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Aliens: Colonial Marines-- What Went Wrong?


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#1 RakaiThwei

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 09:43 PM

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“The game that everyone can’t stop talking about!”

A line paraphrased from one of the commercials about one of the most hyped gaming releases of 2013, and while that statement is indeed true— it’s not exactly the kind of talking that either Twentieth Century Fox, Sega or even Gearbox wants to hear from the fans or gaming critics. As a matter of fact that there is something of a major controversy regarding this particular entry within the Alien franchise, major complaints have been made from both hardcore ALIEN fans and casual gamers alike regarding this particular title.

Aliens: Colonial Marines was a game that has been stuck in development for a little more than over a decade. It was originally supposed to be released for the Playstation 2 and the XBox but at the time the developers had kept on putting delays out on the game until they had finally decided to whatever reason, cancel the game. Screenshots had been released and gaming magazines like Game Pro and Game Informer also discussed what the game was going to entail and a potential release. The game would never see release, or even made mention of until it was discussed again in 2006 by the same gaming publisher at the time. Little to no word on the game’s release or even details about what the game was going to feature was ever stated, and it had been cancelled yet again.

A few years later, SEGA had announced that if their collaboration with Rebellion for 2010’s Aliens vs Predator 3 was going to be sucessful— that they were going to pick up the Colonial Marines title. And as fate would have it, SEGA had kept their word and were well on their way to working with Twentieth Century Fox and Gearbox to create one of the most hyped up and looked forward to titles in the ALIEN franchise. To make it even more looked forward to, Fox was going to be treating the game as a movie, rather than Expanded Universe material (which was a pointless statement considering that Fox treats the EU as canon anyway). Cast members of James Cameron’s ALIENS were signed onto the project, collaborations with concept artist from ALIENS were attached to the project, visits to the set of Prometheus were paid to when Ridley Scott was filming the spin-off movie. Gearbox and SEGA had a lot of the lore to work with.

We were even shown demonstrations of what Aliens: Colonial Marines was going to look like and how it would even play. Fans were more than hyped to get their hands on this game and actually add it to the lore. Promises looked like that they were about to be fulfilled and this was the sequel to ALIENS that every fan who has hated ALIEN 3 wanted. It seemed as if SEGA and Gearbox had achieved something great from the demonstrations which they presented at E3 and Comic-con. It looked like something which was about to blow our minds… Gearbox seemingly fulfilled their promises.

….So what went wrong?

I have actually played ALIENS: Colonial Marines, and while I am indeed a fan of the Alien/Predator franchise and have great knowledge of the Alien/Predator universe and the three different lores which go with the three franchises… There was an underwhelming feeling about game. Like I said, I consider myself a fan of the Alien/Predator universe and know quite a deal about he lore and the three different continuities. I know a lot of the ins and outs… But as a casual gamer— this was a pretty underwhelming game. I do not even know where to even begin…

Let’s start with the title, ALIENS: Colonial Marines. A lot of reviewers out there have said that we were promised an ALIENS game, our main enemy was supposed to be the Xenomorphs which had been running rampant on the USS Sulaco and of course, Hadley’s Hope on LV-426. Instead, the Xenomorphs are taken the passenger seat and the real enemy is none other than the evil mega-corporation, Weyland-Yutani. While Weyland-Yutani has always been a major antagonist of the ALIEN and even the Aliens vs Predator franchise, the Xenomorphs took a back seat and the major enemies were none other than Weyland-Yutani mercenaries. This was a major complaint I have heard, and something I have gripes with. To me I felt like I was playing your basic FPS Shoot’em Up game, and nothing which had the terrifying, claustrophobic feel of James Cameron’s ALIENS.

Another issue with the game is it’s Artificial Intelligence, or rather lack of AI. This was something that I have come to notice as well, be it with the Xenomorphs, the Weyland-Yutani mercenaries or even so much as the NPC Colonial Marines who help you in the missions. And the enemies are seemingly relatively easy to kill. The Xenomorphs weren’t stealthy, nor were they seeking ways to get around your line of fire— instead they were simply charging forward to your line of fire. Also, Weyland-Yutani mercenaries were easy to kill, especially when you focus your firing and take them out from a distance, or hide behind some cover. NPC allie Colonial Marines are pretty dumb too, while they are there to ease the burden of the Xenomorph infestation and Weyland-Yutani mercenaries— they are pretty much next to useless and it would be better to play campaign mode with another player online. Also, Marine NPCs would get stuck in a corner for five minutes, and then they would be teleported to where you had moved off to. The AI is simply terrible.

