Aliens: Colonial Marines Preview

Aliens Colonial Marines Cover

I remember seeing the first images of Aliens vs. Predator 2 many years ago. I was very impressed with the fidelity of the classic elements from Aliens, the movie. Transportation vehicles, weapons, machine guns standing, xenomorphs, everything looks and sounds as it should. That was before I played the first AvP, that did great in creating an atmosphere similar to that of the movie. Meanwhile, a new AvP game was launched, the third title of the franchise. I can not say that I liked very much, mostly because it was lame compared to its predecessors. Now we are talking about a sequel, called Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Next year we will venture back into the distant future, the same seen in the Aliens movie, but without the Predators in the scenery. In fact, it a part of it will be without the Aliens, too, because you can not be a xenomorph anymore. So you will play as what in AvP series was the “black sheep”. The man, even an interstellar soldier, a Colonial Marine, is genetically, physiological and anatomical totally inadequate to fight against a creature that can scratch the walls and bleed acid.

Still the Colonial Marines have two advantages, an arsenal which can be deadly id desperate reflex that very useful skill to panic and cry with the finger stuck on the trigger. Plus it will not be alone, a single marine would hardly to survive against such cosmic threats, well he could in AvP. But in the new game from Gearbox, the Colonial Marine will not be alone. Frosty The Marine has colleagues in Aliens Colonial Marines.

The story of this game, of the production of this game more precisely is surprisingly old. I do not mean that Gearbox announced it five years ago, then postponed it, and for a while it seemed to have forgotten, being busy with many other projects. Meanwhile, Sega gave signaled they don’t quite of trust the franchise, since they canceled an RPG Obsidian was working on, which was basically finished.

Aliens Colonial Marines was almost released at a time … in 2001, when he was in the hands of Check Game Six Studios. At that time it was not quite the same game it is today, and the current version is not linked to too old one. Its production, in one form or another, lasted more than a decade, which should make it feel at home at Gearbox. I just hope the final result will be more successful than the last title the studio have worked at. A fact that makes be believe that Aliens: Colonial Marines could be a great game is that the last title of the franchise were also developed by Gearbox, and I see no reason why they would release a bad product.

Since it was in the spotlight last time, there have been some changes in Aliens: Colonial Marines. For example, the graphic engine has been modified. It’s the same Unreal 3, but everything about lighting and shading that was restored, assuming the dynamic suffix. This is really important in a game whose predecessors were able scare the hell out of me with the simple sight of a crane shadow on a wall.

Character models are detailed enough realistically be thorn apart by the alien claws during the action, and the facial expressions of fear will certainly give me nightmares. The xenomorphs look good, from what I’ve seen so far. Even better than in AvP (3), their skin is a lot more… shiny. I do not know if the game will use DirectX 11 to make them rounder, but the images tell me it won’t be needed. Of course, we should also consider that the pics might be captures of the presentation version, retouched in Photoshop.

The environment will look very familiar to you, being composed of dark, metal corridors and numerous elements borrowed from the movie Aliens, mostly because the action takes place in exactly the same location. And what you could not see in the movie looks like it was taken from the movie, because Syd Mead, the creator of Aliens sets gave a helping hand to the game production. Aline: Colonial Marines storyline begins a few weeks after the end of Alien 3, in that several hundred years time in which absolutely nothing happened in the movies. In the spotlight will certainly be a detachment of Colonial Marines, whose mission is to find out exactly what happened on the Sualco ship and on planet LV-426.

Even if they try to remain as faithful as possible the original material, the studio is free to modify certain details, one of the most important being that Hadley’s Hope have not been shaved from the face of the planet. It is a crater in Hadley’s Hope, where the air-producing plant’s nuclear reactor exploded, but not on as big is thought to be. It is more deep than wide, which means that the xenomorphs are still around. If not, the adventure would have been considerably shorter and less exciting.

Aliens: Colonial Marines gameplay suffered some minor changes from its last iteration. Before Gearbox put it to rest for several years, the coordination with the team controlled by the AI team played an important role. They could give orders to Frosty’s colleagues in 2008, but now it won’t happen. They producers took this decision because they want to make the game accessible to a larger segment of gamers, because, apparently, a team-based shooter that has the nerve to ask you to take care of a team would be too difficult. AI is still there, not going anywhere, and Colonial Marines is still a team based FPS, but it seems that the team will not be as important.

