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Aliens: Colonial Marines

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PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Michael Biehn: voicing Hicks in Aliens Colonial Marines “wasn’t fun at all”">biehn of my life

Aliens: Colonial Marines wasn't a fun game to play, it was no fun to make, and I wouldn't be surprised if the poor sales assistants stocking it all got nasty cuts from the box - like the tomb of Tutankhamun, anyone with any connection to it seems to have suffered in one way or another. And now we have another casualty: Michael 'Corporal Hicks/Kyle Reese' Biehn.

Not only was Biehn's character shoehorned into the game in the most ridiculous manner (although part of me is grateful the team invented a way to reverse Hicks' pointless death at the start of Alien 3), it seems lending his voice to the project just "wasn't fun at all".

As Biehn explained in an interview with Game Informer, Aliens: Colonial Marines "seemed kind of passionless. I think in movies, television, and the gaming world, you get some people that are really, really passionate, and some people that are just going through the paces. They think that because they have a brand name they’re going to get a hit game or hit movie out of it. That certainly was the situation on ."

By contrast, Biehn had a much better time providing the voice for hero Rex Banner Colt in Ubisoft's 80s sci-fi love letter Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.

" is such an interesting and creative presence. He has such energy and such passion," Biehn continued, conforming to at least seven Hollywood cliches. "One of the things that I really, really enjoy working still in this business is finding people that have that kind of passion."

If you want to hear more of Biehn not having a good time, Gearbox and friends recently released a single-player expansion to Colonial Marines called Stasis Interrupted, which as you may have guessed is the surprising sequel to Girl, Interrupted tells the story of what happened to poor old Hicks when he was supposedly being killed in that stasis pod.

Ta, Joystiq.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Colonial Marines devs TimeGate Studios reportedly laying off all staff">aliens patch

Last week, we heard that Aliens: Colonial Marines co-developers TimeGate had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following poor reception of the game and a false advertising lawsuit. As of today, Kotaku reports that its sources are saying the studio's staff has been laid off.

The reason for the closure may have to do with an attempt by Colonial Marines publisher SouthPeak to force a liquidation of the studio in arbitration. We have no official word yet on whether this is the case, but we are continuing to follow the story as more details become available. TimeGate, founded in 1998, was probably best known prior to Colonial Marines for the sci-fi FPS Section 8.

TimeGate was known to be working on a new, free-to-play project called Minimum, which was scheduled to enter a closed alpha last month. The fate of the project is unknown, but a total liquidation of the studio would seem to leave little chance of its eventual release.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Gearbox writes off Aliens false advertising lawsuit as “frivolous litigation”">Aliens Colonial Marines

In the face of false advertising claims, both Gearbox and SEGA are keeping their cool. Following news earlier this week that a Californian law firm will file a class action lawsuit claiming the companies falsely advertised Aliens: Colonial Marines, both have written off the claims as without merit. In statements provided to Kotaku, both companies shrug the claims off, with varying degrees of flippancy.

"SEGA cannot comment on specifics of ongoing litigation, but we are confident that the lawsuit is without merit and we will defend it vigorously," a SEGA spokesperson said. Meanwhile, Gearbox worded their response more severely. "Attempting to wring a class action lawsuit out of a demonstration is beyond meritless. We continue to support the game, and will defend the rights of entertainers to share their works-in-progress without fear of frivolous litigation."

As reported, the suit is claiming damages for those who purchased the game both on its release date and as a pre-order, on the grounds that those consumers were mislead by early demo footage. SEGA even acknowledged early last month that the early trailers "did not accurately reflect the final content of the game," and that they will mark early footage as works-in-progress going forward.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Gearbox and Sega to defend against claims of Aliens: Colonial Marines false advertising">Aliens: Colonial Marines

All manner of outrage followed the launch of Aliens: Colonial Marines. Not only was the finished product pretty average, but it paled in comparison to early demo footage. Many felt they'd been rorted. That sentiment will be tested in a court of law soon, because Californian law firm Edelson LLC yesterday filed a suit on behalf of one Damion Perrine, claiming that demos of the game at events including PAX and E3 were not indicative of the final product.

The issue seems to center around press embargoes, interestingly enough: the suit insinuates that these restrictions prevented customers from assessing whether the game was worth their money in due time. "Unfortunately for their fans, Defendants never told anyone - consumers, industry critics, reviewers, or reporters - that their 'actual gameplay' demonstration advertising campaign bore little resemblance to the retail product that would eventually be sold to a large community of unwitting purchasers," the suit reads . The embargo for Aliens: Colonial Marines lifted on the morning of the game's launch.

