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Aliens Colonial Marines E3 Comparison Essay

-Xbox 360PlayStation 3
Disc Size6.2GB6.6GB
Install6.2GB (optional)2.7GB (mandatory)
Surround SupportDolby DigitalDolby Digital, DTS, 5.1LPCM

Given the potential for fitting the Aliens universe into a suspenseful first-person adventure, the firm but fair Eurogamer score for Aliens: Colonial Marines comes as dismaying news, but perhaps we should have seen the fire on the horizon. The signs of development hell are writ large when a game's first unveiling dates back over half a decade and where the studio credits are divided across four separate offices. In this case, we see Gearbox Software at the heart of the game's lengthy span of development, while segments of the solo campaign and multi-player are outsourced to TimeGate Studios and Nerve Software, respectively. The journey towards nailing a final release date has been described by one former Gearbox employee as "a total train wreck" though the jury is still out on the condition of the Wii U version, currently being handled by Demiurge Studios.

So what have we got? The game is built around Unreal Engine 3, with a modified renderer plugged in to allow for a more advanced dynamic lighting system. An early tech demo from E3 2011 showed this idea had real relevance to the tone of the films, especially when navigating around dark wastelands armed with just a flashlight to show the way. In a well-considered fusion of art and tech, designs of planet LV-426 were handed over by the film's original concept artist, Syd Mead, and backed up in this fashion by stencil buffers to cast stark shadows wherever you looked - a method that may call to mind other claustrophobic corridor-based shooters, such as Doom 3 or FEAR.

From a level design standpoint, the source material is clearly well-studied, and the look of the umbilical bridges leading from the Sulaco spaceship, plus the spindly xenomorph egg chambers, impress on first sight. However, technical issues with the game bubble to the surface quickly once these areas are filled by skittish marine allies and weightless alien AI - all of which suffer from collision glitches around the environment.

So, to see which format makes the best of a bad situation, let's get onto the Face-Off proper. With no sign of even the Wii U version's launch date as of yet, we took one for the team by playing through the 360, PS3 and PC versions in the meantime. As usual, we have our head-to-head videos below to showcase image quality, backed up by a large triple-format comparison gallery.

"A disastrous result on console, the PC version at least offers some significant graphical upgrades that enhance the core atmosphere of the game."

The Xbox 360 and PC versions of Aliens: Colonial Marines directly compared. Use the 720p button for best quality and use the full-screen button mode for display of full resolution.

Alternative comparisons:

While the game can have its moments visually, these instances are few and far between. In terms of the overall presentation, the 360 version is without a doubt the worst offender of the three, running at a sub-HD native resolution of 1152x640 with no apparent attempts at conventional anti-aliasing. The engine incorporates post-processing effects such as bloom to hide sharp edges where possible, but this doesn't always blend well with the new lighting system. Instead, the game's environments contrast deeply gloomy environments with long lines of vivid white light, which only exacerbates the problem. Even the fast approximate anti-aliasing (FXAA), offered via a toggle in the PC version, could have saved the day here at a fairly minimal expense to performance.

The PS3 version is also bereft of any supporting AA, but at least runs at a full native 1280x720, avoiding any upscaling artifacts. Sony's platform also commands an advantage for its use of subtler anistropic texture filtering, which avoids the obvious level-of-detail cascades seen on 360. For Microsoft's console, these manifest as three separate lines in front of the player which run equidistantly, blurring the floors and walls as they pass across. Given the 360's advantage in other games founded on Unreal Engine 3 tech, this is a surprising role reversal.

The third major problem with the 360 version is its abundant tearing, which we cover in the performance videos below. Once again, the mixture of stark light and dark tones in Colonial Marines' spaceships and alien hives means that when a frame splits in half, it is seen very easily. This appears as an aggressive flicker across the entire screen for most, and is a near-constant fixture from the start until the end of the game. It goes to surprising extremes too, and even affects the 360's pre-rendered CG cut-scenes and introductory logos - which would usually be v-synced - while on the other hand, the PS3 doesn't suffer from any such issues, and gameplay runs with noticeably fewer torn frames.

Texture pop-in is a big problem on both console platforms. Even with its mandatory install, the PS3 version takes longer to fade in these higher-quality assets, but both versions show up with clay-like surfaces once a new area loads up. Compare here with PC...

Once rendered, textures on PS3 and 360 are like-for-like, with the exception being a marginal boost in detail to Corporal Winter's hands on Sony's platform. Meanwhile, we see the PC version leaping ahead in asset quality across the board, particularly on xenomorphs and marines.

Another example of how texture quality scales across each platform - PC in the clear lead, while the other platforms are tied with occasional exceptions.

