Aliens: Colonial Marines was shaping up to be a good game. The only problem it faced was itself and it wasn’t strong enough to defeat itself. Allan Muir of VGU laments the game and the situation the game and company(ies) were in.
“I’m ready, man. Check it out! I am the ultimate bad-ass! State of the bad-ass art! You do not want to **** with me. Check it out! Hey, Ripley, don’t worry. Me and my squad of ultimate bad-asses will protect you! Check it out. Independently targeting particle-beam phalanx. WHAP! Fry half a city with this puppy. We got tactical smart missiles, phase plasma pulse rifles, RPGs. We got sonic, electronic ball breakers! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks.” – Private William Hudson
James Cameron’s 1986 action film Aliens is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time. Subsequently following this in 1993, Alien 3 came out and arguably ruined the series and the fourth film failed as well. Twenty years after the release of Aliens, Sega had announced that Brothers in Arms developer Gearbox software would be making a squad based shooter set after James Cameron’s classic film. KotOR II developer Obsidian would be making an Aliens RPG as well. It would be a good four to five years before we would get more information on either game. Mainly delays would be what we would get from Sega and Gearbox. The Obsidian game was almost forgotten entirely.
Aside from the name “Colonial Marines” we didn’t know that much. At E3 2011 a gameplay video, narrated in bits by Gearbox head Randy Pitchford, was shown off and it was simply amazing. You were back in Hadley’s Hope in the same area from Act 3 of Aliens with the ground looking the way it did in the feature film. There were areas where you could see the spot Hudson met his possible demise. The gameplay demo ended with an all out fight for survival in a very Alamo-esque sequence where you are shooting nearly everything you see that doesn’t look human. The final moments of the demo had you meeting your demise at the claws of a giant alien xenomorph.
About a year prior Aliens vs Predator 3 was released on the current-gen consoles and PC. It was made by series creator Rebellion and it was a horrible game with a bad plot that featured Michael Weyland portrayed by Lance Henriksen as the main antagonist and was little more than a clone. Things like this were ruining the Alien universe and making it look bad.
In 2012 we found out that Aliens: Colonial Marines would be pushed back one more time, this time to Q1 of 2013. As someone who has seen Aliens a few dozen times I could not wait until the game was released. I found myself watching the E3 gameplay demo over and over again while listening to music from the movies. Then, it was February 12th and the game came out, it was as horrifying as the Xenomorph itself.
Taking place after Alien 3 you were placed in the boots of a marine who was stationed on the USS Sephora investigating the resurfacing of the Sulaco above LV-426, the planet from the first two films. From the moment you cross over to the Sulaco hilarity ensues. What you do see however, is more of the ship than you did in the movie as Sid Mead who did the concept art and designing of the Sulaco in Aliens worked on the game and allowed more to be seen. It is here on the Sulaco that you end up fighting aliens, private military contractors from Weyland-Yutani, and more. To sum it up you are fighting aliens and guys with guns so you have to be more strategic but in reality they are simply bullet fodder. Once you end up on LV-426, you set up shop in Hadley’s Hope which somehow survived the mega-blast that took place at the end of Aliens.
Once here you go through Hadley’s Hope and realize something: Everything you saw in the E3 gameplay demo from 2011 wasn’t really from Aliens: Colonial Marines but something to make you excited for a game you never really saw. Following the haze of negative reviews, it was revealed that numerous studios worked on it and put into question what involvement Gearbox really had with the game as there were reports that Section 8 developer Timegate Studios did 90% of the game.
Okay let’s take a look at what Gearbox developed during the Aliens: Colonial Marines timeline. Samba de Amigo, Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway, Borderlands, Duke Nukem Forever, Borderlands 2, and “Aliens: Colonial Marines.” Duke Nukem was more of a finishing than full time developing but Borderlands 2 should not have been made, at least at the time. It’s a little something called priorities. Something you have to do that no matter what you want to do you don’t do it because whatever your priority is, is more important than the sequel to Borderlands. What we got was Borderlands 2 plus two or three expansion DLC’s.
I’m not saying Gearbox is a bad developer or company but they failed to be there for Aliens: Colonial Marines. I truly wish Gearbox had gotten a chance to make the entire Aliens: Colonial Marines game because I know it would have been good.
Poor Gearbox and Poor Aliens: Colonial Marines.