Aliens: Colonial Marines

Alien Autopsy

Aliens: Colonial Marines makes a case for letting the Alien series die.

By Drew Toal • February 18, 2013

Toward the end of Aliens, the film on which Aliens: Colonial Marines is based, Sigourney Weaver’s character opts against a chance to escape because she feels she must go back and rescue a feral little girl who was the lone survivor of a colony decimated by “Xenomorphs,” the polite name for the giant acid-spewing cockroaches in humanity’s space ointment. She does this out of moral obligation. Likewise, the soldiers of Aliens: Colonial Marines are forever rhapsodizing about how no marine gets left behind. I tried to keep the space marines’ admirable perseverance and sense of duty in mind as I struggled through this interminable game.

Chronologically, Colonial Marines takes place shortly after the events of Aliens. Not only is the story a throwback to the 1986 sci-fi masterpiece, but the game’s design looks like it belongs back there too. Having just reviewed another space-horror entry featuring extra-terrestrial ’morphs run amok, I was struck by how the two games, despite their shared themes, look and feel like they belong on different generations of consoles, as far apart aesthetically as the Alien series’ LV-426 planet is to Earth.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

You control a jarhead sent to investigate the starship Sulaco—a familiar Aliens set piece. Suffice to say, things aren’t going so well over there. But have no fear. You have a large arsenal of generic, weapons with which to fire wildly, ’80s action-movie style—mostly because their aim is so poor—at Aliens creeping along the ceilings and mercenaries who work for a shadowy corporate monolith. These species-traitors give new meaning to the term “corporate raider,” and they are trying to stop you, I guess, from killing the Xenomorphs that Paul Reiser and Co. plan to exploit for fun and profit. Owing to a precise impreciseness in the controls, the defense contractors can be tough to kill. Fortunately, you can pick up “legendary” weapons, and the blast radius of Corporal Hicks’s shotgun helps mitigate some of the aiming problems. Pieces of GoldenEye-style body armor are also scattered about to keep you alive and prolong the misery.

The multiplayer mode comes in four flavors—Deathmatch (self-explanatory), Extermination (something about breaking a few Xenomorph eggs), Escape (self-explanatory), and Survivor, where a small band of marines must hold a position against swarms of other players moonlighting as aliens. The game is better suited to the relatively simple goals and mercifully backstory-free nature of multiplayer, but even climbing the walls and eviscerating hapless Bill Paxton clones proves disappointingly limited.

The only good things to come out of this misbegotten space odyssey are the GIFs and videos inspired by the game’s glitchy mechanics. The scope of the mess comes home on a particular level that begins after you’ve been captured by an Alien—disarmed, stuck to the wall, and saved for later like leftover lo mein. After getting free, you’re forced to escape through tunnels while avoiding hungry space monsters. At this point, you can’t defend yourself, and as you wander around in the flickering substratum of the colony, Xenomorphs pop through the ceiling, waving their claws about and making with the scary. It’s not clear whether they can hurt you. The atmosphere is akin to a particularly sad haunted house in South Jersey.

The story has some inconsistencies. For instance, wasn’t this Alien colony destroyed in a thermonuclear blast at the conclusion of Aliens? And I’m pretty sure the android, Bishop, was rent asunder by the colony’s queen around the same time, but he appears to be hale, hearty, and whole in Colonial Marines. These canonical quibbles wouldn’t much matter if the design team hadn’t been asleep at the wheel, but as it stands, they only serve to reinforce the cynical, neglectful awfulness that is Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

But is the developer totally to blame? What if the source material just isn’t that great anymore—or, at least, has been taken as far as it can go? When Alien was released back in 1979, it was cutting-edge stuff. These creatures, every inch of them a murderous nightmare, felt just as deadly when you couldn’t see them. As Ripley (Weaver’s character) flew away from the nuked colony at the end of the sequel, everything that needed to be said regarding corporate greed, atmospheric space horror, and indigestion was pretty well taken care of. But the series proved resilient, and soon enough sequels featuring Charles S. Dutton (TV’s Rock) and Wynona Ryder appeared on the big screen. Two more followed, seeking to capitalize on the crossover appeal of pitting Aliens against another unfriendly E.T.

