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Games That Hate You: “Aliens: Colonial Marines”

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Games That Hate You: “Aliens: Colonial Marines”

While my sci-fi loving friends have loved Star Wars and Star Trek since childhood, my childhood sci-fi obsession was Aliens. I loved how the film visually benchmarked a lot of sci-fi military tropes, like badass space marines versus fearsome space aliens. But what I liked most about “Aliens” was how the film showed off the importance of never fucking around with the maternal figure—aptly demonstrated via both Ripley with Newt and the alien queen with her horde.

By K Valentine

I usually avoid most video game trailers to prevent my expectations and wallet from getting a solid thrashing release day, which generally results in the realization that the games are overpriced crap. But a facehugger known as the Gearbox Software marketing department latched itself onto my face and impregnated my mind with nostalgia for Aliens.

So I watched each trailer and took in the various cut scenes that reflected the cool moments of Aliens into video game format while waiting patiently for my chance to kill xenomorphs in short, controlled bursts.

As the release day drew closer, the nostalgia filter collapsed and I was able to see how idiotic the game’s concept was. The concept of playing a badass colonial marine looked good on paper, but the Aliens film showed how the bravado and weaponry of those marines were no match for the killer instincts of the xenomorphs. If “Aliens: Colonial Marines” got the canon right, a colonial marine against a horde of xenomorphs would be like fighting a wildfire with a spitball. And if the game screwed up the canon and let the colonial marines kick xenomorph ass and take names, then the game was forgoing the tense Aliens atmosphere and everything that made the film noteworthy in favor of generic FPS gameplay. Either way, “Aliens: Colonial Marines” was going to be shit instead of the shit.

But it was too late. That nostalgic feeling that Gearbox Software impregnated me with had already matured into my pre-ordering of the game—the Gamestop bonus of skins from the “Aliens” film solidified that. All I could do now was wait for the game to burst from my chest with its remorseless hatred towards me, FPS gamers, and Aliens canon bared.

There are two types of acidic hate a game can spray. There’s the hate that lays down frustrating challenges while toying with your mind. And there’s the hate that knows there are issues to improve but makes no effort to address them while blatantly showing off its laziness and bad form.

I could go on about the game’s inept colonial marine AI who can’t open doors or register being shot at, the xenomorph design & tactics that made them more laughable than formidable, weaponry that failed to make me feel badass, and horribly dated graphics that never matched the trailers. Aliens: Colonial Marines really shows its hate through its lack of tense atmosphere and its poorly developed story.

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It was when the Sulaco managed to orbit back around LV-426 despite previously orbiting Fiorina 161 to set up Alien3 that the story began to stink of something. Things smelled even worse when the game that boasted its firefights with xenomorphs and quickly introduced human Weyland-Yutani commandos as enemies early in the game as a convenient plot-twist.

This game shows how well FPS gaming has evolved from shooting humans from behind cover to… shooting humans with more inept AI from behind cover. But it was when the sole colonial marine survivor Hicks made his return from the dead that the stink of Aliens: Colonial Marines was finally identifiable: The stink of fan-fiction. It’s clumsily executed fan-fiction that throws everything good about the original source material out while having no idea how idea what made that stuff good in the first place. The fact that Aliens: Colonial Marines is now part of the Aliens canon really ruins the franchise for fans.

But then I realize that I didn’t need Aliens: Colonial Marines to ruin the Aliens franchise for me. Joss Whedon did a perfectly good job of that already.

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