The PC version also offers additional lens flare and smoke effects, billowing below aircraft or around the apertures of doorways.

Frustratingly, dynamic lighting is pared back on consoles. An evocative atmospheric trick on PC, the player's flash-light causes stencil shadows to fall behind other marines and objects - but this is stripped outright from the 360 and PS3 releases.

Certain static light sources, such as those above the door in this opening shot, are absent on PS3 causing environments to look duller.

We spot trilinear texture filtering playing across the floors of the 360 edition, causing three separate cascades to travel in front of you (as with the lowest setting on PC). Meanwhile, the PS3 uses a subtler anisotropic method.

Pre-rendered assets are identical in size, but blurrier and vertically stretched on 360 due to a lowered frame buffer. We even see tearing on this platform during videos and logos.

Texture pop-in is an issue for both console platforms too, even with the 360 version's optional HDD install, as per our tests. The PS3 version forces a 2.7GB install before play starts, and despite the extra downtime, scenery still takes longer on this machine to stream across to higher-resolution assets. This typically leaves objects looking like clay models for several seconds, often at the start of a level or cut-scene. There's no marked difference in asset quality once they do load, however, with both platforms turning in similar results - the one exception being the gloves on the lead character, which are permanently running at a higher level of detail on PS3.

The dynamic lighting system for Colonial Marines ranks as a great bullet-point feature at first, but it's ultimately underused here. The full possibilities of the system only work as intended on PC when set to medium shadow quality or above, with every object in the environment reacting to your character's position. By comparison, the PS3 and 360 versions operate at the lowest setting, meaning lights from your flashlight do not affect other AI characters or geometry - though those mounted to the ceiling will. The results appears disjointed and inconsistent, and for the sake of atmosphere this is a real missed opportunity. Many other shadows are pre-baked into the environment to save on processing power, and of the two console formats, the number of light sources on screen concurrently appears to have been scaled back on PS3 - noticed immediately on the gloomier opening bridge section.

For each release, the implementation of the dynamic lighting is odd, with the angle of your torch causing some vexing shadow angles. In theory, the light source starts from the character's shoulder on PC, but in situations where we stand too close to an object we somehow find the shadow of our entire body snapping into view. Similarly, our position in relation to dynamic lights overhead can often send the character's shadow in entirely the wrong direction, which can be equally jarring.

The PC version also offers settings for much improved textures, sharper dynamic shadows, plus sliders for field of view and world detail. For flooring and rock formations, textures remain as low resolution as their PS3 and 360 incarnations, though the real boost in detail is evident on the bump-mapping to the xenomorphs themselves. The secondary benefit of running the texture slider on full is the use of improved texture filtering, which removes the excessive blur we see two strides ahead on 360 version - a must for those running at resolutions as high as 1080p. Meanwhile, the highest world detail setting adds new atmospheric effects to the environment, such as lens flare and smoke.

A selection of 1080p shots from the PC version. The PC version is equipped with worthwhile visual upgrades for texture, shadow and world detail quality - plus a much-needed toggle for Fast Approximate anti aliasing (FXAA).

Despite the improved texture assets, the PC version's directory weighs in at the same ballpark 6.2GB as the 360 version, and its video files share are of the exact same sizes as the console releases. An FXAA mode is also present via a toggle, though this produces a degree of residual blurring to the image in exchange for thorough edge treatment. It's perhaps a shame there's no a multi-sample option as well; even forcing MSAA into the game via Nvidia's control panel doesn't work, causing a conflict with the renderer that results in a black screen.

Aliens: Colonial Marines - performance analysis

The 360 may trail somewhat in the visual stakes to the PS3, but its level of smoothness in gameplay is another matter. Here, we analyse a selection of like-for-like cut-scenes to get a sense of the baseline performance on each platform, before we dive into the hectic shoot-outs that comprise the rest of the game.

First off, the basics: the 360 version feels undoubtedly smoother due to its unlocked frame-rate, while the PS3 soft-locks to just 30FPS. On paper this suggests an advantage for Microsoft's platform, but the reality is that the frame-rate only hits maximum capacity while looking at the ceiling. For the rest of play, we're looking at a 40FPS baseline with frequent drops below this once the action starts - well demonstrated during the first cut-scene in our compilation, with the exploding bridge.

"Frame-rate is disappointing on PS3 and far more variable on 360 owing to an uncapped update, accompanied by horrendous levels of screen-tear."

Scripted sequences and traversal allow us to compare engine performance on a like-for-like basis. Xbox 360 operates with an uncapped frame-rate, while PS3 is capped to 30FPS.

