Get Away From Her, You Glitch: ACM’s 3.8GB Patch

a turd, getting polished, yesterday

Seeing that Gearbox have put out a 3.8GB patch for their rather woeful Aliens: Colonial Marines makes me feel like a nurse in a hospital drama, the one who sadly, calmly puts an hand on the shoulder of a crying, screaming doctor who’s desperately trying to resucitate an expired patient he thought he could save. “It’s no good,” I would say. “It’s over.” Then we’d have a hug and a cry, and maybe a slice of cake. Only I don’t think it’s possible to hug an entire game development studio, and I don’t know whether Randy Pitchford likes cake or not.

I’m far from convinced that a 3.8GB patch can bring Aliens: Colonial Marines back to life, but perhaps it’s admirable that they’re at least trying. Contained within those many megabytes are some new, improved textures for the somewhat murky-lookin’ game, along with “various visual improvements.” I’m not sure whether this includes making Aliens no longer look like they’ve just come back from a game of paintballing?

There are also a ton of bug fixes in there, the most telling of which include “Tweaked enemy and friendly AI to be more aggressive and responsive” and “Improved enemy collision detection regarding doors and Power Loader.” In other words, NPCs and Aliens are mostly less embarrassingly stupid now, mostly.

You can read the full patch notes here – lousy characterisation and general air of tedium are not listed among the fixes, I’m afraid. As well as the patch’s colossal girth, it’s the first update for the game in over a month, which arguably suggests they did put the hours in to make it, but who knows?

The patch should forcefully apply itself to your game via Steam right about now.


  1. Neosubu says:

    Right about now!

  2. Cara Ellison says:

    This is actually the best headline ever

  3. Risingson says:

    Fixed: size of the moon.

    • Ross Angus says:

      Fixed: flying jaguars

    • brulleks says:

      Fixed: mincing xenomorphs

      I suspect this changelog might actually surpass that of Boiling Point.

      • slerbal says:

        Interestingly Boiling Point eventually turned into a pretty amazing game that wasn’t surpassed in scope until Just Cause 2. I get the feeling that this set of patches is turning a train wreck into scrap metal…

        • brulleks says:

          Very true. At least Boiling Point was worthy of ongoing improvements.

          Even though I could never finish it, or its sequel, because of game-ending bugs, up until then they were both a lot of fun.

  4. Sherlock says:

    Hopefully they just replaced the game files with those for Natural Selection 2.

    • Ansob says:

      I would probably kill several people for UWE to make a single-player/four-player co-op NS2 game mode.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        The Spark engine is pretty moddable, and I know you have the game dev chops. Give it a shot!

    • Rhuhuhuhu says:

      Please, Don’t even mention such a great game in the presence of this pile of shit.

  5. xfstef says:

    I’m still curious if this botched launch was their fault or maybe the fault of some obscure manager to whom the date and the oceans are more important than the game itself…
    Bankers and economists have almost destroyed the world economy and now they are doing their best to ruin our games.

    • Teovald says:

      You may want to dig up some RPS articles from the past 2 months. This game had a very weird production involving 2 different studios.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        4 different studios, actually. Gearbox, TimeGate, Demiurge, Nerve.

        TimeGate did the campaign, Demiurge did netcoding, Nerve did multiplayer maps, and Gearbox handled pre-production as well as everything else.

        Apparently, Gearbox was shuffling employees from A:CM to Borderlands 2 and not telling Sega while still collecting milestone checks as if they had a full team. Eventually, Sega found out, was pissed, and initially pulled the plug. This caused a round of layoffs at Gearbox. Then the game came back on track. Gearbox began outsourcing some stuff to TimeGate and, due to Gearbox constantly asking to push the title back, A:CM’s release date began to align with BL2. Gearbox realized they couldn’t make A:CM a top-quality game within the time needed and still devote enough resources to BL2, so they began to outsource as much as they could, bringing on Nerve and Demiurge to do DLC as well as help out with the multiplayer.

        The handling of A:CM was a total mess.

    • DonDrapersAcidTrip says:

      “Bankers and economists have almost destroyed the world economy and now they are doing their best to ruin our games.”

