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9.04.2011

Eyes on Aliens: Colonial Marines at Pax Prime

Are fan's going to get a game worthy of the Aliens name?

"Get away from her, you bitch!" is a quote from Aliens, one of my favorite 80's movies that haunted my childhood dreams for years. So it was a fantastic surprise for me to stumble across the Aliens: Colonial Marines booth at Pax Prime this year. I got my ass in gear, hustled into line, and awaited to be escorted into the large sliver like sardine can to get my first glimpse of the game in action with a guided tour from SEGA and Gearbox Software.

I was shuffled into a dark room with 19 other people, with a couple PCs, and two giant LCD screens. No cameras or pictures were allowed for this preview, so I am going to give you my best impressions of what Gearbox is trying to do with Aliens: Colonial Marines.


First off, Gearbox wanted to make it clear to us that they are pulling out all the stops to help make this game the definitive Aliens game to come out in the series history. To be honest there really hasn't be an Aliens game in my mind that has totally nailed the series completely. One of the ways that Gearbox has put its best foot forward is by building from the ground up a new lighting engine specifically for the game. Their goal was to capture the look and feel of the movies atmosphere as close as possible. The authenticity doesn't stop here however, Gearbox even brought in the original designer of the U.S.S. Sulaco to complete the ships design beyond the movie set just for the game. My first true impression of the demo was that Gearbox wasn't messing around here.

Light... sometimes it's better not to see how your going to die.

Now that the spiel was over, it was time to see the game in action. As the game began its opening cinematic on the destroyed Hadley's Hope colony, you see a warped base with a gaping hole seeing into the landscape of planet LV-426. In the distance you see a black silhouette of an Alien scatter across your field of vision. Oh fuck. It was explained that Aliens: Colonial Marines takes place one month after the thermonuclear explosion from the Aliens movie and The Company has sent more marines to investigate what the hell happened to everyone. This leads to the main feature of the game and what they were going to specifically show us in the live demo. Drop in and out at anytime four-player co-op is how this is going to operate. You can be at any point in the game and a friend (or friends) can hop into your game without any hassles. If they've decided to leave mid level to go grab a six pack, no worries you can keep on playing. As the demo was running, they showed this happen in real time and it looked like a smooth and easy experience.

The developers then lead us through some of the environments and showed us Aliens and Marines getting destroyed in horrific ways, which is always a crowd-pleaser. Aliens smashed out of air vents and snatched Marines, dragging them into the darkness kicking and screaming. Weapons were equipped with the famous radar screens, showing how hopelessly surrounded they were by the hoards of Aliens. You'll be able to upgrade weapons and your marine, but not much more info was given in the demo. The sounds effects of the Aliens and the weapons sounded really good, almost as if they were directly grabbed from the movie and left me impressed.

Environments on Hadley's Hope felt spot on using the same vibe from the movies, with narrow coordiors, dark passages, Aliens infested lairs, and large cargo bays filled with the famous yellow exosuit cargo-loaders. Now I didn't see any gameplay using the exosuit directly, but characters in the environment were running around fighting Aliens one on one. I got the distinct feeling that you will be able to use these as well to kick some Alien ass in the game. You will also have the opportunity to play levels on the U.S.S Sulaco and on LV-426's surface. 

Exosuits are badass. I want to be badass.

Overall the game look great running on the PC. It was smooth, fast, and had some really slick lighting effects. The Aliens looked very detailed and their animation were excellent. The only thing that I noticed right off the bat is that the Aliens seems to move slightly slower than I would have expected. It could be a minor design decision, but from the looks of it your going to be plenty busy with Aliens attacking you from all directions. I wouldn't worry about that too much. The developers did show off some of the new Alien designs that you've not see in the movies. One particular Alien featured had a large head rack similar to a triceratops (minus the horns) that proceeded to smash Marines flat against walls. It looked brutal and got a few groans and ooohs from the crowd.

The demo felt like it went by way too fast and I was inundated with a lot of visual stimulus in a short amount of time. The co-op mode I think is a good direction for this game to focus on, protect yourself and your friends from Alien hoards sounds like an excellent time to me. The developers did give us a sneak peak of some of the unfinished areas of the game showing off more level environments and a boss battle with a Queen Alien. All amazing stuff.

Aliens: Colonial Marines appears to be shaping up nicely and I think fans should feel confident that the series is in capable hands and that Gearbox will deliver a good game. They've been on a roll recently and from the looks of it, they're giving this game a lot of love and tender care.

Keep an eye open for this one in Spring 2012 on PC, PS3, and 360. It's a good time to be Aliens fan.


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