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Aliens: Colonial Marines gets class action suit for lies


Gearbox and SEGA targeted for misleading advertising
May 01
// Jim Sterling
SEGA and Gearbox have been slapped with a class action suit for Aliens: Colonial Marines, accused of lying about the game to get it sold. It was only a matter of time.  Edelson LLC has taken the case, which alleges that ...

SimCity, Colonial Marines, and The Silence

Apr 23 // Jim Sterling
The trouble with games media -- and indeed most news-based media -- is that it's predominantly reactionary. If there is action in the industry, the bloggers and journalists can react. Conversely, without action, there can be no reaction. During SimCity's launch, Electronic Arts and EA Maxis made all sorts of statements and promises -- activities we could react to, in order to keep the story going and add to the pressure being applied to the companies involved.  As soon as EA and Maxis keep their heads down, however, the story largely goes away, almost instantly. After all, most of the information comes directly from the companies, so if they stop giving out, there's nothing to take. A number of outlets can continue to ask for comments from these companies, but with launch period over and a reduced need for promotion, the chances of getting a response start shrinking at a rapid pace. Rock, Paper, Shotgun learned this -- it's attempted to get a comment repeatedly, but to no avail. Neither EA nor Maxis have to say anything anymore -- they had their SimCity launch, they got their money, now they just need to sit back and let the bad press shrivel into oblivion.  Aliens: Colonial Marines is another fine example. During launch, there was plenty to dig up about what I still maintain is one of the most fascinating screw-ups in recent videogame memory. At first, it was amazing to see how deep the rabbit hole went, to try and work out how six years of Gearbox time led to such an unfinished mess of a game, attempting to fathom how much of the project was outsourced to TimeGate, and who developed what. But during this time, Gearbox was largely maintaining a stonewall of silence, and even outspoken developer Randy Pitchford limited himself to a tiny handful of Twitter outbursts.  Nowadays, Pitchford spends his time retweeting positive comments about Colonial Marines, talking up the fanbase and boasting about how many people like it. As negative coverage dries up, these tactics begin to succeed, rewriting the narrative to shut out the criticism and portray a story where only positivity exists. People like me, who covered the debacle extensively, get referred to as harmful individuals, out to personally injure the studio for some vindictive agenda. This is the second major problem with covering these kinds of controversial games -- do it enough, and publishers start to paint you as a lunatic.  We saw this recently with Peter Moore, responding preemptively to its "victory" in The Consumerist's Worst Company of America competition. Moore, having already guessed EA would clinch the prize, wrote a blog demonizing EA's critics, suggesting that most people who dislike the company are homophobes angry about Mass Effect's same-sex romance, or irrational maniacs upset over certain athletes appearing on Madden box art. While EA maintains total silence over legitimate complaints -- such as knowingly launching a game that would be broken by design -- Moore pens self-serving fan fiction in which EA's raked over the coals exclusively by bigots and bedlamites.  The real kicker is, if you want to keep these stories alive, if you care about industry bullshit and feel it's too important to simply forget, you have no choice but to reinforce the publisher's narrative and look like a vindictive crackpot. After all, if publishers are staying quiet, if they're ignoring your requests for comments, what can you do? At that point, your options are limited, and mostly involve inventing new articles from whole cloth -- be it a no-news post that simply reminds people a certain problem still exists, or finding some contrived way to pen a "fresh" op-ed on things people already know about. At that point, you end up becoming the very fanatic publishers say you are.  Most writers don't want to do that. They don't want to become some raving demagogue, and I do find it hard to blame them. Some games writers want to just write about the software and blot out the seedy surroundings -- and I get that. Hell, many readers want that, and I understand it completely. In fact, if you cover a topic too many times, most readers will start a backlash, which is another issue that cripples one's ability to keep the pressure on.  A cat may love being petted, but if you do it to the point of over-stimulation, they start to bite the hand that's stroking, and no matter how passionate gamers are about a subject -- they will grow tired of it in time. It's a natural reaction, and one that I can't blame anybody for, especially in an age of information overload, where news moves quickly and no subject can stick around for long.  Once a reader has had his or her fill of a topic, the backlash begins. The shitstorm surrounding SOPA was exciting to most people for a while, but it required a lot of coverage to truly communicate how vile it was, and a lot of coverage -- in the Internet age of aggressive apathy -- is too much coverage. It didn't take long for comments to go from intrigued to lethargic, with calls for Destructoid to "let it go" and "move on" and "just go back to talking about videogames." Be it about online passes, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Electronic Arts or harmful legislation, I've been told to "get over it" more than I can adequately remember. I've gotten told to "get over" almost everything I continue to care about, and I dare say it's a familiar phrase to anybody who's talked about a certain controversial subject for a long enough amount of time. Sadly, that's exactly what publishers bank on. It's just what they're waiting for. All they have to do is batten down the hatches, erect the flame shield, and wait for the community to turn on itself, to split between those who have gotten over it, and those who need to get over it. Eventually, apathy wins, everybody gets over it, and the publisher can hype its next unfinished piece of shit, that the cycle may begin anew.  So what can be done? Nothing, probably. Just keep on keeping on. However, I do hope that those who do "get over" these things, and angrily demand others join them, understand that they're essentially a brick in the publisher's stonewall. Nobody is obligated to be angry and indignant -- I would not be so arrogant as to demand any reader or fellow writer take up arms for a cause they don't believe in, and more than likely don't think matters. However, I do ask for an understanding equal to mine -- an understanding that it's equally arrogant to demand others stop caring about something, just because you don't care. There are many who continue to give a shit about SimCity, Aliens, and all sorts of other nasty industry crap, and they're having a hard enough time keeping the discussion alive with publishers attempting to drown them out and snootily dismiss them as a "vocal minority." And that goes double for the "game journalists" of the industry. Those whose job it is to cover the industry and serve the readers, yet tell other writers to get over it, to stop whining, and to just talk about videogame press releases. Those journalists who call angry gamers "entitled" and dismiss their complaints. Those journalists who join publishers -- often publicly laughing with them -- and sneer at anybody with a criticism. You know who you are. I know who you are. And I know Electronic Arts is not your friend, no matter how much you cuddle up to them.  It should, really, go triple for publishers themselves. It should be said that they'd be best served not looking like decadent aristocrats, smugly dumping on the "vocal minority" and boasting about how much money they've made, as if raking in ill-gotten dubloons is an automatic invalidation of any complaint, rather than a fallacious use of argumentum ad populum. It should be said, but what's the point trying to squeeze blood from that stone? After all, these are the words of a lunatic from the fringe minority, who really should get over it. But won't.
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Keep your head down, then rewrite the story
Recently, John Walker at Rock, Paper, Shotgun wrote a compelling article on SimCity, and how Electronic Arts' maintenance of radio silence has demonstrated total effectiveness in getting everybody to shut up. The basic argume...