The game play is mediocre at best. It took me quite a while to figure out how to work certain weapons, and how to deploy certain weapons as well. Also, it didn’t help that in order to gain health and ammunition items, one had to stand at a certain angel just to have the mechanics work. Also, while I did like the idea of using scopes and focus to increase your accuracy to fire, and the ability to purchase upgrades for weapons— I didn’t like the fact that there was no ability for your Marine character to defend against Xenomorph attacks. Your only defense was a melee offense, and even then it served little good as you could barely hit the Xenomorphs to push them away from you. If you were to compare the Marine gameplay from Rebellion’s Aliens vs Predator 3, to ALIENS: Colonial Marines— the Marine Gameplay from AvP3 is simply, far, far more superior to what we have gotten in ALIENS: Colonial Marines.

And then there are issues with the story. While actually playing the game, at first I had found no issues with it but upon researching and reading up on forums from other ALIENS fans, there are some continuity issues with the game’s storyline. For starters— LV-426, or rather the colony settlement known as Hadley’s Hope. ALIENS had established that the colony was destroyed from a blast radius that equaled about to forty megatons (I watched ALIENS again last night). However for the most part, the strucural integrity of Hadley’s Hope and even their power supply somehow seemed to be working still— while the colony was in shambles, it looked nothing like a forty megaton explosion had hit it. And then there is the Derelict spacecraft from the original ALIEN, and it seemed to be relatively intact— while the ship was somewhere outside of the Illium range on LV-426, I would think that it would’ve been destroyed by the blast too.

They also had changed the biology of the Xenomorph, or rather their reproductive life cycle. It seems now that when a victim is implanted with a chestburster, via a Facehugger— the Chesburster creates a cancerous placenta which allows it to absorb nutrients from it’s host. While it was established that a chesburster does absorb nutrients and even DNA from it’s host, the idea of it being housed in a placenta that is cancerous contradicts the films and previously published games, comics and novels. Gearbox had been told by Fox to pay attention to the lore, but it seemed as if in this case… they decided to ignore it. Chestbursters have always been removed by surgical means, and this was even seen in Alien Resurrection. But now it seems as if once you’re implanted with a chestburster, you’re dead— no matter what. If you try to remove the organism, you die because the cancerous placenta shuts the chest cavity organs down… If you do nothing, you die as the creature eats it’s way out of your chest.

Also, there was the attempted retcon of ALIEN 3— the sequel which a lot of ALIEN fans to this day absolutely hate. But Alien 3 wasn’t entirely retconned but rather more or less, rewritten regarding the death of Michael Bhein’s character, Corporal Dwayne Hicks. Alien 3 had happened two weeks after the events of ALIENS, but ALIENS: Colonial Marines had established that Weyland-Yutani had snuck onboard onto the Sulaco, kidnapped Corporal Hicks and dragged him back to Hadley’s Hope, but not before sabotaging Ripley and Newt’s EEV unit. By this logic… somehow Weyland Yutani had gotten a hold of the Xenomorph egg we saw back in ALIEN 3, and planted it there… but wait… ALIENS showed that every egg on LV-426 had been destroyed. Hick’s retconned death was done sloppily, and while I do appreciate that Corporal Hicks is alive and well… They didn’t even bother in explaining the egg seen in ALIEN 3, at least.. not well enough.

So…. who is to blame here?

Sega? Gearbox? Both?

Well a lot of the fire is being directed to Randy Pitchford of Gearbox. This was the man who had promised ALIENS fans a lot of things and promised that the game would tie up loose ends and stick to canon material. We were shown demonstrations on what the final product was going to look like and play like but we weren’t given what we were shown and promised at all. In short, a lot of fans and gamers simply felt as if they had been falsely advertised and were cheated. Promises were made, promises were broken and a lot of anger has been directed to Sega and Gearbox.

