How Aliens: Colonial Marines tweaks the Alien mythos - Prima Games

How Aliens: Colonial Marines tweaks the Alien mythos

by Prima Games Staff

Gearbox was initially in talks with Ridley Scott about a Blade Runner game, but the discussion soon turned to an Aliens title instead. Six years of laboring development and plenty of delays, we have a game set a few months after the events of Aliens.

And however you may feel about Aliens: Colonial Marines, you have to admit that Gearbox Studios had a lot of high stake decisions to make when adding to–and changing–the Alien universe.

Below are some of the biggest ways in which the game further defines its parent IP. Before we go on, let us just say: Spoilers! Read on at your peril, because we’re covering some of the big plot points of both the films and the game below.

The first is in the art and audio. The dev team calqued many of the game’s weapons on their cinematic appearances, down to audio files taken straight from the studio’s archives. If you’ve watched any of the Alien films recently, chances are you did so on a DVD stockpiled with concept art and preliminary designs. The graphic artists working on the game must have had access to much more beside this public trove of content.

The result feels more than continuous with the Alien saga, but recognizable as well. Some of the actors from the movies were even brought in to dub the game’s dialogue.  

That kind of brings us to a problem. In Aliens: Colonial Marines, Sigourney Weaver’s iconic heroine, Ripley, is nowhere to be seen. Instead we’ve got Corporal Winter, a refreshingly vocal protagonist, leading yet another gang of marines into prohibitively hostile territory. Early on in the game he meets Corporal Hicks, who had clearly blasted off the planet at the end of Aliens (and died at the beginning of Alien 3!). It’s a plot hole if ever we’ve seen one, though we suppose it could be explained by cloning. It happened in Alien Resurrection, right?

On the other hand, Aliens: Colonial Marines fits into the marine culture pretty well. If anything, the gang is a little too disciplined compared to the wall-leaning marines that mouth off to their superiors in Aliens (all of that state of the art firepower got to their heads, we tell ya).

Still, as in the movies their stoicism hides a more vulnerable side, and through it all they adhere to the mantra: “We don’t leave marines behind.”

Aliens: Colonial Marines also speaks to something that always confused me a bit about androids. In the first film, there are a few scenes in which Ash (himself an android) moves around with human imperfections, even though he’s completely alone! In the presence of others, we get that he has to put on a human show, but alone? Wouldn’t he be still as a statue?

We suppose it could be explained by a type of blanket-programming whereby androids always fidget around like humans would. It really would be the safest way of avoiding suspicion.

Anyway, in the final cut-scene of Aliens: Colonial Marines, Hicks calls an android’s bluff and puts a bullet through his head. How did he know he wasn’t “real,” his squadmates ask.

Hicks shares something he learned in his days of imprisonment and interrogation. When you’re in a room with someone, “You notice when the other guy ain’t breathin’.”

With a simple line like that, the game provides a small but critical detail about androids in the Alien series: they look, sound, act, and feel damn real, but an extra bit of attention can be enough to tell the difference.

Or something. We mean, we can’t watch the films while applying that extra bit of knowledge retrospectively. Aliens: Colonial Marines is canon by rights, but is it really truly canon in the eyes of fans?

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