Can a 4GB Update Rescue Aliens: Colonial Marines?

The patch notes suggest that attempts have been made to correct many of the major issues that shipped with the initial release. Will it make a difference to the game experience? Should we even make the effort to find out?

Now the embarrassing dropship crash that was the Aliens: Colonial Marines launch has been eclipsed by the supernova of catastrophe which was Sim City, it seems a good time to go back to see if anything survived the critical apocalypse on LV-426.

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Two days ago, Gearbox Software released their second update, with the first having rolled on launch day, 12 February 2013. The latest patch, weighing in at nearly 4GB for the PC version, contains the changes from the recent Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 patch (7th March) and some additional features “notably: improved texture resolution, various visual improvements, the addition of a mouse smoothing option, and some fixes for PC-only crashes.”

Of the 35 points listed in the change log, here are some interesting highlights:

  • Improved texture resolution. [This may rectify one of the many sins committed.]
  • Resolved an issue where a player’s level could sometimes appear incorrect when backing out of a party. [Come back you coward, in space no one cares if you level!]
  • Addressed several scenarios under which players could spawn without a weapon. [Although being able to run through levels without firing a shot makes this less of a problem than you’d expect.]
  • Changes to better prevent audio from sometimes cutting out during end of mission cinematics. [Because slick cinematics might be fairly relevant to the source material.]
  • Smart Gun animation now properly tracks targets. [So it’s no longer a ‘not-so-Smart Gun’.]
  • Addressed some instances where Xenos would display erratic animations. [The hilariously awful shambling xeno eradicated?]
  • Fixed a marine player invincibility exploit. [The aforementioned level-sprinting addressed?]
  • Tweaked enemy and friendly AI to be more aggressive and responsive. [Another great sin addressed?]
  • Addressed some issues that could cause improper warping for co-op players. [and…]
  • Various tweaks to address instances where NPC characters would not always properly navigate to objectives. [… these two issues featured in several damning reviews.]

I have previously stated that I was reluctant to even play Aliens: Colonial Marines for fear of sullying my fondness for the franchise. The fact that there seems to be significant effort being put into addressing the failings of the initial launch make me wonder whether it is worth reconsidering. Can post-release fixes redeem the universally pilloried game? Fellow disappointed Aliens fan, Katy Hollingsworth, doesn’t think we should give them the chance.

If I do decide to risk it, I certainly won’t be paying full price. I note that it is currently available at 33% off on Steam.

I think I’ll hold out for at least 50%.

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Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.