Aliens: Colonial Marines is a 2013 first-person shooter video game, developed by Gearbox Software and TimeGate Studios and published by Sega on for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Wii U version was being produced for release but was eventually cancelled. There has also been news of a Nintendo DS version of the title in the future. The game is an official sequel to the 1986 film Aliens and takes place after the death of Ellen Ripley in Alien3. In it, a second group of Colonial Marines are dispatched to investigate the incident on LV-426, leading them to the abandoned USS Sulaco, the ruined human colony of Hadley's Hope and the derelict spacecraft on the planet's surface.
Gearbox Software aimed to create a first-person shooter Aliens title which retained the atmospheric look and feel of the original Alien films while leveraging the next-generation technology to create an entirely new interactive Alien experience. The game's plot has been confirmed as canon by 20th Century Fox, and as such it is an official sequel to the film.
- In 2179, A USCM force was dispatched on board the USS Sulaco to the colony on LV-426 to destroy a Xenomorph infestation.
- All contact with the Sulaco and its crew was lost.
- The USCM dispatched the USS Sephora with a battalion sized force and a full compliment of surface bound nuclear warheads to secure the situation once and for all.
Described as a true sequel to James Cameron's film, the story of Aliens: Colonial Marines takes place after the events of the third film Alien3. Much of the main plot was written by re-imagined Battlestar Galactica writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle. The story is told through the eyes of Corporal Christopher Winter, a Colonial Marine that is part of a search and rescue team sent to investigate the USS Sulaco in search of Ellen Ripley, Corporal Hicks, and the rest of the missing Marines who were dispatched to LV-426. The Sulaco, the colony of Hadley's Hope (both from Aliens) and the derelict Engineer spacecraft (from Alien) all serve as environments in the game, as well as other locations created especially for the story, including the Weyland-Yutani Origin facility. Another location rumoured as appearing in the game, at least in early drafts, was the prison colony on Fiorina 161 (from Alien3, although this was ultimately dropped before the final release. It is unknown whether Fiorina 161 will appear as downloadable content in the future.
Gearbox has stated that they were invited to speak with Ridley Scott and view the script for his "Alien prequel" Prometheus, and several subtle references to Prometheus appear in Aliens: Colonial Marines.
17 weeks after the events of Aliens a full battalion of Colonial Marines on board the Conestoga-class space cruiser USS Sephora arrive at LV-426 in response to a distress call sent from the USS Sulaco. The Sephora sends squads to investigate the Sulaco, now in orbit around LV-426 and not Fiorina 161 as it was supposed to be after the events of Alien3 A massive Xenomorph infestation is discovered inside the ship and several Marines are killed in the initial onslaught. While investigating the ship, Corporal Winter, Private O'Neal and Private Bella Clarison discover Weyland-Yutani mercenaries are now in command of the Sulaco and have been breeding Xenomorphs on board for study.
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, their commander Captain Cruz, Sephora android Bishop and dropship pilot Lieutenant Reid crash land on LV-426 and take shelter in the ruins of the Hadley's Hope colony complex, which was almost completely destroyed after the destruction of its Atmosphere Processor. Captain Cruz orders all the other Colonial Marine survivors from the Sephora to gather at the Hadley Hope's ruins. While investigating the ruins of the colony, mutated Xenomorphs that only react to sound and movement and attack by suicidally exploding are discovered, as well as the corpses of Sulaco Marines Private Hudson and Private Wierzbowski.
Bishop finds that Bella is impregnated with a Xenomorph Chestburster. In an attempt at saving her, she is escorted by Winter and O'Neal to a Weyland-Yutani research facility set up near the derelict spacecraft, where they intend to "convince" any surviving personnel to remove the embryo. However, an interrogated Weyland-Yutani physician explains to them that the infection can't be treated since, even if the embryo is successfully extracted, the creature's invasive placenta is cancerous and will kill Bella anyway. Bella dies when the Chestburster hatches while she is saying goodbye to Winter and O'Neal.