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Aliens: Colonial Marines

Aliens: Colonial Marines Wii U canceled


What. A. Shock.
Apr 05
// Jim Sterling
Those of you left caring may have noticed Aliens: Colonial Marines missed its Wii U release launch window. There's a very good reason for that -- SEGA finally decided to shoot the lame dog in the head, and has quietly cancele...
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Aliens: Colonial Marines

SEGA admits Colonial Marines trailers are unreflective


European branch of publisher 'fesses up
Apr 03
// Jim Sterling
Following an upheld complaint with the UK's Advertising Standards Authority, SEGA Europe has admitted that trailers for Aliens: Colonial Marines do not reflect the game's final (shoddy) content.  The complaint was upheld...
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AvP Evolution

Aliens vs. Predator Evolution gameplay demonstrated


And it's not very compelling
Mar 22
// Conrad Zimmerman
Aliens vs. Predator: Evolution has been out on Android and iOS devices for a little while now, but a new dev diary video going over gameplay mechanics and the abilities of the Xenomorph and Predator characters has arriv...
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Aliens: Colonial Marines 360/PS3 update released


Nope, still not 'getting over it'
Mar 21
// Jim Sterling
I'm sorry, dear readers. I've still not "gotten over" Aliens: Colonial Marines. After a set period of time, gamers tend to get aggressively apathetic over certain situations, and seem to grow angry if someone else isn't as re...
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Aliens: Colonial Marines 'Bug Hunt' DLC out now


Extra content for this game is almost impressive in its arrogance
Mar 20
// Jim Sterling
Aliens: Colonial Marines' long-awaited (haha) "Bug Hunt" downloadable content is now available on Steam, Xbox Live, and PlayStation Network. It's a wave-based survival mode that, given the general brevity of the game's hyped ...
Aliens: Colonial Marines photo
Aliens: Colonial Marines

4GB Aliens: Colonial Marines patch available for PC


Oh man, remember this game? It wasn't very good!
Mar 19
// Jim Sterling
Gearbox continues to demonstrate that, contrary to popular idioms, you can actually polish a turd. Aliens: Colonial Marines is being made shinier -- but no less stinkier -- in a 4GB PC patch that improves textures, A.I. behav...