What if the Alien—decades removed from the mind of surrealist designer H.R. Giger—has just lost its ability to terrify? Even Alien director Ridley Scott appeared hesitant to recommit to the series—his 2012 film Prometheus was only a sort-of prequel to the original films. It’s possible that Scott had an inkling of his creation being rendered impotent by its ubiquity. Surely fans of the series—not to mention all thinking human beings—deserve a better game than this, but at this point, recapturing the original magic could prove impossible.

Aliens: Colonial Marines
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: Sega
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Price: $60
Rating: M

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79 Responses to “Alien Autopsy”

  1. Fluka says:

    I think all of the terrible, terrible reviews of this game have failed to point out one redeeming part of this game: it’s dedication, like Deus Ex and Dishonored, to providing the viable choice of a non-violent play style.  Just think: that xenomorph you’re heartlessly killing might be a law-abiding citizen and parent when they’re not trying to rip open your acid-softened face with their secondary jaw!  They’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    The universe sensed a lowered level of internet memes, and lo, Alien: Colonial Marines was born.

    • Zack Handlen says:

      “Hi? Hello? Look, you guys seem to be lost, let me just point you in the right–oh, oh gosh, I’m sorry, I forgot how freakin’ long my arms are, and those are definitely claws on my fingers, can’t imagine how I forgot those. And I cut myself shaving and I guess the toilet paper melted off, so you may have got a bit of my blood on you, which, ah, appears to be burning through your skin. Um. Did I get your face? Oh, it’s all bloody; well, look, I don’t want my hands getting anywhere near your eyes, we don’t want a repeated of the claw incident ha-ha, so, okay, I know this is a little gross, but I’m just going to lick the gunk off so you can see better. Hold still, it won’t take a–Oh! Oh dear. Oh, oh dear, that’s me, that’s totally my fault. I mean, having a second mouth on my tongue, that’s really something I should be aware of 24/7, but it’s just so dark and lonely down here, and we Xenomorphs are not, on the whole, a talkative bunch. ‘Hey Ted, how’s the tongue mouth going for you?’ It just doesn’t flow, you see. But now you do appear to have a rather significant open space in your, in your skull. Yes, there there where the skully bits should be, just a lot of goo. But I can still hear you whimpering (where the hell are my ears, by the way? Beats me!), so you’re not dead, and where there’s life, there’s hope, as my mother use to say before I burst out of her chest and proved her right. What I’m going to do is, I’m going to wrap you up in some gunk, no worries, it’s all very organic, very natural, and then I’ll get you up on this wall, make sure all the blood is flowing right, and hopefully, one of your friends will come along and notice you. Hey, I think I see one now! Hello! Hello! Hm. I’m waving, he doesn’t seem to notice. Look, I’m just going to climb up on the wall there, see if I can’t get his attention. Oh, and if you’re cold, that eggy-thing in front of you will make you a face warmer. Smiles!”

  2. Bad Horse says:

    His father always wanted him to become a soldier, but that alien always just wanted to be a song and dance man.

  3. valondar says:

    Besides the saturation of below par Aliens franchise entries, the other problem for Aliens is well… its many, many imitators. That it was released on the heels of Dead Space 3 sort of underlines that, but the omnipresent FPS narrative cliche of the badass space marine blasting away at some safely nonhuman menace (‘toughest space trooper to ever suck vacuum’, to use a certain game’s precise words) owes a lot to James Cameron’s film. Just to cite a less mentioned example: 1993’s Space Hulk, a game set in the Warhammer 40k universe where you play as marines charging around abandoned starships killing aliens and other monstrosities.

    And on the other hand, the actual extent of the setting people are interested in is fairly limited. Hence a game that revived a planet that had been blown up. This isn’t a fast open space universe like Mass Effect where we can just go see what humans and aliens are doing on Exciting Locale X. It’s humans in grimy spaceships and abandoned facilities, and also there are aliens. It’s a powerful set of settings for two movies but to endlessly recycle them in games is a bit samey.

