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Aliens: Colonial Marines

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a first-person shooter video game developed by Gearbox Software and published by Sega. The game was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 video game consoles and for Microsoft Windows on February 12, 2013. A Wii U version was being produced for release but was eventually cancelled in April 5, 2013. The game is the third Aliens title that Sega has produced: the first was Aliens vs. Predator in 2010, and the second was Aliens Infestation in 2011. The game is set in the Alien universe and takes place after the events of the third film in the franchise, Alien 3 (1992).

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a first-person shooter which puts the player in the role of a United States Colonial Marine named Cpl. Christopher Winter. The player has access to iconic weapons from the movie such as the flamethrower, pulse rifle, smartgun, shotgun, pistol, and robotic sentry turrets. Players are also able to use welding torches to seal doors and motion trackers to detect unseen enemies.

Initially it was announced that the game would involve squad-based gameplay, allowing the player to issue orders to AI-controlled marines using context-sensitive commands. However, Gearbox later revealed that this feature was dropped to make gameplay more accessible. Aliens: Colonial Marines was originally planned to have no HUD to provide the player with onscreen information.

Gameplay types have been described as "Gauntlet Runs", where players must fight enemies as they travel from point A to point B, and "Last Stand" moments, where players must defend a specific area by welding doors and/or setting up automated sentry turrets.

The players gain experience points when dominating enemies and completing certain objectives. These experience points allow players to customize the appearance of their character, purchase upgrades for weapons, and unlock other skill sets, all of which carry over to other gameplay modes.

The primary enemies of the game are the xenomorphs from the first three films, which include the Facehugger, and "Drone" alien from Alien, the "Warrior" and the "Queen" aliens from Aliens, also as the "Runner" alien from Alien 3. The "Crusher" alien is an original enemy, which was revealed in the E3 2011 Walkthrough demo. Another original enemy, the "Boiler" alien, is a variant capable of self-exploding and covering its enemies with molecular acid. It was revealed in the tactical multiplayer trailer. Along with being able to traverse different surfaces from an angle, the aliens' AI uses the environment to set up sneak attacks, and group tactics to overwhelm the player. Not all enemies are aliens, as players also find themselves fighting human enemies in the form of Weyland-Yutani commandos and mercenaries.

Setting
Described as a true sequel to James Cameron's film, the story of Aliens: Colonial Marines takes place after the events of the second film, Aliens, and sometime after the events of Alien 3, as the cryotubes containing Ellen Ripley, Corporal Hicks, Newt, and the android Bishop had ejected from the Sulaco. At PAX East 2012, Gearbox Software's Community Manager confirmed that the game is considered an official part of the Alien franchise's canon by 20th Century Fox. Much of the main plot was written by Battlestar Galactica writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle. The story is told through the eyes of Corporal Christopher Winter, a Colonial Marine who is part of a search and rescue team sent to investigate the U.S.S. Sulaco in search of Ellen Ripley, Corporal Dwayne Hicks, and the rest of the missing marines who were dispatched to LV-426. The Sulaco, and the derelict alien spacecraft from Aliens as well as LV-426 itself will all serve as environments in the game, as well as other locations yet to be detailed.

Gearbox has stated that they were invited to speak with Ridley Scott and view the script for his Alien prequel Prometheus, insinuating that there may be connections or references to the events of Prometheus in Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Plot
Seventeen weeks after the events of Aliens, the search-and-rescue Colonial Marine team on board the Conestoga-class space cruiser USS Sephora receive a distress call sent from the USS Sulaco. The Sephora sends squads to investigate the missing ship, in orbit around LV-426 and not Fiorina-161 as it was supposed to be during the events of Alien 3. A massive xenomorph infestation is discovered inside the Sulaco, and several marines are killed. While investigating the ship Corporal Cristopher T. Winter, Private Peter O'Neal and Private Bella Clarison discover Weyland-Yutani PMCs commanding the Sulaco and using Sephora marines as hosts to the xenomorphs. The hostile corporate mercenaries attack the Sephora using the Sulaco's weaponry and both ships are destroyed after the Sephora retaliates. Winter, O'Neal, Bella, Captain Jeremy Cruz, Sephora android Bishop, and dropship pilot Lieutenant Reid crash-land on LV-426 and take shelter in the ruins of the Hadley's Hope colony complex, which was almost completely destroyed after the explosion of its atmosphere processor. Captain Cruz orders all the other survivors from the Sephora to gather at the Hadley Hope's ruins. While investigating the ruins of the colony, mutated and radioactive xenomorphs that only react to sound and movement, and are prone to exploding violently due to their unstable chemical makeup are discovered, as well as the corpses of Sulaco marines Private William Hudson and Private Trevor Wierzbowski.

