounts. Reviewers have almost all trashed it, fans don't seem to like it, and the final product looks nothing like the impressive demo that developer Gearbox showed last year.


So how did it happen? Although the full picture isn't quite clear yet, over the past few days we've heard that the six-year development process for Aliens: Colonial Marines was tumultuous and divisive, a product of multiple studios with conflicting visions. And it shows in the resulting game.


According to one person familiar with the project who spoke to Kotaku under condition of anonymity, Gearbox outsourced the bulk of Colonial Marines (codenamed Pecan) to a studio called TimeGate, most recently responsible for the shooter Section 8 and its sequel.


This comes on the heels of a massive Reddit post that's been making the rounds today from someone claiming to work at Gearbox. Although we can't confirm that the Reddit post is credible, everything we've heard from our source matches up.


The Redditor said TimeGate left the single-player campaign in "a pretty horrid state," and that last September after Borderlands 2 shipped, Gearbox was unhappy with what TimeGate had left them. Sega was already upset with Gearbox for asking for multiple extensions since the project launched in 2006, so Gearbox had to buckle down and release a game they knew wasn't going to be very good, the Redditor said.


The post on Reddit matches what our source has told us, but there's more. When TimeGate took over the project, our source said, they threw out most of what Gearbox had done beforehand. All of the art and design that Gearbox had produced during the previous four years was gone.


So from 2010 until late last year, while Gearbox was working on Borderlands 2 (internally codenamed "Willow 2"), TimeGate handled the bulk of development on Aliens. A small team at Gearbox helped out with multiplayer work, as explained by both our source and the Redditor, but TimeGate built the single-player campaign.


In late 2012, when Gearbox saw what TimeGate had done, most of their developers weren't interested in taking the game back, our source said. Gearbox's team was upset that their work had been thrown out, and they didn't want this to be a repeat of Duke Nukem Forever, a game that took over a decade to develop until it was finally finished by Gearbox and released in mid-2011 to tepid response.


But Gearbox had to finish the game, and according to our source, they had to throw out much of TimeGate's work and start from scratch. This lines up with what the Redditor claims:


Campaign didn't make much sense, the boss fights weren't implemented, PS3 was way over memory, etcetcetc. GBX was pretty unhappy with TG's work, and some of Campaign maps were just completely redesigned from scratch. There were some last minute feature requests, most notably female marines, and the general consensus among GBX devs was that there was no way this game was going to be good by ship. There just wasn't enough time.


Considering that SEGA was pretty close to taking legal action against GBX, asking for an extension wasn't an option, and so Pecan crash-landed through certification and shipping. Features that were planned were oversimplified, or shoved in (a good example of this are challenges, which are in an incredibly illogical order). Issues that didn't cause 100% blockers were generally ignored, with the exception of absolutely horrible problems. This isn't because GBX didn't care, mind you. At a certain point, they couldn't risk changing ANYTHING that might cause them to fail certification or break some other system. And so, the product you see is what you get.


People at Gearbox knew the bad reviews were coming, our source said. They knew that the game wasn't good.


We've reached out to Gearbox, but they would not comment on the record. However, in a recent interview with IGN, Gearbox head Randy Pitchford said that TimeGate handled development "probably about 20 or 25 percent of the total time," and that "if you take preproduction out of it, their effort's probably equivalent to ours. Now, it's not fair to take preproduction out of it, but that says a lot about how much horsepower those guys put into it."


Pitchford's statements also seem to match up with what we've heard.


We reached out to TimeGate this afternoon, but they have yet to get back to us. We'll continue to update as we hear more.


Photo via Liz Tells Frank


Kotaku

By almost all accounts, Aliens: Colonial Maries isn't a good game. Patricia certainly didn't care for it, saying that "it was literally a pain just to get through."


But hey, it happens. Sometimes, for various reasons, video games aren't as good as the people who made them wanted them to be. What's remarkable with Aliens: Colonial Marines has been the fact that the game's developer, Gearbox, showed A:CM off in numerous hands-off demos and previews, and those demos looked far better than the finished game.


In the video above, two chaps from VideoGamer.com put the demo footage side by side with the actual game. The results are… pretty galling, actually. (They've got the "Demo" and "Final" labels mixed up for a chunk of the video, but have remedied it using YouTube annotations.) Update: They've now posted a new video with the correct notation; that's embedded.


They're playing on PC with their settings maxed, and you can see how vastly different huge chunks of the game look—the final version is missing detail, environmental effects, dynamic lighting, even whole characters. They also take a look at the Xbox version toward the end.


In this video from last year, Gearbox president Randy Pitchford walks viewers through a demo presentation of the game. Patricia, who has played through the game, tells me that the final game is very different from this demo.


It's hard not to get the sense that the story behind Colonial Marines' development is more tortured than your average game. Watching these videos, it seems like Gearbox did know how to make a good Aliens game, but that somewhere along the way, they had to compromise the game.