    • KidvanDanzig says:

      It’s ironic because the Aliens setting is probably its strongest element. It provides a perfect contrast to the clean and idyllic (read: boring) human futures of Start Trek and the like. Alien is all about space truckers being exploited by their lawless bosses and chased by a space monster in a space haunted house. There are no space truckers in the Mass Effect universe. 

      Aliens kept the corporate exploitation theme but expanded the haunted house element to a Roanoke scenario, which was smart. The most ingenious thing about it, that which none of its legion of descendants have bothered to replicate, is its disruption of viewer expectation. Like in the first film, the people you think are going to be most important die in pretty short order, but unlike the first film we actually expect the characters to give as good as they take, and that sense of misfortune and doom is what makes it an effective horror-thriller in addition to a seminal actioner.

      Really it feels like all of the properties’ stewards (excepting maybe David Fincher’s famously troubled production) have only really paid attention to the space marine action element and wasted the Lovecraftian / body horror elements of the series as cheap shock.

      Unrelated: System Shock 2 came out last week and it’s a real love letter to the horror elements of the Alien franchise. The constant thrum of the Von Braun’s engine is the crux of the game’s atmosphere and it’s lifted more or less wholesale from Alien. Best survival horror game ever made.

      • Halloween_Jack says:

        There are no space truckers in the Mass Effect universe.

        There are; in fact, there are real trucks as well as cargo ships (trucks provide some of the best cover in the Kasumi Goto DLC), but they don’t play a major part in the playing experience, because that would be boring. The problem with being a space trucker in a typical space opera is that, when the shit goes down, they aren’t very well equipped to deal with it, which of course is exactly what happened in the first Alien film; in the second, the space-trucking aspect is limited mostly to Ripley and her exoskeleton lifter at the end. 

        Also, of course, if you think that the Trek universe is uniformly “clean and idyllic”, then you should check out DS9. (There are a few other episodes scattered throughout the rest of the franchise, such as “Mudd’s Women”, that show the less military, spic-and-span side of the Federation.) There’s a DS9 episode in which Dukat (the main antagonist of the series) has been demoted to being a freighter captain; when he manages to capture a Klingon Bird of Prey, and is ordered to turn it over to the government, his basic response is, are you fuckin’ kidding me?

    • Eco1970 says:

      What ‘other monstrosities’ feature in Space Hulk? It’s Space Marines vs Genestealers, nothing else.

  4. HobbesMkii says:

    Did you say earlier that you pre-ordered this, Drew?

    • George_Liquor says:

      This–THIS is why I never preorder a damn videogame!

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        I don’t preorder games because $60 is too much money for a video game.

        • beema says:

          I pre-ordered Borderlands 2 because it was $30 at GMG. But yeah, probably never doing it again. I’ve always felt it was a ridiculous thing to do. 

        • Halloween_Jack says:

          I learned my lesson with preorders on Mass Effect 3 and Diablo III. I preordered the former because I loved ME2 with a passion that worried even me, and I wanted the collector’s edition, which was actually a little difficult to get for the 360. I enjoyed some of the extras (like being able to mediate a summit of the galaxy’s major powers while wearing a hoodie), but the Art of Mass Effect 3 book that came with the special edition contained a spoiler for one of the squad members (EDI), and although I eventually learned to love the game, warts and all, the changes that they made in it led me to leave it mostly unplayed for several months. 

          Neither ME3 nor D3 were bad enough to justify all the nerdrage that they received, but for all that I played them, I may as well have waited a few months and saved some money.

      • I usually only pre-order a game if it’s from an established pedigree that I know I’ll buy even if the reviews are universally terrible.  

        I’ve never been completely burned by a pre-order (“Final Fantasy XIII” came close, but I was used to being disappointed by Final Fantasy games at that point. It was a voluntary assumption of risk.)

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          The last game I pre-ordered was Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.

          Offense taken, Square Enix. Offense. Taken.

    • Fluka says:

      Re pre-orders: I hope you all learned a valuable lesson!

      • valondar says:

        You’d think that, but Resident Evil 6 is currently in Steam’s top ten sellers.

      • beema says:

        The whole situation is nuts. Good vid:

        Then yesterday, Bungie releases some sketches of concept art from their upcoming game, minutes later pre-orders go up. Now, Bungie does have some trust garnered based on its previous efforts (for fans of Halo, in any case), but still — buying something based solely on a couple sketches? Fucking Sketches? This industry is out of hand. That should be illegal. 