Review: Alien vs. Predator: Evolution

Mar 04 // Jim Sterling
Alien vs. Predator: Evolution (Android, iPhone, iPad [reviewed])Developer: Angry Mob GamesPublisher: Fox DigitalReleased: February 28, 2013MSRP: $4.99 AvP: Evolution is a fairly unremarkable beat 'em up at its core, giving players a Xenomorph and a Predator with which to carve slices out of human soldiers and, occasionally, each other. Its campaign regularly swaps out the two alien creatures, with short and simple missions that usually involve clearing several rooms of enemies and moving on.  Combat is a simplistic affair, consisting of unremarkable combos chained together by virtual button taps, and executions carried out on weakened enemies through fundamental quick-time-event sequences (basically just swiping the screen). As a Xenomorph, players strike with claws and tail, while the Predator gets to use blades and ranged weaponry. As each character earns points, it can unlock new body or armor parts to enhance attributes, and a few new abilities such as counter attacks or temporary "rage" statuses. As you may expect, the level system allows Evolution to make liberal use of in-app purchases, allowing you to trade real-world money for more Xeno or Honor points. Fortunately, the campaign and side missions can be used to farm these points for free, and doing so isn't that huge of a grind. Nevertheless, the game does what it can to entice you with microtransactions -- not that it could ever be considered good enough to come close to tempting.  The biggest issue with Evolution is that it's disgustingly sloppy. To call the combat braindead would practically be praising it, given it's a sluggish, repetitive, utterly undemanding case of prodding the screen until everything's dead. Execution animations are canned and unvaried, accompanied by irritating sound effects. Attacks are as slow as they are unresponsive, many of the QTEs often failing to register, and the framerate is so inconsistent the game regularly fails to recognize your combo input.  An awkward camera and unwieldy movement controls add to the frustration, especially once the game starts trying to include stealth missions and awful first-person vent sequences that feel like trying to catch a greased watermelon in a bathtub of liquid butter. Graphical glitches aren't uncommon, and sometimes the game gives up trying to be a game entirely and just fills a room with an overwhelming amount of enemies in the hopes of being challenging.  No thought has been given to balance. Executions are important, as they refill health and kill enemies quickly, but surrounding opponents can continue to attack during the animation sequence and are regularly able to send you back to a checkpoint while you're trapped in a grappling QTE. Some areas are trial-and-error of the worst kind, requiring progress through a certain route but forcing you to learn that route by reloading a checkpoint time and time again. The Predator's weapons are slow to charge and regularly fail to lock-on to targets, rendering them largely impractical. Most of the special abilities are pointless, in fact, at best doing little to the enemy forces, and at worst leaving players vulnerable to attack.  I gave up on the campaign during a sequence that dropped the framerate so badly, I couldn't chain a single attack, while surrounded by opponents who repeatedly pummeled me to death. This is not a one-off occurrence, either. The game struggles to respond to the simplest commands, and even when it does, player characters are so slow to act the enemies usually get a cheap jab or two in the moment you try and do anything. Another favorite tactic is for the marines to box the player into a corner and simply poke their victim to death. The whole thing's a mess, and success is more down to luck than anything approaching skill.  The upsetting thing is that Evolution looks like it could, with effort, be a good game. The fundamental ideas at play are all workable, and if the game controlled well and had a bit more nuance to it, the tools are there for a genuinely fun brawler. Little touches, like an execution in which the Xenomorph pulls out a Facehugger and practically pie-faces an enemy with it, are pretty damn amusing, but ultimately serve to showcase what a massive waste of potential the whole thing is.  That's what Alien vs. Predator: Evolution is. A waste. A waste of potential, a waste of time, and definitely a waste of money. At least it feels more finished than Colonial Marines did, but that doesn't stop it being equally as bad. Simply trying to move around the environment or land a single attack is a constant, unreliable frustration, and it's not down to the touch controls. I've played 3D touch-controlled brawlers before, and there are far better ones than this. This was just badly made.  In fact, as I think about it, I have to give the devil his due. AvP: Evolution is actually worse than Colonial Marines -- ever so slightly worse. At least getting from A to B in Gearbox's insulting mess was relatively stress-free and didn't cause me to want to break something. For that roaring triumph, Colonial Marines now gets to enjoy not being the worst Aliens game to be released this year.  Congratulations to AvP: Evolution! You've managed to be marginally worse than an unfinished, buggy, outsourced piece of trash. You must be very proud. 
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Survival of the shittest
When the makers of Alien vs. Predator: Evolution saw the negative press and subsequent fallout regarding Aliens: Colonial Marines, they must have laughed. I imagine them bellowing obnoxiously, roaring their gleeful approval t...

Developer on why Aliens' E3 demo was better than game

Feb 25 // Allistair Pinsof
"We were constantly cutting back more and more in terms of texture, shader and particle fidelity, in order to fit into the jacked memory restraints," said a separate unnamed source. And that is how you go from "wow" to "2.5." From Dream To Disaster: The Story Of Aliens: Colonial Marine [Kotaku, image by VideoGamer]
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'There was a reason [the demos] were never playable.'
That Aliens: Colonial Marines E3 demo sure was neat, but you know what wasn't neat? The actual game. According to an anonymous source that spoke with Kotaku, this was always going to be the case since the demo ran on hardware...

