Friday, June 1, 2012

Less is More

Aliens, Xenomorphs, Bugs...I should start by saying these creatures are essentially a combination of tarantula wasps and Shub-Niggurath.  That in itself can be pretty terrifying, but what really sells the concept is their stalking sexual predator like nature.  Remember everyone can be implanted with alien eggs so to them anyone is fair game.  The first film pioneered the concept.  The second sidestepped it a bit.  I won't fault James Cameron for it though since his take on the franchise was largely responsible for the birth of the survival horror genre.  The rest of the films (excluding Prometheus) missed the point....mostly.  So what is the point?  In a word - dread.

Enter Aliens: Colonial Marines, a FPS in the works by Gearbox Software that has been delayed so much it was though to be canceled at one point.  I suspect that the themes relating to sexual assault, birth anxiety and threatened motherhood (link) that were so prevalent in the first two films are completely absent in this video game foray into the Aliens Universe.  Lacking those fear inducing concepts, what we're left with is basically a game of Whac-A-Mole where the mallet is swapped out for a pulse rifle and the moles are replaced by Aliens.  There's nothing wrong with this in and of itself, but with the video game market filled with so many FPS titles with analogous action what separates Aliens: Colonial Marines from the rest?  Yes, it has iconic imagery from the lovingly recreated exterior of the Sulaco to hand welders and sentry guns...but that's just cosmetics.

No disrespect the the developers, but if your going to make an Aliens video game in which the focus is more bugs and more guns then it's game over, man. Instead your better off visiting Frictional Games' blog page for ideas. These guys know how to make a horror game and frankly being a space trucker hunted by an Alien (or three, but not cubed) in the isolated bowels of a poorly illuminated star ship armed with a motion tracker and sputtering flame unit sounds ten times more intense than blasting hordes of xenomorphs with a heavily armed squad of wisecracking interstellar jarheads to back you up.  No offense, I like Hicks, Hudson and Vasquez but if all we're looking at here is a elevator trip down nostalgia hell then the whole concept should just be nuked from orbit.  

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