On the Sony side, the decision to cap the frame-rate at 30FPS is a logical choice that remains barely more stable than the 360's wavering figure. Even so, when dips do occur it can be distracting, producing more visible screen judder at 20FPS than we ever see on 360. The benefit of operating at this figure is that by maintaining a frame-rate that is more easily attained, the PS3 avoids many of the tearing issues plainly visible on the rival console. Even when running through narrow hallways uncontested by enemies, there's a perpetual full-screen tear at play on 360, whereas Sony's hardware only gives in once alpha effects and a multitude of xenomorphs hit the screen.

In this sense, the adaptive v-sync option would have been a much better fit for the 360 - a best-of-both-worlds proposition. During points of greatest stress, performance remains higher than the PS3's across matching dips, and locking to a modest 30FPS would have resulted in fewer tearing artifacts. Even so, the game animates at a smoother rate overall on Microsoft's platform, despite the missed opportunity to truly optimise further.

Talking PC performance, it's worth making a cursory note that the new lighting model has had little impact on the Unreal Engine 3's all-around scalability on PC. Drops below 60FPS while maxed out are very rare indeed for our Intel i5-2500K based PC, equipped with a GTX 670, which proves par for course given previous releases like Borderlands 2 and Dishonored

"It's difficult to recommend any version of this game - even after its extended period of development it still looks unfinished and is packed with bugs."

Battle sequences don't fare any better than the scripted ones, and neither version feels well optimised for the hardware. At a push, the 360 version is the recommendation here, but visuals take a huge hit due to tearing.

Aliens: Colonial Marines - the Digital Foundry verdict

All in all, it'd be churlish to expect every shooter to match the technical accomplishments of pack leaders like Halo 4 or Killzone 3, but Aliens: Colonial Marines is stuck too many years behind the curve to deliver even on its limited ambitions. While there is some evocative work put into the level design, you can see the game's roots in 2008, around the time it was first announced. Image quality is garishly reminiscent of the first wave of fuzzy-textured Unreal Engine 3 titles on console, and the scatter-brained AI, collision detection glitches, and rigid, weightless xenomorph animations all amount to an underwhelming extension of the Aliens universe.

If you're committed to buying this for any platform, make sure it's PC. It still has its glitches; the Alien Queen boss passes through concrete walls during a one-on-one encounter, and it's still possible to fall through the ground on occasion, only to float around until deciding to restart. However, it's the version that avoids the constant screen-tearing of the 360 version, which appears to a lesser extent on PS3. It's also the edition that resolves all aliasing issues present on both consoles, and does it while adding the fully dynamic lighting system we were promised - plus higher-resolution textures on characters.

In the final call, it's hard to recommend either console release, but at a push we find the 360 one marginally more playable due to it holding above 30FPS through thick and thin. The PS3 version offers certain advantages in the image quality department, such as running at the full 720p framebuffer, as opposed to the 360's softer sub-HD output, but when the frame-rate drops for Sony's console it's ultimately even more of a distraction. Looking to the upcoming Wii U version, confident claims are made by Gearbox's Randy Pitchford that it offers the "best looking and best console performance version of the game". Coming from a background of solid PC ports, here's hoping Demiurge Studios is able to not just adapt the game to the GamePad layout, but use the extra time to optimise appropriately for Nintendo's hardware.

This article is about the 2013 video game. For other uses, see Aliens: Colonial Marines (disambiguation).

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a first-person shooter video game developed by Gearbox Software and based on the Alienscience fiction horror film series. It was published by Sega and released for the Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 platforms in 2013.[3][4] The game takes place nearly 17 weeks after the events of the 1986 film Aliens.

Aliens: Colonial Marines received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics and is now considered to be one of the worst video games of all time, being especially panned for its poor story and glitchy enemy AI.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] A Wii U version was being produced for release but was eventually cancelled on April 5, 2013.

Gameplay[edit]

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a first-person shooter which puts the player in the role of a United States Colonial Marine named Cpl. Christopher Winter. The player has access to iconic weapons from the movie such as the flamethrower, pulse rifle, smartgun, shotgun, pistol, and robotic sentry turrets. Players are also able to use welding torches to seal doors and motion trackers to detect unseen enemies.[citation needed]

Initially it was announced that the game would involve squad-based gameplay, allowing the player to issue orders to AI-controlled marines using context-sensitive commands.[13] However, Gearbox later revealed that this feature was dropped to make gameplay more accessible.[14]Aliens: Colonial Marines was originally planned to have no HUD to provide the player with onscreen information.[15]

