Aliens: Fireteam. Could this be the one we've been waiting for?
It's a sad fact, but the Aliens franchise has been a poisoned chalice for videogames for nearly as long as I've been alive. Seeing James Cameron's monster of a movie for the first time at the age of 11, I was already an avid fan of games - and all I saw in that movie was potential. I wanted to know what it was like to be there - barricaded in Operations with only a handful of rounds for a trusty pulse rifle, with Hicks and Hudson at my back. In fairness to them, lots of games since have tried to give me that experience - but so far with limited success.
The first one I really fell in love with was the original arcade game. It appeared around about the same time that I first saw the film, and there were copies of it on both sides of the Atlantic that I lived on around that time. While with my Dad in Miami, the local bowling alley had it. Here in the UK, the local ice skating rink had it. The result was that I fed a LOT of 10p pieces and quarters into it on different sides of the planet, and in exchange it fuelled my imagination. In the years since, I don't think I've really loved another Aliens game as much as I loved that one - but I've definitely tried.
For a long time, seeing the word "Aliens" as the prefix part of a title has been a negative connotation. Aliens Vs Predator has appeared in various guises - none of them living up to the promise of the premise. Alien 3 on the Sega Megadrive was more enjoyable than a lot of them have been, but a side-scrolling run and gun platform game that's played against the clock wasn't really what I had in mind. More recently, Aliens: Colonial Marines disappointed pretty much everyone who played it. I say "pretty much" because I actually enjoyed some elements of it quite a lot (mainly the art direction and the atmosphere, which nailed Hadley's Hope almost perfectly) - but in spite of the few parts of the game that worked well, there was a lot to be disappointed by. The last one I played was Alien: Isolation - a game that's acquired a bit of a cult following in the years since its release, but one that was strange in that the alien in the game was simultaneously the best and worst thing about it. The fact that it was so smart and could hunt you down was awesome... the fact that it could sometimes appear in the final moments of a level with no warning and scupper hours of progress drove me nuts.
This week, the latest Aliens game was announced. It's landing later this summer, it's called Aliens: Fireteam - and it looks like it might be the Aliens game that I've been waiting for since 1990. I mean... look at this:
This looks EXACTLY like what I've wanted for all these years - and judging by the response to the trailer and announcement online, I'm far from alone. It's shaping up to be a third person, multiplayer survival shooter - and it looks so much like the Aliens game I've had in my head ever since that fateful Saturday morning that I spent watching the movie for the first time that, frankly, I can't help but be a little worried. We've waited so long for an Aliens game like this one to arrive that, if it arrives and fails to live up to expectation, its failure might hurt even more than that of Colonial Marines.
It all leads to the inevitable question: how much hope should we allow ourselves on this one? Well, I'm in the dark as much as you are - but if you'll forgive me, I'm going to hold out some optimism for this one. Why? Easy. I need something to look forward to round about now, and I know I'm not the only one. Pandemic and its associated lockdowns has taken its toll on all of us. I can't remember the last time I saw a videogame announcement trailer and the child inside of me let out a whoop of joy before I saw this one a couple of days ago. Besides that though, I think the game could actually be good in its own right. Squad based shooters are often fun with friends - and the subject matter lends itself to this format better than it does to ANY of the other things that have been attempted with it. Based on that trailer, the marines look like they should. The guns look like they should - and perhaps as important they sound right too. The aliens look right - and for the first time in a game, they look like they MOVE correctly as well. Aliens charging you along the walls and ceiling as well as the floor? Sign me up.
I dunno, man. I just feel like this looks like an Aliens game put together by people who really 'get' what they're trying to do, and what a game based on that franchise should be. In the same way that Creative Assembly nailed the look and feel of the first Alien movie when they made Alien: Isolation, it really feels like Cold Iron Studios are going into this one with the same approach to the second movie. For the first time ever, we might all be on the same page when it comes to what an Aliens game should be - and I'm going to hang on to that hope for as long as I can.
What do you reckon? Could Aliens: Fireteam be the one that finally delivers on the premise of one of the greatest action movies of the 1980's? Or are expectations so high that meeting them is impossible? Hit me up on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pharaohcreator and let me know what you think.
Image credit: Aliens Arcade Game image above was sourced:
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64560808