OXCGN Invades Aliens: Colonial Marines’ Event
Express elevator to hell?
©2012 Nicholas Laborde
It’s hard to ignore the overarching influence that Aliens (1986) has had on media, especially video games.
OXCGN attended an international press event for Gearbox’s upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines, a canonical sequel to the film.
At the beginning of the presentation, CEO of Gearbox Randy Pitchford opened with this: “We’ve been stealing from Aliens our entire lives.”
SEGA teamed up with Gearbox to rock downtown Dallas, but was the game looking truly great, or was it “how do I get out of this chickens**t outfit”, or even worse, “game over, man” ?
They’re using the vents!
I entered this building, and was greeted with a room whose floor was covered in fog. Our badges were on a desk to the left, and nice non-disclosure agreements were right next to them, near stacks of papers containing large, bold lettering informing us of the embargo date.
Immediately to the right was an elevator, completely decked out like the one from the film. We all piled into it, and the door clanked shut. Everyone was strangely quiet. (I guess there isn’t any fun allowed in other countries?) [Ed: Maybe they were thinking "Hey, whoopty-f****in'-do. I'm impressed" or "I'm ready man, check it out. I am the ultimate badass! State-of-the-badass-art!"? (Sorry couldn't resist.)]
The ascent began.
After a brief ride, we were on the second floor, greeted by a room full of staff dressed like Colonial Marines. But it wasn’t time for food or drinks; it was time to scope out the venue, and maintain my greatest journalistic composure by not smiling like an idiot the entire time.
That composure was immediately broken by the fact that after turning a corner, you were greeted by the actual prop of the alien Queen from Aliens. I stared at it for at least ten minutes.
A giant brick wall that was the side of the elevator shaft had a Marine body hanging from it, and a flashing light coming from the window. After hearing how much fun the event was, our editor David Hilton assumed that it was me. [Ed: I assumed you'd be the one that would be dragged away screaming by the aliens first....]
While the Queen stole the show, the rest of the venue was fully decorated in Aliens fashion. The center stage bore giant Aliens: Colonial Marines logos.
In the far back were two rows of computers where Gearbox employees were facing off against the journalists in multiplayer.
Next to the elevator were guns from the movie, sitting in their case for all to gander at and be jealous of.
A station with a green screen was nestled in the back of the eating area, and staff were on hand with prop guns from the film and a camera.
You stood there with the guns, did something for roughly five seconds, and then a flip book was printed out showing what you just did. For lack of a more refined description, it was plain awesome.
After taking in all of the surroundings, I found a chair in the seating area, as the presentation was beginning. The chairs for the presentation were typical cot attire, as the Marines in the film would be accustomed to.
When I sat down, I found that they were somewhat uncomfortable. After all, it was quite dark and I had to stumble over a few other journalists to grab one of the last free seats.
While I was pondering why the seats were so uncomfortable, a Russian journalist to my left tapped my shoulder, and in his best English said “You are sitting on goody bag.”
Then, I came to discover that “goody bag” was quite the understatement; it was an entire duffel bag of stuff. [Ed: Phewf. I was a bit worried there...sitting on a Russian's 'goodie bag' isn't ideal...]
The bag comprised all four movies in the Alien saga on bluray, a Marine hat and hoodie, facehugger and xenomorph bandannas, and all in a duffel bag that says Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Game over man, game over!
The show began with Randy Pitchford entering the stage, and discussing with ardent fervor all that Gearbox has done to get to this point with Colonial Marines. He’s one of those industry icons that you can’t listen to and not instantly become enthralled as he speaks.
He was then joined by another owner of Gearbox, Brian Martel, and several other members of the company, all of whom said a few short words whilst being interviewed by another employee (who was taunted as being Dr. House).
What was showcased was a new section fairly early on in the game, revolving around the main character reaching other stranded Marines by traversing narrow corridors and destroyed rooms.
The gameplay was frantic, eerie, and vastly absorbing. Aliens: Colonial Marines nails atmosphere perfectly, which is no easy task. I haven’t seen a game with atmosphere this well-executed since Metro 2033.
From the intricate AI behavior of the enemies to the top-notch sound design, Colonial Marines looks to capture the mind of the player and absolutely terrify them… and that’s not a bad thing.
Visually speaking, Colonial Marines is breathtaking. There’s a special new lighting technique that Gearbox is using for the game, where lighting is dynamically occurring; it’s not “pre-baked” as Randy Pitchford described it.
It complements the mood in a subtle yet fantastic way, and makes the game that much more technologically impressive.
Quite possibly one of the best aspects of the game is, again, the fact that it’s the sequel to Aliens. In the beginning of the demonstration, the player passed the lower half of synthetic character Ripley, right where he was when the film ended.
After the presentation, the hands-on began, but this time it got personal in multiplayer versus.
As previously mentioned, the playtime consisted of Gearbox employees on one team (the Xenomorphs) versus the journalists (the Marines). Multiple modes will exist within the full title, but this time we were faced with a bit of classic Team Deathmatch.
The multiplayer game manages to capture the atmosphere of the single player component, but amping up the franticness along the way.
Sticking with your teammates is absolutely necessary, else you’ll be decimated in a snap by a ravenous alien. If you’re anything like me, you’ve imagine yourself, at one point or another, as a Marine from the film.
You’re sticking close with your squad, and while your quest is in fact a bug hunt… you are ultimately vying for survival. Colonial Marines captures this vibe perfectly, and rewards players who stick together.
While what we were presented with was only a small taste of the game, it was enough to whet the petite. It’s safe to say that Aliens: Colonial Marines will easily stand up in the multiplayer department, a worthy feat in today’s clustered market.
Get away from her…
If you put aside the fact that it’s the canonical sequel to Aliens, Colonial Marines impresses from every angle with tight controls, impressive tech, fluid and intuitive gameplay, and unrivaled atmosphere.
I was immediately left wanting more, and that’s saying a lot considering I wasn’t expecting much less than a month ago; now, I’m telepathically attempting to discern the game’s release date.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is currently slated for a Fall 2012 release on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.