Not too long ago, had you asked me to pick my favorite movie from the Aliens franchise, I would have said – hands down – Aliens. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen that movie. And then, not too long ago I played Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Now I hate it.
Well done, Gearbox Software. Insert nonsensical swearing here.
First off, let me say, the Aliens is a fine movie. It’s filled with both tension and horror that elevates the original Alien. At the same time, it tells a different story while also adding to the lore of the original.
Also, in case you can’t tell, I’m a fan of the Alien franchise.
While Ellen Ripley is the protagonist, the colonial marines are the true star of the show. The marines are all talk and bravado until the Xenomorphs essentially curb stomp them. Bill Paxton shines as Private Hudson who talks a big game but crumbles under pressure. Every one of his lines has since turned into a meme.
The thing is, the marines were a joke. They were undisciplined, ineffective, and couldn’t work as a team. Despite their overwhelming firepower, the xenomorphs tear them apart.
Yet, this terrible bunch of soldiers captured the imagination of the public. After the release of Aliens, we saw video game after video game of players fighting xenomorphs with pulse rifles. Some of them like the Atari Jaguar’s Alien vs Predator was quite good but after a while, they started to feel stale.
There are only so many times you can hear the volley of pulse rifles mixed with xenomorph death screams.
Enter Gearbox studio. In 2007, Gearbox was awarded the rights to make a game about the Colonial Marines. Gearbox took it to the next level. Instead of adding to the lore or expanding the scope of the marines, the game was a celebration of every cliche from Aliens.
Every sequence featured quotes like “stay frosty”, “bug hunt”, and “game over”. Over and over. The marines were dumber than ever in both story and in artificial intelligence. On top of the terrible gameplay, the game broke canon with the return of Corporal Hicks.
Mind you, I’m not alone in my dislike of this game.
Surprisingly, I finished the game but I was done with marines. I was done with pulse rifles and recycled quips. And unfortunately, I was done with Aliens. It’s not that it’s a bad movie. It originated a cliche that was ruined by all its poor imitators.