Gameplay types have been described as "Gauntlet Runs", where players must fight enemies as they travel from point A to point B, and "Last Stand" moments, where players must defend a specific area by welding doors and/or setting up automated sentry turrets.[16]

The players gain experience points when dominating enemies and completing certain objectives. These experience points allow players to customize the appearance of their character, purchase upgrades for weapons, and unlock other skill sets, all of which carry over to other gameplay modes.[citation needed]

The primary enemies of the game are the xenomorphs from the first three films, which include the "Facehugger" and "Drone" alien from Alien, the "Warrior" and the "Queen" aliens from Aliens, also as the "Runner" alien from Alien 3. The "Crusher" alien is an original enemy, which was revealed in the E3 2011 Walkthrough demo. Another original enemy, the "Boiler" alien, is a variant capable of self-exploding and covering its enemies with molecular acid. It was revealed in the tactical multiplayer trailer.[17]

Aliens: Colonial Marines features a campaign with many dynamic drop-in/drop-out cooperative multiplayer for up to four players online or two players locally via split screen.[18]

Plot[edit]

Setting[edit]

Described as a true sequel to James Cameron's film, the story of Aliens: Colonial Marines takes place nearly 17 weeks after the events of Aliens, as the cryotubes containing Ellen Ripley, Corporal Hicks, Newt, and the android Bishop had ejected from the Sulaco.[19] At PAX East 2012, Gearbox Software's Community Manager confirmed that the game is considered an official part of the Alien franchise's canon by 20th Century Fox.[20] Much of the main plot was written by Battlestar Galactica writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle.[21] The story is told through the eyes of Corporal Christopher Winter, a Colonial Marine who is part of a search and rescue team sent to investigate the U.S.S. Sulaco in search of Ellen Ripley, Corporal Dwayne Hicks, and the rest of the missing marines who were dispatched to LV-426. The Sulaco, and the derelict alien spacecraft from Aliens as well as LV-426 itself will all serve as environments in the game, as well as other locations.[22][23]

Gearbox Software has stated that they were invited to speak with Ridley Scott and view the script for his Alien prequel Prometheus, insinuating that there may be connections or references to the events of Prometheus in Aliens: Colonial Marines.[24]

Stasis Interrupted[edit]

During the events of Aliens Carter J. Burke manages to send a message to Michael Weyland from Weyland-Yutani confirming the existence of the xenomorph species. Weyland sends the advanced research transport spacecraft WYS Legato to LV-426 with a cargo of human colonists kept in cryostasis to be used as hosts to the xenomorphs. However, the Legato arrives just after the destruction of Hadley's Hope and the departure of the USS Sulaco. After investigating the coordinates of the Alien Derelict the corporates discover the ruins of the craft and harvest several xenomorph eggs and begin experimenting with the colonists. They also pinpoint the location of the USS Sulaco through the network and the Colony's computer logs, sending the Legato to intercept the cruiser. Eleven days later, the corporates connect their ship with the Sulaco, but a xenomorph outbreak takes place in the Legato.

Colonist Lisbeth Hutchins awakens and finds a fellow colonist called Ethan during the chaos. While Ethan tells Lisbeth of the situation, a chestburster erupts from his chest, killing him. Unarmed and confused Lisbeth makes her way through the infested ship, watching corporate PMCs murdering infected colonists. Another colonist called Andrews helps Lisbeth but is killed by a xenomorph. Finally, Lisbeth finds ex-Colonial Marine Stone and Turk, two colonists who go with her until the exit port of the ship. There Lisbeth separates to search for her parents while Stone and Turk board the Sulaco to search for military help. Lisbeth finds both her parents dead and begins to feel sick, realizing that she was impregnated with a xenomorph. Just before dying she manages to self-destruct the Legato by taking the ship's coolant system offline.

Stone and Turk manage to arrive at the cryostasis section of the Sulaco, where they find Rebecca "Newt" Jorden, Ellen Ripley and Dwayne Hicks sleeping. While awakening, Corporal Hicks watches a facehugger already attached to Ripley's face. Three Weyland-Yutani PMCs enter the area and during the fight one of the corporates fires his weapon and grazes Ripley's facehugger, which bursts acidic blood that burns both her cryotube and the floor, causing an electrical fire and activating the ship's alarm. During the alarm, Turk is attacked by one of the PMCs, who throws him inside Hicks's cryotube. It closes immediately and is ejected out of cryostasis by the ship's computer, along with Newt and Ripley's cryotubes, sending them to Fury 161 inside an EEV. After killing the remaining PMCs and fighting several xenomorphs inside the vessel, Stone and Hicks escape the Sulaco using a service skiff craft and set course to Fury 161 to rescue Turk, Newt and Ripley, taking them two days to finally arrive. They both witness Ripley's death after she throws herself into a molten pit and are captured by Michael Weyland and several PMCs, who take them back to LV-426 in the still infested Sulaco.