Many Ex-Gearbox employees had stepped forward and said that Gearbox had outsourced Aliens: Colonial Marines to a third party company called Timeware. They have also said that Gearbox took a lot of their fundings and instead put it forward to Boarderlands and even took employees who were working on Colonial Marines and moved them to developing Boarderlands instead.




“Gearbox was taking people off the project to put them on Borderlands 1,” he says of his time on the job. “This was before the big art style change happened on Borderlands. Our team was getting smaller by the month, making it very difficult to get the game made. Ironically several of the team members were ex-3D Realms people who were saying [paraphrasing] ‘Finally, we’re going to Gearbox to make Aliens, and we’re going to ship a *vulgarity*ing game!’ Hah.”


According to our man with the inside track, it was later learned that SEGA actually canceled Colonial Marines, deciding to cut its losses after such a long development cycle.

“At some point in 2008, SEGA temporarily pulled the plug on the game,” he said. “They caught wind of Gearbox shifting resources (despite still collecting milestone checks as if the team were full size) and lying to SEGA AND 2K about the number of people working on each project. This led to the round of layoffs at Gearbox in late 2008.”

The developer confirms he later spoke with people attached to the project at the beginning of 2012, and learned they actually didn’t expect the game to ship in February, given its current state. It would appear staff on the game knew the thing was a bust, and were prepared for a fresh delay. Obviously, that never happened, and now we’re here.


Source: http://www.destructo...es-245986.phtml

ALIENS: Colonial Marines had a lot of hype riding on it and it had a lot time and money invested on it. What went wrong is that Gearbox had simply lied to SEGA, the fans and the consumers— and are perhaps rightfully facing the backlash which they deserve for producing a game which was so incredibly underwhelming. Hopes were knowingly raised, and dreams were perhaps… intentionally shattered and dashed away. In many ways, ALIEN fans are feeling what Mass Effect fans are feeling when they had Mass Effect 3 released…

Gearbox will be losing a lot of money, and SEGA will be experiencing the downfall as well.

ALIENS: Colonial Marines could’ve been so much more had Gearbox actually taken the project seriously.. Instead, what we got was simply a half-hearted attempt which had been raised to high expectations only to fall as nothing short of a major, if not perhaps colossal disappointment. I will even go as far as to say that even DLC content will not be enough to save ALIENS: Colonial Marines.

#2 Ruinus

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 10:52 PM

I wouldn't say it's as bad as the Mass Effect 3 thing (which wasn't that bad anyways, as the only real fan gripe with that game is the ending, not the entire game as is the case here). But from what I hear (and what my brother tells me, who surfs gaming sites all day long) is that Gearbox did farm out the development to another group, Timeware it seems, and that Timeware was complaining of things like "Dudes, you gave us so very little to work with, you want waaaay too much and the deadline is waaay too close," at which point Gearbox attempted to save the project but had to ship anyway.

It's pretty big bullshit coming from Gearbox, because if that's true then they really fucked the reputation of that smaller group (if my brother's tales are true, Timeware could end up being alright if people realize it wasn't it's fault), not only that but Gearbox is a pretty cool developer (Duke Nukem nonsense aside), Brothers in Arms and Borderlands were beast games so... I mean, it's like the Grade A student suddenly turning in an F on a big project for no real reason.

#3 RakaiThwei

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:02 PM

I wouldn't say it's as bad as the Mass Effect 3 thing (which wasn't that bad anyways, as the only real fan gripe with that game is the ending, not the entire game as is the case here). But from what I hear (and what my brother tells me, who surfs gaming sites all day long) is that Gearbox did farm out the development to another group, Timeware it seems, and that Timeware was complaining of things like "Dudes, you gave us so very little to work with, you want waaaay too much and the deadline is waaay too close," at which point Gearbox attempted to save the project but had to ship anyway.


I haven't played Mass Effect 3 or any of the predecessing games as I have no interest in playing. I am only going with the fan reactions and how sometimes outrageous they can be but in the case of Aliens: Colonial Marines-- it's pretty justified. Now, I have played the game and while I was initially underwhelmed by certain things, I am not throwing a tempertantrum like Angry Joe and even the fans over at AvPGalaxy (Yeesh!) but a lot of people are angry and there is no disputing that. I have contemplated on returning the game and getting my money back but that would just be me riding the fandom bandwagon. Instead, I just opted to keep the game and let it collect dust. It's replayability value is exceptionally low..

