Tuesday, 7 January 2014

My reaction to Alien: Isolation

Sega have announced Alien: Isolation, a new Alien game with a particular emphasis on Ridley Scott's original 1979 masterpiece. I react in the only way a scorned Alien fanboy can, by quoting almost verbatim from James Cameron's classic 1986 sequel.

INT. CORRIDOR

CARTER BURKE From SEGA stands in the narrow, dingy corridor with LIEUTENANT GORMAN, CREATIVE ASSEMBLY. Young and severe in his officer's dress black but maybe slightly obsessed with large scale historical total war strategy games. The door opens slightly.




BURKE
Hi, Charley. This is Lieutenant Gorman of the...

SLAM. Burke buzzes again. Talks to the door...


BURKE
Charley we have to talk.
(pause)
We've got a brand new Aliens game coming out. 

The door opens. Charley considers the ramifications of that. He motions from inside. 

INT. CHARLEY'S APARTMENT - A LITTLE LATER

Burke and Gorman are seated, nursing coffee. Charley paces, very tense. 
CHARLEY
No. There's no way! 

BURKE
Hear me out...

CHARLEY
I willingly sat through those two Alien Versus Predator movies. I got all hyped up for Prometheus and came out woefully disappointed. I pre-ordered and played through that piece of shit train wreck you called Aliens: Colonial Marines, and now you want me to go back out there and play another Alien game? Forget it. 


We see that he's gut scared, covering it with anger. Burke sees it too. 

BURKE
Look. It's not going to be another shooter. It's a survival horror, a canonical sequel to the original Ridley Scott Alien movie. Y'know I think we're really onto something here. That's all.

GORMAN
It wouldn't be another space marine shooter. It'll be a true survival horror experience. Like Amnesia, but set in the Alien universe.

BURKE
This game stays true to the spirit of Alien. No weapons. Just one alien and one big deserted space ship based on the architecture and set design of the original movie. It's going to be a pure horror game. You're going to be extremely disempowered in the face of this perfect killing machine that stalks you around each and every corner. Just like you always wanted. 


GORMAN
We've been working on it for quite sometime. Before the whole debacle of Colonial Marines. The original vision for this game has remained consistent from the beginning of development. And we've got the rights to include the original Jerry Goldsmith score.  

CHARLEY
(To Burke)

So you're making a canonical sequel to Alien now? You going to soil that masterpiece too? What's next? Maybe you could do a canonical sequel to Alien 3! Where Ripley wakes up to find it was all just a horrible dream... She wakes up with Hicks and Newt and they go off to the Alien homeworld, and find out that the aliens aren't actually all bad, just misunderstood. Just like Renny Harlin wanted? I like Alien 3 just fine! Especially the director's cut edition. It's a real dark underrated movie! Don't mess with Alien 3. 



BURKE
You're upset. I get it. This is a sore subject under the circumstances. After that last game. But look. In this new game, you play as Ellen Ripley's daughter Amanda Ripley. She lost her mother aged 11 when the Nostromo disappeared. From her perspective she has no idea what even happened to her beloved mother and now 20 years later she gets a call from Weyland Yutani who tell her they've found the Nostromo's black box and what happened to her mother. Its a real great setup for, I think, a real compelling story, a young woman travelling across the black recesses of space to search for the truth of what happened to her mother. But of course, when she gets there... she meets the horror her mother faced. Wouldn't you watch that movie? I'd watch that movie! 

Burke is revealing the skills of his early days in sales. Charley is almost convinced. Almost.

CHARLEY
Yeah, yeah. Nice try. But the franchise is dead to me. Why can't you understand? I'm just trying to move on with my life. You know, maybe some new IP or franchise will reveal itself. 

BURKE
Yeah. I heard you were really getting back into Nintendo in a big way. Mario and Animal Crossing? That kinda stuff?

CHARLEY
(defensive)
That's right.

BURKE
Collecting stars and mushrooms? Jumping on goombas... Rescuing the princess? Little cute animal people? That sorta thing?

CHARLEY
(shrugging)
It's all I can handle. It certainly keeps my mind off the betrayal... fuckin' Colonial Marines. Nintendo have had a really good year and Mario never disappoints. You should see the new game for the Wii-U, you get a cat suit and everything. It's adorable. What would Sega know about good games anyway? Aliens is one thing, but look what you did to Sonic the Hedgehog. 

He makes a good point and Burke knows it. 


BURKE
(changing the subject)
What if I said that Alien: Isolation could reinstate your hopes in the Aliens franchise? And that from here on we're going to treat the series with the respect it deserves. We will enter a new golden age for the franchise. Maybe we could even make the Colonial Marines game you always wanted?

