E3 2011: Aliens Colonial Marines

Aliens: Colonial Marines takes the series back to LV-426 to tell the story of what happened after the events of Alien 3--after Ripley's jail-planet battle was won and the dust had settled at Hadley's Hope.

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QUICKTAKE: After the events of David Fincher's Alien 3, a group of USCM troops touch down on the mysterious planet known as LV-426, coming face-to-face with the menacing Xenomorphs. Dubbed as a true narrative sequel to James Cameron's Aliens, my short demo of the Gearbox-developed game Aliens: Colonial Marines did a lot to prove the team behind it has a deep admiration for the series. But, I'm left wondering how the game will tie in with the series canonically. THE DEMO: After a few dramatic glimpses at flickering lights and falling debris, Aliens: Colonial Marines got right into the action. Beeps from a motion tracker tease the arrival of the franchise's iconic foe. While investigating the devastated wasteland of the Hadley's Hope complex, a pack of xeno drones attack the unsuspecting soldiers. Later, the soldiers meet a new type of alien attacker: a bull-like xenomorph dubbed the "Crusher." This enemy sports a wide, hard head and rushes into everything from obstacles to soldiers. According to Gearbox, the crushers are designed to act as the protectors of game's biggest threat: the Queen. After showcasing the game's four-player, drop-in/drop-out feature, the demo proceeds to a landing dock where the USCM soliders are preparing for the next attack. Here a number of "Power Loader" exoskeleton suits retrofitted with weapons await attack. Soon the xenomorph Queen bursts into the area and a battle ensues. The Queen shrugs off attacks from all sides of the solider-filled room, before rushing the playable character to end the demo. DETAILS: There's a lot of a fan service included in Aliens: Colonial Marines, with a number of bonuses Gearbox says will be scattered throughout the world (Bishop's legs, anyone?). The game will visit locales featured in the films, including Hadley's Hope on LV-426, the alien vessel from Alien, and the Sulaco. Fan service is definitely a draw, but the game's placement in the franchise timeline begs a slew of questions to be answered. How is Hadley's Hope and the complex on LV-426 still standing when it was destroyed at the end of Aliens? According to Gearbox, the destruction at the end of the second film was not enough to turn the complex entirely to dust. Instead, players will be tasked with approaching and investigating the debris of that film's fallout. Another concern is that there is no accounting for the xenomorph's acidic blood. In one scene, the alien pounces onto the playable character, only to be subdued by a shotgun shell to the head. While its green blood spills everywhere, the playable character nor the environment appear to take any damage. According to Gearbox, the blood's metal-melting properties were only used "when needed" in the films. This leads me to believe that we will encounter situations where the blood does factor in, but it won't constantly be something players will have to deal with. Another question: where are the aliens even coming from? Considering the fiery fate of the LV-426 colonists during Ripley's final stand on the planet, we're not sure how so many alien enemies are alive to stir up so much trouble on LV-426. Gearbox says they'll explain that throughout the game. As a fan of the Aliens franchise, I'm hoping the "explanations" won't feel like a shoehorned excuse for the game's existence.

"Get away from her, you bi..." Well, you get the idea.

Alien is iconic for its dramatic tone and how an unknown force could destroy an entire crew. Aliens further examined that dynamic and displayed the power of the xenos against an army. Where can the narrative of Colonial Marines go from there? What other story can they tell other than another group of marines being systematically decimated by an alien race, while forcing the events of Alien Resurrection? There are a lot of narrative concerns for the game, but I'm not worried about the game's action. The demo for Aliens: Colonial Marines shows that Gearbox has captured the tone and look of the series (though some of the sounds seem off). All of the classic weaponry was included. (Although, Gearbox wouldn't confirm if "Harsh Language" was an unlockable munition.) Each battle captures the right atmosphere of fear: enemies don't rush or flank you from Point A to Point B--they attack from all sides. You'll end up battling aliens in the dark using nothing but muzzle-flashes, or dark red security lights, to light your path. It may be dressed up as a high-powered, good-looking first-persons shooter, but Aliens: Colonial Marines has its roots seeded in survival horror. This isn't going to be a game based on kill-count, but one based on your ability to survive. Aliens: Colonial Marines launches on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 in 2012. Watch the Shacknews E3 2011 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. You can also subscribe to it with your favorite RSS reader.
From The Chatty
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    June 13, 2011 5:15 PM

    Xav de Matos posted a new article, E3 2011: Aliens Colonial Marines.

    Aliens: Colonial Marines takes the series back to LV-426 to tell the story of what happened after the events of Alien 3--after Ripley's jail-planet battle was won and the dust had settled at Hadley's Hope.

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      June 13, 2011 5:30 PM

      Sadness. There are so many new and exciting situations that you can drop aliens into. I don't want to visit old ones.

