Saturday, 16 February 2013

Aliens: Colonial Marines controversy

So yeah this whole Colonial Marines thing has turned into a real shit storm for Gearbox and Sega.  Sega because well they are defending their developer and Gearbox because they are looking more and more like liars each time they respond to criticism.

Aliens: Colonial Marines took 6 years to release on February 12th 2013.  That is one incredibly long and convoluted development time for a video game.  The terminology for these kinds of games are that they are in "development hell" similar to Hollywood and films like the original Jason Bourne movie.  More often than not any game that takes this long to release is bad, really really bad in fact.  Duke Nukem Forever is the greatest example of this after it took over 7 years to release and worryingly it was also brought kicking and screaming into this world by Gearbox, although they only did the finishing touches on that particular turd.

It had all the potential to be the Aliens game fans dream of
Colonial Marines has been in the hands of several developers over it's troubled past.  It has been worked on by Timegate, Demiurge and Nerve software each with their own muddy track record.  Nerve has worked on first person shooters of varying quality or act as outsource studios for multiplayer components such as their work on Call of Duty Black ops multiplayer maps.

Demiurge have also worked on several more mediocre projects such as Charlie and the chocolate factory, Rock band green day, Frontlines: fuel of war and more recently Shoot many robots.  Suffice to say they haven't been terrible but neither have they released a game that has garnered multiple awards.

Finally we have Timegate who are responsible for the Kohan series and the unofficial F.E.A.R expansion packs.  Their most popular work is probably on Section 8, a multiplayer shooter series which has been better received compared to Nerve and Demiurge.

What this image shows is that Colonial Marines was in the development offices of several pretty hit and miss developers, none of them terrible but compared to the folks at Gearbox we couldn't have expected much really.  I think the studios gave us the initial fears over this game anyway, but the long development time was the final nail in the coffin.  After you have waited 4 years for a licensed Aliens game you know things are probably going to fall short of expectations.

I wish I had been able to play the game to get a real sense of the issues many players and reviewers have raised.  But going by popular opinion and review scores the game has been a massive let down.  Gearbox though are probably the most blame worthy here.  A studio that has released two of the most popular and well received shooters in the last decade somehow fail to see the errors with this game?

It just gives the impression here that Gearbox didn't even assign their B team to this and assigned the work experience crew to working this title.  Randy Pitchford now has the unenviable job of pretending that the game is freaking awesome while also telling media outlets that Gearbox worked on the majority of the game.  That's like taking credit for someone elses poor work and then claiming you did it, and it's awesome.

The screenshots make it look great, but sadly the facts say otherwise
Of course Gearbox have claimed to have made 80% of the game, which means that they are again claiming credit for poor work.  I am more inclined to believe the other studios on their estimates and that Gearbox worked on around 20% of the game, and that was the multiplayer.  Gearbox obviously dedicated a majority of their resources to Borderlands 2 and their work for 2K, while Aliens which was in the tube for 6 years has cost SEGA a huge amount of cash.

Now players who have bought the game claim that it isn't that bad and is being unfairly reviewed.  It's not too outlandish, but it's more likely that these are unfortunate customers who bought a game that had all the potential to be great and ended up being a huge dud.  Hell we have all bought crappy games at full price at one point in our gaming history and that first sting makes you want to ignore the flaws and see a better game instead.

This story will probably keep popping up as long as someone online who was in the office at some point during production is willing to speak about it's troubled development.  It's a real shame that the game was such a colossal failure as it will likely be the last we ever see of the Aliens universe in gaming.

Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow.


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