Have You Played… Aliens: Colonial Marines?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

You probably haven’t and you probably shouldn’t. A year before the world finally got the Alien game it deserved with Alien: Isolation, the burning wheely bin known as Aliens: Colonial Marines was dragged into public view and stank out the industry with countless bugs, terrible writing, awful levels and magically teleporting NPCs. There were so many problems, they were coming out of the god damn walls.

It was only later that the chaotic nature of its seven-year development would be half-revealed. Gearbox started work on it, then handed the space reins over to Timegate. Depending on who you talk to, Timegate either botched the thing badly or were driven down their perilous path of grievous errors by a haphazard back and forth between the three companies involved (Sega were also in on the disaster – they held the rights).

The campaign mode, which John reviewed, was subject to last minute alterations and demands from one place or another, meaning it was essentially designed by Timegate in a ludicrously short window. After its release and justified panning, the whole thing descended into a prolonged legal spat. “The game feels like it was made in nine months,” one source involved told Kotaku, “and that’s because it was.”

So yeah, maybe give that a go.


Top comments

  1. Skabooga says:

    I'm forever grateful that Colonial Marines exists, if only because this clip exists as a result:
  1. BobbyDylan says:

    This game was amusing for youtube bug vidoes…. and that’s all

  2. Ghostwise says:

    I had a brief moment of “what is he talking about, it was fairly good” confusion. Then I realised that I was thinking about one of the better AvP games, with playable colonial marines.

    Apparently I have erased A:CM from my personal reality in order to protect my fragile, wide-eyed innocence.

    • inspiredhandle says:

      I remember when that AvP came out. Was like “meh. It’s ok. At least A:CM will be out soon.” What a fool I was.

  3. skyturnedred says:

    Anyone tried the TemplarGFX’s ACM Overhaul Mod? Supposedly it fixes a whole lot of things, from graphics to AI.

    • Xantonze says:

      I did (about a month ago), and am sorry to say it’s still shit. What was abysmal before is now a bit crap. In no way did it become a “good game” by today’s standards, which was an impossible agenda I guess.

  4. inspiredhandle says:

    Really? 9 months? What happened to all the early demo stuff then? Thrown in the bin? They had 7 years.

    I played it not long after it came out. Heard it was awful beforehand, decided to try a pirate copy first. Still feel as though I’m owed something.

    In my mind, DNF was ruined by borderlands and A:CM was ruined by borderlands 2. It doesn’t matter what the reality is anymore. This is what I tell myself. Gearbox holds (in my eyes) ultimate responsibility for that shambles.

    • vorador says:

      DNF was mostly ruined by 3D Realms themselves. Gearbox simply cobbled out together the bits and pieces that 3D Realms had been working on, then released. Still, i doubt they put much effort on the game.

      At the time, they were pooling their resources on Borderlands, to the point that supposedly they were secretly moving people from A:CM dev team to Borderlands, and lying to Sega about hitting milestones with a full team.
      I guess that when the cat was out of the bag, Gearbox had to put something out or they would get in even more trouble. And instead of temporarily stopping Borderlands development, they reached to Timegate to outsource development and put together a game out of the bits and pieces that Gearbox had done.

      Timegate had a extremely short windows to create the game, but Gearbox didn’t cared one bit about it.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        One of the worst things to come of the whole situation as well was how this game lead to Timegate’s downfall. There were a lot of people willing to throw them under the bus because they were certain Gearbox couldn’t reaaaallly be at fault because they’d made some rather fun games in the past; and who’d ever heard of Timegate? But TG had made some small but very nicely put-together titles in the past. They weren’t exactly flourishing before this, but when they turned into the scapegoat for this debacle that was what did them in.

        • Jason Moyer says:

          Timegate made the FEAR expansions that were so awful Monolith forgot they existed when making FEAR 2.

          • kalirion says:

            What exactly did you find bad about the FEAR expansions? I liked them, though they were of course, for the most part, more of the same.

          • Subject 706 says:

            Monolith also forgot how to make good games, seeing how much of a step back Fear 2 was compared to its predecessor…

      • po says:

        As one of the people who bought into the original Borderlands before it became hugely popular, on the promise that it would be receiving modding tools after release, I can easily believe that not doing the work and putting the responsibility onto others is the way Gearbox works.

        In that case, when they failed to produce any modding tools they then claimed that the community had already done it.

        Sorry Gearbox, but a saved-game editor falls well short of ‘modding tools’.

        • wyrm4701 says:

          Huh, I had no idea they’d promised mod tools. I really wanted modding tools for BL1.

  5. Skabooga says:

    I’m forever grateful that Colonial Marines exists, if only because this clip exists as a result:

    • Bugamn says:

      When I saw that this comment was featured I knew exactly what video that would be.

  6. Raoul Duke says:

    I went in with such low expectations that I actually didn’t think it was that bad…

  7. RickyButler says:

    A:CM, I’d say, is actually really fun to play co-op. Terrible as it is, the whole MST3K shtick comes naturally with a friend.

  8. Jason Moyer says:

    I stopped playing fairly early, when you start shooting humans for some reason. Other than the middle section of AVP2, I don’t think marines vs bad guys has ever worked in an Aliens game.

  9. Unsheep says:

    I bought it for €5 and actually enjoyed it (with the upgrade patch). I even bought the DLC after finishing the main game. So I did enjoy the game, can’t deny that, but I would never have paid full AAA-price for such a short game.

    You need to pick one of the harder difficulties if you play it; it’s when you are getting rushed by the Alien hordes, in true Cameron style, that this game got really fun for me. It felt like old-school FPS in many ways, and I really liked that. No OP health-regen here. On harder difficulty even the slow-paced sections got rather tense.

    There’s no way of defending how Gearbox handled ACM, it was offensive towards consumers. However ACM is not the terrrible disaster mainstream media and mainstream gamers paint it up to be.

  10. tonicer says:

    I played it because i’m a big sucker for blasting aliens with the movie weaponry. One of the many reasons why i hate Isolation.

    It is not a good game but i had more fun with it than the terrible DOOM4. I bought that “thing” because after playing Project Brutality for months and months i thought “Hey DOOM4 could be PB but with modern graphics.” but damn was i wrong. DOOM4 is not what i imagined a new DOOM would be like. I expected for example that it would be PC exclusive but it isn’t … that’s probably why we have disappearing corpses and tiny tiny levels and other consolitis shit in it. It’s a ruined franchise now just like Duke Nukem and Quake only the old titles are really playable.

  11. wyrm4701 says:

    I played something called Aliens: Colonial Marines at the 2nd Rezzed, and walked away intending to buy it on release. Fortunately, advance reviews prevented me from spending money on something that turned out to have no relation to the game I played, outside of the name. I’m still amazed Gearbox got away with that obvious and brazen bait-and-switch. Lesson learned: never buy anything from Gearbox, they lie with neither shame nor consequence.

    • inspiredhandle says:

      I get all sentimental when I think of all the ‘could have been great’ games.

      Somewhere in unfinished game purgatory, the real A:CM is reminiscing with Van Buren over a pint about about what might have been…

  12. Neurotic says:

    Well I enjoyed the hell out of it after the 9Gb ‘We’re Sorry’ patch. If I’d have bought it at release — then yes, I’d be rightly upset. But getting it for cheap and playing it fully patched long after the fact – no problem!

  13. frmrfran says:

    Never had any issues with this game, so I could never understand what everyone hated about it. I thought it was great. Played it on PC..Gamestop laughed at me because they said I was the only person to preorder it PC. Not a single bug or glitch when I played.