Anonymous whistle blower claims Gearbox stole from SEGA

Feb 24 // Jim Sterling
"TimeGate is at fault for: Wanting to even take on this project and their shoddy work," Danielson wrote. "Granted, I heard about their claims about Gearbox having full creative control, but they should have tried to show their side of the argument and fight more if they had problems with Gearbox's creative control and creative direction. "Honestly, I thought they should have risked some arguments and the possibility of losing the contract, if they had problems with the project like the Reddit poster said. However, there still is a chance of their claims being a lie or a half truth, but as I said above, TimeGate has some responsibility." The whistle blower addressed the idea of TimeGate throwing out Gearbox's original project work when it took over, but could only offer speculation. The possibility is entertained that TimeGate may not have been legally allowed to use Gearbox's work, but it's also entirely possible the new studio decided to start again from scratch for some other reason. "SEGA is at fault for: Announcing the project in 2007 when no work was done at all," he continued. "In my views, a game project should be announced publicly when it is 50-60% done, so you won't have to wait 6 years for a game that turns out to be shit. "SEGA is also responsible for not permanently cancelling the game in 2008. I don't know who found out about the mishandling of funds by Gearbox, but [canceling Colonial Marines] had to be one of the few right decisions the board has done, or this person is one of the few board members who knew what they were doing (from what I heard, this person may have left the board a while ago when SEGA decided to start the project again). This game should have been cancelled permanently, and the final product is undeniable proof of it. "Despite that, I believe SEGA wanted to try to get some of the money back, at the fans' expense.  So another blame for SEGA there. SEGA should have also watched the project and development a lot better, because there was a lot of warning signs that said this was a disaster in the making. So whoever was assigned to watch Gearbox and the game has some responsibility too, unless the board was forcing him to do it. SEGA and their lawyers also have some blame on the wording of the contract too, but more on that later." The blog then moves onto the main event, addressing the involvement of Gearbox Software and its CEO, Randy Pitchford. In no uncertain terms, the studio is accused of robbing its publisher and lying to its face.  "Now here is the company that should get most of the blame: Gearbox Software and Randy Pitchford. Gearbox stole from SEGA, they robbed us, lied to us about the game, and tried to get another company to make the game instead. Let's see where the funding went shall we? Everyone said the game went to both Borderlands games, but Duke Nukem Forever gets a mention as well, but it's pushed out of the spotlight, because people want to forget about that game, and I don't blame them!  Duke Nukem Forever had a big impact on Aliens: Colonial Marines as well." A Gamasutra article was used to back up the claim. The article in question is an interview with Pitchford, in which he explains how his studio got the rights to Duke Nukem Forever.  "It clearly shows that Pitchford and Gearbox wanted to focus heavily on Duke Nukem Forever, but how would they get the money to hire some of the 3D Realms team and even buy the intellectual property? Sure, they made a lot from Borderlands, but guess where they got the money to fund Borderlands in the first place? Yup, SEGA. "So Gearbox essentially lied to SEGA, mishandled funds, broke agreements and contractual obligations to work on other projects, didn't want to work on a game they were contractually obligated to work on and gave it to another team, poor organization and direction on ACM, took on too many projects from different companies at once, and other things that we may not even know about. Hell, part of me believes that Gearbox wanted this thing delayed as much as possible so they can get more funding money to embezzle from SEGA." Danielson concludes by saying he's heard rumors of possible legal action being taken by SEGA, but admits the contract may preclude such a step from being taken. All Gearbox apparently had to do was ship the game to fulfill the agreement, which it's now done. He added that SEGA should have canceled A:CM and taken the studio to court, rather than try to make the fans pay for the investment. The writer even goes so far as to suggest SEGA ought to have published Borderlands, given it paid so dearly for it.  "In this case, what happened clearly was SEGA had a decent eye on the project, rightfully cancelled it, when they saw the problems, then someone decided to restart the project, leading to this massive mess," he concludes. "Where is our money Randy? We should get sales from Borderlands 1 and 2, since it was our money that funded it." That eventual Aliens: Colonial Marines post [SEGA Awakens]
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Secret SEGA blogger says Duke Nukem Forever had a big impact on Aliens' failure
[Update: Just to make it clear, I have been able to corroborate the basic information presented by "Danielson," not his more editorialized opinions. I can't back his claims of "embezzlement" -- likely more an emotional respon...

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TimeGate resumes show a LOT of Colonial Marines work


Studio more than 'helped' Gearbox, according to TimeGate employees
Feb 21
// Jim Sterling
The Aliens community has been digging hard to get to the bottom of the ever-winding Aliens: Colonial Marines story. The latest development involves the unearthing of a number of resumes attributed to TimeGate employees, revea...
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Office Chat

Previewing a Crysis on Infinite Universes


Another casual discussion from the Dtoid news room
Feb 21
// Conrad Zimmerman
Had your fill of all the Sony news? If so, awesome, because we recorded this episode of Office Chat before any of that could happen! In this conversation from Destructoid's news room, Jim Sterling, Jordan Devore and I someho...

Developer: Gearbox lied to SEGA, 2K over Colonial Marines

Feb 19 // Jim Sterling
"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 fucking 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. Naturally, and like so much about this situation, information was provided on the hush-hush and cannot be taken as factual evidence of any wrongdoing on anybody's part. It is, however, yet another perplexing piece of the puzzle, one reflective of other things we've been hearing over the past week. Meanwhile, as SEGA and Gearbox both maintain a poker face, these whispered words are really all we have to go on.
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Anonymous Aliens whistle blower blows whistle anonymously
It's fair to say the Aliens: Colonial Marines story has been a fascinating one. From the years of hype, to the negative reviews, to the later confusion over who actually developed the game, there's a lot of mystery and contro...

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Gearbox 'looking at' an explanation for Colonial Marines


Pitchford claims there are 'stakeholders' to think of first
Feb 19
// Jim Sterling
After breaking his radio silence this morning to respond to lots of praise for Aliens: Colonial Marines, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford went on a bit of a blocking spree, cold-shouldering yours truly and a number of other people...
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Randy Pitchford has only time for Colonial Marines praise


Still zero explanation for the game itself
Feb 19
// Jim Sterling
While the Internet at large still waits for Randy Pitchford -- or anybody -- from Gearbox to come clean and explain what went wrong with Aliens: Colonial Marines, the studio CEO has decided his best course of action is t...

Co-op and horror don't work together in Dead Space 3

Feb 18 // Taylor Stein
With the admittance of co-op functionality within the horror genre, it begs the question, is it possible to produce an authentic fear-driven experience while playing a game with two players? How scary can a dark room, narrow hallway, or eerie mansion be when you've got a geared-up teammate watching your back? Many of the recent horror titles such as Resident Evil 6, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and Dead Space 3 have embraced the action-driven narrative, but adding co-op might just tip the scale in determining whether we're left with a true horror game or just another third-person-shooter. Let's take a trip down memory lane to explore how the videogames of old, the grandmasters of horror, were able to convey terror in the simplest of ways.The titles that put the horror genre on the map, Resident Evil and Silent Hill just to name a few, carved a unique space within the videogame gamut. Without the use of high-def visuals or stellar controls, the early horror installments were able to successfully embody the atmosphere of trepidation. Fear was derived from the fact that the odds were not often in your favor. Fighting a deformed nightmare monster with a baseball bat almost always ended in getting your ass kicked. Run out of bullets? Kiss your sweet life goodbye.Survival was the overarching sentiment, not guns-a-blazing battle. With a combination of fixed camera angles, few health packs, invulnerable enemies and ineffective weaponry, terror tactics of the past were brought to fruition by making the player as vulnerable as possible. It wasn't about how many necromorphs or zombies you could kill, rather, how you could get from point A to point B without running into a giant monster that would instantly reduce you to a bloody pile of mush. Nowadays, it seems like people just like to shoot stuff. Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski shared similar concerns about the fate of the horror genre in his blog. Within the current gaming market, Bleszinski predicts that horror games will be unable to flourish; instead, he points to indie and PC titles as the next step for the genre. He states, "When we’re fully digital we’ll see more true horror games coming back. Look at Amnesia and Slenderman on PC."Action is one potential strike against the effectiveness of in-game apprehension, strike two and possibly the icing on the cake, is co-op. Gun battles and explosions are welcomed inclusions to any shooter, but it's arguably difficult to maintain the same level of nail-biting suspense or edge-of-your-seat anxiety when you're equipped with weapons galore and a buddy who is ready to lay any ferocious creatures to waste. Dead Space 3 is the most recent title to deviate from its single-player, nightmare entrenched roots. With a friend, players are able to explore the frozen wasteland of Tau Volantis and the decrepit remnants of derelict space vessels together. While two heads are definitely better than one, two guns make all the difference. Taking on a horde of necromorphs with an added set of autonomous weaponry highlights each room as a tactician's dream. Quelling waves of resistance is as easy as positioning your character relative to your squad mate to cover all avenues of attack. If an enemy unsuspectingly emerges from an overhead air duct, my partner has my back. While tag team monster annihilation is amazingly entertaining, the last thing I would describe the experience as, is frightful.The shift within the genre from perseverance to action, from defense to offense, was one that reflected the popularization of shooters within the gaming landscape. Horror developers are forced to adapt, and what we are left with, is an attempt to maintain the same level of suspense captured during the golden age of scary gaming, while providing room for the mechanics that represent the current trends within the mainstream industry. The reality is, the vision of crafting an insanely scary experience is often lost when combined with multiplayer features, over-the-top action, and shooting elements. The good news is, Dead Space 3 allows players to complete the campaign alone OR with a friend, so thrill-seekers have the option of pursuing the story in the scariest way possible. Unfortunately, minus a few jumps here and there, I haven't found the two-player gameplay to be the least bit intimidating on a horror level. The co-op functionality enhances the playability of the game by welcoming a shared experience between two players, yet it adds nothing to make the title more suspenseful or daring besides adding a bit of character back story via co-op side missions.  This is not a discussion about whether Dead Space 3 is a good or bad game, even though I quite enjoyed it personally. It's not a debate about which genre is better, action or horror. This article serves to ask a simple question, does combining action with the comforting appeal of 2-player support create an authentic horror experience?What is your impression of the complicated relationship between co-op and horror? If you played Dead Space 3 with a friend, did you find the game to be as nerve-wracking as the previous installments? Sound off in the comments below.
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Action plus co-op is fun, but scary? I'm not so sure
The room is dark, cold, and unusually calm. The once bare walkways are now riddled with blood and severed limbs. In the distance, a faint hum can be heard echoing throughout the metal encampment. Its repetition is a solid rem...

