Aliens: Colonial Marines got 99 problems, and looking like it’s from 2005 is one of them. Which is mystifying, given that recent in-game footage clearly showed that a more attractive version of the game did/does exist somewhere. God only knows why they’d put so much effort into a game whose lone memorable achievement is taking as long to develop as Half-Life 2 did, but modders have been busily trying to make Gearbox/Timegate’s mess look a little more as though it was released this decade.
Results so far are mixed, but explorations of the game’s ini files suggest it’s set its own bar mysteriously low, including failing to recognise current-generation graphics cards. Guides to and pre-fixed files for this exist if you want to dabble.
Meanwhile comparatively simple tweaks have introduced better lighting, effects, anti-aliasing and loading speeds thanks to DirectX 10 support. Don’t expect miracles, and bear in mind it’s something of a brute force approach, but it does make things look a little more lively.
However, there’s controversy around this mod, with rival modders suggesting that it’s not true 10iness and indeed there might even be a placebo effect at work. Well, those gentlemen can have their drama – for players the question is whether, whatever the mod actually does, it makes the game look and/or run better for them.
There’s also the SweetFX mod, which I’m struggling not to describe as the Instagram of Unreal engine games – but while what it does to shadows and highlights might be a little exaggerated, it does seem to do very welcome things to ACM’s dim, dull world.
Nothing as yet to fix the lousy AI, turgid writing or unrelenting tedium, alas.