      Uh oh, now we’re really in trouble.

      • Hahaha says:

        “now” have people just missed the downward trend that’s been happening for years?

    • Crimsoneer says:

      You know, sometimes, you just really can’t blame the bankers. I know, it’s shocking.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Who would have believed that a Sopwith Camel could take out the Bismark with a lucky strike!

      • Antsy says:

        Twas a Fairey Swordfish, or did I miss something? Hard to know with these darn interwebs!

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          Anar but couldn’t get the fag reference to work………..

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            Now you’re just deliberately trying to confuse any American readers.

    • Shuck says:

      A friend of mine had a minor role on the dev team for this. He claims that he finished his work on it, left for end-of-year vacation and came back to find that the game that had shipped was, more or less, not the game he worked on. Apparently in efforts to make it run on consoles, they did last-minute replacements of assets, removed content, changed layouts, and altered rendering quality, which had knock-on effects on pathfinding, and other AI, etc. (Which is why it didn’t resemble the demo in graphical quality, and why aliens would get stuck various places.)
      Sounds like they’ve simply gone back to their less broken, earlier version with higher quality maps and assets. Of course, the fundamental problems with the gameplay will remain, even if it’s less glitchy.

      • Baines says:

        I’d wondered if Gearbox had caused a lot of the damage in their rush to “fix” the game.

        Many of the problems with the game sounded like the kind of stuff that can happen when you do a last minute desperate push to get a game running on a weaker engine.

    • EPICTHEFAIL says:


    • crizzyeyes says:

      I live in Texas and go to school at the University of Texas at Dallas, which is a pretty good school for game design, which is the program I’m involved in. A rep from Gearbox (which is a local studio), Matt Charles, comes here every semester to judge pitches for a lab course that simulates the industry.
      I got into a discussion with one of my professors about A:CM, and he says that from the Gearbox employees he’s talked to, they basically had to ship the game at the time that they did or face severe repercussions (Sega being sued by Fox for not following through with their license, I think).

      So from what I understand it’s possibly a matter of poor project/time management, yes, but also a matter of “we were working on Borderlands” and uncompromising executives.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        Don’t let Gearbox fool you. They shuffled employees around and lied to Sega about outsourcing as well as their own internal team size and continued to collect milestone checks. Once they were caught, Sega pulled the plug. Sega then decided to go ahead with it and things were back on. Gearbox continued to outsource and lag behind on development, focusing more and more on Borderlands 2. Once Sega finally had enough of Gearbox asking for extensions, they demanded that the game be finished.

        Gearbox had announced they were working on an Aliens game with Sega publishing back in December of 2006. In February of 2008, Gearbox announced that the title was Aliens: Colonial Marines. Gearbox had 5 years from the title’s announcement to release date to make the game. A little over 6 years if you count prior to to the title’s name being released. Im not saying Sega is perfect, but they did not rush this game at all until it became clear that Gearbox was just dragging ass.

  6. Cinek says:

    “New Xeno appearance customization added.” – EXACTLY what I’ve been waiting for!

  7. Askeladd says:

    Air of Tedium: The Reckoning

  8. Axyl says:

    Randy Pitchford deserves no cake.

  9. Jason Moyer says:

    You know what else had a massive patch yesterday? Skyrim. 20.9 megs.

    • Screamer says:

      Battlefield 3 wants me to download a 6 gig patch, and then 4 gigs for End Game :/

    • Prime says:

      Seriously, don’t start. I’ve got a paused download for Skyrim sitting at 12.9Mb out of a 9.5Gb download, meaning it’s now impossible for me to play the game I bought unless I sacrifice 10 Gb of my precious monthly download allowance to it. Thanks for that update that reduced these whopping game updates to just their essential files, Valve. This is MUCH better.

      Sometimes I hate Steam so much I literally ‘flame on’ like Johnny Storm a.k.a The Human Torch.

      (aand to check those figures I had to wait 5 minutes for Steam itself to update with what I can only assume were more Big Picture features, Big Picture being that thing that I will likely never ever use. Siiiiiiiiiigh.)

      • oldestgregg says:

        Get another ISP or even better still……..sacrifice the whole monthly allowance to play that great game!

