Aliens: Colonial Marines
Platform: Playstation 2
Release Date: Cancelled
Genre: First Person Shooter
Publisher: Fox Interactive, Electronic Arts
Developer: Check Six
Aliens: Colonial Marines was originally greenlit in 2000 to be published by Electronic Arts and developed by Check Six. EA announced the game in May 2001 and it was going to be released in Autumn of that year. The game itself was a first-person squad-based shooter and you could play as one person from a group of colonial marines sent to investigate the Sulaco.
Story and Gameplay
At the start, you come across the Sulaco which has been boarded by a salvage vessel which is stealing the ship’s military equipment and resources. The commanding officer, Lt. Nakamuri, orders your ship to dock on the Sulaco after the salvage vessel fails to respond. You’re tasked to find out what happened and get the Sulaco back up and running by putting out fires and cleaning up toxic spills. It was discovered that the Xenomorphs were aboard the Sulaco and had infected the crew of the salvage vessel.
Aliens: Colonial Marines is broken into levels and is mission-based. There are three main acts in the game, and each one is made up of about seven levels. The first act takes place on board the Sulaco and the makers hinted that the final act would take place on the aliens’ home planet. The game’s weapons are all inspired by what we saw in Aliens.
There are flamethrowers, pulse rifles with grenade-launcher attachments, and the shoulder-mounted smart gun. As for the aliens, the familiar creatures appear like Facehuggers, Chestbursters, Warriors and Praetorians but we’ll see “more than two new types”.
Why It Was Cancelled
In April 2002, EA confirmed Aliens Colonial Marines was coming out in November 2002 but a month or so later, EA said that the game was on hold and was no longer being developed. Electronic Arts officially cancelled ACM in October 2002 and said “there were no plans to pick up its development in the future”. The game was nowhere near completion upon its cancellation.
The game was suffering serious performance problems on the Playstation 2 hardware. In IGN’s E3 Preview, they noted that the game had some framerate issues:
The game moves a slow framerate right now, but the controls were imminently better than in Alien Resurrection, with quick response and rapid turnaround times. I was glad to finally play a game that played like the movies, and that is also good. Now they just have to speed the game up to 60 fps, speed up and tune the controls and work story-based scripts into the game, hopefully like in Half-Life of Red Faction, and they’ll have a hit on their hands.
Check Six only ever released one game and it was Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly which they co-developed with Equinoxe Digital Entertainment. The game was released in November 2002 to negative reviews. Many critics noted the serious framerate problems as well as technical issues. A second title was planned but cancelled after the negative reviews. Check Six also had to pay Universal a fee for violating a contract and the financial impact led to the closure of Check Six and Equinoxe.
In an interview with Wumpa Gem, Joel Goodsell, game director for Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly, spoke about the troubles the game had and mentioned Aliens: Colonial Marines was also having major technical problems.
Check Six also had a contract with Warner Brothers for an Alien Colonial Marines game being worked on simultaneously with Spyro. The game had some amazing lighting – on the order of what we see in Alien Isolation or Dead Space – way ahead of its time. Unfortunately, performance and production issues killed that title.
Developers Reveal The Truth About Aliens: Colonial Marines
In 2021, some new media and information surfaced about the game. A new unreleased animatic trailer leaked as well as some new screenshots. Mr. FO1 produced a 15-minute documentary about Aliens: Colonial Marines and spoke to Clancy Imislund, a developer.
Check Six got a deal with Maya and they were told to write a SDK for Maya so people can write games. When Clancy started work, he was told to work on Aliens Colonial Marines instead of the SDK. Clancy told the team at Check Six that it was terrible and broken and it needed to be documented so people could work on it. This caused some issues with Maya as four companies bought the SDK and returned it as it wasn’t documented. It was 70% done and the 70% that was, was terrible, slow, buggy and it crashed all the time.
One time, Check Six went to Fox with a DVD they’d burnt. It was a sequence showing the Queen and it worked perfectly prior to the visit. When they showed them the video, the Queen appeared but she was half faded. An explosion occurred which was faded because the shaders were buggy.
The last time they went to Fox, they burnt another DVD of the intro video which worked fine before that. When they showed Fox, the video plays and the game just crashes. You could make out a human character on the screen but the textures weren’t loading and it was about to have some dialogue when the video crashed. This was a surprise to Fox as they’d visited Check Six before and thought the game was looking great. It was at this point, Fox just cancelled the project altogether.
Jamien McBride was a junior programmer for a short period of time on the project. He said when they were doing the concept, there were other kinds of brand new Xenomorphs and you would have to fight them in the game. Jamien said that Check Six was just too small of a company to make a game as big as Colonial Marines. Spyro: Enter the Dragon was basically funding Colonial Marines.
Franck de Girolami was a graphics artist at Check Six and did some work on Aliens and Spyro. He left after a couple of months because of how stressful the work schedule was. He said the codebase was very difficult to work in.
This animatic trailer was never officially released and was leaked in 2021.