At least now it will be easier, as the game characters, embodied by the other Marines, to die dramatically only when the story requires to, not because you told them to frontally attack a xenomorphs hoard. We were even promise an interesting story, created by some of the writers of Battlestar Galactica. I just hope they were not responsible for the nonsense in the end. This significant change also brings a modified cooperative mode. There are still four players, only in this version, the other three marines will be able to come and help you out of nowhere. There are not characters that are part of the story and they do not replace the existing ones. One would think that would ease the game, but not too much, because the difficulty will increase with the number of people.

Even if tactical component is missing, Aliens: Colonial Marines has a new feature, unfortunately not a good one, quick-time events. Things that judging by the only public presentation of the game happens at predefined times, not every time bump into something big. For example, when a xenomorphe jumps on you, it pushes you through a wall, ground fight with him and eventually kill him by shooting his head. A sequence like this type will contain exactly 0% of gameplay and questions the vulnerability of marines to the acid drool of the xenomorphs. Apparently will explain it by the presence of an anti-corrosive gel.

One of the biggest criticisms that I had over the last year’s AVP, well, not one of the largest, but still a significant one, was that ton of new promised aliens was actually a single one, that look like normal people, but spit. Gearbox seems to have had some more imagination, adding a giant xenomorph created by the radiation blast, with a bullet-proof head, which acts like a bull in bullfighting, or like every other boss / big enemy in each action game of the last five years. They didn’t show us how to kill it in the preview. Anyway, the Queen will make an appearance, too, with that famous exoskeleton.

Every alien you’ve seen so far stars in Alines: Colonial Marines, from facehugger to chestbuster, to thousands and thousands of drones. The Xenomorphs will behave intelligently, knowing how to use the ground to find the target. Apparently they are even able to create diversions. They will also appear randomly on the map, which will be useful to the replayability factor. Aliens: Colonial Marines features a large number of weapons, a lot more than in AvP (3), I hope.

Besides the classic pulse rifle you will be able to hunt aliens with rifles, pistols, a smart gun, as that’s what they revealed so far. Weapons will have something in addition to those in previous games, upgrades. In Aliens: Colonial Marines you will be able to add new elements to your weapons, which will extend their functions. Additional components are obtained through a system designed to provide progression and unlock the ability to customize your own marine in many ways. Or maybe I misunderstood what Gearbox said and this component should be reserved for the competitive multiplayer mode.

Besides weapons, the characters in Aliens: Colonial Marines will also have vital tools for exploring the planet and a certain alien ships. Thus, you will be able to weld doors if necessary, to keep the nasty bugs away. They have turrets that can be placed in strategic places to keep away the xenomorphs, but not for long, because id didn’t worked in the movie. They have tools that allow electronic locks breaking through a mini-game and have usual motion detector.In Aliens: Colonial Marines, it will act as the authentic one. It does not appear in the interface, must be taken in hand and you must be prepared to put it aside as soon as one of creatures get too close.

To increase the authenticity factor, the whole interface, which indicates the ammunition and life (which, by the way, will regenerate) may be hidden. Now you won’t know for sure when you are close to dying, so you won’t know when to use the first aid kit. Aliens: Colonial Marines is not a horror game, Gearbox is not trying to do this because I know how the story goes. In the first few minutes cat’s shadow will scare you, but after the first xenomorph appears, along with with ten of his siblings, you start to get used to them.

That does not mean the game will not have tension, as that is exactly what they want to create, tension. You know they come, you know you are close, you know they will try to kill you, but you do not know when or how. This is not always easy to do, because after a while, or immediately as in the case of Dead Space 2, you start to see patterns. Maybe AI will compensate for that. After all, because you don’t know when the zombies will start coming or when exactly they will start to attack you is one of the reasons you can’t get enough of Left 4 Dead.

Aliens Colonial Marines will be released in the first quarter of 2012, if the game is not postponed, or is left somewhere on the bottom of a dusty chest because of other projects, Gearbox simultaneously working on a new Borderlands 2 and a new Brothers in Arms title. Also, maybe SEGA will trust the franchise this time, and with a bit of luck, it will receive patches and support for a longer than it takes to a facehugger to infest a man, to grow in it, to escape through his chest and turn him into a mature xenomorph.

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