Private Bella is found to be infected with a xenomorph after a scan by Bishop. As a result, she is escorted by Winter and O'Neal to a Weyland-Yutani xenomorph research facility, set near the derelict extraterrestrial "Engineer" ship from Alien, in order to surgically remove the embryo. However, an interrogated Weyland-Yutani physician explains to them that the infection can't be treated since extracting the alien will also kill the host anyway. Bella dies when her parasite matures while she is saying her goodbyes to Winter and O'Neal.

A survivor from the Sulaco is rescued from the PMCs and is revealed to be Corporal Dwayne Hicks, who was thought to have been killed in an EEV crash on Fiorina "Fury" 161 where fellow survivors Rebecca "Newt" Jordan and Lt. Ellen Ripley also died. Hicks describes how 'The Company' intercepted and captured the Sulaco, and because he was the only military personnel left on the ship, the Sulaco's computer awakened him. While trying to escape the PMCs, Hicks sent the distress signal that the Sephora picked up, and during the Sulaco's invasion, a xenomorph infestation caused the accidental launch of the escape module with the civilian survivors from the Sulaco out of the ship, and an unknown body inside Hicks's cryotube instead of him. Hicks was subsequently captured and tortured by Michael Bishop Weyland himself, the CEO of Weyland-Yutani, for nearly fourteen weeks, to force him to reveal information about the xenomorphs' origins and to take control of the Sulaco's weapon systems.

After gathering all the remaining Sephora Marines, Captain Cruz orders Hicks and all of his men to attack the Weyland-Yutani facility and seize the only remaining faster-than-light space cruiser left on the planet. While boarding the escaping ship, Captain Cruz sacrifices himself to kill an Alien Queen hidden inside the ship's cargo bay. Winter, O'Neal, Reid, Bishop, and Hicks capture and kill Michael Weyland, who is revealed to also be a Bishop-model android, and not the real Weyland. Searching for military intelligence, Bishop is connected to "Weyland's" CPU and states that he has "everything", setting the stage for a war between the Colonial Marines and the Weyland-Yutani Corporation.

Stasis Interrupted
During the events of Aliens Carter J. Burke manages to send a message to Michael Weyland from Weyland-Yutani confirming the existence of the xenomorph species. Weyland sends the advanced research transport spacecraft WYS Legato to LV-426 with a cargo of human colonists kept in cryostasis to be used as hosts to the xenomorphs. However, the Legato arrives just after the destruction of Hadley's Hope and the departure of the USS Sulaco. After investigating the coordinates of the Alien Derelict the corporates discover the ruins of the craft and harvest several xenomorph eggs and begin experimenting with the colonists. They also pinpoint the location of the Sulaco through the network and the Colony's computer logs, sending the Legato to intercept the cruiser. Just as the corporates connect their ship with the Sulaco a xenomorph outbreak takes place in the Legato.

Colonist Lisbeth Hutchins awakens and finds a fellow colonist called Ethan during the chaos. While Ethan tells Lisbeth of the situation, a chestburster erupts from his chest, killing him. Unarmed and confused Lisbeth makes her way through the infested ship, watching corporate PMCs murdering infected colonists. Another colonist called Andrews helps Lisbeth but is killed by a xenomorph. Finally Lisbeth finds Stone and Turk, two colonists who go with her until the exit port of the ship. There Lisbeth separates to search for her parents while Stone and Turk board the Sulaco to search for military help. Lisbeth finds both her parents dead and begins to feel sick, realizing that she was impregnated with a xenomorph. Just before dying she manages to self-destruct the Legato by taking the ship's coolant system offline.

Stone and Turk manage to arrive at the cryostasis section of the Sulaco, where they find Rebecca "Newt" Jorden, Ellen Ripley and Dwayne Hicks sleeping. While awakening, Corporal Hicks watches a facehugger already attached to Ripley's face. Three Weyland-Yutani PMCs enter the area and during the fight one of the corporates fires his weapon and grazes Ripley's facehugger, which bursts acidic blood that burns both her cryotube and the floor, causing an electrical fire and activating the ship's alarm. During the alarm Turk is knocked unconscious by one of the PMCs, who throws him inside Hicks' cryotube. It closes immediately and is ejected out of cryostasis by the ship's computer, along with Newt and Ripley's cryotubes, sending them to Fury 161 inside an EEV. After killing the remaining PMCs and fighting several xenomorphs inside the vessel, Stone and Hicks escape the Sulaco using a service skiff craft and set course to Fury 161 to rescue Turk, Newt and Ripley, taking them two days to finally arrive. They both witness Ripley's death after she throws herself into a molten pit and are captured by Michael Weyland and several PMCs, who take them back to LV-426 in the still infested Sulaco.

