And the Aliens: Colonial Marines drama continues. Many critics are now pointing out that the final product released last week looks nothing like the game that was demonstrated at E3 2011. The demo "wowed" journalists, retailers and gamers alike, and screenshots showcased a game that not only looked action-packed, but visually stunning, making us want more.
But now that critics and disgruntled gamers are looking back, there's questions as to how a game could get progressively worse over time. Theoretically you'd think a developing game would only improve over time. Gameplay would be more refined, AI calculations tightened, visuals sharpened and deepened. The object is to start with nothing and end up with an immersive world that grabs you by the eyeballs and never lets go.
So what happened between now and the awesome walkthrough shown at E3 2011? There's speculation that A:CM was never the game as advertised. It was all a big lie to cover up the mess that would eventually be wrapped up in a box and a huge media bow in 2013. As an example, the entire sequence where the player struggles to survive in a collapsing bridge in space never happens in the campaign. The Alien Queen fighting the Power Loader scene also isn't present.
"Gearbox called it a 'vertical slice' showcasing the gameplay sequences that'd appear throughout the campaign. Only trouble is, none of the gameplay shown ever happens, and we were never told it was just conceptual," said Destructoid. "I played the entire campaign waiting for things shown in the walkthrough and got none of them. The only gameplay retained is one siege room, and even that plays out 95-percent differently."
When comparing screens from the demo to the finished product, the current lack of environment detail, dated lighting effects and linear-to-a-fault gameplay become horribly apparent, the report said. It's noted that like Hollywood movie trailers, screenshots and video gameplay can be doctored to better promote the product: the industry's "white lie" or "bullshots". This is really no different than any other product shot in a magazine or TV ad that dresses up the product to be more than it is.
But the contrast between demo and final product is more than a touch-up. That said, it is possible Gearbox used an entirely different, more advanced engine in the demo and screens that was for some reason scrapped in favor of a weaker game engine.
"Pitchford's act of deception goes beyond being a white lie," Destructoid said. "He earned fan trust and admiration through manipulation. Not only at press events, but also Gearbox's Community Day where the same demo was shown and presented in the same light of being indicative of the final game."
Has A:CM passed into the realm of false advertising? Sure, that golden stream of beer slowly pouring into the glass of ice on TV sure looks tasty -- you may even be inclined to jump in the car and purchase a case (or keg) right then and there. But you know it's all about lighting and photography. The same is true with movie trailers that take bits of scenery and seemingly create a mini-movie. In the end, you get what you see in both cases.
But that doesn't seem to be the case with A:CM. Just based on feedback and media comparisons alone, there's indication that Gearbox and Sega sold gamers a 2013 Porsche Boxster, but slipped a 1953 Reliant Regal into the box instead, knowing full well the product cannot be returned.
"By knowingly deceiving its fans, Gearbox has gone from being a company worth celebrating to a developer that plays dirtier than the big publishers that we so often damn for sleazy marketing campaigns and excessive pre-order programs," Destructoid said.