Sega’s Next Alien Game to Star Ripley’s Daughter?
We’ve been aware of an Alien project being kicked around Creative Assembly’s offices for a decent while now.
The Sega owned studio is most renown for its long-standing RTS franchise Total War, but they have, on occasion, stepped outside their genre comfort zone on certain titles. If Kotaku’s report checks out, they’re leaping way outside of that zone. Enter the very recently trademarked Alien: Isolation, a first-person horror title for both current and next-gen that’s massively informed by games the likes of Bioshock and Dishonored.
Creative Assembly’s take on the mythos draws inspiration from Ridley Scott’s original Alien, placing a greater emphasis on stealth over direct combat. In fact, one studio insider says, besides a multitude of “clones and soldiers” to tackle, the majority of the game has you tangling with a single xenomorph.
Isolation is said to isolate your ass aboard a space station and, interestingly, has you assume the role of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley — the heroine at the forefront of every Alien film that doesn’t include a Predator or a Fassbender. Before you call shenanigans, yes, Amanda is a canonical character; though she’s only briefly mentioned in a scene found in the extended version of Aliens (the company file didn’t list off run-in’s with galactic space monsters, however)… Okay, fine, I’ll nerd out all over you: That means Isolation is set in the fifty-seven years between the events of Alien and Aliens, with Ellen Ripley still drifting through space in cryo-sleep.
Apparently, Isolation was intended for a public unveiling at E3, but Sega wished to give the team an extension for quality assurance. As in, they want to be assured the quality of the game is nowhere as cavernously low as Aliens: Colonial Marines (aka The Most Disappointed I’ve Ever Been in My Adult Life).
Aliens is my favorite film of all time. Video games are my favorite hobby. Why the two can’t get along is anyone’s guess. I’m loving CA’s direction for the game. Sprinkle on all the atmosphere you want, but mowing down a hundred aliens doesn’t quite land near “horror.” Yet… Colonial Marines left acid burns on my expectations. I want to love you, Isolation. I do. For now, let’s just keep it all business.
This week’s most percolating gaming happenings that you may have missed. If you didn’t miss them, congratulations. You’re better than I am. But now that you’re gloating about it, you’re worse than I am. O, how quickly your vanity carried you to ruin, my former liege. Anyway, welcome back to the Roundup. Leave your shoes anywhere.
- Sony is bent on selling five million PS4’s by next March. I’m bringing you one unit closer to your goal, guys. You don’t have to thank me. But you do owe me.
- Fun fact: the PlayStation 4, a console owned and created by a Japanese company, is delaying its Japan launch because there aren’t enough Japanese games for it. A sign that Western developers have overtaken the gaming scene this generation? “Nah,” says Sony figurehead Shuhei Yoshida. Japan is a “portable-heavy” market is all. So you say.
- "The Steam universe is expanding in 2014." A tease of promises untold or a thinly veiled threat of world dominance? When it comes to Valve, cryptic sentences usually result in both. The Bellevue, WA geek kingdom, a company that has subtly but surely influenced industry sweeping trends, is teasing three announcements for next week, beginning Monday morning. What’s the deal? Gabe “The Man” Newell hinted “hardware opportunities” for bringing Linux to the living room will be revealed soon. Steam Box anyone?
- The RetroN 5 is upon us, old school fiends. Hyperkin, one of the foremost manufacturers of video game clone devices (we’re adults here; I mean “knock-offs), has dated their wondrous, cartridge eating console for December 10th, 2013. The RetroN 5, to those unfamiliar, is a plastic portal to the past that allows you to play NES, SNES, Famicon, Genesis, Mega Drive, Sega Master System (B.Y.O. Power Converter, though) and Game Boy carts all in one machine. Essentially it’s the universal remote off retro consoles. Classic kicks will cost you $99.
Aliens: Colonial Marines Tester Sheds Light on the Game’s Dark History
Hardly a week since its release the internet has been swept up by the behind-the-scenes controversy encircling Gearbox Software’s licensed abomination, Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Following the anonymous allegation that Gearbox outsourced the majority of the title to different studios, namely TimeGate Studios (Section 8, F.E.A.R. Files), a recently yanked Reddit AMA with a “confirmed” Sega employed tester has been brought to light. Obviously breaking their non-disclosure agreement in two, user “soetester” not only says Colonial Marines was handed over to TimeGate early on, but also claims Gearbox was using Sega’s Aliens financing to secretly fund both Borderlands installments.
More shocking, soetester says the title didn’t degrade from the promising E3 2012 demo that sent fans’ hopes skyward. In fact, the tester alleges Sega never got their hands on anything like that demo, that the gameplay shown wasn’t even running on Unreal 3 (like the final game), and lambasts the footage as “100% false advertising.”
While the AMA was removed — giving it an air of inadvertent legitimacy — you can still view a capture of the session here. Below are some highlights:
- The game wasn’t released under the pretense it was anything more than awful. By the time Gearbox turned its attention on it “the damage was done.”
- Sega only received it to test in the middle of last year. Unwilling to delay it further (and lose more money), the game released as you see it today.
- soetester posits Sega may take legal action against Gearbox.