I've reached out to Gearbox to get their perspective on why the demo differed so vastly from the finished product, and will update if I hear back. In the meantime, this is a good reminder that no matter what a game looks like before it comes out, it's always wise to take these sorts of hands-off demos with a grain of salt. Or a bucketful.


Kotaku

Most Reviewers Agree You Should Avoid Aliens: Colonial Marines Like The PlagueNot that they all agree, oh no. To call Aliens: Colonial Marines divisive would be an understatement. Reactions have ranged from disgust and feelings of betrayal, to indifference, and sometimes even awe and affection.


A lot of them think that there's more polish to Colonial Marines' multiplayer than its singleplayer, but how does that affect the overall picture? Here's a sampling of what they have to say.



Most Reviewers Agree You Should Avoid Aliens: Colonial Marines Like The Plague


Eurogamer


This certainly isn't a game that aims to shake things up. It's as basic as first-person shooting gets, with 11 campaign missions that involve little more than jogging from point A to point B, grabbing ammo, picking up armour and pressing buttons to open doors along the way. There's momentary pleasure in the way the creatures twitch under the sputtering fire of your pulse rifle, but that fleeting throwback to the movie is exhausted before the end of the first level. You may be playing as a Colonial Marine rather than just a space marine, and the monsters might be capital letter Aliens instead of mere aliens, but the framework is not so much set in stone as downright fossilised.



Most Reviewers Agree You Should Avoid Aliens: Colonial Marines Like The Plague


Gamespot


The Alien franchise deserves better than this. Aliens: Colonial Marines is a disappointing exercise in bland corridor shooting, dragged down by laughable dialogue and cooperative play that makes the game worse than when you adventure on your own. Colonial Marines is unremarkable in every conceivable way: it's far too easy, generally devoid of tension, and lacking in the variety it so desperately needed. It occasionally lets you peek at the game that could have been, allowing its rare scraps of unsettling atmosphere to seep into your bones. But brief moments of dread and excitement are quickly supplanted by more shrug-worthy shooting and a general aura of "whatever"-ness.



Most Reviewers Agree You Should Avoid Aliens: Colonial Marines Like The Plague


IGN


The point is that like any decent theme park attraction, Aliens: Colonial Marines presents a fairly convincing facade but its thrills are forced and entirely superficial. You don't ever feel like you're actually in danger. You don't ever feel overwhelmed. In fact, over the course of its six hour campaign the game never gets even remotely close to replicating the genuine feelings of fear and dread that simmer throughout James Cameron's cinematic classic, simply because its xenomorphic enemies are so mindless. These aliens aren't sophisticated human hunters, they're merely acid-fuelled fodder for the seemingly neverending rounds in your pulse rifle. Consequently, Colonial Marines is for the most part a disappointingly mundane, run ‘n' gun first-person shooter that fails to captivate once the initial rush of nostalgia has worn off. At its worst, it's simply feels unfinished—which is a surprise given how long it's been in development.



Most Reviewers Agree You Should Avoid Aliens: Colonial Marines Like The Plague


Edge Magazine


In its central exercise of man versus alien, Colonial Marines feels stiff, shallow and dated. First announced for a 2008 release before the Aliens franchise machine prioritised other projects, it feels like more work has been retained from that initial production period than either Gearbox or Sega would care to admit. The saying that follows fiascos around Hollywood is that nobody sets out to make a bad film; collaborations sour, commercial realities dawn, and sometimes, as seems to be the case with Colonial Marines, time simply passes. While the intentions of all concerned have no doubt been pure—Gearbox in its aim to create a true sequel to Cameron's punchy action hit, and 20th Century Fox in giving the developer a green light to tinker with the central thread of a billion-dollar film series—the final result is a familiar mismanagement of a rich and potent set of ideas and images. They deserve brighter and more sensitive custodianship than this.



Most Reviewers Agree You Should Avoid Aliens: Colonial Marines Like The Plague


Official Xbox Magazine


This is really a review of two games: a derivative story campaign (that you can play solo or with up to three friends in co-op) and a riveting, far superior multiplayer mode that allows you to compete as marines or alien xenomorphs in online matches. Considering Colonial Marines' relatively long gestation period—roughly six years—it seems more attention was paid to fine-tuning multiplayer than to the campaign.



Most Reviewers Agree You Should Avoid Aliens: Colonial Marines Like The Plague


Electronic Gaming Monthly


You'll visit familiar places, make use of all the equipment you'd expect, see a few old friends, and square off with a whole mess of uglies you might recall from childhood nightmares. I won't spoil too much here in terms of story, but suffice it to say that if you've ever watched an Alien film and gone "That was f***ing rad!" chances are you'll get an opportunity to experience the epicness at some point in the campaign.



Most Reviewers Agree You Should Avoid Aliens: Colonial Marines Like The Plague


Kotaku


A game based on existing media has three options. It can strive to be faithful to the original work, privileging authenticity above all else. It can try to do its own thing, using the original work as merely a jumping off point for something else. Or, it can try to find a balance between authenticity and originality. Aliens: Colonial Marines fails spectacularly at all three of these possible approaches.


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