One thing is certain. Development of Aliens: Colonial Marines has not been rushed. It was way back in December 2006 that Sega announced they had secured the rights from 20th Century Fox to develop Alien games and Gearbox was announced as the developer. That was almost six years ago now, and after numerous delays, including two announced in 2012 alone, the game is now scheduled for release in February 2012. Gearbox are a company that should need no introduction with franchises including Brothers in Arms and Borderlands to their credit - so hopes are high that this title also impresses.
Written by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle (who wrote episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Battlestar Galactica TV series), Aliens: Colonial Marines is the immediate sequel to the James Cameron's Aliens. The game begins with an ostensibly abandoned ship, the U.S.S. Sulaco, recovered in orbit around LV-426. Players lead a group of highly trained United States Colonial Marines as they board the deserted craft to uncover the fate of the crew. They will have to fight to survive unspeakable horrors and their own anxieties as they chase down the truth behind a galaxy-spanning deception that places humanity at the mercy of the most murderous and deadly species in the universe.
The action even heads to the surface of LV-426.
Playing the role of Cpl. Christopher Winter Aliens: Colonial Marines is a first person shooter, and just like the feature films will have considerable sci-fi and horror elements. Enemies will come in a variety of forms from the familiar Facehugger, Chestburster, the "Drone" from Alien, the "Warrior" and "Queen" aliens from Aliens, and the swift "Runner" from Alien 3. It's not just aliens however as players will also have to face Weyland-Yutani commandos and mercenaries.
Weapons will also be familiar to fans of the franchise with pulse rifles, flamethrowers, shotguns, RPG's, pistols and even sentry turrets available. Other familiar items appearing in the game include welding torches to seal doors and of course the motion tracker. As players progress through the game experience is earned and it's possible to unlock new skills, purchase upgrades for weapons or customise the look of your soldier.
Targeting an alien up head.
Of course multiplayer will be fully supported in the title with a variety of game modes not least of which will be a co-op mode which allows 2-players on a single console via split-screen, or 4-players online to worth through the game together.
It's not all friendly though as the game will also include a Team Deathmatch mode for up to 12-player s(six per side) as well as an 8-player objective based mode called Escape which sees the human team trying to make it to an extraction point, and the alien team trying to stop them. Other game modes will be revealed closer to the games launch in around four months’ time.
Gearbox will be hoping Aliens receives as much praise as their Borderlands titles.
Looking at the visuals (in the surrounding screenshots and video below) there is no doubt that this game fits into the Alien universe. Gearbox even employed concept artist Syd Mead, who worked on the feature films, to assist in designing parts of the Sulaco no seen in the feature film. The game uses the "Red Ring Engine" which is Unreal Engine 3 with a new renderer developed for the game by Gearbox. This new and improved engine is a real-time dynamic lighting and dynamic shadow system. This is especially critical in a game where lighting and shadows play an key element in building the tension and atmosphere.
The Aliens franchise is one of the most loved in cinematic history and while there have been a few great games based on the franchise in the past, this looks set to exceed previous efforts. Gearbox are a company that know what they're doing and with plenty of development time this game will hopefully be every bit as impressive as the feature films. Expect a release in February 2013.
Two trailers are available below, the first is an earlier trailer called "Suspense" and the second focuses on the multiplayer mode called "Escape". Enjoy...