"We get ten-plus hours to tell our story. We can go way more in depth and in more directions on really delivering the next chapter in the Aliens saga," Gearbox Software design director John Mulkey told Joystiq during a demo of the studio's upcoming shooter Aliens: Colonial Marines at New York Comic-Con.
Continuing from Aliens also allows Gearbox to build from the foundation of Cameron's classic action movie, fleshing out the backstory and mythos that is later continued in David Fincher's Alien 3. According to Mulkey, Colonial Marines will make Alien 3 "a cooler movie."
At the 2012 New York Comic-Con, Gearbox debuted the playable Xenomorphs in the Colonial Marines multipayer mode. Along with more basic differences (They're not human! They don't carry guns!), Xenomorphs see the action from a third-person perspective.
As a Xeno, I was able to easily cling to walls, scamper behind crates and sneak up behind unsuspecting marines, striking with a deadly swiftness. My regular strategy included climbing to the ceiling of areas, dropping down onto marines and ripping out their gooey insides. Once per round players can unlock a new class of Xenomorph known as the Crusher, a tank-like alien that deals massive damage and nets even quicker kills than the already deadly standard form.
To move beyond other games featuring the Xenomorphs, Gearbox is introducing multiple variations of the alien race with unique appearances, habitats and special abilities. In the Aliens: Colonial Marines campaign, players will face off against these new terrors that have "taken up residence" in key locations throughout the environment.
The Wii U version features a number of platform-specific features using the unique GamePad controller. The Wii U version was not on display at NYCC 2012, but Gearbox Software President Randy Pitchford told us why his team is excited for the console.
"This is the best controller Nintendo's ever made for making an FPS," Pitchford told Joystiq. "This is the best controller Nintendo has ever given us for playing hardcore games."
Explaining that the WiiPad is "perfect for Aliens," Pitchford reiterated previous statements about the tablet screen's functionality in the game, detailing how it will be used as the motion tracker featured in Aliens, as well as an in-game map screen.
Furthermore, Pitchford explained that the Wii U is exciting for its off-screen play capability, removing the reliance on a secondary device that may be in high demand during family hours.
Although they're wholly different technologies, Pitchford said that similar principles and uses could apply to a linked combination of a PlayStation Vita or PlayStation 3 or with a second screen device like Microsoft's SmartGlass.
"With the Wii U they (Nintendo) committed themselves to this promise. So the link is direct, fast and immediate. Things like SmartGlass and Vita, they appreciate the value of the promise so they're making the promise. But they're not in with such commitment," Pitchford explained.
In the case of the Vita, the handheld system could be used as a controller for PS3 games. SmartGlass functions more as a second screen. There are different performance and usage limitations with both.
"Conceivably there's things you can do on all three without negative impact but because of Nintendo's commitment to it there are something's that could work there that just wouldn't work as well with SmartGlass or with the crossplay between PS3 and Vita," the Gearbox boss added.
The Xbox 360, PS3, and PC versions of Aliens: Colonial Marines are due in February. The Wii U version is slated for the console's "launch window" between November and March.
Bags Hooper is a writer based out of Brooklyn, New York. He has contributed to multiple outlets, including BuzzFocus, USA Network, Showtime's Pop Tudors, Monsters & Critics and FHM. You can follow him on Twitter at @BagsHooper.