Only Way To Be Sure: Lost Aliens RPG Art

Via io9, a bittersweet cocktail of previously-seen and freshly-revealed concept art casting light on what direction Obsidian’s sadly cancelled Aliens RPG was going in. That direction being “massive, ‘orrible new variants of Old Man Xenomorph.” Take a look at what Aliens: Crucible might have been below.

I’m sure there’ll be some outrage at how much it was going to mess with the beast, but gosh-darn, I’d love to have played that. Thinking about how an RPG within in a survival and militaristic situation, where stats are surely little-to-no defence against murderous, biology-bending predators makes my brain itch to know more.

In fact, while I can’t work out whether we posted this prototype footage of in-game action when it first did the rounds a year ago, it’s worth looking at for context now. I wonder if any of its ideas found their way into the divisive Alpha Protocol?

There’s more scraps of what-if information and visuals over on AvPGalaxy.

Meantime, what’s going on with Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines? Hopefully that’s going to raise its head once Duke Nukem’s had his big, noisy comeback in May. They mostly announce their games after they’ve shipped their previous ones. Mostly.


  1. Brumisator says:

    mostly, joke get!

  2. MrWolf says:

    Wait, how was Alpha Protocol “divisive”? Wasn’t that fecal-smeared garbage considered universally repellent?

    • dethtoll says:

      Not even close. Troll harder.

    • Kaira- says:

      I found it more enjoyable than the game it was most often compared to – Mass Effect 2.

    • Nick says:

      Usually by people who didn’t play it.

    • Flint says:

      One of the best of 2010.

    • Isometric says:

      I find it fascinating how emotionally torn people were over Alpha Protocol. Just as much as people were with Mafia II. I played them both and was disappointed by them both in various ways but I also loved them (in various ways).

    • valhala89 says:

      It essentially was Mass Effect 1.5 with a bitch of a helicopter… I mean seriously who the fuck was piloting that thing? Chuck Norris?

    • Mark says:

      Alpha Protocol was actually pretty cool in the way it handled the role-playing element. It was just the action that sucked. It’s the same reason why I feel fairly confident that an Alien RPG helmed by Obsidian would have been quite awful. When you look across their body of work it’s bizarre, because they have some of the best writers in the industry but, at the same time, they can’t design combat systems for shit.

    • Flint says:

      I greatly enjoyed Alpha Protocol’s combat, but I played it stealthily: sneaking around, nabbing people off one by one with silenced weapons. Apparently direct combat’s a bit suckier.

    • Bhazor says:

      I wouldn’t say they suck at action or gameplay in general. Certainly I thought Kotor 2 was much improved with the combat feats and extra styles there the combat actually had some semblance of strategy compared to the original’s. NW 2 was essentially a less streamlined version of Dragon Age’s combat which was essentially a highly polished and gussied up Infinity engine. To me the iron sights in Vegas are a great example of a tiny change with a big effect on gameplay and overall feeling.

      But yeah the combat in Alpha was pretty sucky. Luckily it never lasted long enough to become a chore unlike some parts of the original Mass Effect say where some of those missions lasted for an hour in identikit tunnels.

      Reply to Flint
      I always thought the stealth was like Batman Arkham Asylum or Beyond Good and Evil. Which is lucky because thats my favourite kind of stealth level. Each area designed like a little stand alone puzzle with predictable patrols and no need to worry about turning lights off or leaving bodies.

    • Jad says:

      Wasn’t that fecal-smeared garbage considered universally repellent?

      No, you’re thinking of Rogue Warrior. Or Leisure Suite Larry: Box Office Bust. Or Damnation. Or anything else in the “utter shit” category.

      Alpha Protocol is in the “ambitious but flawed” category. They are very different things. Learn them and you won’t look like an idiot on the internet.

    • Tei says:

      Alpha Protocol was a great RPG, but some people expectations where mad, like a gears of war, or a diablo, and was angry to find the game was more like a mass effect.

    • Zanchito says:

      Alpha Protocol is very much a direct console port, with all related problems. Also, it is very much fun and compelling, I’m enjoying it thoroughly.

    • brulleks says:

      Alpha Protocol is one of the few games that I’ve finished and immediately wanted to start again.

      The combat may not have been the best, but once I’d levelled right up on pistol (silenced) and martial arts I was having a great time – the thwacks and phuts were most satisfying.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      It was divisive because… Well, I suppose you calling it fecal-smeared garbage and then being immediately labeled a troll ought to explain things nicely.