The suit is claiming damages for those who purchased the game both on its release date and as a pre-order. It also draws attention to a Tweet from Gearbox president Randy Pitchford, who Tweeted after the game's launch that the complaints were "understood and fair". It'll be interesting to see how this saga ends, and what ramifications - if any - it will have on the way publishers handle pre-release demo footage.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Aliens: Colonial Marines trailers get disclaimer after objections they don’t reflect the quality of the final game">aliens patch

In response to an investigation from the UK's Advertising Standards Agency, Sega Europe have acknowledged a consumer complaint that the promotional trailers for Aliens: Colonial Marines didn't match the final quality of the game. Reddit user subpardave submitted the complaint to the ASA in response to what he calls the "absurd" difference between in-game quality and the earlier, better looking, demo footage.

"We contacted Sega Europe to discuss the issue," the ASA wrote, in response to the complaint. "They explained that their online trailers used demo footage, created using the in-game engine. Sega Europe understood the objections raised about the quality of the game in relation to the trailers, but explained that they weren't aware of these issues when the trailers were produced, in some cases several months before release.

"Sega Europe acknowledged your objection that the trailers did not accurately reflect the final content of the game. They agreed to add a disclaimer, both on their website and in all relevant YouTube videos, which explains that the trailers depict footage of the demo versions of the game."

It's hard to tell in the light of dry official documentation, but my reading of that above paragraph is that Sega have acknowledged the objection exists, and not necessarily the contents of it and arguments behind it. If so, it's an ultimately meaningless sentence. I can acknowledge that there's a cup of tea on my desk - because there is - but that doesn't address the underlying problems of that cup of tea: namely that I've run out of sugar.

The added disclaimer, now present on the game's website and YouTube trailers, simply states: "The trailer footage shown uses the in-game engine, and represents a work in progress." Of course, from that statement, you'd assume the final product was an improvement. But it's not like there hasn't been warning to the contrary.
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Giant Aliens: Colonial Marines patch fixes many things, neglects to nuke game from orbit">aliens patch

How do you solve a problem like Maria Aliens Colonial Marines? You should probably start by obliterating the game code from the face of the Earth - well, it is the only way to be sure. Gearbox haven't quite gone that far, but they have issued a massive, nearly 4GB patch that fixes and tweaks a bunch of stuff, including those awful textures, that awful AI, and many more awful, awful things. It won't make the game look the way it was supposed to, but Colonial Marines should be marginally less terrible the next time you load it up on Steam.

In addition to better protecting the game's save data, fixing the Xenos in various ways, and - best of all - " some issues that could cause improper warping for co-op players", the patch notes boast of visual improvements and a fix for Ripley's semi-sentient flamethrower bonus weapon, which "would sometimes fire continuously without player input". Now I'm no expert, but that's not something you generally want a flamethrower to do.

The patch should be on Steam now.
PC Gamer - PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to PC Gamer UK Podcast: Episode 85 – Horse Parking Simulator 2013">Martin-Chris-TomS-610x239

After a break, we're back. Chris, Tom Senior and Marsh discuss Antichamber, DmC, The Witcher, Destiny, the inner workings of Valve and a game called Half-Life 2 that is pretty good aparrently.

Also featuring an ass palace, places where one may or may not take a horse, the playground circular saw craze of the 1990s, a wonderous squirrel experience, and possibly the most inept attempt to begin a podcast since the last time we tried to begin a podcast.

We also talk about Rome II, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and the games of David Johnston.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or download the MP3 directly. Follow PC Gamer UK on Twitter to be informed when we're putting the call out for questions. Alternatively, follow us as individuals:

Tom Senior - @pcgludo

Marsh - @marshdavies

Chris - @cthursten

Show notes

Our review of Antichamber.

Smudged Cat games.

Half-Life 2 is a good computer game! Who knew. No link here: just registering my surprise. Again.

Our review of the petition-tastic DmC: Devil May Cry.

Some pictures of Destiny, Bungie's game about a magic space ball or something.

A blurry screenshot of whatever Respawn Entertainment are doing.

Via Eurogamer: the PS4 will not block used games.

MAXIMUM SQUIRRELS "Nine out of ten." - Martin 'Marsh' Davies

Our Aliens: Colonial Marines review, Kotaku's report on its troubled development, and a xenomorph with a tiny little invisible piano.