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      Coincidentally, the only game I ever pre-ordered was The Abyss: Experimental Submersible Oil Drilling Platform SEALs, and all you did in that game was shut doors to sever alien water tentacles. It was pretty good.

      • Captain Internet says:

        It wouldn’t be the first thing I’ve substituted with a Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio mini-game nudge wink etc etc

  5. Cloks says:

    First link just points to itself. Might want to fix that.

  6. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    If I recall correctly (which I may not, someone correct me otherwise), there was more than one Bishop android anyway, wasn’t there?  Or was there just the real person and the android?  I don’t know for sure.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      Michael Bishop (who claims to be the creator of Bishop) appears at the end of Alien 3. He is also played by Lance Henriksen.

      • Owen says:

        Aaaaaand Henriksen appeared again in Aliens Vs. Predator as Charles Bishop Yutani (I looked it up on imdb, even with all the garbage that I store in my brain I have my limits) so either he’s an immortal being who visits any time we come in contact with the aliens (you know, for shits and giggles) or at that point no one really cared.

  7. I like that shitty AAA games exist because I get to read reviews that just trounce them into the ground.  I get a weird sense of joy out of this.

  8. George_Liquor says:

    It’s a different Bishop android in the game, which at least makes some sense. The original’s bisected body can be found lying on the Sulaco’s flight deck. However spoilers, I… I guess:

    In addition to the Hadley’s Hope colony being miraculously de-nuked, Hicks himself, aka the only goddamn Space Marine in the movie who actually made it off the planet, shows up too. There’s a tossed-off line of dialog that explains he was captured, but not what happened to Newt or Ripley. 

    How many ‘fuck you, fans’ can they cram into a game? I get that they waved away the last two films in the series, and that’s fine, but they also waved away the final act of Aliens because they were too lazy to come up with their own characters and locations. 

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      That’s a question for poop-smeared Sartre.
      “If a storyline is revealed and no one cares, is it a spoiler?”

    • hastapura says:

      Wait so what happened with Hicks? Pretty sure I read this was canon…as that goes. He was captured from the cryopod but escaped to return to the same pod and then die?? Or is this before they escape? But they mention the team from Aliens having come and gone?


    • Halloween_Jack says:

      See, I could imagine them coming up with some reason for Apone and Dietrich (the sergeant and the medic) still being alive in the game, since they were still alive after being grabbed by the xenomorphs, if they somehow both escaped being facehugged and managed to free themselves and found some amazingly convenient and fast transport away from the air processor/multimegaton nuke. Hey, it’s a space opera! Crazy shit happens. But Hicks? Did they retcon away his death just for the shotgun? (It also makes me wonder if Biehn got paid, since he famously got paid for Alien 3 after being cut out of the script.) 

  9. Effigy_Power says:

    I have to admit that I get a certain amount of amusement out of this. The game sounded like CoD in Space and that’s pretty much what people got, and less.
    Now, I generally enjoy bad reviews… the only reason anyone watches “Zero Punctuation” must be that same desire to see something thoroughly smeared. But when developers outsource creativity, assemble completely misleading demos for the press and critics, flatout lie to their buyers (a la WarZ) and so on, then every bit of shitty press gives me a little twinkle in my eye.
    It represents that despite the often low standards of the gaming industry, despite hundreds of titles similar enough to be facsimiles almost to a legal standpoint, despite all the fakey jingoism injected, there are certain kinds of shit that you just can’t get away with.
    Even if the gaming-press often still goes way too easy on a crap-fest like this (Kotaku gave this game 3 out of 5 stars after a giant article of contras and a single pro segment on the multitude of guns), the market and the buyers will damn this thing to hell, where it belongs, just to resurface 8 months from now on Steam for $10.

    If you fuck up in this industry, the consumer is really the only one capable of punishing you. Bad press and bad marketing can hurt, but all too often the really zealous type of fanboy will overlook those things. In this case it seems even the most devout of Alien-fans are turning away from a buggy, unfinished, ugly turd, thus giving it what it deserves. That, the consequence of shitty work being financial loss, brings a smile to my face, because it’s the only way companies can be made to understand.