Thirteen weeks and four days later, while in captivity inside the Origin installation near the Alien Derelict, Weyland demands both of them to give him the code for a recorded distress call that Hicks intended to send to the USCM forces, but didn't manage to. After Stone denies any knowledge of such message he is executed by one of the PMCs. Hicks is chemically tortured for information while Weyland boasts how the colonists and human life in general are of little concern to him. While doing this a Weyland-Yutani scientist named Rick Levy rebels and rescues Hicks while keeping Weyland and his PMCs at bay at gunpoint. Another xenomorph infestation occurs inside the caverns near the Origin complex. Amidst the chaos Levy and Hicks fight their way until they finally arrive at a communications relay station and manage to send part of Hicks's distress call. Hicks is recaptured and forced to reveal information on how to take control of the Sulaco's weapon systems, and Levy is presumably executed. But the message is picked up by the United States Colonial Marines four days later.

Story[edit]

The USS Sephora is sent to investigate the Sulaco. 17 weeks later the Sephora arrives, and its marine crew begin investigating. While searching the ship Corporal Cristopher T. Winter, Private Peter O'Neal and Private Bella Clarison discover Weyland-Yutani PMCs commanding the Sulaco and using Sephora marines as hosts to the xenomorphs. The hostile corporate mercenaries attack the Sephora using the Sulaco's weaponry and both ships are destroyed after the Sephora retaliates. Winter, O'Neal, Bella, Captain Jeremy Cruz, Sephora android Bishop, and dropship pilot Lieutenant Lisa Reid crash-land on LV-426 and take shelter in the ruins of the Hadley's Hope colony complex. Captain Cruz orders all the other survivors from the Sephora to gather at the Hadley Hope's ruins. While traveling the ruins of the colony, mutated and radioactive xenomorphs that only react to sound and movement, and are prone to exploding violently due to their unstable chemical makeup are discovered, as well as the corpse of Sulaco marine William Hudson.

Private Bella is found to be infected with a xenomorph after a scan by Bishop. As a result, she is escorted by Winter and O'Neal to a Weyland-Yutani xenomorph research facility, set near the derelict extraterrestrial "Engineer" ship from Alien, in order to surgically remove the embryo. However, an interrogated Weyland-Yutani physician explains to them that the infection can't be treated since extracting the alien will also kill the host anyway. Bella dies when her parasite matures while she is saying her goodbyes to Winter and O'Neal.

Hicks is rescued from the PMCs. After gathering all the remaining Sephora Marines, Captain Cruz orders Hicks and all of his men to attack the Weyland-Yutani facility and seize the only remaining faster-than-light space cruiser left on the planet. While boarding the escaping ship, Captain Cruz sacrifices himself to kill an Alien Queen hidden inside the ship's cargo bay. Winter, O'Neal, Reid, Bishop and Hicks capture and kill Michael Weyland, who is revealed to also be a Bishop-model android, and not the real Weyland. Searching for military intelligence, Bishop is connected to "Weyland's" CPU and states that he has "everything", setting the stage for a war between the Colonial Marines and the Weyland-Yutani Corporation.

Development[edit]

A previous game titled Aliens: Colonial Marines was developed by Check Six Games and was to be published by Fox Interactive and Electronic Arts for the PlayStation 2 in 2001, but was cancelled before its release. A more traditional first-person shooter, it shared the same subject matter and setting as the Gearbox-developed game. Its story was to be set between the events of Aliens and Alien 3, concerning a rescue team of Colonial Marines searching for the Sulaco. Despite the similarities in gameplay and story, however, Gearbox has claimed that their game is unrelated to this early version.[25][26]

On December 11, 2006, Sega announced they had purchased the electronic rights to the Alien franchise from 20th Century Fox.[27] On December 15, Gearbox Software and Sega announced that they were working on a completely new game based on the franchise.[23] In February 2008, the game's title was officially announced as Aliens: Colonial Marines; it was codenamed Pecan during development.[25][28]

The development team took great pains to recreate the vehicles and settings of the films by using original set designs to recreate the exterior and interior of the Sulaco and LV-426.[23] Concept artist Syd Mead, who had worked on Aliens, was hired to design areas of the Sulaco that did not appear in the film but would be used in the game.[29]

A Shacknews article dated November 21, 2008, reported that the Aliens: Colonial Marines game had been delayed, supposedly because of layoffs at Gearbox Software. However, Gearbox president Randy Pitchford insisted that development on the game continued.[30]

