By now, everyone knows that Aliens: Colonial Marines is not up to what they had hoped and does not come close to the demo version that was showcased in E3. Sure enough, our SweetFX mod can bring some of its atmosphere back, however the lack of dynamic light sources and shadows is something that has a big impact on the game’s visuals. So why is the final version so different from the demo version? The answer is simple: the demo version of Aliens: Colonial Marines ran on a high-end PC that surpassed the capabilities of both PS3 and X360.
Speaking with Kotaku, a number of TimeGate developers confirmed that the demo was developed by them and they had no restrains in creating it whatsoever.
“We were told many times through demo production, ‘Don’t worry about performance, just make it awesome’. There was a reason [the demos] were never playable.”
According to another source, this demo was running in real-time on a high-end PC. Naturally, this PC surpassed both PS3’s and X360’s capabilities and that’s one of the reasons why the multi-platform, final, release looks so ugly. Gearbox had to cut a lot of features (like the dynamic light sources) in order to make the game playable on current-generation consoles.
“We were constantly cutting back more and more in terms of texture, shader and particle fidelity, in order to fit into the jacked memory restraints.”
As another source told Kotaku:
“[Gearbox made] big changes to lighting, texture and shader complexity. Design elements were altered or redone entirely. It looks like a lot of [TimeGate’s] assets remained intact, with the exception of lower-res textures and faster-performing shaders.”
And that’s why the demo version of Aliens: Colonial Marines looked so much better than the final version. Question is why Gearbox did – intentionally – dumb down the PC version. Obviously the company wanted to appeal to a broader audience, however the game was up and running on the PC already. It’s just sad that they scrapped all of TimeGate’s work. What a waste.
John is the founder and Editor in Chief at DSOGaming. He is a PC gaming fan and highly supports the modding and indie communities. Before creating DSOGaming, John worked on numerous gaming websites. While he is a die-hard PC gamer, his gaming roots can be found on consoles. John loved - and still does - the 16-bit consoles, and considers SNES to be one of the best consoles. Still, the PC platform won him over consoles. That was mainly due to 3DFX and its iconic dedicated 3D accelerator graphics card, Voodoo 2. John has also written a higher degree thesis on the "The Evolution of PC graphics cards."