A survivor from the Sulaco is rescued from the corporate PMCs and is revealed to be Corporal Dwayne Hicks, who explains to the Sephora Marines that the company intercepted and boarded the Sulaco prior to its arrival at Fiorina 161. Being the only military personnel left on the ship, the Sulaco's computer awakened him. While he's trying to escape the PMCs, Hicks sent a distress signal to the USCM on Earth, a call that the Sephora ultimately answered. A fire in the hypersleep bay caused Ripley and Newt to be jettisoned from the ship in an EEV and crash landed onto the nearby coast of Fiorina 161 Class C Work Correctional Unit, along with an unidentified male revealed to be an imposter put on board in Hicks' place. Hicks was subsequently captured and tortured by Michael Weyland himself for nearly 14 weeks to force him to reveal information about the Xenomorphs' origin and to gain control of the Sulaco's weapon systems.
After gathering all the remaining Sephora Marines, Captain Cruz orders Hicks and all of his remaining men to attack the Weyland-Yutani facility and capture the only remaining FTL-capable space cruiser left on the planet. While boarding the escaping ship, Captain Cruz sacrifices himself to kill the Alien Queen that confronts them in the cargo bay. Corporal Winter, O'Neal, Reid, Bishop and Hicks capture Michael Weyland, but Hicks deduces it is merely an android double left behind as a decoy and executes him. In search of useful intelligence, Bishop connects to the deceased Weyland's CPU and states that he has "everything", setting the stage for a full-out war between the Colonial Marines and the Weyland-Yutani Corporation.
- Cpl. Dwayne Hicks .... Michael Biehn
- Bishop .... Lance Henriksen
- Pvt. Peter O'Neal .... Travis Willingham
- Cpl. Christopher Winter .... Derek Philips
- Pvt. Bella Clarison .... Farah White
- Cpt. Jeremy Cruz .... Jason Douglas
- Keyes .... Matthew Mercer
- Reid ... Ashly Burch
- Pvt. Drake .... Mark Rolston
- Sgt. Apone .... Al Matthews
- Pvt. Hudson .... Andrew Bowen
- Redding .... Kimberly Brooks
- Short .... Markus Lloyd
- Quintaro .... Jason Liebrecht
- Xenomorphs ....
- Aimée Leigh
- Pat Miller
Colonial Marines is a sci-fi/action first-person shooter which puts the player in the role of a United States Colonial Marine as seen in the film Aliens. The player will have access to iconic weapons from the movie such as the Flamethrower, Pulse Rifle, Smartgun, pistol, and robot sentry turrets. Players will be able to use welding torches to seal doors as in the movie, and can also equip motion trackers to detect unseen enemies, although doing either will leave them unable to fire their weapon.
Initially it was announced that Aliens: Colonial Marines used squad based gameplay, allowing the player to issues orders to AI controlled marines using context-sensitive commands. However, Gearbox later revealed that this feature was dropped to make gameplay more accessible. It was also reported that the game would have no traditional HUD to provide onscreen information, leaving players dependant on the ammo counter on their Pulse Rifle and their motion tracker to keep track of situational factors. However, a HUD was present in the released version of the game.
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.
In Aliens: Colonial Marines players will gain experience points when killing enemies and completing certain objectives. These experience points carry across both single- and multiplayer modes and can be used to purchase upgrades for weapons in singleplayer, as well as upgrade weapons, customize the appearance of the palyer character and unlock other skill sets in multiplayer.
The primary enemies of the game are the Xenomorphs from the first two films, which include the Facehugger and Drone from Alien, and the Warrior and Queen from Aliens. It was also stated that the Runner Xenomorph from Alien3 would appear, but this ultimately turned out to be untrue; it is likely the Runner was cut during the game's troubled development cycle. The game will also feature never before seen Xenomorph types created by Gearbox Software. The specifics of these new alien types were kept a secret prior to release, with the exception of the Crusher alien, which was revealed in the E3 2011 walkthrough demo. Along with being able to traverse different surfaces from any angle, Gearbox and Sega have also stated that the Aliens' AI will use the environment to set up sneak attacks and group tactics to overwhelm the player. Not all enemies will be aliens as players will find themselves also fighting human enemies in the form of Weyland-Yutani commandos and mercenaries.
It had been stated that with the Wii U integration players would have been able to use the new controller to act as a Motion tracker.