    Unless this crapfest of course ends up making its money back… which I can still see happening.

    • ComradePig says:

       Spot on encapsulation of the gaming industry, couldn’t put it better myself.

      Regrettably, based on the Steam sales charts it seems as though the game made a tidy sum on launch based on brand name and early hype alone. There’s a few people at work who pre-ordered it and they don’t sound particularly pleased.

      Thankfully, with the overwhelmingly negative reviews and  word-of-mouth I imagine sales will drop off dramatically in short order.

    • Captain Internet says:

      For what it’s worth, Aliens: Colonial Marines is currently top of the UK charts, and I’m willing to bet it’ll be the same in the US too.

    • beema says:

      But they did get away with it. To an extent. The game is selling reasonably well. The majority of people buying games don’t keep up with gaming/industry news (although I guess that begs the question, would those people feel swindled, having never paid attention to the original lies?)

      • Effigy_Power says:

        They really do… it’s too bad, because Jim Sterling’s video about Preordering on Escapist rings true… we are being sold untested material before it’s even finished in order to be rewarded with items that aren’t extra, but would usually just have been in the game.
        When even a good company like Bioware (though it reeks of an EA decision) would withhold an essential part of their campaign for anyone but preorders, it appears more like blackmail than a reward.
        And yet people eat it up… How badly does a game have to fail people to end this? If Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem weren’t bad enough, then what is?

        • ComradePig says:

          Although I think the onus for the current state of gaming lay overwhelmingly on the actions of  publishers, there’s simply no avoiding the sad fact that gamers sustain the movement toward less content at a greater cost to the player by being, by and large, extremely undiscerning customers.

          Even if the critical and community response to a product is largely negative, it’s very rare for a AAA title to outright flop from a financial perspective. Publishers can of course count on the casual audience who doesn’t think passionately about games to buy such titles but what is also problematic is that so will  “gamers”.

          This might be a sweeping generalization but I feel as though this is a problem with a lot of so described “nerdy” hobbies. There seems to be an incredible willingness in certain nerd communities to pay exorbitant amounts of money for poor products so as long as it fills a given niche. Star Wars is the poster child of this.

          Likewise, although gamers might moan and complain ceaselessly about on-disc DLC or ‘Premium’ memberships for non-MMO titles, there is absolutely no reason for the publisher to change their behavior because gamers keep giving in and spending their money on content that ought to be in the game to begin with.

          I honestly have no idea how to reverse the trend beyond the publishers simply reaching a certain monetary threshold where consumers just won’t care to pay it. The proliferation of the free-to-play, AAA-farmville model of gaming seems to be becoming the norm though, and if keeps on that way it’s going to be awful for the coming years of gaming.

          On the positive end, ‘indie’ gaming has seen tremendous growth in recent years and I think a lot of serious gamers are starting to gravitate that way in response to current trends.

  10. Vervack says:

    Gotta admit, guys, I’m feeling the teensiest bit of schadenfreude over the reaction to this game. I really enjoyed Prometheus, particularly for how it referenced and reinterpreted elements from the original Alien to make something new, and I’ve been rather disheartened over the fact that that movie has become an internet punching bag (particularly since I find a lot of the criticism to be petty and wrong-headed). So seeing this game, which seems to be the epitome of what Aliens fans want out of the franchise, completely fail at everything is just so wonderful.

    Still, curiousity got the better of me, and I looked at some gameplay videos on YouTube and I was surprised by how uninvolving it was. There was nothing really interesting about the setting or any innovations in the gameplay, even on the gimmick level. It’s just A Game. It’s there. You shoot things. The end.

    • ApesMa says:

      Agreed about Prometheus, I think it’s one of the most misunderstood and unfairly maligned movies I’ve ever seen. Though you might be happy to know that in the real world most people actually liked it. The internet nerdrage shitstorm is not at all representative.

      Almost all of the so-called “plot-holes” and stupidities are quite easily explained if you pay attention and actually bother to think about it for a while, which is clearly what Scott wants you to do.