According to a Kotaku article, Sega said that their game Aliens vs. Predator released in early 2010 would be the first of their Aliens games to be released, meaning that Aliens: Colonial Marines would be sometime afterwards.[31]

At the 2010 Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), Gearbox showed five new screenshots and stated that the game remained a priority for them.[32][33] In the beginning of June 2011, Gearbox unveiled a teaser trailer and officially announced that Colonial Marines would be presented on E3 2011 and that the game was expected to be released in spring 2012.[34][35] On January 26, 2012, Sega announced that it had decided to delay the game yet again, pushing it to a fall 2012 release date. In addition, Gearbox Software also announced that they would be releasing a new trailer.[36] On May 21, 2012, Gearbox Software announced a February 12, 2013 launch for Aliens: Colonial Marines on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with a Wii U version announcement "at a later time".[37]

Gearbox's CEO Randy Pitchford, speaking exclusively to Official PlayStation magazine explained that the release delays were decided to include several actors from the film Aliens (1986) in the game. According to Pitchford, actors Michael Biehn (Corporal Dwayne Hicks), Mark Rolston (Smartgun Operator Mark Drake) and Al Matthews (Sergeant Al Apone) reprised their roles, while Lance Henriksen (android "Bishop 341-B") played another "Bishop" model android. William Hope (Lieutenant Gorman) was intended to play a new character called Commander T. Shannon, but could not participate in the project. A marine character from Aliens called Wierzbowski also appears in-game, but not voiced by the original actor.[38][39][40]

In February 2013, an anonymous whistleblower reported to Destructoid that Gearbox had been taking people and resources off Aliens: Colonial Marines to put them to work on Borderlands, and yet was still collecting full payments from Sega as if they were working on Aliens: Colonial Marines. When Sega discovered this misconduct they canceled Colonial Marines, which led to the game's protracted development; "At some point in 2008, Sega temporarily pulled the plug on the game [...] They caught wind of Gearbox shifting resources despite still collecting milestone checks as if the team were full size and lying to Sega AND 2K about the number of people working on each project. This led to the round of layoffs at Gearbox in late 2008."[41]

The game drew additional controversy due to the fact that much of the game's development was not by Gearbox Software, but was outsourced to other developers in order to compensate for mismanagement on behalf of Gearbox. While Sega initially denied that any such outsourcing occurred, sources claimed that developers Demiurge Studios and Nerve Software were responsible for the game's downloadable content, while TimeGate Studios was responsible for the majority of the game's campaign, and were unable to create the planned Beta version on schedule despite several delays. This caused the game to be rushed through redesigns, certification and shipping, despite being in a largely unfinished state.[42]

On April 5, 2013, Sega confirmed that the Wii U port of the game is no longer in development.[43]

Lawsuit[edit]

The suit, filed in April 2013 by Roger Damion Perrine and John Locke on behalf of a class, claimed that Gearbox and Sega falsely advertised Aliens: Colonial Marines by showing demos at trade shows like PAX and E3 that were not ultimately accurate representations of the final product. Sega has suggested settling the lawsuit from their part and agreed to pay 1.25 million dollars.[44] The lawsuit lost class-action status and Gearbox was dropped from the case in 2015.[45]

Downloadable content[edit]

A season pass to four packs of downloadable content (DLC) for the game, which includes additional campaign content, additional multiplayer maps, more character customization options, new character skins and new gameplay modes was released on Steam, the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. These new add-ons became available from March 2013 until August of the same year.[46][47]

The first DLC pack is called Bug Hunt and became available for download in March 19, 2013. It features three new maps called Broadside, Mercenary and Tribute that are based on locations seen in the Aliens film as well as a new cooperative multiplayer mode where a squad of colonial marine players faces increasingly difficult waves of xenomorph and human corporate enemies.[47][48][49]

The second DLC pack is called Reconnaissance and became available for download in May 7, 2013. It features 3 new Team Deathmatch/Extermination maps called Grief, Shipwreck and Autopsy based on locations seen in the singleplayer campaign of the game, a new Survivor map called Off the Grid located around the iconic Derelict ship outside a Weyland-Yutani military base, as well as new skins, fatalities and heads for each xenomorph class for additional character customization.

The third DLC pack is called Movie Map Pack and became available for download in June 11, 2013. It features a new Survivor map called Nostromo where marines defend themselves against xenomorphs inside the iconic spaceship from Alien, a new Escape map called Exodus that is situated on the doomed Sulaco spacecraft from Aliens, and two new Team Deathmatch and Extermination maps that feature locations from Aliens and Alien 3: Fury 161 takes place in the run-down prison facility as seen in Alien 3, while Processor is set in the heart of the hive from the Atmospheric plant in Aliens.