Aliens: Colonial Marines features a campaign with dynamic drop-in/ drop-out cooperative multi-player for up to 4 players online or 2 players locally via split screen. There has been gameplay that does show players fighting as aliens against marines.
A newly unveiled Escape Mode features a four-versus-four multi-player mode. In Escape, the players choose sides between the Marines or the Xenomorphs. The Marines are charged with fighting their way to a safe zone, while three distinct breeds of Xenomorphs have to stop them. Another multi-player mode called Survivor requires Marines to survive at all cost against the Xenomorph horde. There is also the "traditional" Team deathmatch(TDM) mode where up to 6 marines and 6 aliens fight each other.
The multiplayer gameplay for the Xenomorph players will be significantly different to that of the marines. Xenomorphs will adopt a third-person perspective, as opposed to the first-person used throughout the rest of the game; this was most likely implemented to help overcome the situational awareness problems inherent with the Xenomorph multiplayer faction in the previous Aliens vs. Predator video game. Like the 2010 game, Xenomorph players will still be able to see marines through objects to help balance the advantage afforded the marines by their Motion Trackers.
Aliens can cling to walls and ceilings, and can use vents to ambush marines. Their main weakness is that they are primarily melee combatants and will have to move in close to their target to attack, necessitating the use of stealth and surprise to ensure a successful kill.
Aliens have classes similar to marines, with each class or "breed" of Xenomorph having different abilities. The Spitter, for example, possesses a ranged attack in the form of acid that they can spit at enemies. However, as a trade-off the Spitter is not as physically robust as the basic Soldier class (based on the Warrior from the films), which acts as the general infantry of the Xenomorph side. Players will also get the chance to play as the Crusher, a massive quadrupedal Xenomorph with a bulletproof head crest, and the Boiler, which has a kamikaze-like attack, showering its foes in acid. The Crusher will have a charge attack which causes massive amounts of damage but at the cost of exposing the less resistant parts of its body.
Beyond the different classes, players are able to customise their multiplayer Xenomorph characters with a variety of skins and skills. Every class have their unique primary attacks, secondary attacks, abilities, carapaces, traits and fatalities.
- Main article: Aliens: Colonial Marines weapons
Aliens: Colonial Marines features an array of weapons for the player to use, including the iconic Pulse Rifle and Smartgun from the film. The game also introduces new Weyland-Yutani-manufactured weapons, ranging from assault rifles to shotguns. Several weapons based on those used by characters in Aliens also appear in the form of collectible bonus weapons found in the campaign.
The Motion Tracker is capable of detecting hostile targets within a set range through their movement. While this gives the player a significant situational advantage, it is not possible to use any weapons while holding the tracker.
The Shoulder Lamp is used to see darker areas. The shoulder lamp can provide light continuously when turned on, and does not need to recharge.
- Welding Torch
The Welding Torch is used for welding and cutting steel. Primarily used to open sealed doors, cut through steel panels/grates, and weld doors shut to form barricades.
The Power Loader appears twice in the game. A weaponized version outfitted with an M56 Smartgun and an M240 Incinerator Unit was originally set to appear, but ultimately it was cut from the final product.
Aliens: Colonial Marines had a long and troubled development cycle, much like that of Duke Nukem: Forever, another Gearbox release. A previous game under the Colonial Marines name was developed by Check Six Games and was to be published by Fox Interactive and Electronic Arts for the PlayStation 2 in 2001, but it was cancelled before it could hit shelves. A more traditional first-person shooter, it shared the same subject matter and setting as the Gearbox-developed game does. Its story was to be set between the events of Aliens and Alien3, concerning a rescue team of Colonial Marines searching for the Sulaco. Despite the similarities in gameplay and story, however, Gearbox has stated that their game is unrelated to the Check Six version.
On December 11, 2006, Sega had announced that they had purchased the electronic rights to the Alien franchise from 20th Century Fox. On December 15 of the same year, Gearbox Software and Sega announced that they were working on a completely new game based on the franchise. A little over a year later in February of 2008, the game's title was officially announced as Aliens: Colonial Marines and it was featured as the cover story of Game Informer magazine.
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. 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.
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 continued to insist that development on the game continued.