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Jimquisition: Previewed, Preordered, Prescrewed


Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Feb 18
// Jim Sterling
Preorder culture expects gamers to trust developers more than ever, but how does that work when they inspire so little faith? The "take cash now, provide content later" tactic is currently serving companies well, but with re...
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Torture yourself with Obsidian's Aliens: Crucible footage


Video of the game SEGA canned so we could have Colonial Marines
Feb 18
// Jim Sterling
If ever a video was more perfectly timed to scorch a fanbase's soul, it's this one. In the fallout of the Aliens: Colonial Marines debacle, demo footage of Obsidian's cancelled Aliens role-playing game, Aliens: Crucible, has...
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Randy Pitchford doesn't like being called a liar


Gearbox CEO breaks radio silence after Colonial Marines launch
Feb 15
// Jim Sterling
Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford raised his head above cover today, making a few indirect Tweets regarding the controversial Aliens: Colonial Marines launch. While he didn't provide an explanation or an apology, he did make it cle...
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Aliens: Colonial Marines not canceled for Wii U


Publisher confirms the shame is still coming
Feb 15
// Jim Sterling
In the fallout of the Aliens: Colonial Marines controversy, fact and fiction are difficult to separate. SEGA has, at least, put paid to one of the not-so-true suggestions, denying rumors that the Wii U version has b...
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Aliens: Colonial Marines 360 save wipe bug


Do not clear your cache if you want to keep your saves
Feb 15
// Jim Sterling
Oh, Aliens: Colonial Marines could really use some bad press? Sure, why not? It's been such a long time since we heard anything negative about it. Try this one on for size -- players are reporting that Xbox 360 save files are...
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Aliens: Colonial Marines mods add better lighting


Once again, a modder does a developer's job
Feb 15
// Jim Sterling
As usual, unpaid PC gamers have stepped up to the plate and finished what clearly inadequate developers started, adding improvements to the critically mauled Aliens: Colonial Marines. These enhancements add DirectX 10 feature...