The fourth and final DLC pack was released in July 23, 2013. It features a new single-player campaign called Stasis Interrupted and was developed in collaboration between Gearbox Software and Darkside Game Studios. The new single-player campaign add-on explores the tale of Corporal Hicks between Aliens and Alien 3 and explains his survival after the events from those films. The DLC also adds a series of several new achievements for players to unlock, which were initially revealed via the PS3 version of the game.[50][51]

Soundtrack[edit]

The soundtrack for Aliens: Colonial Marines was composed by Kevin Riepl.[52] Riepl’s score was heavily influenced by Jerry Goldsmith's work in the film Alien as well as James Horner's work in Aliens.[53] The soundtrack, which consists of 29 tracks, was recorded at Ocean Ways Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.[54]

Track listing[edit]

1."Main Theme"Kevin Riepl2:44
2."Where It Began"Kevin Riepl1:25
3."Explore"Kevin Riepl3:27
4."Close Encounter"Kevin Riepl0:30
5."Lift Off"Kevin Riepl1:36
6."Face to Face"Kevin Riepl1:14
7."Dark Places"Kevin Riepl3:19
8."Sulaco Explore"Kevin Riepl2:42
9."The Calm Before the Storm"Kevin Riepl1:05
10."Military Briefing"Kevin Riepl1:11
11."Black Box"Kevin Riepl2:48
12."Tension"Kevin Riepl0:56
13."Med Lab ICU"Kevin Riepl1:11
14."On the Bridge"Kevin Riepl0:57
15."Xeno Close Encounter"Kevin Riepl1:07
16."Lurker"Kevin Riepl0:50
17."Egg Room"Kevin Riepl0:53
18."The March"Kevin Riepl1:16
19."Discovery"Kevin Riepl2:37
20."Queen Reveal"Kevin Riepl0:51
21."The Chase"Kevin Riepl1:38
22.UntitledKevin Riepl2:24
23."Derelict Reveal"Kevin Riepl0:49
24."They're Coming"Kevin Riepl2:26
25."Rescue Mission"Kevin Riepl2:06
26."Investigation"Kevin Riepl2:58
27."The Crusher"Kevin Riepl2:32
28."Hadley's Hope"Kevin Riepl1:38
29."Retreat"Kevin Riepl1:24
Total length:50:56

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Aliens: Colonial Marines has received mostly negative reviews, to the point of being considered one of the worst video games of all time.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] Most complaints in the negative reviews of the game included bugs, bad A.I., unbalanced gameplay, and low-quality graphics in the single-player game as well as a crude and poorly implemented multiplayer cooperative mode. The few positive reviews praised the single-player game setting, the game's soundtrack, the level designs, the weaponry and character customization options as well as the multiplayer versus mode of the game.[57][66]

The game's story has also drawn criticism for its lack of a consistent continuity with the Alien films, despite claims from the developers that the events of the game are supposed to be canon to the film series.[67][68]

Several sites have compared sequences from Gearbox's pre-release demonstrations to the same sequences in the game as shipped, revealing that the finished game is significantly lower in quality. Gearbox president Randy Pitchford has acknowledged that this is a cause for concern and that they are investigating how this came to be.[69]

Unlike the actual game, the first DLC pack has received positive reviews, with critics praising the recent upgrades to the enemy AI from the original title, the new map designs (above all the massive map Tribute, which recreates accurately the entire Hadley's Hope colony before its destruction) and the new multiplayer modes.[49]

Sales[edit]

Aliens: Colonial Marines debuted at number one on the UK all formats chart despite the negative reception, similar to the 2010 game Aliens vs. Predator.[70] According to GfK Chart-Track it was the biggest release of the year in the UK ahead of Dead Space 3, and held the second highest first week sales for an Alien game since Aliens vs. Predator.[71][72] The game was number one on both the respective Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 individual charts.[73]

In the United States, the game debuted at number six on the all formats chart in its first month of release.[74] As of March 31, 2013, as stated in Sega's end-of-fiscal-year report, Aliens: Colonial Marines has sold 1.31 million units in the U.S. and Europe.[75]

References[edit]