        • welverin says:

          My suggestion would be to wait until the end of the month and resume the update and pause it again before hitting the download limit and to do so each month until it’s done and with luck it’s one of the ridiculous overstated updates.

      • Screamer says:

        Which is one of the biggest problems I have with Steam. Ramming patches down your throat.
        “Whats that I hear, you don’t want a piece of mama’s pie? Well you’re going the eat the whole fucking thing!”

        At least Origin allows me to still play singleplayer games if I choose not to install their patches.

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          I wonder if you can help me as you seem to know a lot about computers.

          The trouble I’m having is turning my windows PSee off, someone has mentioned that this can be done in the start menu. This seems counter intuitive, are they winding me up?

          Thanks in advance!

        • lasikbear says:

          You can actually turn off auto-update in Steam too, I think by right-clicking the game in the list and then going to some preferences menu. It’s called something pretty unintuitive, but it does exist.

      • SpoiledToast says:

        You can disable the automatic updating in the updates tab in the game’s properties menu.

        • Screamer says:

          That doesn’t work! According to Steam support , that is to only delay the update. Eventually the game will refuse to launch until the patch is applied.

          • x1501 says:

            Nonsense. What they probably mean is that your client may potentially become too old to compatible with Steam, but I seriously doubt that it ever happens.

          • Screamer says:

            It has happened lots of times, but please continue.

          • x1501 says:

            I used to put a whole bunch of games off auto-update myself back when I had a bandwidth cap, and I never experienced anything similar to what you describe. You may have had issues with auto-update turning back on with Steam client updates (SkittleDiddler mentions it below), but fully installed and previously games just refusing to launch without additional patching? I guess I’m going to have to take your word for it.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Does that really work though? Every game I’ve turned auto updates off for has eventually turned them back on at some point, whether through a Steam restart or some random event. Maybe they fixed that, I wouldn’t know because I stopped bothering with the whole process a long time ago.

          • Stan Lee Cube Rick says:

            Apparently not. When I’d heard of the impending update to Plants Vs Zombies replacing the Michael Jackson zombie with a more politically correct character, I turned off auto-update for that game. Regardless, I got that game of the year patch anyway, at the same time as everyone else.

      • welverin says:

        So, I’ve got to ask, if you have a download limit why do you have auto update turned on?

        • Apocalypse says:

          What he said.

        • HothMonster says:

          He doesn’t he says it is sitting their waiting. But that means when he tries to launch the game steam will say, patches need to be applied before starting the game and it will start downloading. Unless Skyrim doesn’t use steamworks drm then he can just go to the folder and launch the exe but I’m not sure about Skyrim.

          • welverin says:

            He said the update was paused, so it was clearly started, so it was either set to auto update, or he started it intentionally without finding out what it entailed.Either way his fault.

            However, Steam often says updates are far larger than they are in reality and it won’t actually download 9.5 GB, I base this on the number of times I’ve gotten updates that are for the size of the game itself that don’t take nearly long enough to download.for the figures to be accurate.

        • Prime says:

          Because downloading a 20.9 meg patch is a perfectly acceptable download size for auto updating. Not many games go much higher than a couple of hundred meg for an update, which is well within my download budget. No-one really expects a 9.5gb download for a year old game, though, do they?

      • roryok says:

        Sometimes I hate Steam so much I literally ‘flame on’ like Johnny Storm a.k.a The Human Torch.

        Literally. And then the coffee in the mug turns to Steam

      • aiusepsi says:

        I don’t know why you’d assume Big Picture features, there weren’t any in that Steam update: link to

        It’s all dull stuff like: “Fixed cases where Steam could get stuck in offline mode and be unable to launch”

      • Jason Moyer says:

        I have no idea how you have a 9.5 gig Skyrim update queued. Seriously, mine was 21 megs.

        • roryok says:

          depends on how long since he last played or when he installed. Could include the Hires texture update from around when the game launched.

        • Deadly Sinner says:

          I don’t see how that is possible, considering I’m pretty sure that’s bigger than the game + all DLCs.

          • Prime says:

            I’m right with you there. How is that possible after a year and my having played 145 hours of it?

