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Aliens Colonial Marines preview: Does the Gamepad instantly make it better?

We get ready for the Wii U version...

Gearbox President Randy Pitchford's love for Aliens is infectious. He claims to have been stealing ideas from the film throughout his gaming career, and the idea that he now heads up the official sequel and works with cast members such as Lance Henriksen leaves him nothing less than starstruck.

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But if there's one thing that makes him even more excited than when he's talking about Aliens: Colonial Marines, it's talking about the Wii U version of the game.

"I'm confident that the Wii U version is going to be the best looking and best console-performance version of the game," he enthuses. "It's amazing. It's more powerful than anything we're using now, and the GamePad is clearly designed for the more hardcore gamer. It is the best controller Nintendo have ever made."

"We get asked if there is going to be a Wii U version of Borderlands, and the reason why there's not is because we couldn't think of a natural, obvious, 'OMG, I want that for what the Wii U brings to the table' feature. But with Aliens the first thing we thought was, 'Holy sh*t, I can have a motion controller in my hands!' When it's there in my lap it feels like I'm part of the movie."

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PADDY POWER

There are other uses for the GamePad too - maps plucked straight from the movie, team monitoring gear and more - but to focus entirely on the novel interface of the Wii U version would do the actual game itself a huge disservice. In two newly unveiled campaign sections we witnessed everything from the Sulaco rocking and rolling as player character Winter desperately tried to escape (bodies sliding along the floor with every new lean), to a lengthy poke around the film locations down on LV-426. Those concerned that it's all-out action, action, action really needn't worry as there's plenty of time spent soaking in the soundings, steeling yourself for the next surprise attack.

The environments look gorgeous (walking over LV-426 in the middle of a lashing storm is especially eye-opening), and the shadowing system teases plenty of false appearances to keep tickers pounding throughout. Hands-on with the xenomorphs in multiplayer raised one concern, though: that despite the fixed third-person xeno camera we struggled to tell the difference between climbable surfaces and inactive ones. If the opposing team saw us repeatedly trying and failing to leap over head-high ledges they'd have traded Pulse Rifles for fly-swatters without complaining.

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But with animation work still in progress, and plenty of polishing time left to smooth out this one pretty minimal crease, we're sure that Colonial Marines could go on to become the definitive Aliens game. To be honest, Gearbox's passion wouldn't allow for anything less.

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