  1. ^Phillips, Tom (February 13, 2013). "Sega: Gearbox developed Aliens: Colonial Marines, other studios just "helped"". Eurogamer. Retrieved February 13, 2013. 
  2. ^https://www.geforce.co.uk/whats-new/articles/gamescom-aliens-colonial-marines
  3. ^Yin, Wesley (2012-05-21). "Aliens: Colonial Marines delayed to 2013, new trailer released • News •". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 2013-02-13. 
  4. ^"Nintendo All-Access @ E3 2012 - Games". E3.nintendo.com. Archived from the original on 2012-09-20. Retrieved 2013-02-13. 
  5. ^"Aliens Colonial Marines Review Round-Up: Nuke It From Orbit". CINEMABLEND. 2013-02-12. Retrieved 2017-08-01. 
  6. ^ abc"Aliens: Colonial Marines (X360)". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  7. ^ abc"Aliens: Colonial Marines (PS3)". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  8. ^ abc"Aliens: Colonial Marines (PC)". GameRankings. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  9. ^ abc"Aliens: Colonial Marines for Xbox 360 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  10. ^ abc"Aliens: Colonial Marines for PC Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  11. ^ abc"Aliens: Colonial Marines for PlayStation 3 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  12. ^ abSchreier, Jason (25 February 2013). "From Dream To Disaster: The Story Of Aliens: Colonial Marines". Kotaku. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  13. ^Game Informer, March 8, 2007, Issue 79, p. 51
  14. ^"Gearbox talks Aliens: Colonial Marines". OXM. 
  15. ^Game Informer, March 9, 2007, Issue 79, p. 53
  16. ^PC Gamer, August 2011, Issue 229, p. 50
  17. ^Bradford, Matt (2011-10-03). "Meet the 'Crusher' of Aliens: Colonial Marines video walkthrough". GamesRadar. 
  18. ^Richardson, Ben. "Aliens: Colonial Marines gameplay info". 
  19. ^"Aliens: Colonial Marines - Does it respect the series' legacy?". CVG. 
  20. ^"Aliens: Colonial Marines is officially part of movie canon; Wii U version "is not a port"". Warp Zoned. 
  21. ^Aliens: Colonial Marines in late 2008, 4-player co-op. Joystiq.com, February 21, 2008.
  22. ^Sefton, Jamie (2008-04-03). "First look: We're on an express elevator to hell". CVG. Archived from the original on 2 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  23. ^ abcGame Informer, March 2008, Issue 79, p. 47
  24. ^Shuman, Sid. "Randy Pitchford Talks Aliens: Colonial Marines Release Date, Prometheus Possibilities". 
  25. ^ abGame Informer March Cover RevealedArchived 2008-02-17 at the Wayback Machine.. GameInformer.com, February 13, 2008.
  26. ^Game Informer, March 2008, Issue 79, p. 55
  27. ^var Matt Wales (2006-12-11). "SEGA Hunts Down Alien, ''IGN UK''". Xbox360.ign.com. Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  28. ^Grayson, Nathan (2013-02-13). "Who Made Aliens? Here's What We (Sorta) Know". Rock Paper Shotgun. 
  29. ^Official Xbox Magazine, Issue 86, August 2008, p. 32.
  30. ^Breckon, Nick. "Sources: Gearbox Shelves Aliens Title Amid Layoffs (Updated)". Shacknews. 
  31. ^Fahey, Mike. "Aliens Fight Predators Again In 2010". Kotaku. 
  32. ^"A Brief, Surprise Glimpse At Aliens Colonial Marines". Kotaku. 
  33. ^"Gearbox Software Acquires Rights To Entire Duke Nukem Franchise, Free Level Cap Upgrade For Borderlands". G4tv. 
  34. ^"Aliens: Colonial Marines shipping Spring 2012 and will be at E3 + Teaser Trailer - Gearbox Software Forums". Gbxforums.gearboxsoftware.com. 2011-06-01. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  35. ^Aliens Colonial Marines: Teaser Trailer on YouTube
  36. ^Haas, Pete. "Sega Explains Aliens: Colonial Marines Delay, New Trailer Coming Tomorrow". Gaming Blend. 
  37. ^"Aliens: Colonial Marines delayed to 2013, release trailer released". 
  38. ^"Aliens: Colonial Marines Story Trailer". Gamespot.com. 2012-12-27. Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  39. ^Ditum, Nathan (2013-01-02). "SPONSORED: Aliens: Colonial Marines Story Trailer Analysed". PCGamer. Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  40. ^Iwaniuk, Phil (2012-02-10). "Aliens: Colonial Marines – Original Cast Members Confirmed, Release Delay Explained". Official PlayStation Magazine UK. Archived from the original on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2013-02-02. 
  41. ^"Anonymous Aliens whistle blower blows whistle anonymously". Destructoid. 2013-02-19. Retrieved 2013-03-01. 
  42. ^"So ... who the hell DID make Aliens: Colonial Marines?". Destructoid. 2013-02-14. Retrieved 2013-03-01.

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