  11. Brian says:

    Charles S. Dutton was not TV’s Rock, he was TV’s Roc.  Man I hope someone lost their job for that one.

  12. Cornell_University says:

    Kind of a bummer that perpetually cash strapped, mismanaged Sega kept Aliens as one of it’s flagship franchises while scuttling tons of other games. I’m sure it would be a better experience if there was some way to install an external cartridge drive to your existing system or something.  FOCUS, GUYS.

  13. Cornell_University says:

    I would however play the hell out of an open world or RPG Aliens game, assuming there’s a side quest where you can travel back in time and stop David Fincher from making Alien 3.

  14. ferrarimanf355 says:

    Sega should give up the Aliens license, give it back to Fox, get the Ferrari license back, and make a new OutRun game.

    If it’s one thing Sega constantly does right, it’s arcade racers.


    we waited almost 5 years for this POS

  16. Sarapen says:

    In the movie, wasn’t “xenomorph” some bullshit military bureaucracy term for possible hostile aliens that may or may not exist? “What the fuck’s a xenomorph?” as Hudson asked. From the way the Colonial Marines conducted themselves I think they were mostly expecting something mundane, like a space rabbit infestation or even a colonial mutiny, which is to say that they were willing and prepared to shoot some juicy colonists’ daughters in the head.

  17. KidvanDanzig says:

    The excursion to LV-426 is a baffling retcon, but the Bishop android is one of several, and apparently when you enter the Sulaco you can find the movie Bishop’s severed lower half on the ground, so.

    From the ~unconfirmed reports~, SEGA fucked this one up. Gearbox isn’t the brightest… box, but allegedly they had several years of work put into the game (resulting in the pretty decent-looking demo reel that is obviously nothing like the finished product) but SEGA took it away from them and gave it to… Timegate? And those guys unceremoniously deleted most of Gearbox’s work and started from scratch. When it was kicked back to Gearbox they rigged up the multiplayer and, knowing that SEGA was a hair’s breadth from suing them, finalized the game knowing it was terrible. Shitty for them. There are way too many publishers out there who are solvent enough to hoard properties and stay afloat, but not solvent enough to support a well-made game. Maybe gamers will reap the benefits of THQ’s demise, in that respect.

    Really the worst thing about A:CM is that it was kept alive at the expense of an Aliens RPG that, from what little was made public, was turning out to be pretty interesting. It was going to be sort of a System Shock homage complete with a psychotic AI (in place of the skeezy company man). All we have is concept art, some VERY early alpha footage, and some later-stage animations, which were just released today, actually –

    The lead also had some character renderings –

    The one upside is that the Aliens cancellation led more or less directly into Obsidian signing on for Fallout New Vegas. Sort of hoping that their unannounced (allegedly Cryengine 3-utilizing) game is a sci-fi one.

  18. beema says:

    I think I’m already so filled-up on the A:CM catastrophe that I can’t be bothered to even care about this review (no offense). I’ve read like 5 different reviews and 10 different articles on it, and everything that is wrong with it. It was pretty fun to take in all the hate for a while, since this industry is often so prone to ass-kissing. This game was a like a zeitgeist of fan hate and ill-will towards Gearbox. Have you guys been following the stories around it, like all the devs coming out and posting about the completely fucked up development?

    Oh, and the Xbox version erases your save files. It keeps getting better!

    I’ll just link to my comment elsewhere to show how I feel about this game at this point:

    I think it has been a bit of an eye-opener (one I hope people don’t immediately forget, as this industry is wont to do) in buying in to all the pre-release bullshit fed to us by publishers. Have you guys seen the demo/actual game comparison videos? They blew my mind. Jim Sterling has officially sworn off of covering game previews over this.  I’ve completely lost faith in Gearbox. Which stings because not too long ago I had enough faith in them that I pre-ordered Borderlands 2, something I literally never do. I’m almost shocked that this is even the same company, but after reading through the various exposes, it makes a lot of sense. 

    Yes, Gearbox is to blame. They are to blame for atrocious project-management. They are to blame for straight up LYING to people about the product. Misleading fans and taking in their money for something they never made or intended to make. 

    Practices like this, among others, are leading this industry to a very dark place, and most people are just rolling over and letting them. 