            – There’s no DLC.
            – I already have the hi-res texture upgrade.
            – Could it be Steam workshop mods? Even if that were so, it’s still ludicrous.

            I have auto-update enabled because you really don’t expect 10 gig downloads after a year of ownership, but wanted to keep on top of any official patches.

  10. Zaftrum189 says:

    You know, I left A:CM installed on Steam just incase they did patch it and the game improved considerably, so I could see the difference; but after playing through it twice it really is the sheer mediocrity of the campaign’s story that makes it so hard to ever pick up again.

    • AngoraFish says:

      But you played it through twice. That’s two times more than I can say about pretty much every game I currently own…

      • solidsquid says:

        Question is how long is it? Some games you can complete the main story in 8-10 hours, and I doubt you’d want to spend the time looking for extra content with this

        edit: or an even better example, Pokemon Fire Red (and Pokemon in general really) was advertised as being a really long game, but really if you make an effort you can finish it in under 3 hours

        • darkChozo says:

          I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that if you’re speed running Pokemon, you’re probably doing it wrong.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          The Angry Joe Show stated that he completed the game on Ultimate Badass mode in co-op in under 8 hours. He guessed that the singleplayer on easy or medium could be done in about 5 hours or less.

  11. Rossi says:

    I have the game installed but I’ve not played it. After reading the reviews I quickly scroll past it in my games library and pretend that the listed expenditure on my credit card statement was for a hefty parking fine.

    I’m not sure this patch is going to make me want to play the game.

  12. Meat Circus says:

    General air of TEDIUMFACE.

  13. guygodbois00 says:

    Upon reading the headlines I remembered Sin (back in 1998 or so) with it’s , then, monstrous 30-40 MB or maybe little more, patch. Heh.

  14. JackShandy says:

    “Only I don’t think it’s possible to hug an entire game development studio, ”

    You think we can’t be hugged? Do we not bleed?

  15. Apocalypse says:

    He is dead Jim.

  16. Arithon says:

    The patch was delayed while GearBox met with Maxis/EA to thank them in person. Talk about causing a diversion..

  17. kevmscotland says:

    Updated, played a bit of the first and second mission to check it out.
    Good points:
    Some advanced lighting effects have been thrown back in. Its still not the demo, but its a step towards it. Environmental effects are still static though (like the swinging light in the demo).
    Aliens seem harder, they can take out your armor in 1 hit now if they get close enough, and they pounce hell of a lot more.
    I died several times in the landing bay escape in the first mission (the bit where bishops half is). Not sure if their cleverer, a bit of a placebo effect in that when they feel harder anyway, so possibly. Incidentally, the Dropship explosion has been improved.
    Textures are sharper.
    Overall lighting is darker now, giving it more atmosphere. This combined with new added smoke/fog effects and it looks better. This comes at it cost though, which leads me to….
    Overall performance hit from the new effects, Clearly not optimised properly, atleast not yet anyway.
    A terrible grain filter has been added over the players view. I cant help feeling this is designed to create a false atmosphere but feels really badly implemented. It does allow for some lense flare and splatter effects on screen though that work well.
    Really, really badly implemented FoV slider. It adjusts the FoV just fine, but with cut scenes and models built with the default FoV in mind, I saw some bad clipping issues. The part where the first lurker descends on you when your freeing keyes, and also the cutting of keyes out of the cocoon are prime examples of this not working well at all.
    Although textures are better, models still suck.

    • Baines says:

      I’ve read that people have already modded out the grain filter.

  18. Seraph says:

    “an hand”
    Why do you Brits do this? I cringe every time I see it.

  19. dE says:

    But all is great and forgiven, for you can now buy the Bughunt DLC for 15€. Ain’t that great? You finally get to play the parts that broke off when we pushed the game off the truck! We spent all of our time collecting broken pieces and torn bits and smashing them together for this great addon.

  20. Kamos says:

    “I’m far from convinced that a 3.8GB patch can bring Aliens: Colonial Marines back to life”

    Well, 3.8 GB is enough for a completely new game.

  21. DestructibleEnvironments says:


    That’s what this patch added.