Sitrep: There have been many Alien games, and none of them very good

Aliens: Colonial Marines

By on July 25, 2013 at 11:55 am

The bad name of licensed games became a thing in the ‘90s. True, back in 1982 E.T. almost single-handedly set fire to the entire industry before it was even built, but circa ‘90s there was an unending monsoon of games based on licenses. It was a good era for movies that went boom, I guess. They only went boom in so far as they critically exploded and spattered everyone with poo, though.

The licensed games of this era were so routinely terrible the very notion of anything Hollywood-gamified still sends spasms of loathing down the spines of veteran gamers everywhere. It’s not hard to figure out why: Most of the effort of selling them has already been done via their name alone. “Woohoo, who cares, let’s all do peyote and mash our keyboards.” Bam: Licensed games are the epitome of video games as easy money. Cynicism in a box, and when you open it, Nic Cage comes flying out and gifts you with the same.

Hence we expect nothing, and we (generally) keep getting nothing. Which sucks, because there are so many licenses floating around that would make goddamn awesome sick mad terrific games. One of the most obvious has always been Aliens.

This fact has not gone unnoticed by people who like making money (and to a lesser extent interactive funsies). To date there have been 29 video games released based on the Aliens mythos (with some Predator crossover for good measure). Twenty-freaking-nine. You would think with that kind of strike ratio, at least one of them would have hit it out of Fiorina 161 and obliterated Lance Henriksen before he even arrived.

This is the kind of development malaise we’re really talking about when someone says, “Licensed games suck.” It’s not even anecdotal, it’s a clear and present “lol fantards – or bottom line-feeders, amirite?” We’re kinda letting it happen.

In this context, they haven’t all been worse than that period in history Germany pretends never happened. You would expect not – gaming’s had almost 30 tries at this (maybe more, my counting isn’t great). Alien 3 is my fave movie of all of them and, hey, remember the SNES side-scroller Probe made out of it in ‘93? Maybe not if you were still a fetus at the time, but get an emu and roll it. That game was amazing.

Personal taste aside, almost everyone can agree on Rebellion and Monolith’s early Aliens versus Predator efforts. They are scant proof this can work (please note: proof was not required until gaming got to this license), but by what dark magic did these games, made around the turn of the century, manage to kick ass where a proven dev like Gearbox can still manage to heave an Aliens­-shaped borry out in 2013 and call it radical (and saleable)?

Granted their situation was complicated and their mismanagement of it most dire, but Aliens practically writes itself: Pulse rifles are awesome. Aliens spit corrosive backwash. Vasquez has never been mistaken for a man. YOU’RE JUST GRINDING METAL.

Editor’s note: Here is a great piece by fellow games.on.net author David Rayfield on Aliens: Infestation, a poor little Nintendo DS title that was actually the perfect Aliens game… but nobody bought it.

Tags:
20 comments (Leave your own)

Aliens: Infestation is an excellent game and I finished and loved it while trying to put it down as little as possible.

Personally, I don’t think the Aliens movies do lend themselves to a game very well at all. You should be playing as the protagonist in the game and the protagonist in all the movies was Ripley. A poor woman that began not having any idea what the hell was going on. I personally believe they can make a very good Aliens game but it just can’t be an action orientated game.

 

AvP 1 and 2 were good

 

AvP were good, but half counts as it crosses over with another franchise. Is it that hard to make a decent Aliens coop game?

 

Thing is it’s not that the industry sucks, it’s that the designers have no idea how to deal with the Aliens mythos. From a game style point of view you could make it huge humans vs aliens battles, but that wouldn’t be right, as all the films are small squads up against a never ending menace.

It’s strongest attribute would be to go and do a proper SP/Co-op game. Standard MP modes can be added for those who want them, but it’s the co-op that would set it up perfectly. A squad of up to 4-6 marines trying to survive and destroy the queen on a planet or space ship. It’s not even hard to come up with such a concept, yet most studio’s have resolutely missed the point of Aliens.

Ah well, mores the pity.

 

vid:
AvP 1 and 2 were good

They were. For its time, AvP1 was absolutely outstanding, and pretty damn scary in the marines campaign.

The Aliens vs Predator beat ‘em up game is also pretty awesome.

 

“Alien 3 is my fave movie of all of them…” Based on this, you can ignore the rest of the article – Toby is obviously a philistine :-P

And I agree with others – the original AVP games were pretty great.

 
Toby McCasker

spoidar,

Def not a popular choice, hey. I guess it’s really a “vibe” movie, and I love those. The atmosphere just slays me, and all the weird apocalyptic theology the prison dudes subscribe to set it off. The novelisation is even better (trust), ‘cos it digs into all of that stuff really good. Just sayin’. Stop the hate-boats!

 

Perhaps they need to get back to the squad concept? Multiple class roles, 4 players, get from A to B while fending off hordes of Aliens. Left 4 Alien Incubation anyone?

 

Wasn’t a fan of the single player, but AVP2 was one of the best deathmatch games of the early 2000s. My hope is that if anyone makes a good attempt at an Alien game, it’ll be a survival-horror title.

Also, the best Alien game is Starcraft. Calling aliens zerg may get around licencing issues, but Starcraft is effectively AVP in RTS form – and is all the better for being so.