It's pretty big bullshit coming from Gearbox, because if that's true then they really *vulgarity*ed the reputation of that smaller group (if my brother's tales are true, Timeware could end up being alright if people realize it wasn't it's fault), not only that but Gearbox is a pretty cool developer (Duke Nukem nonsense aside), Brothers in Arms and Borderlands were beast games so... I mean, it's like the Grade A student suddenly turning in an F on a big project for no real reason.


I think that is definitely the case here. A former Gearbox emplyoyee just outed Gearbox on their shady work conduct and how they had set the game aside to work on "more important" projects. I am a casual gamer and I usually only play either fighting games or Alien/Predator games. I have no interest in playing any of the Boarderlands games and I just find it so baffling that Gearbox had lied to the fans and it's consumers, even using an E3 demonstration and saying it was going to be in the final product when it wasn't even in there.

For an E3 Demo to straight up look better and play better than the final product... Is just downright insulting.

Randy Pitchford is now under close scrutiny... He's getting a lot of feedback on his Twitter... and he's only letting positive praise through but blocking criticism.

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#4 MarxzVulpez

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:07 PM

I agree that this was definitely half-assed, at least to some degree. I was tense as all get out first going into the game, then the xenos stopped appearing ( I haven't gone that far into the game) and i lost interest fast. Capcom's Alien vs Predator (arcade) had soldiers that you fought, but they knew when to stop with them and get back to the reason we were playing the game in the first place. One question I am left asking is why did everyone stop caring about the other most recent Alien's game so quickly? I think Aliens: Infestation is a wonderful little game with a brilliant premise (being that Metroid has taken a lot from the Aliens franchise, so they make a metroid styled Aliens game).

#5 RakaiThwei

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:14 PM

I agree that this was definitely half-assed, at least to some degree. I was tense as all get out first going into the game, then the xenos stopped appearing ( I haven't gone that far into the game) and i lost interest fast.


There was another ALIEN game which was kind of similar to Colonial Marines as far as enemies go. That game was ALIEN Trilogy for the PSX and Sega Saturn. But at least that game kept the Xenomorphs as the main protagonist and the Weyland Yutani mercenaries as the secondary enemies. Still... looking back at ALIEN Trilogy and ALIENS: Colonial Marines... looking at the environments from Hadley's Hope to the Derelict spaceship... The similarities are too similar.

One question I am left asking is why did everyone stop caring about the other most recent Alien's game so quickly? I think Aliens: Infestation is a wonderful little game with a brilliant premise (being that Metroid has taken a lot from the Aliens franchise, so they make a metroid styled Aliens game).


It's funny that you mention that because ALIENS: Infestation was also done by Gearbox... And it was a good game for the Nintendo DS which I heard had gotten quite a lot of praise.

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#6 silversurfer092

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:14 PM

I fail to see how the story's continuity actually factors in, but then again, I also failed to see how the continuity errors in 'Predators' made you dislike the movie too. It seems like real nit-picky bullshit that does nothing but take away entertainment value.

#7 Ruinus

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:21 PM

Some people care about that. I didn't see any continuity errors in PREDATORS, but not even playing this new game and I can't get over the whole "How the hell did Hadley's Hope survive?" thing.

#8 Ruinus

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:23 PM

One question I am left asking is why did everyone stop caring about the other most recent Alien's game so quickly? I think Aliens: Infestation is a wonderful little game with a brilliant premise (being that Metroid has taken a lot from the Aliens franchise, so they make a metroid styled Aliens game).


Because Aliens Infestation is a DS game, and the DS is a toy for fat babies.

:V

But seriously, it is a DS game, so people outside of however many bought that game probably don't even know about it. It also didn't have a hilariously long development time that put up huge hype as Aliens Colonial Marines did, and it also isn't a piece of crap like that game is.

#9 RakaiThwei

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:27 PM

I fail to see how the story's continuity actually factors in, but then again, I also failed to see how the continuity errors in 'Predators' made you dislike the movie too. It seems like real nit-picky bullshit that does nothing but take away entertainment value.


