After announcing its acquisition of the licensing rights for 20th Century Fox’s Aliens franchise, Sega teased two projects based on the property—a role-playing game and a first-person shooter. Within a few short years, Sega unceremoniously cancelled the RPG, which had been helmed by Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian Entertainment. Many would later contend the FPS from Borderlands studio Gearbox Software should’ve suffered a similar fate. Instead, it arguably endured far worse, and not at all for the better.
Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines was intended as a showcase of what’s possible when a licensed brand and a skilled group of developers meet in perfect harmony. Fox and Sega additionally envisioned Colonial Marines as a stepping stone to narrow the divide between gaming and film. The shooter’s canonical narrative exemplified this intention tenfold. Gearbox’s efforts failed spectacularly, though, culminating in a mess of broken promises that long tarnished its reputation.
According to a host of accusations leveled against Gearbox, mishandled resources, professional dishonesty, and a lack of passion beset the game’s lengthy and tumultuous development cycle. While studio representatives have denied these claims, the word of former staff members paints an entirely different picture, one that suggests Colonial Marines was never in a position to fulfill its promise of faithfully expanding upon the beloved sci-fi universe.
This is the tragedy of Aliens: Colonial Marines.