You get the feeling that Gearbox Software’s founder Randy Pitchford is an excitable guy even when he’s fast asleep, and anyone who’s seen him speak publicly about his company’s wares in the past, is probably very accustomed by now to seeing the chap become visibly enthused. But even by his considerable standards, watching the great man talk about Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines in a private screening yesterday was like watching a man fighting to stop himself from literally exploding with excitement.
And not without reason. Although Pitchford spoke eloquently of his genuine affection for David Fincher’s Alien 3, he says that he wants Colonial Marines to be nothing less than a “true” sequel to James Cameron’s seminal 1986 film Aliens. This means that although there is plenty of tension present during the level that we saw being played, it’s a game that’s primarily about a bunch of bad-ass marines attempting to hold their own against a never-ending horde of ruthless, unstoppable killers.
Pitchford’s dedication to the film means that he’s collaborated directly with some of the artists who originally worked on it; most notably Sid Meid, who designed the human colony of Hadley’s Hope and the iconic H.S.S Sulaco spacecraft, both of which have been recreated in loving detail here. Everything else that’s important – the sound and look of the pulse rifles, the muscular momentum of those ‘Power Loader’ forklifts, the hard-boiled dialogue – is all present and correct.
A new species of alien also made a brief appearance; a heavily armoured, headbutt-loving behemoth known as the ‘Crusher’, which looks like the offspring of a xenomorph queen and a rhinoceros. The only thing that excited Randy Pitchford (and the crowd) more than the cameo appearance from this beast was the sequence that followed, which re-enacts the classic scene from the Director’s Cut version of the film, and involves tight corridors, siren lights and sentry turrets with steadily depleting reserves of ammunition.
And although it isn’t clear whether Pitchford and co have been given permission to use James Horner’s hugely influential musical score, the music that’s currently in place stands as a very faithful – albeit original – approximation of it. Other great news, demonstrated live with the assistance of another member of Gearbox Software, is that the game will have full drop-in/drop-out co-op support, both online and off.
Rebellion’s very reasonable and somewhat underrated Aliens Vs Predator game last year was all well and good, but this is a full-tilt, no-expenses-spared love letter, and if you’ve ever been in love with the film Aliens – a demographic that includes everyone who’s seen it, surely – Colonial Marines is already looking like the kind of thing that’s been custom built to make you do backflips of utter excitement. Just ask Randy Pitchford.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is due for release on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC and Nintendo Wii U in Spring 2012.
Watch the Aliens: Colonial Marines trailer here: