Alien games – From Mega Drive to Xbox and Beyond…
For years now fans of the Aliens movie franchise have been waiting with bated breath for that elusive game that will finally do the films justice. It’s a tough one when a game is supposed to reproduce the thrills, excitement and essence of a film (or in this case a series of films), many have tried and failed, especially where the Alien quadrilogy’s concerned. Perhaps that’s why games like GTA, COD and Gears of War which exist in their own universe are so popular. Rather than copying a world already created and loved (which they may never match up to) they create their own distinct, original universes free of comparison and the resulting criticism.
The franchises enduring appeal and nature make it fertile ground for games based on the concept. Popular gaming sites such as Red Stag Casino have a host of games based upon or inspired by movies and comic books, and their new Alien Invasion game has strong echoes of the Alien franchise, while Team 17 have been using the concepts influence in their Alien Breed series for many years. Sufficed to say it’s an old story perfect for translation into the gaming world; as long as we keep loving the films they’ll keep attempting to strike gold with the games and we’ll keep playing them.
As far as I’m concerned the old school did it best, but maybe that’s just sentimentality talking. Alien 3 for the Mega Drive (or Genesis to the American gamer) was a good old shoot em up platform romp, in the classic sense. Playing as Ripley marooned on Fiorina “Fury” 161, the aim is simple, run around and crawl through tunnels shooting as many Xenomorphs possible and save the prisoners. It was simple, it worked, I played for hours.
Next up was Aliens Vs Predator in 1999 (re-released in 2010 for consoles). Dark and atmospheric it had some of the feeling and the fear of the movies, but was lacking somewhat in game play. The addition of the famous motion sensor added suspense, but as a lot of gamers found, the Colonial Marine missions became repetitive. The inefficiency of the handgun and flame thrower made the selection of five weapons limited, and the sluggish nature of the Predator section renders two thirds of the game almost unplayable. Plus in my experience I’ve always found the alien missions confusing, spending most of my time trying to work out if I’m on the ceiling or the floor.
The most recent addition to the gaming universe of Alien is Alien: Isolation. Set 15 years after the original Alien we’re placed between the first and second films in chronology. Here we join Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, as she searches to find to her mother. This survival horror does well in building atmosphere and tension, the flickering lights and seventies sounds create a real sense of dread. But be warned if you’re looking for a FPS bloodbath, this may not be the one for you. Much in the spirit of the original Resident Evil games, it makes you think. For example you don’t just find a radio, you find a radio that needs fixing and much like the puzzle games of old this isn’t a game you’ll finish in an afternoon, and don’t be upset if you find the ending disappointing (I did). As I said the fear and tension are palpable but unfortunately this grows tedious after hiding in a locker or cupboard for the hundredth time, but then again I may have been easily bored… I do love shooting aliens.