Someone call a doctor. Chris has a case of not-really-thinking-this-through.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Natural Selection 2 dev “filled with sadness” over Aliens: Colonial Marines">Natural Selection 2 preview

Unknown World's Natural Selection 2 has kept its horned head low throughout Aliens: Colonial Marines' pasting from critics, but in a forum post, Unknown's PR head Hugh Jeremy now says the NS2 team feels only sadness in place of its initial awe and even fear of the bigger-budget competitor.

"The degree to which we feared Colonial Marines was, in hindsight, crazy," Jeremy writes. "Potential release dates for NS2 were discussed with reference to ACM's potential release date. Around the lunch table, we pondered the lambasting reviewers would give us if they were simultaneously reviewing a AAA mega-budget aliens vs. marines title.

"At shows like GamesCom, PAX East, and E3 I walked around the ACM super-booths in awe. I spoke to ACM PR reps, and they had no idea what NS was. I watched the demos (especially the E3 one) and thought, 'How can we possibly stand up to these guys on the aliens vs. marine stage?' I walked around the Power Loader in multiple countries and shook my head at the poor luck of having to face this Sega/Gearbox monster in our launch window."

Jeremy sympathizes with ACM's dismal performance, but he's also bummed over the fact that a game with "a launch trailer that probably cost more than 30 percent of the entire development budget of NS2" failed on delivering the Aliens experience sought after from fans.

"I'm filled with sadness," he states. "Sadness at being an Aliens fan and not being able to experience LV-426 like I had imagined I would. Sadness that we spent so much time being afraid of a game that we have beaten on Metacritic by 30 points. With that marketing machine, with that moneypot, with that kind of development time, with that kind of bullet-proof intellectual property, ACM should have been an absolute hit."

Responding to a suggestion from an NS2 player asking if Unknown Worlds would capitalize on the void left by ACM, Jeremy flatly put such an idea to rest, writing, "No, UWE won't be milking the poor reception of ACM. To do so would make us wankers, and it would be dishonorable. Remember when Medal of Honor: Warfighter exploded? Activision ran a targeted ad campaign hitting every single Warfighter keyword with Black Ops II pre-rolls and banners. I'm sure it got them sales. But it also said much about the kind of company they are."
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Aliens: Colonial Marines mods duct-tape on DirectX 10 features, improved lighting effects">Aliens: Colonial Marines SweetFX mod

Well, that was fast. Only a little over 24 hours have passed since Aliens: Colonial Marines emerged from its dark alcove, but graphics mods are already becoming available. Two such offerings are the DirectX 10 and SweetFX add-ons which spruce up shadows, lighting, and color palettes for something a bit more reminiscent of the films' murky tones and cool hues.

The DirectX 10 mod softens shadows a bit and tweaks illumination and to bounce and reflect off weapon textures and other surfaces. Installing SweetFX provides a less subtle effect: deeper color saturation, a sharpened texture filter, stronger shadows, and a faint blue gradient for outdoor areas. The latter looks a little extreme in some indoor areas, but it's definitely a darker flavor than the default visuals.

Though Colonial Marines wasn't the Aliens game reboot fans desired for years, it's still nice to see a few dedicated modders pushing for graphical excellence regardless of the quality of the game. Have a look at some sample shots below for both DirectX 10 and SweetFX, and head to Mod DB and DSOGaming to download each one.

DirectX 10 mod

Default lighting and colors

SweetFX enabled
PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Aliens: Colonial Marines patch doctors doorways, acid spit">Aliens: Colonial Marines

The word "door" appears no less than five times in the first patch for Aliens: Colonial Marines. It's a hefty day-one update for Gearbox's FPS, tweaking issues encountered in the campaign, co-op, and multiplayer, but the fact that more silly-sounding problems—NPCs passing through welded doors or bullets not passing through an open doorway—are being quashed just after the game's launch suggests Gearbox's smart-guns met trouble when targeting bugs during development.

The full patch notes continues the door dilemma with fixes for dead xenos breaking doors, AI companions trying to open sealed doors, and doors that just simply refused to work. Who would ever expect simple hatchways as a source of befuddlement for both battle-hardened soldiers and alpha hunter xenos?

On the multiplayer side, Gearbox restored the Spitter xeno's acid spray to its mouth as opposed to... wherever it came from before. Respawn and warping troubles were also resolved.

Brief yourself on the the patch's entirety at Gearbox's website. We recently emerged from the metallic warrens of Colonial Marines covered in xeno sweat, gunsmoke stains, and the ichor of disappointment.

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