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Alien Demo-lition

So the critical press is really slamming on Aliens: Colonial Marines, the recently released first-person shooter (FPS) developed by Gearbox, that purports to be a true sequel to James Cameron's seminal Aliens film. Given that critical response, I'm sure the franchise license holders will be distancing themselves from that claim.

From a fan perspective the game's poor execution is especially disappointing, since the game has had a lengthy gestation period - it was originally announced in December 2006 - and having receiving cautious, but encouraging buzz since then. Especially a recent gameplay demo that many prominent sites used as the basis for their preview write-ups in December of last year.

Destructoid's Casey Baker wrote that the game was "a total package [that] should be a solid enough shooter to appease all sorts of fans of the series, but it's also a retread of many outdated and familiar gameplay mechanics", while Gamesradar's David Houghton thought it had "flashes of potential greatness". Houghton highlighted how an encounter with just a handful of the Alien Xenomorphs ended up being a "very satisfying" when coupled with the smart environmental design. While none of the previews were overwhelmingly positives, most acknowledging that there were rough edges that needed dealing with.

But that's not unusual. There have been many games that haven't lived up to the potential of their previews. Oftentimes you get situations were the demo was the best part of the experience. Sort of like when a movie trailer shows you the best bits of the movie; after that, the movie isn't nearly as satisfying.

With Aliens: Colonial Marines, the situation is a bit different. Many critics are pointing out, that the demo they used as the basis of their previews from last year is technically superior to what was actually released. In other words, what they're saying is, is that the game they were shown last year, is not the same game that has been released to the public.

Having neither played the final game or seen the demo myself, I can't comment on the veracity of their claims, but it is difficult to argue against video evidence.'s Matt Lees and Steve Burns, along with Destructoid's Jim Sterling, have both produced videos showing the differences between the demo and the final game and it is very convincing. But now, you're wondering why this such a big deal. Well the implication is that Gearbox effectively lied about the quality of the game, showing the press - and by proxy potential consumers - one thing and then releasing another.

I don't know that I would go so far as to say that Gearbox deliberately tried to deceive consumers, but I am burning with curiosity to know, how Aliens: Colonial Marines went from a technically sound demo to a technically inferior game. Particularly when you consider the short space of time between the when the demo was shown, December 2012, and the game's release, February 2013.

You can check out the two videos below and make up your own mind.

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