With the lights dimmed and confidentiality warnings issued (members of the press were guarded by a night vision-donned security guard), Gearbox president Randy Pitchford stated his thesis: James Cameron’s Aliens had influenced more games than any other film. Considering everything from Samus’ matriarch-hunting excursions to Valve’s face-hugging homage in Half-Life, few could argue with the developer’s claims. Pitchford even confessed to the movie serving as recurrent source material, admitting “It’s the thing I’ve been stealing from all my career.”
With Aliens: Colonial Marines, the respected producer hopes to transport players back to LV-426, with an maliciously crafted, interactive sequel to the 1986 film. As our walkthrough commenced, a sergeant reminiscent of Apone chided the enlisted marines, faithfully recreating the film’s banter. Soon, the perspective shifted outside, delivering an shots of the U.S.S. Sulaco, as it crept through space. Ears perked up as the game delivered the same ominous reverberations heard in the film, foreshadowing an imminent threat.
Sound played a vital role in the first two films of the Alien franchise, from the quickening ping of a motion tracker to the searing staccato of a pulse rifle. Colonial Marines maliciously recreated every effect in sumptuous surround sound, with the hiss of each Alien sounding magnificently malevolent. Vigilantly, the game’s graphics showed nearly the same attention to detail, rendering a post-disaster colony with impressive fidelity. The title’s lighting was particularly impressive, illuminating key scenic elements, while obscuring antagonists in darkened recesses. Aliens moved with both determination and menace, their bodies displaying a onyx sheen. Strangely, any consequences caused by spilling acidic xeno blood was absent from the demo.
While the walkthrough obliterated any concerns about Gearbox’s ability to reconstruct the look and sound of Aliens, the presentation formed one uncertainly- how scripted the game would be. When the main player (a second co-operative participant was also shown) needed to place a sentry gun, Colonial Marines showed a single, highlighted location for the turret. Although Pitchford indicated gamers would be able to control forklifts and other equipment, the demo ended just as AI marines were claiming armaments against an incensed queen xeno.
The presentation’s sole departure from customary Alien lore came when a galloping enemy with a broad head protector charged the player. Although this triceritops-looking creature hasn’t been seen on film, Pitchford reassured the audience that most new objects grew from interviews with Ridley Scott and James Cameron, or sketches from creature and ship designers H.R. Giger and Syd Mead. This dedication to authenticity means the wait for Aliens: Colonial Marines‘ 2012 release date will be almost unbearable for eager space marines. Expect the title to land on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, as well as the Wii U.