      Seriously though, I liked Alpha Protocol, but it’s one of those ‘games I liked but would never criticize anyone else for loathing’. The game made a horrific first impression, was slow to start, had a slew of infuriating, broken as hell minigames, was shoddy in many places and certainly didn’t live up to what it was originally hyped as. And let me tell you, I generally glower quite a bit when anyone tells me “NO THE GAME GETS REALLY GOOD AFTER (section that comprises the first two hours of the fucking game)” Even if it’s true. ESPECIALLY if it’s true. Where the game really took off was with its mutability. That, and pumping endurance, dual wielding uzis and just running through levels soaking up bullets like the goddamn Terminator.

      There was someone in the Sunday Papers, I think, awhile back who wrote something along the lines of Obsidian being known for ‘exchanging one type of quality for another’, and I think that really summarizes how I felt about AP. If you thought it was unfinished crap, well, you’re not wrong! But if you thought it was actually sort of brilliant, well, you weren’t wrong either. Generally with Obsidian titles, I often feel both ways at once.

  3. Navagon says:

    As much as I like the idea of a less action-driven Alien game, this never really looked like it was going to be what I was hoping for. Obsidian is a very hit and miss developer too. Mostly misses. So maybe it’s not the end of the world.

  4. Alaric says:

    Obsidian’s anything cannot be “sadly canceled.” It can only be “fortunately canceled.”

    I am specifically referring to horrible KotOR2 and NWN2. The rest of their games I haven’t played, but heard plenty of bad, and very little good, which goes in line with my own experiences.

    • AlexW says:

      On the contrary, Obsidian’s games can only be sadly pushed out before completion. It’s tremendously lengthy in total, but read this screenshot Let’s Play of KotOR2 (link to and you’ll see just how much thought they put into plot, gameplay, making lovable characters, and even philosophy, before their meagre production time ran out and they had to ship it incomplete. They’re a great development studio, they’re just not miracle workers.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      By my count they’ve done 3 sequels to games that were already great and managed to improve each one in basically every area. What a crappy studio.

    • Bhazor says:

      “For the record, I tend to agree more with Czerka than the Ithorians.

      The Outer Rim worlds under the Republic were pretty much massacred during the Jedi Civil War, and Telos was suppose to be the Republic’s flagship restoration project. If Telos failed, there would be no more money to help fund the restoration of other worlds.

      The Ithorians sounded like good ecologists, and given enough time they would have restored Telos to the way it use to be, but it wouldn’t have given the Republic enough of a return on their investment. In other words, they would have saved Telos, but they would have lost the Republic. Whereas Czerka sounded like they had a economic plan for the restoration of the planet, and while they didn’t have the Telosian’s best interests in mind, it would have been just what the Republic needed.

      I liked that the Dark Side vs. Light Side choices in this game are more gray in nature than in the previous game; Dark Side isn’t necessarily just robbing old ladies and eating succulent baby flesh. There’s a similar murky dichotomy coming up with the political situation on Onderon, one of the next planets.” (from the lets play AlexW linked to)

      What a crap excuse for a moral choice. It isn’t even colour coded.

    • Alaric says:

      I’m sorry, gentlemen, I must be terribly shallow, but I genuinely don’t care how much effort went into something as long as the final product is sub par. Certainly none of you would want to play any games that I could make, despite the fact that I would put blood, sweat and tears into those games, not to mention much thought, philosophy, etc.

      I am not saying the folks at Obsidian are bad people, or unintelligent, or uncreative. In fact I am willing to bet they are all swell fellows, to a man. But playing their games is an ordeal that I don’t care to repeat ever again. I’d much rather chat, or have a beer, or play someone else’s game with them.

      Purely my personal opinion, that.

  5. Baboonanza says:

    Mmmm, sci-fi corridor porn.

    As a big Alien lover (ooo-er) I was quite sad when this got cancelled, but as others have noted I’d rather have had it cancelled than have it as one of Obsidian’s unpredictable disasters.

  6. imirk says:

    RPG game, gah! ATM Machine it is!

  7. Inigo says:

    Somewhere H.R. Giger is making a strangled growling noise in the back of his throat as he claws at the air in another hate-spasm.

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      You know, I’m not so sure. Have you ever seen the original concept art Giger made for Alien? It was a LOT different from our beloved Xenomorphs. They were these sexy naked female-type thingymajigs.

      Google image ‘Necronom V’, or be lazy why don’t you? (link to
      Hell, if you look at ‘Necronom IV’, it was wearing fucking SUNGLASSES! The Carnifex-Xenomorph above is a lot closer to the movie-version than his original concept drawings.

      Rumours are, Necronom IV-style Xenomorphs will be in the prequel! Which I am looking forward to.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      Necronom wasn’t Alien concept art, though, it was stuff Giger had already made that he drew on, with the approval of Scott, to inspire the actual designs. Like that one with the three alien heads with full-on penises coming out their mouths. And there’s probably one out there with a bunch of penises with aliens squeezing out the ends, but I haven’t really done any research.