In a Kotaku article, Sega had announced that their new Aliens vs. Predator game (now known as AVP 2010) was to be released in early 2010 would be the first of the Aliens games to be released since aquiring the property, meaning that Aliens: Colonial Marines would come sometime afterwards.
At the 2010 Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), Gearbox showed off five screenshots and stated that the game remained a priority for them.
In the beginning of June 2011, Gearbox unveiled a teaser trailer and officially announced that Colonial Marines would be presented at E3 2011 and that the game was expected to be released in spring of 2012.
On January 26, 2012, Sega had 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. On May 21, 2012, Gearbox Software had announced a February 12, 2013 launch for Aliens: Colonial Marines on PS3, 360 and PC with a Wii U release date announcement "at a later time".
Following the game's release and negative reception, the following was said by a developer on Reddit called throwawayacm: "First off, due to me breaking NDA, I can't provide any proof that I'm not just talking out of my ass. But I figure you'd be interested in hearing what I have to say regardless. I've been on the project for around a year and a half, so some of the following are things I've heard from more senior guys. Pecan (the internal codename for ACM) has a pretty long history. SEGA, GBX and 20th Century FOX came to an agreement to produce an Aliens game around 6 years ago, after which SEGA almost immediately announced it, long before Pecan had even started production. The game has been in active development in the past, only to be shelved in favor of another project (Borderlands, Duke [Nukem Forever], etc.), and each time it was resumed it would undergo a major content overhaul. SEGA, naturally, wasn't super pleased about the delays, but GBX got away with it for a long time and the contract between SEGA and GBX kept getting augmented to push the projected release further and further back. The last time it was resumed, GBX outsourced a good portion of the game to outside companies. Initially, the plan was for TimeGate to take the majority of campaign, GBX would take MP, Demiurge and Nerve would handle DLC and various other focused tasks. This decision was made mostly so that most of the developers at GBX could continue working on Borderlands 2, while a small group of LDs, coders and designers dealt with Pecan.
"Somehow the schedules for Pecan and Borderlands 2 managed to line up and GBX realized that there was no way they could cert and ship two titles at the same time. Additionally, campaign (which was being developed by TimeGate) was extremely far behind, even as Pecan's Beta deadline got closer and closer. In April or May (can't remember which), Pecan was supposed to hit beta, but GBX instead came to an agreement with SEGA that they would push the release date back one more time, buying GBX around 9 mos extension.
"About 5 of those 9 months went to shipping BL2. In that time, TimeGate managed to scrap together 85% of the campaign, but once Borderlands 2 shipped and GBX turned its attention to Pecan, it became pretty apparent that what had been made was in a pretty horrid state. Campaign didn't make much sense, the boss fights weren't implemented, PS3 was way over memory, etcetcetc. GBX was pretty unhappy with TG's work, and some of Campaign maps were just completely redesigned from scratch. There were some last minute feature requests, most notably female marines, and the general consensus among GBX devs was that there was no way this game was going to be good by ship. There just wasn't enough time.
"Considering that SEGA was pretty close to taking legal action against GBX, asking for an extension wasn't an option, and so Pecan crash-landed through certification and shipping. Features that were planned were oversimplified, or shoved in (a good example of this are challenges, which are in an incredibly illogical order). Issues that didn't cause 100% blockers were generally ignored, with the exception of absolutely horrible problems. This isn't because GBX didn't care, mind you. At a certain point, they couldn't risk changing ANYTHING that might cause them to fail certification or break some other system. And so, the product you see is what you get.
"Beyond gameplay, the story has been raised as an issue several times. I can't really comment without feeling bad beyond saying that the script was approved by 20th Century FOX, and that the rush to throw a playable product together came at the cost of the story. Campaign does a pretty bad job of explaining a lot of the questions raised at the start of the game, and so hopefully there will be DLC to flesh that out a bit better".
On April 5, 2013, Sega confirmed that the WiiU port of the game is no longer in development.
- The first trailer for Aliens: Colonial Marines came out on October 10, 2011 for the Xbox 360. While the game was originally to come out in the spring of 2012 it was pushed back to the fall. It was later delayed again, and finally saw release on February 12, 2013.
- Gearbox was invited to speak with Ridley Scott and view the script for Prometheus, leading many to speculate there would be connections or references to the film in the game.