- The Wii U version may very well be “the worst” of them all. Framerate issues, slow texture loading, and poorly conceived GamePad mini-games may keep the Wii U A:CM from seeing the light of day.
- Gearbox “did much more of the game than [TimeGate]” evidently. soetester admits TimeGate’s contribution left the game in a horrid state, though.
- Cutscenes better explaining some of the game’s shittier plot choices were cut; interactive parts of the game including a proper, playable introduction to the marines and the Sephora were folded into cutscenes.
- In response to how much the tester enjoyed the game: “I hate it.”
In more hopeful news, the Sega tester also claims they’ve seen a build of Creative Assembly’s Alien game which is intended for next-gen hardware. The tester says their game’s shaping up to be dark, atmospheric, and “slow paced (in a good way).” I think after this disaster, the gaming public would openly embrace more horror and less horrible.
If you need another stern warning against Colonial Marines, check out my review.
On paper Aliens: Colonial Marines sounded absolutely ace. A direct continuation to one of the most influential and timeless science fiction films of the last fifty years signed off as official canon by 20th Century Fox, developed by Gearbox Software, one of the most renown and rejoiced gaming studios of this generation.
Colonial Marines should have been great. Living and breathing Jimmy Cameron’s universe, a perspective on the future that countless, countless games, novels, and films still unabashedly rip off to this very day, should have made for an engrossing interactive experience that its imitators could hardly match because, instead of playing loose homage to the 1986 film, Colonial Marines had free reign to tap from the source.
I’ve been a huge fan of this franchise since early childhood; my immediate, almost unconscious response to “What’s your favorite movie?” is always “Aliens" without hesitation, and I’ve been excited about this game for a very long time. By the time this review posts, you’re likely to already have heard the sordid truth. It hurts me to say that Aliens: Colonial Marines doesn’t just miss the mark, it makes a vapor cloud the size of Nebraska fifteen miles away from it.
Aliens: Colonial Marines - New, Redeeming Trailer and Season Pass Info
Gearbox has once more let loose a new trailer for their canonized, video game sequel to 1986’s Aliens, and thank Weyland for that because the recent "Kick Ass" Trailer was so tremendously shitty, it had the distinction of being the only piece of marketing to actually jam a hazy cloud of doubt into my head about Colonial Marines.
This two-minute spot is a return to form, though, and gives us yet another atmospheric taste of the game’s competitive multiplayer, including insights into some of the abilities both camps — Xeno and Marine — are outfitted with. Running and gunning won’t be a prevailing strategy when the enemy can swarm you from just about every dark, dank crevice, so you know the drill; assholes and elbows, people!
Moving on, a recent Gamestop listing has shed some light on a mixed blessing of news: Colonial Marines will have a Season Pass accompanying its release, priced at $30. More content is always good on paper, but I don’t take kindly to the fact that getting the most out of my game also means having the most taken out of my wallet — $90 if you’re just nabbing a standard copy and the pass.
Much like Borderlands 2's setup, this Season Pass scores you four separate content packs planned for a spread out release between March and sometime in the Summer of 2013. No exact specifics were spilled regarding the content packs, but fans can expect both campaign and multiplayer add-on's including new maps, new modes, and items for character customization. With each DLC at $10 a pop, you'll save yourself a tenner by springing for the Season Pass.
The Dissolution of THQ: New Publishers Pick Up the Fallen Company’s Assets
The battle was hard fought and long drawn out, but the once mighty publishing house that was THQ has succumbed to bankruptcy.
Despite last ditch efforts to keep themselves above the red line — like putting Naughty Dog co-founder, Jason Rubin, at the head of the company (though, how far could you really go with a man that openly found Saints Row embarrassing?) — THQ folded, with an auction held yesterday for prospective buyers looking to grow their own catalogs by acquiring the former publisher’s assortment of development studios and IP’s.
Bear in mind that the dust has yet to have settled, so most of these acquisitions won’t receive the stamp of approval/blood-signature until the U.S. bankruptcy court has a say…That being said, the following is a list of notable transactions that took place yesterday:
- Crytek now owns the Homefront brand. Crytek UK (Timesplitters as Free Radical) has been working on Homefront 2, so it’s a convenient buy.
- Koch Media purchased Saints Row developer, Volition, Inc., as well as publishing rights to the Metro series. You may be more familiar with Koch’s subsidiary and publisher, Deep Silver (Call of Juarez, Dead Island). Deep Silver has been tasked with overseeing all development and publishing duties surrounding both franchises with impending news on the way.
- Sega has scored RTS experts, Relic Entertainment (Company of Heroes, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War), beating out ZeniMax (Bethesda’s parent) for the studio. The recently announced Company of Heroes 2 is still on track for release.
- Take-Two — parent to Rockstar and 2K Games — bought up the unrevealed shooter tentatively dubbed Evolve, developed by Turtle Rock Studios (best known for their work on Counter-Strike and Left 4 Dead with Valve); Take-Two evidently outbid Turtle Rock for their own game. In another big win, Take-Two negotiated outside of the auction for the WWE video game license, effectively ending THQ’s long established choke-hold on the property.
