New York Comic Con '012 Round-Up: Boot Camp with "Aliens: Colonial Marines"


I've been wanting to be a writer in the gaming world ever since my first issue of Nintendo Power, and here I am getting my break. The only thought going through my head is how do I not screw this up. That doesn't help the nerves when an invite comes to a demonstration of the hotly anticipated Aliens: Colonial Marines.

The venue did an amazing job setting the atmosphere, a reflection of the hard work that Gearbox has been putting into the game. On various tables were giant jars filled with different colors of liquids. Some green, others blue, but every one of them held a perfect looking face-hugger dormant in them. It was frightening the amount of realism that went into them, making me scared to risk coming close to see if this was some devious plan by the development team to breed a new species from journalists.

The room was surrounded by memorabilia that linked the movies to the game. A giant poster of the main ship in the game gave every technical detail of the Sulaccos sister ship. In the center of the room was a breakdown of what all comes in the collector's edition of the game. The coolest is a model of a marine piloting an infamous loader while a xenomorph attacks him. Also in the display case is the burnt doll head that belonged to Newt. Up at the bar, a small TV had the Aliens movie playing. Making it all the more surreal of the moment was when I caught actor Lance Henriksen walking around while seeing his younger self up on the monitor.

Sadly, due to a previous engagement, I wasn't able to fully attend the event. I was able to sit through a live demo, but didn't get a chance to sit down to try out the multiplayer aspect. That didn't stop me from filling in the blanks with what I missed by attending the panel they had at NYCC. From both the event and the panel, one thing was very clear to me about the team handling the game. These guys are Alien fanatics and there's a great desire to not produce anything that is unworthy of being in that pantheon.

Randy Pitchford, CEO and face of Gearbox, began the panel by telling just how his company got their hands on such a hot property. The concept for the game came out of the lead writer getting the chance to sit down with Ridley Scott. The lunch got so involved in exploring the mythos of the Alien franchise that Scott brought out his storyboards and the talk was transformed into a giant brainstorming session, one that the writer isn't afraid to say helped jump-start Prometheus. There was no word on if the game would tie into Scott's recent film, however. From what I've seen, I think it'll be unlikely. The game wants to focus on the action of being involved in a bug hunt and not asking the question of human origins.

One of the most interesting reveals to me was that the marines will be at war with two enemies. On one side of the conflict are the xenomorphs, but in the shadows will be the Weyland-Yutani. While nothing was shown, I don't think it'll be far to reason that players should anticipate fighting with enemies who will be firing back. The lead writer referenced that the idea that the marine corp fought with Weyland comes from a deleted scene from Joss Whedon's original script for Alien: Resurrection where he makes mention that the infamous evil corporation is no longer around. This got him to thinking about what could've happened and what better way than for a war to break out amongst the two.

The best part of the panel was the guest they brought with them to promote the game. Re-voicing two characters from the Aliens movies was Lance Henriksen. He will be bringing not only fan-favorite Bishop back to life, but he will also be portraying Michael Weyland who will be making an appearance.

No stranger to voice acting in gaming, he brought the crowd to their feet by simply referencing Mass Effect with, “Hackett out.”

Before the end of the panel, they made sure to give attendees a sneak peak at a new live demo of the game. The scene begins with the marines crash landing on LV-414. The exact context for what caused it isn't filled in, but piecing together what the characters are saying, it seems that Weyland-Yutani forces were somehow involved. The environment is somewhat of a nightmare ripped straight from the screen of Aliens. The sky is in the perpetual darkness of a thick storm cover. The hills and mountains are charred and jagged. The marines understand that before anything else happens, they need to find shelter and establish a base of operations for the rest of the survivors to regroup at.

They aren't far from the remains of Hadley's Hope. The majority of the base is in ruins from the atmospheric processing exploding at the conclusion of the second film. The landscape is full of the remains of objects that fans of the film will find instantly recognizable. The first is the vehicle that Newt's parents drove out to the derelict in the deleted scenes. The second is the APC that Ripley used to rescue the marines. From there, it's a short walk to what remains. Hadley's Hope was already a scary place as a whole colony, but seeing the twisted and destroyed remains of it is just frightening.

The level was chosen for the demo because Gearbox wanted to show off a slower, more suspense-filled portion of the game rather than the all-out action of past previews. It worked remarkably well. For the uninitiated, it's an amazingly detailed horror space to fight nightmarish monsters. For fans of the franchise, there's an over-abundance of Easter eggs while still introducing characters and a plot that are true to the mythology the series has established.

As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't able to try out the multi-player, but some information was still given. There will be two modes. The first is competitive which pits a team of marines against a pack of xenomorphs. In an effort to avoid the failings of prior Alien games, players behind the dual-mouths of a xeno will be playing from a third-person perspective. Gearbox believes this will help keep players orientated and take full advantage of the environment to trap and kill the opposing marines.

I've been a long-time fan of the Alien vs. Predator games and feel that this game has high marks to hold up to. The footage that I saw left little doubt in my mind that this will be the best Alien game ever made. I was stunned by the amount of detail behind put into this game. It perfectly captured the suspenseful atmosphere that the movies were notable for. I have little doubt in saying that this will be an early contender for game of the year when it hits early 2013. I definitely do not want out of this chicken-shit outfit, sign me up for this bug hunt!




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