Gearbox lied about Aliens: From E3 demo to retail product

Feb 14 // Allistair Pinsof
At E3 2011, Randy Pitchford and Gearbox showed off Aliens: Colonial Marines in a closed theater. Droves of game journalists, GameStop managers, and their kids, that they always manage to somehow sneak into the show, came to see the off-hands demo; the one which Pitchford repeatedly told press and industry was "real live gameplay" featuring "sophisticated artificial intelligence." Jim Sterling, Chris Carter, and I all heard the same thing, even though we were in different presentations (and representing different publications at the time). "Gearbox called it a 'vertical slice' showcasing the gameplay sequences that'd appear throughout the campaign. Only trouble is, none of the gameplay shown ever happens, and we were never told it was just conceptual," Jim stated, in a recent internal email chain on the above subject. "I played the entire campaign waiting for things shown in the walkthrough and got none of them. The only gameplay retained is one siege room, and even that plays out 95% differently." When screens from the previous demo are compared to the finish product, the lack of environmental detail, dated lighting effects, and linear-to-a-fault gameplay become apparent. Games shown at E3 don't suddenly look worse as development continues. Like early trailers for Hollywood blockbusters, graphics and gameplay in early game demos get repeatedly touched-up and expanded for release. What exactly happened to the lighting effects? [embed]244966:46951:0[/embed] As far fetched as it may seem, we can't rule out the possibility that this was some advanced demo, showing off a much improved engine and game sections, that was scrapped in favor of a much weaker engine and gameplay. The more likely truth is that Pitchford sold a mock-up (or as developers call it, a "target render") as a live demo. He lied to us. To our faces. We can't even get the truth out of them on who developed the damn game (was TimeGate a co-developer or just an outsourced company?). Our industry runs on little white lies controlled by marketing. Peter Molyneux makes promises that won't be delivered, while major publishers distribute bullshots -- touched-up images that present the game in a better light than it ever will be when in the player's hands (see Edge's excellent article). Pitchford's act of deception goes beyond being a white lie. He earned fan trust and admiration through manipulation. Not only at press events, but also Gearbox's Community Day where the same demo was shown and presented in the same light of being indicative of the final game. How can we ever trust Pitchford and Gearbox again? Because they made Borderlands 2? Sure, but what about that Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 demo that I am now questioning? And the lies didn't even stop at the E3 demo. Gearbox and Sega kept showing a screenshot of the Alien Queen fighting a Power Loader. This scene does not happen in the game. [embed]244966:46950:0[/embed]  "It's rare, in all my years, to see a demo so unrepresentative of the finished product. Even worse, I've never seen a demo that looks so much BETTER than the finished product," Jim said. "The 'work in progress' warning attached to demos is to warn you the product doesn't look that rough. This may be the first game I've covered where it meant the opposite. Gearbox's definitely on the hook for dishonesty -- if not to us, then definitely to Sega." Some may bring up Killzone 2 and its infamous 2005 E3 demo that blew audiences away with its graphical fidelity that has yet to be matched by a game of this generation. The difference with Gearbox is that it continued to use footage from this demo in its trailers. We at least saw the real Killzone 2 before launch. By knowingly deceiving its fans, Gearbox has gone from being a company worth celebrating to a developer that plays dirtier than the big publishers that we so often damn for sleazy marketing campaigns and excessive pre-order programs. Before founding Gearbox, Pitchford was a magician. Turns out he's still pulling tricks of illusion on the public. Soon his audience might ask, when is the vanishing act? [Image courtesy of VideoGamer]
Gearbox lied photo
Pitchford goes to Molyneux and beyond
How often we forget that demos are sales tools, designed to pitch consumers a dream of what may be, not what actually is. Dull knives slice cans like butter, hamburgers perfectly cook on a budget grill, and Aliens: Colonial M...

So ... who the hell DID make Aliens: Colonial Marines?