 

mrthumpy,

Sounds suspiciously like Alien Swarm

 

It’s ironc that franchises like Aliens or Star Wars and the like seem almost tailor made to a great video game adaptation, but they so often spawn such fatal stinkers instead.

Perhaps game design is a bit like pop music. Any damned fool can write a pop song (and many damn fools do) but a truly good one is an incredibly rare thing and very hard to create.

 

The perfect Alien/s game is………Killing Floor with the Aliens mod.
Classes, co-op and waves of aliens.

Problem is you can’t really make a triple-A big-money title out of only a wave-based co-op game.

Personally, I’d love to see a investigative/adventure/survival/horror game in the Alien universe instead of s generic shooter.

 

The perfect ‘Aliens’ game has already been made.
Alien Swarm. It was good, had co-op and cost us nothing.

 

RSOblivion:
Thing is it’s not that the industry sucks, it’s that the designers have no idea how to deal with the Aliens mythos. From a game style point of view you could make it huge humans vs aliens battles, but that wouldn’t be right, as all the films are small squads up against a never ending menace.

It’s strongest attribute would be to go and do a proper SP/Co-op game. Standard MP modes can be added for those who want them, but it’s the co-op that would set it up perfectly. A squad of up to 4-6 marines trying to survive and destroy the queen on a planet or space ship. It’s not even hard to come up with such a concept, yet most studio’s have resolutely missed the point of Aliens.

Ah well, mores the pity.

Left4Dead style with a 5th member of the team as a commander who can see all 4 player screens via helmet cam. Commander has an architectural schematic of the randomly generated level that twists and turns who guides players through the levels and provides updates and directions etc and can possibly interface with level cameras to provide advanced warning. Easy.

MP involves other players taking control of Xeno’s to make things a little different but otherwise standard co-op affair.

 

psychosmiley: Left4Dead style with a 5th member of the team as a commander who can see all 4 player screens via helmet cam. Commander has an architectural schematic of the randomly generated level that twists and turns who guides players through the levels and provides updates and directions etc and can possibly interface with level cameras to provide advanced warning. Easy.

MP involves other players taking control of Xeno’s to make things a little different but otherwise standard co-op affair.

You sir, can have my money!

 

Aliens : A Comic Book Adventure
Disastrously hard, where the emphasis was on the characters and surviving and not an out an out action game. If only it didn’t ask you to change cd’s every few minutes though :P

 

psychosmiley: Left4Dead style with a 5th member of the team as a commander who can see all 4 player screens via helmet cam. Commander has an architectural schematic of the randomly generated level that twists and turns who guides players through the levels and provides updates and directions etc and can possibly interface with level cameras to provide advanced warning. Easy.

MP involves other players taking control of Xeno’s to make things a little different but otherwise standard co-op affair.

If I can use my tablet as an extra touch screen monitor in Commander mode, being able to switch between schematic view or any fullscreen helmet cam, I shall back your game at the highest tier, Sir.

 

I think the franchise should be left alone for a little while and instead have another crack at Starship Troopers! :P

 

AvP 1 was awesome, that co-op where you play marines and have to hold out against waves of aliens was the absolute shit back in the day. There was VERY little co-op around at the time and pretty much none on that level.

The single player was pretty gripping for its time too.

Don’t even mention Starship Troopers zOz, not a single thing aside from the book was ever “right”.

 

Space Hulk was a great 90s-era ripoff of Aliens with all the tactical planning and the helmet cams.

So perhaps the solution is to make a licensed game that’s itself a ripoff of another license. Eventually, they get too far removed from the source material to be bad.

 
Leave a comment

You can use the following bbCode
[i], [b], [img], [quote], [url href="http://www.google.com/"]Google[/url]

Leave a Reply

PC Gaming Calendar 2014

Follow Games.on.net

Steam Group

Upcoming Games

Releasing Soon
Thief Shadowrun Returns South Park: The Stick of Truth

Community Soapbox

Recent Features
Reaper of Souls

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls reviewed: Change is a good thing

Blizzard shows that it isn't afraid to change everything

Titanfall

Titanfall: Crush your enemies under your robotic foot with these gameplay tips

Wallrunning speed boosts, room clearing strategies, and more inside.

Diablo 3 Competition

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls Giveaway – The Winners!

You cannot kill Death -- unless you have sick new gear.

Betrayer

Betrayer reviewed: Run like hell from skeletons and murderous ghosts in 17th century Virginia

What's black, white and red all over? Betrayer is, and it's also an intriguing new indie horror title, as James discovers.

Streaming Radio
Radio Streams are restricted to iiNet group customers.

GreenManGaming MREC

The Regulars
The Secret World

Legal Opinion: Bait and switch… with a mankini

Not everybody is laughing following Funcom's April Fools joke on its players.

Bad at Aiming

Sitrep: Waiting in line at the FPS dole queue

Toby is so incompetent that he needs an entire new genre of games invented just to cater for him.

Amazon Fire

Friday Tech Roundup (04 April 2014): Radeon R9 295X2 specs leak

Also, the man behind the "Microsoft" phone scam has been captured and fined.

Barrett M98B

Legal Opinion: Where does your money go?

Why do games cost so much to manufacture? Because everybody wants a slice of that licensing pie.

Facebook Like Box