Monday, 18 February 2013

Expectations and Reality

You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.

You know it's going to be bad when the Xenomorphs stack up better than the corporate executives....

Alright. If you've been on the Internet and at all interested in the goings on with most major gaming sites, then you've probably caught wind of the massive amount of shit being brought up over one particular game that got released last week: Aliens: Colonial Marines. The game was one of the top sellers on Steam, mostly on the strength of pre-orders and a lot of previews that said it was easily set to be the best Aliens game that had come out in a good long time.

Then the game actually launched, and pretty much everything hit the fan. The reviews have been condemning, to say the least. With scores that are often showing an average of below fifty and perhaps even forty percent, the game seemingly has turned out to be a massive disaster. People are angry, and justifiably so.

A good deal of the blame has fallen on Gearbox, the studio that was charged with the development of the game. Much like Duke Nukem Forever, this game has been floating around for a good number of years -- roughly six -- after the Aliens franchise rights were acquired by Sega. It was only roughly in the last year or so that more concrete details about the game came to light, but what was shown looked good.

Apparently, too good to be true:

This is hardly the only video you'll find on the Internet about the subject of the press demo. Jim Sterling has a lengthy ten minute one that he uploaded the day after the game came out, in which the demo footage is shown and Jim basically just talks about the actual gameplay experience versus what is being shown on the screen. Spoiler alert: the final product is found very wanting.

I'll grant you this: it's hardly the first time that the reality hasn't lived up to the hype. I remember way back in 2006 before the Playstation 3 launch, people were amazed by the Killzone 2 footage. It looked incredible, of course the actual game, while still decent looking, was nowhere near that. That being said, what's the difference here? Why weren't people as angry? I believe that part of it at least has to do with the fact that Killzone 3 looked so good that people knew there had to be some bullshit in there. It's the beginning of a new generation, of course there's going to be a lot of hype and overinflated expectations, that's just part of how things are.

With Aliens: Colonial Marines, the press demo looked good, but not impossible. It wasn't pushing the upper limits of the technology, it wasn't on the bleeding edge. It still was impressive, atmospheric, and looked to be staying incredibly true to the Aliens universe. It wasn't something impossible, which is why the fact that it faltered so badly has been hard for a lot of people to take.

I'm not sure if the bitter feelings that this has engendered are going to go as far as say, legal action. It would be nice to avoid such a thing, even if there might actually even be a case in this entire thing somewhere. I think one of the main lessons here is going to have to be to exercise greater caution and restraint. If waiting until you can play a demo or see reviews of the final product is the only way you're going to be sure, then it's important not to get drawn in by the allure of things like promising previews or pre-order bonuses ... regardless of how potentially tantalizing they are.

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