Update: Gearbox president Randy Pitchford has finally acknowledged the discrepancy between the Aliens: Colonial Marines hands-off demo and the final game that shipped to lackluster reviews last week.
When asked for an explanation as to why the demo looked so much better, Pitchford tweeted, "That is understood and fair and we are looking at that. Lots of info to parse, lots of stake holders to respect."
It's not much to go on just yet, but this is the first time Pitchford has publicly acknowledged the demo-to-final-product discrepancy.
Regarding the game's dismal reception, Pitchford stated, "I appreciate and value criticism. I do not appreciate threats, insults, rudeness and intent not to add value, but to injure."
Original story: Ever wonder why sometimes a preview for a game sounds positive, then the final product comes out and gets a critical drubbing? Sometimes that's because the demo acts as a highlight reel, detailing the best parts. Other times the writer wants to remain cautiously optimistic. And sometime the demo looks absolutely nothing like the final game, as is the case with Aliens: Colonial Marines.
The fine folks at VideoGamer have put together a compare and contrast video highlighting the difference between the supposed "gameplay demo" revealed last year and the retail game that came out yesterday. The differences are shocking. Most of the lighting effects and textures have been pared down to a stunning degree and it begs the question: what happened during this game's development?
I've posed this query to Gearbox, though, and am awaiting reply.
It's worth noting that this hands-off demo is labelled as a "work in progress," so it's understandable that some features would have been cut, but it's rare to see such a staggering difference. It's also worth noting that this comparison video is capturing footage from the PC version of the final game on high settings, so it wasn't simply a matter of scaling the effects back for consoles (though Digital Foundry deduced that the console versions fared worse).
The original Gearbox walkthrough is below to taunt us with what could have been.
To see more of the final game, our Youtube expert Ian Higton captured footage of himself playing the first hour and a half of it so you don't have to.