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How many Aliens?

February 13, 2013

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How many Aliens were in the first Alien film? Anyone??? There was one. Well two if you count the face hugger but you know what I’m talking about. How tense was that film? REALLY tense.
It strikes me that the less Aliens you have, the scarier the film/game. Why am I talking about Aliens again so soon after finishing Aliens vs Predator and obviously not liking it? Why am I asking so many questions? I don’t know why I’m asking so many questions but I can tell you why I’m talking about Aliens again. Aliens: Colonial Marines has just come out and has been slammed by almost all the people that have gone anywhere near it. I predicted this. I had only seen the videos on youtube that everyone else had seen and read the same articles everyone else had. I haven’t played any demos or gone to any conferences to see a pre release version. However I knew it was going to be bad. Why? Because Aliens games almost always veer away from the main reason for tension in the films.
Ripley is alone after watching almost all of her better trained crew mates slaughtered one by one. She has no idea where this threat is at any one time. She has no idea how many there are on the ship. She knows there’s at least one but there could be more. She has one gun and a tracking sensor which only picks up movement so if the Alien stays still for any one time she could be surprised and killed in a second. The sound of the tracking sensor which is vital could also mask the sound of the Alien as it approaches while also making her feel more alone as it’s the only sound she can hear in the huge ship that has become a coffin for so many that she worked with.

What happens in the games is that you have a team with you most of the time, you have an almost constant supply of ammo, there are hundreds of Aliens which almost always jump out in front of your cross hairs and there is no horror. I’m not a game or film producer so I’m not suggesting that my ideas would make a balanced or fun game. However if you are going to make an Aliens game then why wouldn’t you use some of the best parts of the best sci-fi horror films ever made?

Now I haven’t played the game so I can’t say for certain that this is a bad game I can only report on what I’ve heard. However unlikely I was to pick up the game before based on what I’d seen and read I am now 100% certain I will never play the game unless forced to at gun point. Why would I want to play a game where I am given tonnes of different guns and back up? Why do I just want to mow down hundreds of Aliens? Why do I want to play a game just to look at the easter eggs like some kind of interactive Aliens museum?

Apparently there is one level in which you have no gun and you have to move slowly and out of the Aliens view in order to survive. This has been brought up in every review as the lone high point. The one level in which genuine tension is felt and you feel as if you are experiencing some of the emotions generated from the film. Surely this should have been the point of the entire project. Make a game that follows the Aliens film and makes you feel as if you’re living it. This would have been an excellent opportunity to show what games are capable of. It’s an opportunity to show that games are not mindless, they can be as, if not more emotional than film given your interaction with them. Instead it’s another waste of a license that will sell units because of the name.

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I also wonder why Gearbox have taken on another stuck in production game and released it after pushing it over the finish line without adding anything significant that would improve it. It’s possibly down to them knowing that like the Duke Nukem name, Aliens has a following and units will sell. However this is now two releases of development hell games that they have “Saved” that have had an awful reception. They have a 50% success rate with major releases in the last few years with only the Borderlands games being well received and I don’t think people are going to trust you with anything that isn’t cell shaded with a robust looting system. If you’re going to trade on your borderlands reputation then you should at least add something special to the games you’re saving otherwise you just look like you’re trying to make a quick buck on a half assed project with a guaranteed fan base. That’s how it appears to me anyway.
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If you feel differently, have played the game and now hate me, think I should shut my entitled cake hole/fill up my entitled cake hole with cake to stop me talking (Even though I’m currently typing so that wouldn’t make a difference at all other than I would be eating cake) Let me know in the comments.

Next time I’ll talk about a game I’m playing I promise.

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