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        June 13, 2011 5:58 PM

        Ya, that seems like a funky choice.

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          June 13, 2011 6:11 PM

          They could have gone all KOTOR with the series and just set years in the future or the past. There's too much baggage when they try and weave stories into the existing continuity.

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            June 14, 2011 1:07 AM

            I think that would be missing the point. They said that they essentially wanted to do a sequel to Aliens that wasnt Alien 3.

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        June 14, 2011 1:08 AM

        I'm looking forward to seeing post-nuke Hadleys Hope and getting the chance explore the Sulaco. They have said there are other location to be revealed.

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      June 13, 2011 6:22 PM

      "But, I'm left wondering how the game will tie in with the series canonically"

      Oh for Pete's sake WHO CARES ABOUT CANON!!

      The WORST thing to ever happen to story telling was some bizarre fascination about what make-believe events "really" happened in a make-believe world, and what ones didn't?

      Frankly, I wish Aliens 3 was REMOVED from Canon, as it, frankly, sucked balls.
      As a stand alone movie, it was OK, but the way it tried to squeeze into the events after Aliens...eewww.

      So, Hicks died, Newt died, and Bishop survived long enough to once again cast down on his motives.
      How's this, all the events in Alien 3/4 where just a nightmare Ripley had in hypersleep!
      Solved, next movie please!

      I mean, it's not like they HAD to use the Sulaco to seed another alien egg, the original derelict is STILL THERE ON LV-246..

      (I don't even like the way James Cameron populated this planet with colonists, the Alien movie made it quite clear there was nothing of interest on this far far far distant moon, yes, that's right, moon of a gas giant, which has mysteriously disappeared when Ripley returns)

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        June 13, 2011 6:58 PM

        If story doesn't matter to games, why are these developers touting it as an important factor of this game? Canon is important to franchises whether you like narrative or not.

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          June 13, 2011 11:30 PM

          I agree, if you are going to ignore the canon. Then don't call make it part of the franchise. They could just do what they did with Alien Swarm. Most people see that Alien Swarm is extremely influenced by Aliens but don't look down on the developers for lacking original thought.

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        June 13, 2011 11:17 PM

        I care.

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        June 14, 2011 7:08 AM

        James Cameron didn't populate LV-426, the Company did. It was only a matter of time before the Company new that they'd lose contact and have to send in the Marines, in hope of capturing a bug for experimentation.

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      June 13, 2011 6:23 PM

      Any video of this out there?

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      June 13, 2011 6:25 PM

      Hooray, Gearbox Software can rape more childhood memories.

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      June 13, 2011 6:26 PM

      People have faith this will be any good coming from Gearbox?

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        June 13, 2011 6:30 PM

        I wouldn't say faith but I have high hoped at the moment

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        June 13, 2011 6:34 PM

        I still like them.

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        June 13, 2011 6:37 PM

        I don't have any problems with them. Is that a dig at DNF?

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          June 13, 2011 6:40 PM

          Actually no. I find them to be immensely mediocre.

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            June 13, 2011 7:09 PM

            They're kind of like a mediocre version of Raven.

            Mediocre squared? How does that work?

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        June 14, 2011 7:20 AM

        Probably not.

        They are not a good developer. They got their big start by making a mod which was (in hindsight) inexplicably quite good and releasing it commercially, and things have gotten worse ever since. Nightfire was shit, Halo PC was an average port which didn't make any improvement on the original game whatsoever, the Brothers in Arms serious were probably their only (mostly) quality effort as a legitimate developer, however now that they are in the major league they've produced nothing but turds that only offer up the smallest inkling that they know what the fuck they are doing.

        I'm sick of giving them money, and I feel like sending Valve an angry email for enabling these inept hacks to get their start in the industry.

        tldr; if Colonial Marines anything but straight to bargain-bin fare I'll be stunned, but chances are it will be more of the same.

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        June 14, 2011 7:22 AM

        I'm pretty much going on the assumption that it will be mediocre simply because of this.

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      June 13, 2011 6:28 PM

      So the colony was nuked, but its still there.

      K

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        June 13, 2011 6:35 PM

        So nuking from orbit provides nothing?

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          June 13, 2011 10:56 PM

          Hadley's Hope was not nuked from orbit - the processing plant went nuclear when the cooling system was damaged. As it was low to the ground I guess the damage would be limited to a smaller area.

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        June 13, 2011 6:39 PM

        It was a sugar-free nuke

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        June 13, 2011 7:12 PM

        Apparently it wasn't the only way to be sure

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        June 13, 2011 11:22 PM

        I'm a little confused also. My assumption was that the explosion of the oxygen generating plant destroyed the area including all aliens and the existing alien spacecraft.Then Ripley killed herself Alien 3 with the last known alien in the universe.
        Based on the fact the above there was no aliens in the known galaxy (which is why it was a big deal that Ripley killed the alien) they had to resort to cloning hundreds of years later in the abortion that was Resurrection.