No one was discussing PREDATORS. Also that has something to do with Word of God based from Rodriguez's statements and how he had a shoddy script to work with and bad ideas which he had concieved... That said, we're not discussing PREDATORS. We're talking about Colonial Marines here, which had a lot of hype build and had everyone looking forward to playing.

Here, regarding Colonial Marines, a lot of ALIENS fans have mentioned that the storyline was poor and that there were timeline displacements regarding the lore. While I played the game for the first time, I had no problem with the storyline but I read up on other fans reviews and they have pointed out certain issues with the storyline. At first, when I hadn't ready anyone else's review on the game, I didn't mind the story or it's plot, but after discussing somethings with fellow fans-- these are just things which are hard to ignore. If you think I'm foaming at the mouth and just raging on about how Colonial Marines was just a disappointment, you've yet to see Pitchford's Twitter.

Some people care about that. I didn't see any continuity errors in PREDATORS, but not even playing this new game and I can't get over the whole "How the hell did Hadley's Hope survive?" thing.


Regarding Colonial Marine's continuity issues... You simply can't ignore them. Even Ruinus can agree that Hadley's Hope shouldn't have been remotely functional and still structual sound after a forty megaton explosion. And the lack of the explination on how the egg in Alien 3 got onto the Sulaco was outright dismissed when Corporal Hicks had been asked who the body in his cryotube and he just casually replied: "That's another long story."

In other words; they couldn't explain it and they didn't even want to bother.

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#10 Ruinus

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:38 PM

They do alot of those handwaves from what I know. Right in the beginning they say something like "OK we are going back to LV-426, it's infested with xenos. How they got there or how the colony survived no one knows, but we've got to go back!" So to answer the question of "Wait, so how did the xenos survive and replenish their numbers, how did the colony survive?" the game says "LOLNOPE shoot dumb xenos."

I'll be honest though, more than the crapfest which the game is, this caused me and my brother to talk about how the xenomorph absolutely fails as an enemy in shooter games. What makes the xeno (and the movies) work is terror, even ALIENS, the most gung-ho of the series, works only because the soldiers are cut off, on small resources and one of the group is intentionally trying to fuck over the other characters. Really, xenos would work better as zombies, they'd work better in a Resident Evil type of game, where you are limited in resources and you could shoot this one xeno in the room, but doing so wastes ammo and health and you'll be screwed as you have to go back through the base to your camp.

#11 RakaiThwei

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:52 PM

They do alot of those handwaves from what I know. Right in the beginning they say something like "OK we are going back to LV-426, it's infested with xenos. How they got there or how the colony survived no one knows, but we've got to go back!" So to answer the question of "Wait, so how did the xenos survive and replenish their numbers, how did the colony survive?" the game says "LOLNOPE shoot dumb xenos."


Yeah that's... pretty much Colonial Marines at this point.

I'll be honest though, more than the crapfest which the game is, this caused me and my brother to talk about how the xenomorph absolutely fails as an enemy in shooter games. What makes the xeno (and the movies) work is terror, even ALIENS, the most gung-ho of the series, works only because the soldiers are cut off, on small resources and one of the group is intentionally trying to *vulgarity* over the other characters. Really, xenos would work better as zombies, they'd work better in a Resident Evil type of game, where you are limited in resources and you could shoot this one xeno in the room, but doing so wastes ammo and health and you'll be screwed as you have to go back through the base to your camp.


I would have to disagree with you there to some degree.. I know that Rebellion and Monolith had made the Xenomorphs pretty terrifying with their first two Alien vs Predator games. I mean Alien vs Predator for the PC, done by Rebellion had the Xenomorphs literally just gang up on you. Yeah, you could shoot them but you also lost health quite fast. The same could even be said about Monolith's AvP2 sequel.

Then again, I don't play much first person shooters.. So.... yeah..

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#12 silversurfer092

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 09:56 AM

You guys missed my point entirely. I was saying that I don't see why the poor continuity and non-lore following storyline should affect how you enjoy the game. Maybe it's a different universe, maybe it's non-canon, maybe the writes cared more about the gameplay than following James Cameron. WHO KNOWS? I was comparing it to how Rakai had a problem with Predators due to the continuity and lore problem.