- When you first come across the Engineer from Alien on board the Derelict, Winter says "My God!", to which O'Neal responds, "That isn't your God...". This is likely a reference to Prometheus, which begins with a member of the same race sacrificing himself to create the first life on Earth, a role typically associated with God.
- Another instance that relates both films is in the level Derelict Reclaimed, where some W-Y flying devices identical to Fifield's "pups" can be found scanning inside the Derelict spacecraft.
- Finally, a hologram depicting a space battle between the Saucer from the Prometheus prologue and the Derelict from Alien can be activated if the player shoots at the Space Jockey's head in the level Rampart.
- One of the major locations for the game is the colony of Hadley's Hope on LV-426, despite the fact this location was supposedly completely obliterated by a large thermonuclear explosion at the end of Aliens; in the film, Bishop claims the explosion will vaporize everything within a 30 km radius, yet the colony is still present in the game (albeit heavily damaged).
- Similarly, Alien Resurrection establishes that when Ripley killed the Runner and the Queen embryo on Fiorina 161, the Alien species was wiped out (at least to mankind's knowledge). This would mean the nuclear explosion on LV-426 had to have destroyed all of the Aliens at Hadley's Hope, as well as the Derelict and all of the Eggs on board, which would make the events of Aliens: Colonial Marines impossible.
- It seems strange that, given how Hicks had become close to Ellen Ripley by the end of Aliens (especially so in the extended Special Edition), he does not even think to ask what may have happened to her when he is rescued by the Sephora Marines. However, dialogue in the game's ending implies that Hicks already knows of Ripley's death; it is possible he was informed by Michael Weyland during his time in captivity, especially as Weyland witnessed the event personally.
- New Xenomorph types are introduced in the game, such as the Crusher, Spitter and Boiler, although several of these share characteristics with previously established Xenomorph types from the expanded universe. Their specific origins are not revealed in the game.
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.
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.
The second DLC pack is called Reconnaisance 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 customisation
Aliens: Colonial Marines received primarily negative reviews upon release. Critics praised the nostalgic feel, the authentic Alien design and the ability to visit recognizable locations from the movies, but criticized the story, voice acting, A.I., gameplay and outdated graphics. The game's multiplayer modes were received a lot more warmly, although many reviewers noted the imbalance between the Marine and Alien factions.
Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox 360 version 55.26% and 50/100, the PlayStation 3 version 47.33% and 46/100 and the PC version 37.46% and 42/100. However, EGMNOW online rated the game with a score of 9/10 and Forbes Games Reviews gave the game a score of 8/10. GameTrailers gave Aliens: Colonial Marines a 5.9/10 score and the Official PlayStation Magazine (US) gave the game a 6/10.
Additionally, much controversy surrounding the disparity between the demo version of the game shown at E3 2011 and the final product has surfaced since Aliens: Colonial Marines' release, with the demo being unanimously considered superior, with better graphics, animation, writing and voice acting. Many comparisons between the two versions can be seen on review websites and on Youtube.
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.
- ↑ "Aliens: Colonial Marines Wii U Gets Cancelled". GamingUnion.net (2013-04-06). Retrieved on 2013-04-06.
- ↑ Thomas Whitehead (05 Apr 2013). "Aliens: Colonial Marines Cancelled on Wii U". Nintendo Life. Retrieved on 2013-04-7.
- ↑ Ivan, Tom (February 11, 2013). "Aliens: Colonial Marines DLC, Season Pass Detailed". Games Radar. Games Radar. Retrieved on February 27, 2013.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Faylor, Chris (February 08, 2013). "Aliens: Colonial Marines DLC and Season Pass Bundle". Gearbox Community News. Gearbox Software. Retrieved on March 06, 2013.
- ↑ Blackburn, Sarah (February 09, 2013). "Aliens: Colonial Marines Bug Hunt DLC set for March". Video Games Uncovered. Video Games Uncovered. Retrieved on February 27, 2013.
- ↑ Lara, James (March 22, 2013). "Aliens: Colonial Marines Bug Hunt DLC Review". MP1st. OPNetwork. Retrieved on March 29, 2013.
- Trailers and Making of