- Ubisoft is now set to publish Obsidian’s foul mouthed homage to the old school RPG, South Park: The Stick of Truth. THQ Montreal was also bid on and bought; the studio’s staff will be dispersed among Ubisoft’s existing dev teams.
Among the assets not already sold off sits Vigil Games and their Darksiders property, just two games young into the franchise. Apparently, both studio and game went without a single damn bid (yowtch). Given Darksiders II considerable improvement over the original, and its positive critical reception, I don’t expect the Horsemen to stay homeless for long.
Also, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or drunken snapshots of hyper-extended middle fingers on Instagram, we’re becoming more and more aware that THQ has left a lot of unemployed people in its wake. My heart goes out to those that have to put up with such shit luck of the draw — and thank you for all you’ve done for this industry. I wish you the best, folks.
Project X Zone Heading West This Summer
Given its severely niche nature, I almost gave up hope on seeing this Namco/Capcom/Sega mashup grace Western shores. But low and behold, Namco Bandai has announced it would be localizing the 3DS’ Project X Zone for release in the U.S. and European markets this very summer.
The spiritual successor to Namco X Capcom, a PS2 crossover oddity that remained only in Japan, Project X Zone (wherein the “X" means "Cross" somehow) carries on the tactical RPG gameplay and 2D sprite visuals found in that title, but adds a little dimension to the affair thanks to the 3DS’ functionality. Combining over 200 characters from each publishers’ library of franchises (over 50 of which are playable), players will participate in teams of two paired heroes fighting freely on battle grids based on recognizable gaming locales.
Basically, you get into ludicrously awesome encounters like Space Channel 5's Ulala cracking knuckle against Nemesis' face. If that isn't worth wiping the dust off my 3DS, nothing in this world is.
Jet Set Radio Dated For September, PS Plus Members Get to Vandalize Early
Kudos to Sega for not only pooling together 100% of the original Jet Set's soundtrack, but also offering the full game download for an agreeable $9.99 (800 points in 360 currency). I've received a lot less than a top notch blast from the past for that price point and we won't go into the crashing disappointments I've hunkered down with for way more than ten bucks.
You can expect this Dreamcast dinosaur to arrive on PSN Sept. 18th with XBLA and Steam receiving it the next day on the 19th. But if you’re impatient — and I hope you are so that I don’t feel like I’m alone in the universe — and also happen to be a PlayStation Plus subscriber, you can treat yourself to Jet Set Radio as early as Sept. 11th.
PS Vita owners, unfortunately, will have to be a little more zen with the upsetting wait between now and the game’s availability for the handheld on October 16th. Assuming that your ownership of a portable system means you’re outside and on the go, might I suggest taking up real life rollerbladed graffiti tagging? It’s a valid, wheeled art form. An art form technically considered vandalism and could get you into legal trouble, but on rollerblades, the amount of exercise your body’s getting will make up for all the, uh, rollerblading away from cops you’ll be doing…Okay, fine, wait for October.
Making Aliens: Colonial Marines Episode II - Those Goddamn Xenomorphs
Gearbox has opened up the hood on their video game love letter to the Alien franchise in another web doc, this time focusing on the acid/hate filled xenomorphs. Gearbox is going above and beyond in order to capture the essence of Jimmy Cameron’s flick, but more interesting to learn is how the developer is filling in the gaps the films never covered.
What does a marine see when he slips on a smartgun’s digital eye-patch? If the xenos are like ants — each with a specific purpose in its “hive” — then are there different kinds of aliens we haven’t seen before? Gearbox has answers to both and the results almost serve Colonial Marines to the point where it could’ve fit snugly in the movie saga if it had been filmed in live action instead of coded on computers.
Spotlight of the Day: Sean the Colonial Marine
This is Sean Maio and he’s what you’d might call a professional cosplayer. Sean built his colonial marine garb from the ground up with exacting detail, going to excruciating lengths (and great personal finance) to replicate the parts and processes used by the crew behind 1986’s Aliens. Gearbox, the minds crafting next year’s Aliens: Colonial Marines, were so impressed by Sean’s walking authenticity, they wanted him and his likeness in their game. A “red shirt” marine, as Sean describes it, you’ll be able to either select him as a skin in online multiplayer or alternatively maul him as an enemy xenomorph.
He walked into Play N Trade (wherein which I reside), picked up a copy of Sega’s Aliens: Infestation, and asked if any of us had played it. Unable to suppress my urge to geek the hell out on anything Aliens, I engaged, gabbed about the game’s Metroid-vania play-style (DS people, you should really pick this one up) and soon learned of his involvement with Gearbox’s title.
The way he tells it, Gearbox and Sega are going to untold lengths in order to bring you an extremely faithful adaptation of the Aliens universe, from the art style to sound design, it’s all ripped directly from the film. Oh, and Alien diehards, expect some glee-inducing surprises the closer we get to the game’s February release. Seriously, you’re gonna shit joy.
Thank you, Sean, for being supremely cool and geeking out with me. Check out an interview he did at PAX where Sega had him showing off his custom made smartgun and where he talks up his cosplay group The Aliens Legacy.