#13 RakaiThwei

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 10:18 AM

You guys missed my point entirely. I was saying that I don't see why the poor continuity and non-lore following storyline should affect how you enjoy the game. Maybe it's a different universe, maybe it's non-canon, maybe the writes cared more about the gameplay than following James Cameron. WHO KNOWS? I was comparing it to how Rakai had a problem with Predators due to the continuity and lore problem.


With PREDATORS, it more than likely is an alternate timeline given the statements which Rodriguez had made during his webchat interview. Also, my reaosns for disliking it are beyond what you've said, it had more to do with the fact that Rodriguez just had a lot of bad ideas which unfortunately had made it on screen. That said, no more beating a dead horse with a stick.

Regarding ALIENS: Colonial Marines, well Fox had treated the game like a movie despite the fact that they consider overall EU as canon anyway. So essentially speaking.. it's technically film canon. So that rules out the "Maybe it's non-canon" idea. However I will give you the benefit of the doubt that it could be an "alternate universe" since there are references to Prometheus in the game.

Regarding the gameplay, it was just unbalanced and took a lot of time for me to get used to. A lot of gamers have complained about the gameplay as well, so really.. the developers didn't even care about the gameplay. So there goes the "Maybe they cared about the gameplay" idea out the window. If they cared about the game, we would've gotten something closer to the E3 demonstration than what was in the final product. Gearbox made promises they went back on, they took paychecks from SEGA and instead of putting it towards Colonial Marines, they put it towards other projects like Boarderlands and laid off employees who were working on Colonial Marines.

In short.. Gearbox *vulgarity*ed up, they knew they *vulgarity*ed up, and put out a disappointing game.

If you want to talk about the storyline, by all means go ahead.

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#14 silversurfer092

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 10:46 AM

Oh no, I've heard some reviews explaining that the gameplay was absolutely miserable. I heard that Gearbox and whatever company it outsourced to kinda got boned in the situation. I doubt a company like Gearbox would turn out shit gameplay after having such good games like Borderlands and such.

#15 RakaiThwei

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 10:53 AM

Oh no, I've heard some reviews explaining that the gameplay was absolutely miserable. I heard that Gearbox and whatever company it outsourced to kinda got boned in the situation. I doubt a company like Gearbox would turn out shit gameplay after having such good games like Borderlands and such.


They outsourced the game to Timeware, but apparently Timeware employees and former Gearbox employees have essentially said that Gearbox gave Timeware too little to work with, considering a deadline that they had to meet. There is a lot of controversy regarding about exactly who made the game, and who the blame should be placed on.

Most of it however is being directed at Randy Pitchford, seemingly.

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#16 Ruinus

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 11:43 AM

Actually, it is TimeGate Studios, not TimeWare, these are the game guys who made Section 8.

#17 force_echo

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 04:25 PM

Prometheus is in an alternate universe? I think you're wrong about that.

#18 Kate Awesome Is Awesome

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 04:27 PM

Randy has to stop using the Borderlands money to try and "save" doomed projects

#19 RakaiThwei

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 05:26 PM

Prometheus is in an alternate universe? I think you're wrong about that.


Actually, it possibly might be considering that the AvP films indicate that Weyland Industries has been around since 2004, possibly longer before that and founded by Charles Bishop Weyland. Prometheus' timeline indicates that Weyland Industries/Weyland Corp was founded sometime in 2012 or 2014 and founded by Peter Weyland. The two timelines don't coincide with each other because of that particular detail right then and there. Also, considering the fact that Ridley Scott has said Prometheus has nothing to do with the AvP or Predator timelines/universes...

Really, it depends on which continuity you happen to follow in the Alien/Predator/AvP franchises. All three have different lores and alternate timelines.

Actually, it is TimeGate Studios, not TimeWare, these are the game guys who made Section 8.


My mistake! I knew it was time something but I kept on thinking Timeware for some reason.

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#20 force_echo

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 05:34 PM

That indicates that AvP is in a different universe, not Prometheus. Prometheus is in the same universe as Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, and Resurrection.




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