      So, either way, Inigo is 100% right that Giger wouldn’t like any of this new stuff because it’s just not phallic enough.

  8. Azazel says:

    Looks like a Carnifex. The circle is complete.

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      Crazy huh? Giger to 40k to Starcraft to Gigeresque. Art repeats art.

      It’s ridiculous how much that thing looks like a carnifex! I swear there’s even carnifex artwork in the exact same pose.

  9. Shih Tzu says:

    I guess it’s a big month for canceled Aliens games. Here’s Part 1 of a walkthrough for a recently discovered prototype of Aliens for the NES, from none other than Square and Activision.

    link to

  10. TooNu says:

    I’m just quoting incase nobody gets it.

    “They mostly come out at night. Mostly”

    • Renzatic says:

      What? Obsidian games? They mostly come out on the UPS truck first thing in the morning. Mostly.

    • AlexW says:

      Wouldn’t “Game over, man! Game over!” or even “Take off, nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure,” be better for this case?

      Or even better, Ripley yelling at Mother to override the self-destruct.

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      Well yes. But as much as I like Bill Paxton’s iconic line(s) from the movie, every time I hear ‘They mostly . . . mostly’ I hear it being said in Cartman’s squeaky little voice. So it gets an automatic win from me.

    • Vorrin says:

      Hah, exactly what I was thinking, it’s forever saved in my mind as the squeaky version… fair enough I guess, the little girl in the movie was to me the least befitting element, I’m quite happy for ‘mostly’ to be a Cartman thing.

      So yeh, win!

    • bill says:

      Did you just criticise Newt?!?!??!

  11. MajorTomG says:

    It mostly just sucks that this didn’t get made. Mostly.

  12. bhlaab says:

    Well if this didn’t get cancelled we wouldn’t have Fallout New Vegas

  13. Jason Moyer says:

    I think most if not all of the screens in that video are from here:

    link to

    In any case, getting an Obsidian Aliens game and a Gearbox Aliens game in the same year instead of that terrible AVP game would have been sweet.

  14. ophite says:

    To be fair, that’s pretty much what I imagine H.R. Giger is doing at all times.

  15. Tizoc says:

    That’s a fine looking “ConrolTower” they built there.

  16. kyrieee says:

    That looked worse than Alpha Protocol

  17. Armante says:

    That’s not an Alien in the pic at the top, it’s a dinosaur. Bloody awful.
    Giger would have been apoplectic.

  18. Gravy says:

    We’ere in the pipe five by five…. Oh.

  19. Angryinternetman says:

    Theres nothing wrong with that alien, as the alien takes his form of his host. So what if the facehugger attacked a … bear?

  20. Jonathan says:

    “I’m sure there’ll be some outrage at how much it was going to mess with the beast”

    Actually, if you read any of the Aliens comics, and presumably any novelisations, you’ll see that there are all manner of xenomorph variants, because they take on characteristics of their host (in fact, there’s a dog alien in Alien 3). They’ve been immortalised in various horrifyingly tacky toys.

    Snake: link to
    Panther: link to
    Arachnid: link to
    Mantis: link to
    Bull: link to

  21. RedViv says:

    Alpha Protocol was a horribly broken and buggy piece of garbage software,
    And I loved every bloody minute of this wonderful game, intermingled with those minutes of reload and bug hate each other hour.
    I guess it would have been the same with this one, being published and hurried onwards by the same publisher.

    Now, if Obsidian gets considerably better quality assurance and less stress, they can at least deliver thoroughly playable stuff like New Vegas. I hope they keep that up and Square Enix’ assurance of better testing does not only apply to the future of FFX14 and Human Revolution.

  22. Chaz says:

    I’ve always thought the easiest way to stop the spread of the alien menace would be to just ban the sale of eggs. It would put a stop to all of those breakfast time accidents and alien genetic contamination.

    “I say dear, those large eggs you bought the other day look like they might be going a bit off. Oh look the top has opened for me to dip my toast soldiers into it. I say what the blazes is that? Mmmphgg……………”

    Of course you could also improve the lighting in your military industrial complexes. A bit of white paint and good overhead lighting could do the world of good in all those poorly lit dull grey corridors.

  23. bill says:

    An Aliens RPG is such a great idea. Obsidian might be terrible developers, but i’d still rather have had their inevitably broken version than none at all.

    Who has the Aliens game license? Now Zenimax has more money than god and is picking up studios and engines like candy – maybe they should resurrect it. Obsidian and their ok (but highly over-rated) writers could do the story, and ID could do the engine and combat.

    Alternatively, Zenimax/bethesda could get back the Terminator license and do a terminator RPG. Future shock meets Sarah Connor Chronicles.