Aliens: This Time It’s “BADASS”
Since I’ve not been keeping up with the games I’m most looking forward to as much as perhaps I should, I decided to catch up on some Aliens: Colonial Marines videos, most of which do the usual thing of combining in-game footage with devs talking about how awesome their game is and how in this case the game captures the spirit of the Aliens movie it follows on from. I wasn’t really paying attention to the talking heads since they rarely have anything to impart (“Alien had a guy in a suit, basically” – yeah, thanks for that), but while the unseen QA guy was cutting down xenomorphs in the B-roll, words kept popping up on the in-game screen that distrurbed me greatly. Words such as “DOUBLE KILL”, “TRIPLE KILL” and “BADASS”. So ubiquitous are they in standard shooters that they barely registered at first, but as the Alien-maiming continued, they pounded out on screen until they were hard to ignore, culminating in a frankly disturbing “CHALLENGE COMPLETE: Kill Streaker 1 +$500!”
For a game that the developers claim “is steeped in the eerie, claustrophobic and terrifying atmosphere that made the Aliens films successful” branding M-U-L-T-I-K-I-L-L in the middle of the screen every three seconds hardly seems condusive to continuing that tradition. I was under the impression that developers Gearbox would be keeping Aliens’ UI elements to a minimum so as to ramp up the tension rather than lower it with superflous and unncessary text announcements.
As I gulped down lungfuls of Ventolin I carefully watched the footage again, managing to eventually calm down by convincing myself the B-roll was entirely culled from multiplayer footage – which seems to be the case. Perhaps the single-player and co-op portion of the game would be detached from all the headkill nonsense, I reasoned. Then I noticed a new video just yesterday (via RPS and embedded for your viewing pleasure below), in which Randy Pitchford and chums go out of their way to talk about the all-important tension while again stamping the gameplay footage with positive mesages about how the player is really handy with a pulse rifle. To be fair, it seems again that it’s only the multiplayer side of the game that’s tainted with FPS cheev-speak and hope remains that single-player will be left alone, but it still seems unnecessary even in an arena environment. Sure, Colonial Marines is an Aliens shooter that requires a constant supply of aliens and the shooting thereof, but this is the ravaged Aliens franchise we’re talking about, one that was been built on the foundations of horror and worn down by a poor succession of crossovers. Any kind of screen distraction that is not true to the setting is patently unnecessary, whatever the conventions of gameplay genre maintain. Come on guys, you have Borderlands 2 for that kind of overbearing nonsense.
The only text message I was to see when playing Aliens is “That’s it man, game over.”