I’ve always been a big fan of Aliens games. I remember seeing that Aliens upright game show up at the bowling alley and I could always beat the first boss with one quarter, but would always get killed on the next leave, (driving and elevator). I had the first Alien game for the Atari 2600. I didn’t spend as much time on the Aliens vs. Predator arcade game, but my Friend Johnny Em did. I had Alien 3 on my gameboy, nd while I had kind of outgrown the arcade scen by the time that Alien : the Gun arrived, I did take notice and look upon it longingly.
About fourteen years ago I was very into the Aliens Vs. Predator Gold game. It came at just the right time for me, as I was getting into FPS and multiplayer. I really liked the look they managed to create for it, more than a passing resembalace to the terraforming station in Aliens (flat as it may be) and it was the first time I really got a feel for how fast and dangerous these creatures were. It was one of the first time a game startled me, and I really loved it, possibly my favorite Alien game of all time.
An awful lot of the game play however, involves hiding from the alien. Basically jumping into a locker closing it, and watching the thing walk by. This was cool at first, and scary, peering at the thing through the slanted slits was really effective. But it began to happen so much that it got annoying. However, this game isn’t really about the Alien. You won’t see too much of them here, perhaps jut a little less than you might wish.
There’s no killing it, though you are equipped with a flame thrower to drive it away. But not being really able to blast these things away (It’s far more Alien than Aliens) means you have to work around them. The scenes were you have to toss some sonic noisemaker out to distract the Alien and then run behind it to get away – you’re in the same room. You’re in the same space as the alien and you’re just hoping that it doesn’t turn around and see you. This is where the game gets a little nerve-racking. This is where it gets a little scary.
By the way, Considering how much we complain about them being computer-animated in the films the aliens look really good here. Perhaps it’s the context, they’re surrounded by computer animation here. Where as it in a real-life film a suit or a puppet work better. In real life, real objects have weight…something CG just never quite seems to achieve. It could also be how sparingly they are used, and all the shadow that they are draped in when we do see them. And that weight I mentioned earlier, they definitely have weight in this game, as they walk by you can hear the clomp clomp clomp of their feet. It’s effective and heavy, and it’s inclusion is definitely a welcome addition to the mythos .
Still, like I said, this game isn’t about the Alien. It’s about the environment. I genuinely feel like I’m inside the alien universe. So many of these designs from the hatches to the padding on the walls to the grating on the floors in the shape of the hallways, it’s all straight at the movies and beautifully replicated.
There’s an interesting element of the walking dead in here as well. The idea that civilization on the space station has broken down and people are divided into factions, murderous groups that prey on each other. It’s an interesting aspect we never really explored in any of the movies. The synthetics in this game are different from the robots and the rest of the alien series as well. Not sure why that decision was made, perhaps to make them easy to identify within the game. They most definatley are wonderfully effective with glowing red eyes deathly pallor to their skin. A great deal of the game is spent avoiding a group of these turn murderous and it adds an unexpected element of depth. A word of advice, the most effective weapon here is the handgun. Three shots should bring any of these guys down.
One of the things that I’m not thrilled about was the main character. The inclusion of Ripley’s daughter in this game seems forced, although the way the storytelling goes, it IS an organic progression it does make sense. Still, I would’ve thought by now we would’ve learned that you don’t need somebody with the name Ripley just make it an Alien movie. Far more interesting and effectively tying to the alien film, (the original that is) is a flashback sequence showing the discovery of the Nostromo’s flight recorder. No sign of the ship or lifeboat, but they did find a flight recorder, and obviously this is where the alien comes into play. It’s an adequate explanation of why alien running around in this ship in a story that takes place somewhere between alien, and aliens. Then again yet another trip to LV – 426 just feels repetitive, and I do wish there is another way of doing this. To be fair though, the point of the game is to be able to actually participate in the movie, to be able to visit the sites that we saw in the films, and that’s really why we find ourselves back on Acheron.
I’m also not a fan of the ending. I’m not sure if they were going for bleak or ambiguous, but the alien films have never really been either of those. even 3, the most downer of them all, Ripley’s sacrifice feels heroic. Triumphant. this game ending, I’m just not sure what to make of it.
if you’re a fan of survival horror games, you’ll dig this. If you’re one of those people like me who is just fascinated with the Alien universe – so much so that you’ve not only seen all the movies in the theater, but you’ve also seen the three hour assembly cut of Alien, and watched Prometheus more than once, you’ll really love it.