Feb 14 // Jim Sterling
Anonymous Allegations from Gearbox developer In 2012, an anonymous writer claiming to be a former Gearbox worker posted on TexAGs.com message board to reveal the Colonial Marines campaign had been outsourced to TimeGate. According to the early allegation, dug up recently by Superannuation, Gearbox had refocused itself toward multiplayer a long time ago. Hate to say it, but I wouldn't get your hopes up too high for Colonial Marines. I used to work at Gearbox, and the development of that game has been a total train wreck, going on what, 6 years now? Gearbox isn't even making the game, except for the multiplayer. Primary development was outsourced to TimeGate Studios, which has a less than stellar past.I hope it proves me wrong, as I still have alot of friends still working at Gearbox, but I am expecting it to be average at best. While the comment went unnoticed at the time, its resurfacing seemed to explain a lot.  SEGA denies Colonial Marines was outsourced Dark Side of Gaming ran a story in which a SEGA rep was quoted as denying the outsourcing of Colonial Marines. According to Matthew J. Powers, the other studios involved in production merely "helped" Gearbox as it worked on both the solo and multiplayer portions.  Absolutely not, the game has been developed by Gearbox Software. Other studios [like Timegate] helped Gearbox on the production of single and multiplayer. Of course, as the story developed, it became wholly likely that not even SEGA knows who did what.  Randy Pitchford tells IGN TimeGate made up to 25% of A:CM A recently published IGN interview with Randy Pitchford, put out just before the controversy began, had the Gearbox CEO claim TimeGate helped with maybe a quarter of Colonial Marines. He said the studio was just as much a collaborator on the project if you took all of Gearbox's preproduction work out of the equation.  Houston-based TimeGate Studios, meanwhile, worked on “probably about 20 or 25 percent of the total time,” with Pitchford noting that “if you take preproduction out of it, their effort’s probably equivalent to ours. Now, it’s not fair to take preproduction out of it, but that says a lot about how much horsepower those guys put into it.” The interview also broke down the contributions from other studios. According to Pitchford, Demiurge helped Gearbox with networking and multiplayer options, while Nerve designed the multiplayer maps. Pitchford presented all this as Gearbox wanting to give customers more for their money, packing in more content rather than selling it as DLC.  Colonial Marines has a DLC season pass costing $29.99. Anonymous 'ex-Gearbox' dev spills the beans on Reddit Things got really interesting once an alleged developer took to Reddit and revealed some shocking, if true, details about A:CM's development. It's a story that involves Gearbox dicking SEGA around, pushing off its campaign to TimeGate, favoring Borderlands 2 over Aliens, and rushing at the last minute to fix an utterly broken, serviceable game. It's juicy stuff. First off, due to me breaking NDA, I can't provide any proof that I'm not just talking out of my ass. But I figure you'd be interested in hearing what I have to say regardless. I've been on the project for around a year and a half, so some of the following are things I've heard from more senior guys. Pecan (the internal codename for ACM) has a pretty long history. SEGA, GBX and 20th Century FOX came to an agreement to produce an Aliens game around 6 years ago, after which SEGA almost immediately announced it, long before Pecan had even started production. The game has been in active development in the past, only to be shelved in favor of another project (Borderlands, Duke, etc), and each time it was resumed it would undergo a major content overhaul. SEGA, naturally, wasn't super pleased about the delays, but GBX got away with it for a long time and the contract between SEGA and GBX kept getting augmented to push the projected release further and further back. The last time it was resumed, GBX outsourced a good portion of the game to outside companies. Initially, the plan was for TimeGate to take the majority of campaign, GBX would take MP, Demiurge and Nerve would handle DLC and various other focused tasks. This decision was made mostly so that most of the developers at GBX could continue working on Borderlands 2, while a small group of LDs, coders and designers dealt with Pecan. Somehow the schedules for Pecan and Borderlands 2 managed to line up and GBX realized that there was no fucking way they could cert and ship two titles at the same time. Additionally, campaign (which was being developed by TimeGate) was extremely far behind, even as Pecan's Beta deadline got closer and closer. In April or May (can't remember which), Pecan was supposed to hit beta, but GBX instead came to an agreement with SEGA that they would push the release date back one more time, buying GBX around 9 mos extension. About 5 of those 9 months went to shipping BL2. In that time, TimeGate managed to scrap together 85% of the campaign, but once Borderlands 2 shipped and GBX turned its attention to Pecan, it became pretty apparent that what had been made was in a pretty horrid state. Campaign didn't make much sense, the boss fights weren't implemented, PS3 was way over memory, etcetcetc. GBX was pretty unhappy with TG's work, and some of Campaign maps were just completely redesigned from scratch. There were some last minute feature requests, most notably female marines, and the general consensus among GBX devs was that there was no way this game was going to be good by ship. There just wasn't enough time. Considering that SEGA was pretty close to taking legal action against GBX, asking for an extension wasn't an option, and so Pecan crash-landed through certification and shipping. Features that were planned were oversimplified, or shoved in (a good example of this are challenges, which are in an incredibly illogical order). Issues that didn't cause 100% blockers were generally ignored, with the exception of absolutely horrible problems. This isn't because GBX didn't care, mind you. At a certain point, they couldn't risk changing ANYTHING that might cause them to fail certification or break some other system. And so, the product you see is what you get. Beyond gameplay, the story has been raised as an issue several times. I can't really comment without feeling bad beyond saying that the script was approved by 20th Century FOX, and that the rush to throw a playable product together came at the cost of the story. Campaign does a pretty bad job of explaining a lot of the questions raised at the start of the game, and so hopefully there will be DLC to flesh that out a bit better. I'll answer some questions, but I have to run soon, so it may take a while for responses. Alleged TimeGate developer throws Gearbox under the bus The original Reddit poster would later be responded to by a different anonymous user, this one claiming to be in the employ of TimeGate. Defending his studio against implications of laziness, the poster said Colonial Marines' campaign turned out so badly thanks to terrible supervision from Gearbox.  Just to clarify, Everything Timegate did was under clear and explicit direction from Gearbox. Gearbox had creative control of everything that occurred at TG. In addition, Gearbox was responsible for firing some of the most talented people (and internationally recognized as such) TG had employed, all of which were snatched up immediately by competitors. It was Gearbox's shitty oversight of the project that led to the product you all now have before you. I wouldn't expect you to understand, considering you're probably some QA who has no idea what goes on outside of his department. But TG had absolutely no control of what was produced, they did exactly what they were asked to. You should be furious with Gearbox for assigning such shit quality creative directors to the project. According to another anonymous poster, the game's ever-changing story didn't help TimeGate either.  The script was rewritten too many times. Demiurge working on Wii U version, now rumored to be indefinitely delayed The final chapter in the story so far places Demiurge as the studio behind the Wii U version of the game, with Kotaku alleging an indefinite delay on the upcoming release. Writer Jason Schierer made the claim, though notes it's not confirmed.  We heard from a tipster about a month ago that the Wii U version had been "postponed indefinitely." We reached out to Sega, and they denied it. I'll let you guys fill in the blanks there. :) And that's us up to speed on the Aliens: Colonial Marines story so far. Personal feelings on the game aside, it's one hell of a story, and I think that, when/if the truth finally outs, it'll make for some fascinating reading. It's already quite engrossing with just what we have!
Colonial Marines madness! photo
A rundown of all the known (and not-so-known) events so far
Aliens: Colonial Marines has turned out to be more than just a bad game. It's a confusing story of allegations, outsourcing, and potential deception on a considerable level. The biggest mystery to come out of this debacle is ...

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