Aliens: Colonial Marines

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Aliens: Colonial Marines
AliensColonialMarinesBox.png
Developer(s) Gearbox Software
Publisher(s) Sega
Distributor(s) 20th Century Fox
Composer(s) Kevin Riepl
Series Alien
Engine Red Ring[2]
(Unreal Engine 3 with an upgraded renderer)[3]
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Release date(s)
Genre(s) First-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution Optical disc, download

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a first-person shooter video game developed by Gearbox Software and published by Sega. The game is set in the Alien universe and takes place after the events of the third film in the franchise, Alien 3 (1992).[6] The game is the third Aliens title that Sega has produced: the first was Aliens vs. Predator in 2010, and the second was Aliens Infestation in 2011. The game was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 video game consoles and for Microsoft Windows on February 12, 2013. A Wii U version was being produced for release but was eventually cancelled on April 5, 2013.[7]

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.[8][verification 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.[9] However, Gearbox later revealed that this feature was dropped to make gameplay more accessible.[10] Aliens: Colonial Marines was originally planned to have no HUD to provide the player with onscreen information.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13][verification 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.[14] Along with being able to traverse different surfaces from an angle, the aliens' AI uses the environment to set up sneak attacks, and group tactics to overwhelm the player.[15][verification needed] Not all enemies are aliens, as players also find themselves fighting human enemies in the form of Weyland-Yutani commandos and mercenaries.[16][verification needed]

Online multiplayer[edit]

Aliens: Colonial Marines featured a campaign with many dynamic drop-in/drop-out cooperative multiplayer for up to 4 players online or 2 players locally via split screen.[17] A deathmatch 6 v 6 mode is available, as well as a 4 v 4 objective mode called Escape, in which the marines team reach an evac point while the alien team must hunt and stop them.[18][verification needed] The PC version contains no campaign offline cooperative mode.[citation needed]

Multiplayer skins based on four colonial marine characters from the movie Aliens were included in post-order editions of the game according to Sega's original page. These include corporal Dwayne Hicks, smartgun specialist Mark Drake, sergeant Al Apone and private William Hudson.[citation needed]

Synopsis[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 Alien 3, 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.[13]

Plot[edit]

Stasis Interrupted DLC[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 knocked unconscious 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 (although in the Alien 3 special edition, it is supossed to be a 8 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.

Thirteenn weeks and 4 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 sent 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 US Colonial Marines 2 days later.

Main campaign[edit]

The USS Sephora is sent to investigate the Sulaco. 17 days 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 corpses of Sulaco marines William Hudson and Trevor Wierzbowski.

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 preview screenshot of the cancelled 2001 Aliens: Colonial Marines for the PlayStation 2.

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.[24][25]

On December 11, 2006, Sega announced they had purchased the electronic rights to the Alien franchise from 20th Century Fox.[26] 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.[24][27]

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.[28]

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.[29]

According to a Kotaku article, Sega said that their Aliens vs. Predator game released in early 2010 would be the first of their Aliens games to be released, meaning that Aliens: Colonial Marines would be sometime afterwards.[30]

At the 2010 Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), Gearbox showed five new screenshots and stated that the game remained a priority for them.[31][32] 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.[33][34] 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.[35] 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".[36]

Gearbox's CEO Randy Pitchford, speaking exclusively to Official PlayStation Magazine explained that the release delays were decided to include several actors from the 1986 Aliens film 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.[37][38][39]

In February 2013, an anonymous whistle blower 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."[40]

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.[41]

On April 5, 2013, Sega confirmed that the Wii U port of the game is no longer in development.[42]

Downloadable content[edit]

A season pass to four packs of downloadable content (DLC) for the game, which will include 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 will become available from March 2013 until August of the same year.[43][44]

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.[44][45][46]

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.[47][48]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (X360) 48.53%[49]
(PS3) 40.00%[50]
(PC) 37.91%[51]
Metacritic (X360) 48/100[52]
(PC) 45/100[53]
(PS3) 43/100[54]
Review scores
Publication Score
Destructoid 2.5/10[55]
Edge 5/10[56]
Electronic Gaming Monthly 9/10[57]
Eurogamer 3/10[58]
Game Informer 4/10[59]
GameSpot 4.5/10[60]
GameTrailers 5.9/10[61]
IGN 4.5/10[62]
Joystiq 1/5 stars[63]
Official PlayStation Magazine (US) 6/10[64]
PC Gamer UK 48/100[65]

Critical reception[edit]

Aliens: Colonial Marines has received mostly negative reviews.[49][50][51][52][53][54][66] 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][67]

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.[68][69]

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.[70]

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.[46]

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.[71] 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.[72][73] The game was number one on both the respective Xbox 360 and PS3 individual charts.[74]

In the U.S. the game debuted at number six on the all formats chart in its first month of release.[75] 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 US and Europe.[76]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]