    • KidvanDanzig says:

      I guess I have to put my faith in game previews now, because if there’s one unerring truth about Jim Sterling it’s that everything he says and does is wrong.

      FWIW I really do think that SEGA shares at least half the blame for this. Now Duke Nukem Forever, if that didn’t put your Gearbox faith in crisis then nothing will. I didn’t really like Borderlands at all (not a big Diablo fan, ergo) so from my perspective they’ve never made anything better than passable and a good amount of their work is actively terrible.

      • beema says:

        Wondering if you could explain yourself on that Jim Sterling comment. I love him. Probably my favorite reviewer out there and I find that I share his opinions nearly 100% of the time. 
        SEGA shares SOME blame, but not half, not by a long shot. It sounds like Gearbox was stringing them along for the cash to support Borderlands. They probably should have done more to pry in to Gearbox’s development and get the whip cracking, but I’m not sure what else they could have done besides break the contract.

        I find this situation to be very different than Duke Nukem. Also a terrible game with many similar issues, but afaik there was no blatant lying involved. That’s what sets the A:CM fiasco apart. 

        • KidvanDanzig says:

          Re Jim Sterling: Jimquisition, culture warrior bullshit. The Glenn Beck of fedora people. He probably thinks of himself more as a Chris Hitchens, which is funny. Come to think of it, Randy Pitchford’s not much better.

          As far as Gearbox goes, I suppose that it’s possible that they were robbing Peter to pay Paul with regard to A:CM and Borderlands, but when Aliens: Crucible was canceled and A:CM was indefinitely postponed, it seemed equal parts due to SEGA’s financial apocalypse (indeed, not long after they publicly pledged to cease all gaming operations not related to a small handful of franchises, including Aliens) and some reported development trouble. Crucible had suffered from similar problems, but was more than a year from completion and wasn’t an FPS, so it got the axe. SEGA was in a major hole.

          Whether or not Gearbox actively deceived the public and the press is harder for me to believe, the story that circulated of SEGA handing the game (as it existed when the demo was made) off to a cut-rate port studio that gutted it seems more likely, as that sort of thing is definitely not unheard of, and their treatment of Alpha Protocol around the same time was pretty poor as well.

          So we’ve got a Rashomon thing going on here. I can definitely believe that Gearbox royally fucked up, perhaps on more than one occasion, but there’s no doubt in my mind that SEGA’s decisions and financial difficulties were a major part of the game’s development hell period at the very least. Also keep in mind that QA is traditionally the responsibility of publishers, though perhaps the wounds were too great to patch over (no pun intended).

          In any event, everyone who put this out knew what they had. The real story probably isn’t Daikatana-level insane, but it’s probably close.

        • beema says:

          @KidvanDanzig:disqus I have no idea what “the glenn beck of fedora people” means, and I have only the vaguest idea who Chris Hitchens is. So none of that explained it to me. Having followed him on Facebook, twitter, various blogs and his podcast, I don’t think he thinks of himself as any sort of profound voice of change or anything. His whole “thank god for me” shtick mocks exactly that. Sometimes he gets a bit ridiculous, and hyperbole is his middle name, but I still support the sentiment of his pieces. As far as addressing cultural issues, he’s not breaking new ground, but that’s not the point really. But as a bisexual atheist British guy living in the deep south, his view on things is interesting to hear. I think it’s nice to have an outspoken person such as himself in gaming media, since there are so very few people like that.

      • evanwaters says:

         With DNF they had the excuse that the game was mostly done and they were effectively packaging and shipping what the late 3D Realms had made.

        To release one famously bad game is unfortunate, to release two is more troubling.

  19. ApesMa says:

    “It’s possible that Scott had an inkling of his creation being rendered impotent by its ubiquity” – Absolutely. Here’s a quote from an interview:

    EGE: Final question. I have a feeling what the answer will be, but many want to know. Will we see the original xenomorph in Prometheus?

    RS: No. Absolutely not. They squeezed it dry. He (the xenomorph) did very well. (He laughs) He survived, he’s now in Disneyland in Orlando, and no way am I going back there. How did he end up in Disneyland? I saw him in Disneyland, Jesus Christ!