I thought about submitting a video game article and instead of writing about a game review I chose to write a chronicle on a genre of gaming. So I decided on games that are linked to one of my favourite franchises… Alien. From Alien on 8-Bit to Alien Isolation on modern generation.
8 Bit Generation
The Alien Franchise has had many licensed games released for it. The first game I can remember is the 1984 Alien game for the ZX Spectrum. It was a top-down strategy game. It is very faithful to the film with real characters and it’s suspenseful gameplay building up as you hunt the Alien.
This was followed by the Aliens game in 1986. A first-person perspective game, again quite faithful to the film it was based on. Looking at the screencaps it is amazing that this could be produced on less memory than a digital watch.
16 Bit Generation
From 8-Bit to 16-bit consoles, the Alien Franchise game then arrived with Alien 3 on the Sega Megadrive from 1993. As with the popular games of this era, the game was designed as a side-scrolling platform game. You controlled Ripley on Fury 161 and had to navigate levels and defeat multiple Aliens and Facehuggers. So was a departure from the film but it still made a great game. Even playing it on modern emulators it holds up. It’s a better platform game than a lot of the period.
Unfortunately, I have little experience of Alien Trilogy from 1996. A well-received game on the Playstation, Saturn, and PC. Unfortunately, I was engrossed in Resident Evil games and never gave this game a chance but I mention it due to its popularity.
PC Gaming And PS/Xbox
Moving away from consoles, in 1999 Rebellion merged the Alien Franchise with the Predator movies, hinted at in Predator 2 and followed through in Dark Horse Comics. They developed a first-person shooter, Aliens Versus Predator, where you could go the marines, the predator or the actual xenomorph. Brilliant, the opportunity to play for the other side with their own story. The success of AvP was followed in Aliens Vs. Predator 2 in 2001 with updated graphics, better campaigns and better online modes with “Deathmatch”, “Teams” and “Capture The Flag” competing with Call Of Duty’s and Halo’s.
Aliens Vs. Predator was a winning formula and in 2010 Rebellion released a new version for the new consoles, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 as well as PC. Again you could choose your species and there was a single-player campaign for each, and again the graphics had a large overhaul. Problems for this version was that the campaigns were quite short and after the initial release the online modes died and it was hard to find matchups.
Aliens: Colonial Marines – Corporate Greed
I then heard that Gearbox Software, developers of online co-op game Borderlands were working on a game based on the Colonial Marines, this was very exciting. Squad based co-op sounded pretty amazing and from a proven developer. A movie can be written about the clusterfrak which was Colonial Marines. From the false promises of E4 trailers and Randy Pitchford on how amazing development was going, I don’t think we will ever know the truth of what went on behind the scenes from rumoured outsourcing and financial fraud.
The released game was good for one playthrough. I did enjoy playing as a Colonial Marine, I did enjoy exploring LV-426, I did enjoy revisiting the colony of Hadley’s Hope. I didn’t enjoy crappy missions, bad graphics, and pretty poor online modes. My favourite thing about this game was finding Hudson’s body cocooned.
So I then graduated to a Playstation 4 and rumours of a new Alien game were released. Sega gave the license on to Creative Assembly known for Total War games. What they produced is a complete love letter to Ridley Scott’s 1979 film in Alien Isolation. They get everything right, the look, the sound and suspense of the film. Continuing the story as Ripley’s daughter, Amanda looking to find out what happened to her mother and the Nostromo.
The game is a first-person stealth up. Your mission is to explore a space station, find out what has gone on and to avoid the Alien. Which in this game is an instant death. If the Alien spots you, it’s Game Over! They even reunited most of the original cast to lend their likeness and record dialogue for the game. As a worshipper of the original film, this game was amazing.
The production is amazing from the design to the sound which is top-notch, you can hear the screech of the air vents and you jump as you hear the thud of the Alien moving through the vents, ready to jump out at you. It is a great story and does fit in well with the universe. I loved it, my favourite game of the generation so far.
Where To Now?
Due to stupid Sega, a sequel is unlikely to happen, thanks to Alien Isolation‘s poor, unfathomable reviews from IGN and Gamespot which resulted in lower than expected sales. On 17 January 2018, a new game was announced to be in development. Fox has taken the publishing back from Sega and the new game is being developed by Cold Iron Studios. No other information was given but the developer has a history of online shooters.
So it seems Alien Isolation may be an unfortunate one-off and the games will move back to the Aliens Vs. Predator/Colonial Marines genre. I will be keeping an eye on development and hope for continued success in the Alien Franchise.
Over To You
I know I have missed out on numerous Alien games, I chose to discuss only games that I played first hand. I am looking forward to reading the discussions and finding out about hidden gems I need to experience.