A Look Back: Aliens Colonial Marines

Apologies for this space being dead since the first day of E3, I was hit by a bad episode of depression and my job sort of took over. I will try to bring this blog back to life with some games from my past while I play The Witcher 3. I already have an idea for a piece regarding The Bloody Baron questline.

Looking back at this blog, it’s all too positive so I felt that I should take a look back at a bad memory that still lingers over the industry.

Think back to the summer of 2012, I was still in university and still imagined I’d be able to get a job. It’s E3 and they’re showing off a piece of footage for the game Aliens: Colonial Marines. The game looks amazing, the lighting is perfect at setting the tone of the game and just hits every point to put you back into the film from 1986. It looks like the developer has been able to get that perfect mix of nostalgia and engaging gameplay. The alien AI is fantastic and acts like a living breathing intelligence that sneaks in the shadows and tight spaces, jumping through boxes hellbent on killing you. It looked perfect, everybody had faith in the developer for caring about the franchise and putting their heart into the game so that players would get the best possible experience.

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And then it was released…

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you everything that was wrong with the game, we all know that by now. So I’ll just focus on my experience. Now I didn’t finish the game, I could barely stomach over 3 hours of this pile of rubbish. As a shooter it is dismal, I never felt comfortable with any sensitivity setting for the game, nothing felt like it was responsive enough or felt too sluggish. It was all about just getting by with what you had rather than enjoying yourself. Depressingly, the most fun I actually had in this game about shooting space aliens in the face with an array of iconic scifi guns was actually the mission where you fall into the sewer and if you make too much noise you are set up by the whole nest of buggy aliens. You can’t use you gun in this space and must traverse the world as quietly as possible. Honestly it was a good sequence because it was tense. But that is literally all I have to say that is good about the game. Even today, Aliens Colonial Marines is a reminder of how not to market a new game, there was even a class action lawsuit over the blatant lies of the game.

However, the game is hugely important in the industry and has a lot to teach us:

Never trust anything a developer plays – I’ve developed a rule of thumb when watching events like E3 now. Are the devs willing to show the game played by somebody else? If they are, it’s less likely that what they are showing you is scripted. Randy Pitchford is the pilot at all times in the old footage and the “vertical slice” of gameplay is now infamous. Think about No Man’s Sky, Sean Murray is the only person that touched the controller before it was launched. This isn’t to say that every developer is being underhanded, it’s their baby and they want to make sure that the game is showed off in the best possible way. They’re showing off their hard work at the end of the day and don’t want to have to watch someone get stuck while they’re discussing the game.

Look at Anthem, the game that was announced this year. That footage, while spectacular, screams of being scripted. It would be unwise to fall into the grip of hype for a third time (I was burned with No Man’s Sky as well). Developers have to earn the money we spend on their games rather than just assume they are entitled to it. If they want a good return they have to put effort into the games they put out, not outsource the work to some other company cause they’re still coding Borderlands 2 and clearly don’t care about Aliens. The course of action to take now is to not pre-order games, some are deserving of it and if it’s an IP you love and has proved to be trustworthy beforehand, go for it but I would ask you to think about it before you give your money to a company based on a promise they haven’t actually kept yet.

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Sorry if this was a bit rambley, it was more of a “I’m still alive” post. I will be trying to carry this thing on because I really enjoy writing for this blog. Just be aware that if I do go on hiatus I haven’t completely given up. Thank you to you all for still following me ❤ I will try to keep it up.

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