Gamer's Notebook

In space, no one can hear you scream

By Chris O'Neal 07/03/2014


It isn’t uncommon for movies to pillage the vaults of video game lore for a quick turnaround on an investment. After all, ever since Super Mario Bros. hit the big screen, production companies have been clamoring for that sweet, sweet Goomba cash. It’s also true the other way around. For every blockbuster, there is a game to coincide with its release. The one thing that these adaptations have in common is their uncanny ability to be bad, and you should feel bad having played them.

Take for instance the Iron Man franchise. Good films, terrible games. Let’s not get into E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial because we’ve already covered that. Let’s talk Alien. Remember the Ridley Scott sci-fi horror film with Sigourney Weaver as the lone survivor aboard a ship terrorized by an acid-blooded alien? Much like the film, most Alien adaptations to video games have left players feeling as if they’d just been excavated by a chest-dwelling alien baby from the inside out.

When Aliens: Colonial Marines came out in 2013, most players felt as though they’d been face-hugged and impregnated by the developers (which, if you’re not familiar with the films, is a bad thing). It was so bad that most of the game’s fame comes from a waddling Alien creature swearing to “bash ur hed in” video on YouTube.

Despite it all, studios continue to try to revive the Alien series in both film (with Prometheus, for example) and in video games. The upcoming Aliens: Isolation may just break the downward trajectory of the franchise on consoles.

At the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), gamers lined up to get their hands on impressions with Aliens: Isolation. Unlike previous installments of games based on the series, this one harks back to the original Alien by casting a singular creature against you, as the daughter of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley. Set 15 years after the first film, you are Amanda on the hunt for your mother. When Amanda finds herself aboard a space ship, it’s only a matter of time before it’s revealed that an alien has somehow boarded as well.

What will make this installment unique and, dare I say, successful is how it’s played. The alien cannot be killed. It hunts you and learns from your behavior, according to the developers. Say you’ve managed to escape from the alien by using a vent, for example, the alien will notice this and be sure to check open vents the next time it encounters you.

Like the films, the enemies are multifaceted. Humans and androids can be killed using weaponry that can be crafted with items found in different rooms. If you’re looking for a shoot-’em-up adventure à la Colonial Marine and are A-OK with it being absolute garbage, then by all means, scour the bargain bin at your local K-Mart. Aliens: Isolation will be for the survival horror enthusiasts who long for the glory of Alien and its return.

Speaking of movies in video games, there are some games that feel as if they should be movies and aren’t. Maybe it’s because it’d be far too complicated to bring them to the big screen, or maybe because you can’t really trust a studio executive to be faithful to the original. One such cinematic piece of video game gold soon to hit shelves is Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain.

Hideo Kojima is known in the industry as a cinematic director, and his Metal Gear Solid series features some real movie like qualities. Solid Snake, a character who could easily be considered the inspiration behind many an action hero, returns for The Phantom Pain. Expect what can only be called a film/gaming hybrid when it arrives for the Xbox One and Playstation 4.

Aliens: Isolation and Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain will be released sometime in the near future.
Chris O’Neal would have turned left at the conclusion of Prometheus. Follow him on Twitter @agentoneal.



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