Published on February 14th, 2013 | by Fraser Brown10
Aliens: Colonial Marines is xenomorph propaganda
Ever since Ridley Scott’s horror classic Alien caused trouser-wetting terror in cinemas all across this vulnerable globe in 1979, the iconic xenomorph, the franchise’s titular alien, became the poster child for horrifying extra-terrestrial monsters. H. R. Giger’s designs for the slick, black, ferocious fiend are truly the stuff of nightmares, and everything about the creature, from the way it moves, to the way it propagates its species is unsettling to the extreme. So it only makes sense that since ’79, these skeletal horrors have been the antagonists in a whole slew of films, graphic novels and video games. The latest of which was the long awaited Aliens: Colonial Marines, a project that had been in the works for the better part of a decade.
Not only was Colonial Marines going back to the roots of the franchise, focusing exclusively on xenomorph-on-human violence, it was set on Lv-426, specifically on the Weyland-Yutani terraforming colony from Aliens, the second film in the series. It would be a direct sequel, and completely canon. A lot of us had high hopes for the game. The final developer to have the title fall into its lap was Gearbox, early demos nailed the atmosphere of the films and SEGA weren’t really in a position where they could have another Alien flop after the last AvP.
Of course we now know that it’s a steaming pile of shit, an utter embarrassment and an insult to the franchise. It’s bereft of all the things that makes the franchise so compelling, and at its highest point it’s nothing more than a bland corridor shooter. So what the hell went wrong? A lot of theories have been thrown around in the last few days. It wasn’t really designed by Gearbox, Gearbox were shafted by their deadline, the original design was scrapped and a new one was rushed out for launch — all of these seem plausible. They are completely wrong, however. We’ve been ignoring what has been staring us right in the face. Xenomorphs are to blame.
Xenomorphs!? Surely I’m crazy, right? Hang on, though. Does it really make less sense than the alternative? Colonial Marines isn’t just terrible because it’s a buggy mess, and not the good kind of bug that rip you limb from limb or drips acid all over your nice new loafers. It fails to capture any of the atmosphere, horror or entertainment commonly found throughout the franchise. To miss the mark this badly everyone involved would have to have somehow avoided watching any of the films or assorted spin off material on top of not having a clue how to make a game. I find that extremely hard to believe.
So it must be xenomorphs. Think about it. Are you done? Okay, let me attempt to nudge you closer to enlightenment. When was the last time you saw a xenomorph out on a date? Hell, when was the last time you saw a xenomorph do anything other than kill people? The reputation that the have gained from the Alien franchise has made sure that they will never be able to find companionship, a job outside of horror and they’ll certainly never be allowed to adopt a baby or rent an apartment. Nobody trusts them. And with good reason — they are foul, evil aliens monsters. That’s what we’ve been taught.
Is it any wonder that they’ve had enough of this racism? Clearly they invaded Gearbox HQ, fucked up the game and now they’re holding Randy Pitchford and co. captive. Just read interviews with the man. He actually sounds like someone who thought his team was developing a good game. Classic Stockholm syndrome.
The xenomorphs’ end goals are simple. They don’t want us to see them as a threat anymore. They want to be able to take out small business loans, eat quietly in the gastro-pub of their choice and actually get a date for Valentine’s day. And they’ve gone about this in a very clever way:
Xenomorphs are stupid
One of the most terrifying things about the xenomorphs is that in spite of their animalistic nature, they are exceptionally intelligent predators. They don’t have guns or grenades, so instead of running down linear corridors and into a hail of bullets, they manipulate and take advantage of their environment. It’s not a stretch to say that they tend to be significantly smarter than their prey, unless their prey is Sigourney Weaver.
Not so in Colonial Marines, however. Sure, they may occasionally use vents or climb up walls, but their general go-to strategy is to run right up to heavily armed men and get shot in the face several times before falling over. Kittens are more dangerous than this. The game throws wave after wave of these creatures at the player, and they amount to nothing more than cannon fodder. This is not an alien I would be concerned about if it was getting lary in a pub.
Xenomorphs have better things to do than kill you
The xenomorphs are depicted as merciless hunters. Predators, ostensibly the greatest big game hunters in the galaxy, employ them as their greatest challenge, so relentless and dogged are these shadowy killers. If you’re being chased by a xenomorph, you’d better hope that you have a hell of a lot of firepower, because it’s not going to stop until it’s done terrible things to your body. I’m talking worse than a mushroom stamp, people.
This couldn’t be further from how they act in Colonial Marines. Sure, initially they might try to swipe at a marine a couple of times, but should that marine just fuck off, they’ll probably just go do something else, like have a cigarette or play a game of chess. I was once chased by a fox for a whole ten minutes. The little fucker wanted my kebab, and he simply wouldn’t give up. The only reason the chase ended was because I ran through my front door and locked it behind me. The bastard still prowled around for a good ten minutes after this. Foxes, the cute little bushy tailed pests that spend most of their time rummaging around in rubbish, are more relentless than xenomorphs.
Xenomorphs need frequent bathroom breaks and are prone to mincing
Spiders are pretty lame. I might be arachnaphobic, but it only takes a shoe or a newspaper to get rid of them. Despite this, I can’t even look at one without feeling sick. This is in great part due to they unnatural way that they move. Similarly, the way xenomorphs move is just not right. Anything that moves like they do is intent on doing something unholy. Something even the soon to be ex-Pope would be disgusted by.
Unless you’re playing Colonial Marines, that is. The standard aliens are glitchy, spastic jokes in terms of their animation. Like their cinematic counterparts they just look wrong, but not in the fear-inducing way that their betters creep about the place. They look wrong because a blind, drunk, possibly dead chimp designed them. This chimp was hired by xenomorphs. The icing on the cake is undoubtedly the blind explosive aliens encountered during Colonial Marine’s sorry attempt for a stealth level. They mince around like a camp caricatures in desperate need of a really good shit. Few things cause laughter more than toilet humour, and this will undoubtedly lead to some low-brow stand up acts performed by xenomorphs.
Even a mentally subnormal idiot can kill a xenomorph
Throughout the graphic novels and films, one thing remains consistent: it’s bloody hard to kill a xenomorph, and even when you do, you’re probably going to be melted by their foul, acidic blood. They represent a serious challenge to even battle-hardened marines and the apex hunters known as Predators.
Colonial Marines would have people believe that a few gun shots can put one of these horrors down for good. Not only that, but their acidic blood becomes nothing more than a splash of colour in an otherwise gloomy environment. Xenomorphs are about as scary as interior decorators, we’re being led to believe. The marines themselves make even the most stereotypical jarheads seem like paragons of academic excellence, and just about anybody would be a better tactician. Yet they seemingly slaughter enough aliens for us to consider the game a fine example of ethnic cleansing. Christ, they don’t even talk like human beings. They don’t even reach a level that would be acceptable in the worst ’80s action movie.
How anyone could fear these hilariously shit B-movie style monsters is beyond me, so I suspect that their plan has worked wonderfully. It’s just a shame they had to ruin what could have been a perfectly good game (going by the early demos) to make their point. Surely they could have just organised a union, started up a peaceful protest or written a letter to their local MP.
All that’s left for us to wonder is what they are going to do with Pitchford and chums. Will they be orally raped by face huggers? Or can we expect to see them freed and allowed to actually make a game that doesn’t make me want to rip out my stomach via my anus? Only time will tell.