        So potentially, if the nuclear explosion on LV-426 didn't destroy the 'derelict' alien spacecraft then perhaps this game can fill that part of the canon (and the spaceship and all aliens will be terminated in this one).

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        June 14, 2011 1:13 AM

        They never did nuke the site, the atmosphere processor went in to melt down. There isn't actually anything to suggest the colony was destroyed or even damaged.

        Although I think it would make for a cool game environment if the colony was part ok part messed up, kinda like dead space.

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          June 14, 2011 1:30 AM

          The mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion that the dropship flies out of near the end of Aliens suggests that the colony got annihilated.

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          June 14, 2011 3:57 AM

          In 19 minutes this area is going to be a cloud of vapor the size of Nebraska

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            June 14, 2011 5:22 AM

            Could of been exaggerating? Like I said, I'm hoping that the explosion has fucked things up but there are areas unaffected by the blast. I think both would be fun to explore.

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              June 14, 2011 5:29 AM

              Nuclear bomb going off a kilometer away = minor structural damage

              :)

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                June 14, 2011 6:55 AM

                Ok I checked and Bishop says Does talk about it being x amount of kilo tonnes etc

                But what if that one line didn't even exist, huh? Did you ever think about that? I didn't know! So now, if I went in and made a major chatty issue out of it, everybody steps in. The mods steps in, and there are no exclusive rights for anybody; nobody wins. So I made a decision and it was... wrong. It was a bad call, Serpico, it was a bad call.

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      June 13, 2011 6:41 PM

      Guys I'm just gonna post this in advance, is there an FOV fix?

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        June 13, 2011 7:35 PM

        Beat me to it.

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        June 13, 2011 11:32 PM

        Dude! It's an artistic choice, man! Let the artists breathe. Screw your nausea and big wide-screen monitors!!

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        June 14, 2011 6:15 AM

        And a toggle crouch?
        A menu worth a damn?
        Decent multiplayer?

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        June 14, 2011 7:23 AM

        Ironically, a tighter FoV would actually make sense 'from an artistic standpoint' due the claustrophobic/tense gameplay that they SHOULD be aiming for.

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          June 14, 2011 8:17 AM

          There is other ways to achieve that other than gimping your view.

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            June 14, 2011 5:47 PM

            Absolutely, controlling the pacing of the level and good storytelling are far more effective tools, but in the 'lol he cant see so itz scary!!' generation a tight FoV is about as much as we can hope for.

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      June 13, 2011 8:48 PM

      Hopefully they do a better job than the last Alien vs. Predator game. It shouldn't take 15-20 rounds to drop an alien with a pulse rifle. They fire exploding bullets for gods sake.

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      June 13, 2011 11:32 PM

      I'm sad that Gearbox has to be the ones making it. From my experience as a PC gamer with the Borderlands fiasco, I've learned to take everything and anything coming from Pitchford's mouth with several bags of salt.

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        June 14, 2011 1:19 AM

        Give it to the Rainbow 6 Vegas team instead. It has pretty nice FoV and great mouse code.

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      June 14, 2011 5:34 AM

      Honestly, I'm not that all bothered about the canon. Or canon in general. It's only one single tool writers have at their disposal but seems to be relied upon and venerated far too much, as if extensively documenting the history of dry fictional worlds makes up for the plot and characters being tedious and worthless husks. Besides, it's all made up anyway.

      Will getting together with your chums to shoot aliens in the face be fun y/n?

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        June 14, 2011 7:10 AM

        Aliens never seemed to have much of a greater story to me. It would be later on that James (Cameron) would get into that larger world thing especially in regard to AVATAR.

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          June 14, 2011 7:11 AM

          URGHHHH. No fucking way.

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            June 14, 2011 7:15 AM

            URRGG to Aliens not having much cannon, or AVATAR having a rather ridiculous amount?

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              June 14, 2011 7:23 AM

              Avatar is not an original story. It's Pocahontas. It's an old white man's savior story of a minority nation.

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                June 14, 2011 7:38 AM

                Oh, I wasn't talking much about the plot. I meant about the world-building aka, greater story.

                Cameron is kinda crazy about it: http://www.pandorapedia.com/ That's not even a tiny bit of all the work they did on that world.

                All of it for a noble savage story that wasn't even plotted out that well.

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        June 14, 2011 7:12 AM

        I'll let you know when they let anyone play it.

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        June 14, 2011 7:28 AM

        Hell yeah! My girlfriend and I are very much looking forward to this title. Personally, I think Gearbox gets much more angst than they really deserve. While Borderlands wasn't perfect, it was still enjoyable when played with friends and, for the most part, the DLC was actually worth getting.

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