While in captivity inside the Origin installation near the Alien Derelict, Weyland demands both of them to give him the code for a recorded distress call that Hicks intended to sent to the USCM forces, but didn't manage to. After Stone denies any knowledge of such message he is executed by one of the PMCs. Hicks is chemically tortured for information while Weyland boasts how the colonists and human life in general are of little concern to him. While doing this a Weyland-Yutani scientist called Rick Levy rebels and rescues Hicks while keeping Weyland and his PMCs at bay at gunpoint. Another xenomorph infestation occurs inside the caverns near the Origin complex. Amidst the chaos Levy and Hicks fight their way until they finally arrive at a communications relay station and manage to send part of Hicks' distress call, which is picked up by the USS Sephora.

Development
A previous game titled Aliens: Colonial Marines was developed by Check Six Games and was to be published by Fox Interactive and Electronic Arts for the PlayStation 2 in 2001, but was cancelled before its release. A more traditional first-person shooter, it shared the same subject matter and setting as the Gearbox-developed game. Its story was to be set between the events of Aliens and Alien 3, concerning a rescue team of Colonial Marines searching for the Sulaco. Despite the similarities in gameplay and story, however, Gearbox has claimed that their game is unrelated to this early version.

On December 11, 2006, Sega announced they had purchased the electronic rights to the Alien franchise from 20th Century Fox. On December 15, Gearbox Software and Sega announced that they were working on a completely new game based on the franchise. In February 2008 the game's title was officially announced as Aliens: Colonial Marines; it was codenamed Pecan during development.

The development team took great pains to recreate the vehicles and settings of the films by using original set designs to recreate the exterior and interior of the Sulaco and LV-426. Concept artist Syd Mead, who had worked on Aliens, was hired to design areas of the Sulaco that did not appear in the film but would be used in the game.

A Shacknews article dated November 21, 2008, reported that the Aliens: Colonial Marines game had been delayed, supposedly because of layoffs at Gearbox Software. However, Gearbox president Randy Pitchford insisted that development on the game continued.

According to a Kotaku article, Sega said that their Aliens vs. Predator game released in early 2010 would be the first of their Aliens games to be released, meaning that Aliens: Colonial Marines would be sometime afterwards.

At the 2010 Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), Gearbox showed five new screenshots and stated that the game remained a priority for them. In the beginning of June 2011, Gearbox unveiled a teaser trailer and officially announced that Colonial Marines would be presented on E3 2011 and that the game was expected to be released in spring 2012. On January 26, 2012, Sega announced that it had decided to delay the game yet again, pushing it to a fall 2012 release date. In addition, Gearbox Software also announced that they would be releasing a new trailer. On May 21, 2012, Gearbox Software announced a February 12, 2013 launch for Aliens: Colonial Marines on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with a Wii U version announcement "at a later time".

Gearbox's CEO Randy Pitchford, speaking exclusively to Official PlayStation Magazine explained that the release delays were decided to include several actors from the 1986 Aliens film in the game. According to Pitchford, actors Michael Biehn (Corporal Dwayne Hicks), Mark Rolston (Smartgun Operator Mark Drake) and Al Matthews (Sergeant Al Apone) reprised their roles, while William Hope (Lieutenant Gorman) and Lance Henriksen (android "Bishop 341-B") played two brand new characters (Commander T. Shannon and another "Bishop" android respectively). A marine character from Aliens called Wierzbowski also appears, but not voiced by the original actor.

In February 2013, an anonymous whistle blower reported to Destructoid that Gearbox had been taking people and resources off Aliens: Colonial Marines to put them to work on Borderlands, and yet was still collecting full payments from Sega as if they were working on Aliens: Colonial Marines. When Sega discovered this misconduct they canceled Colonial Marines, which led to the games protracted development; "At some point in 2008, Sega temporarily pulled the plug on the game 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 game drew additional controversy due to the fact that much of the game's development was not by Gearbox Software, but was outsourced to other developers in order to compensate for mismanagement on behalf of Gearbox. While Sega initially denied that any such outsourcing occurred, sources claimed that developers Demiurge Studios and Nerve Software were responsible for the game's downloadable content, while TimeGate Studios was responsible for the majority of the game's campaign, and were unable to create the planned Beta version on schedule despite several delays. This caused the game to be rushed through redesigns, certification and shipping, despite being in a largely unfinished state.

On April 5, 2013, Sega confirmed that the Wii U port of the game is no longer in development.


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