Fun fact about Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation — the game is playable from start to finish. With the core experience laid out, the developer is using the time between now and the game’s Q4 release date to polish, tweak, and refine the game.
I’m feeling pretty good about this one. It helps that it looks phenomenal. But I feel especially good that CA is approaching the material at a different angle and that, all around, even on Sega’s part, Isolation is being handled with the same meticulous care you’d show a newborn baby. Or a bomb capable of leaving a crater the size of Nebraska.
First Bits of Alien: Isolation Footage
Okay, so we’ve been here before. The months and weeks leading up to the turdening that was Aliens: Colonial Marines, I just about posted and gabbed over every shred of media trickled by that game’s superb marketing team (superb because they tricked me into thinking I wouldn’t regret buying that game).
So let us walk with trepidation. That being out of the way, good golly Miss Molly does Isolation look enticing. A sequel to Alien and not Aliens means Creative Assembly’s take tosses you into the shit nary a weapon. This demo shows young Ms. Ripley skulking through the dark — though our narrators try to kill the mood of the footage with their nonstop jawin’, the gorgeously realistic lighting salvages it — and gathering up supplies to push her way forward through an abandoned space station.
Did I say “abandoned”? The hissing, hulking xenomorph makes up for any loneliness you may encounter. Because it’s always there. Constantly looking for you. The brief few moments Ripley runs into the creature during the playthrough raised a sense of tension completely missing from the last umpteen Alien games. My heart skipped seeing that bastard just standing there, fucking scanning the room for Ripley.
We’ve been here before. The game isn’t in our hands and, so far, it’s just (likely prettied up) footage. But this footage is compelling. Is it really so bad to hope for Isolation's success instead of bracing for disaster?
Alien: Isolation Officially Revealed
I’ve been following every space scrap of news on this project for a while now — Alien and its film progeny, Jimmy Cameron’s opus in particular, being my favorite series in the history of the silver screen — but it’s refreshing to have the loading bay doors officially blown off of Alien: Isolation.
Though the game is set in the first-person, don’t expect Isolation to be yet another Hoo-rah-tastic corridor shooter as hollow as the sound of pulse rifle fire. Creative Assembly is seeking to create the Alien game no other developer has tried before: a methodically paced, suffocatingly atmospheric love letter to the bump-in-the-dark horror Ridley Scott famously put to film back in 1979.
Fifteen years after the Nostromo vanished from the star map, Amanda Ripley finds herself aboard the Sevastopol Station, the floating husk of a former trading port. The Company says she may find an answer to her mother’s disappearance there. What she does find is one ruthless, near unstoppable killing machine of an extraterrestrial that will stalk her, find her, and end her unpleasantly unless she uses her wits and what little supplies she can scrounge up to survive. Like mother, like daughter.
As much as I’d love for a team of perfect fans to crack Aliens' formula and deliver a riveting action game instead of a derivative train wreck, I'm glad we're not gagging on another space marine shooter. The films are, and always have been, firmly rooted in horror. It's time video games stopped treating xenomorphs as canon fodder, having you blast apart hordes of them. It's time to be afraid of them again.
Alien: Isolation, expected for late this year, is releasing for PC, PS3, 360, PS4, and Xbox One.
Here’s Your First Contact with Alien: Isolation
I think it’s safe to say this project has broken out of the rumor cage and is now free to prey on any one of us stupidly not named Ripley.
In Sega’s latest attempt to make anything but a frozen space turd out of the Alien IP, they’ve tasked Creative Assembly in restoring dignity to this series’ video game presence not seen since AvP2 for the PC. Feel free to brush up on Alien: Isolation right hereabouts, but I’ll give you the quick lowdown:
Ellen Ripley’s own brood, Amanda, is isolated (bah!) aboard a space station — that’s a bit misleading, though, because she has plenty of company, found in one vicious xenomorph terrorizing her at every vent and dark corridor.
Given the lack of pluralization in the title, the game’s vibe appropriately borrows from the original film’s claustrophobic brand of horror. More than that, these screens showcase slavish dedication to designs period specific (in canon) to Ridley Scott’s vision of the early 22nd Century. That motion tracker looks like it was ripped right out of Captain Dallas’ hands (if you got the reference immediately, we are lifelong friends now).
Oh, baby, I can feel a reveal coming on real soon. I crave a trailer next.
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 (PC/PS3/Wii U/X360) - February 12th, 2013
You’re looking at a game built from the ground up on fan service. From the multitude of xenomorph designs including H.R. Giger’s original palpitation inducing concept and Cameron’s spiney, perpetually pissed off war machines to the hulking derelict wreck prevalent in Ridley Scott’s Alien and Prometheus…Even the sound design is plucked directly from the films for authenticity’s sake. This is the Aliens game we’ve been craving since we first heard the hollow sputter of a pulse rifle burst and, more than that, pre-release buzz has it that this one’s an extreme amount of fun.
Gearbox, you have my trust and, soon, you’ll have my money.
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.
Aliens: Colonial Marines Has an Official Release Date…For Next Year
One of my most anxiously anticipated games of 2012, originally pegged for the Fall, has gone the way of Bioshock Infinite and has been revealed by Gearbox’s CEO/President Randy Pitchford to be slated for February 12th, 2013. I’ll say it for you: sonuvabitch!
The closest thing to a true sequel to the first three films (since Prometheus is both a prequel and actively distancing itself from anything recognizably xenomorph), Colonial Marines fills in the dots left floating between the cracks in the franchise while delivering a high-octane shooter that encourages cooperation with teammates lest you enjoy having your screaming marine’s body yanked into a ventilation shaft.
I feel like I’ve been waiting damned well forever for this title — I do recall when Sega announced a Gearbox-less version of the game for the PS2 — but Pitchford blames eager marketing and press releases hyping up A:CM well before a proper gestation cycle. In reality, the total amount of development time actually spent on the project more closely mirrors the time expended on the first Borderlands.
"We’ve remained true to our vision. We’ve been committed to it, through and through. We’ve always prioritized the goals we had for the game over any particular launch window," Pitchford attested to on the Gearboxity blog. It sounds as if production was more stop and go as opposed to a straight race to the finish; I’d imagine Borderlands 2 wouldn’t see its September date if the former were the case (you get a little leeway for that, Gearbox — this time).
Feb. 12 sees the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 versions of the game unleashed, with a Wii U date still to be announced.
Colonial Marines seems to be shaping up in all the right ways. It’s hard to believe Sega supported the project without wanting to slap the Predator license all over it (xenomorphs haven’t appeared on film without the Predator since 1997).
The rabid fanboy that grew up watching and rewatching Jimmy Cameron’s 1986 classic really wants developer Gearbox to knock this one out of the park. They’ve tried to instill in fans that they are very much enamored with this film saga, Cameron’s Aliens in particular, and Colonial Marines definitely has not experienced a rushed development cycle which always counts in a game’s favor (see: Batman: Arkham Asylum, a game made better thanks to coordinated delays).
We’re allowed our doubts though, Gearbox.