CHARLEY
A 4 player Left 4 Dead co-op shooter with xenomorphs?

BURKE
Exactly. 

CHARLEY
Well that does sound nice.

BURKE
You're damn right it sounds nice! 
(pause)
It's a second chance, kiddo. And I think it'll be the best thing in the world for you to get back in with the xenomorphs. You gotta get back on that.... charging bull alien thing... 

Charley suddenly appears visibly repulsed. Memories of a glorious walkthrough demo juxtaposed with the sad reality of a tragically broken game, sold on a lie. 

CHARLEY
(frosty)
Spare me, Burke. I've heard all this before. I've had my psych evaluation this month. 

Burke leans close, a let's cut-the crap intimacy.

BURKE
Yes, and I've read it. You wake up every night, sheets soaking, the same nightmare over and over. The sluggish combat, the dated visuals, the weyland yutani mercs, jaunty blind aliens t-rexing through the sewers... The bit when you see a poorly modelled Bill Paxton cocooned chest bursted on the wall, as if Hudson's heroic death meant nothing... 



CHARLEY
(shouting)
No! The answer is no. Now please go. I'm sorry. Just go, would you?

Burke went too far, he nods to Gorman who rises with him. He slips a translucent card onto the table and heads for the door. 

BURKE
Think about it. Check out all the previews and teaser trailers. The press embargo has lifted. We'll be trickling out a lot of details over the next coming months before its Q4 release. Lots of really really compelling stuff. So follow us on twitter and facebook... you know what to do. 

INT. LOUNGE - LUCID DREAM SEQUENCE

A hundred YouTube video players broadcasting demos and promotional material for Aliens: Colonial Marines. Randy Pitchford begins laughing heartily whilst doing magic tricks. The promise of a Left 4 Dead styled co-op shooter with xenomorphs. Charley dreams of himself happily playing with friends, reeling off Aliens quotes back and forth, as they get overpowered by waves and waves of deadly aliens. Every death is glorious under the din of pulse rifle fire. Randy Pitchford, is still laughing doing magic tricks. His laughter is gradually becoming more maniacal as he goes into the biggest magic trick of all. The launch day of Aliens: Colonial Marines. Dumb AI, bad lighting, dated visuals, shoddy writing, character models stuck forever glitching in scenery. Michael Biehn's sleepwalked return as Corporal 'not dead' Hicks. JAUNTY BLIND ALIENS T-REXING THROUGH THE SEWERS... Randy Pitchford laughter reaches feverpitch, throwing his head back madly with the veins in his neck pulsating. His kind bespetacled Santa Claus eyes completely at odds with his deranged cackle. 


But the nightmare grows - flashes of the tasteless hospital scene from Alien Versus Predator: Requiem. Suddenly Charley is falling through infinite blackness, the gaping plot holes and unanswered questions of Prometheus. He crashes onto an alien planet. He gets himself up and looks around. But what's this? He looks behind him, a monolithic structure blocks out the sun. The space jockey's ship is rolling towards him. Its rolling! It's going to crush him. But instead of running to the side, all he can do is look up in terror as the ship comes crashing down upon him. But lo! What's this? He's suddenly at the cinema, queuing up at the box office buying tickets. But for what? Oh no... It's Prometheus 2 - Prometheuses! Promethei? 

IT NEVER ENDS. 

CUT TO: INT. APARTMENT

Charley lunges into frame with an animal outcry. He clutches his chest, breathing hard. Bathed in sweat he lights a cigarette with trembling hands. 

TIGHT ON PHONE CONSOLE as Charley's hand inserts Burke's card into a slot. "STAND BY" prints out on the screen and is replaced by Burke's face, bleary with sleep.

BURKE
(on video phone)
Yello? Oh, Charley. Hi...




CHARLEY
Burke, just tell me one thing. There are going to be no pulse rifles, smart guns or sentry guns. No predators or pred-aliens or company mercs... It will be a true survival horror game. Amnesia with xenomorphs. Just a brooding isolating atmosphere, plagued with scarce resources with some stellar lighting and sound design. 

BURKE
That's the plan. My word on it. 

CLOSEUP - CHARLEY taking a deep slow breath. Surely it's time for someone to make good use of the Aliens IP once again?    

CHARLEY
All right. I'm in. 




7 comments:

  1. I love this... you've managed to summarise my feelings in a way that both broke my heart and made me smile.

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  2. Great post...You've captured the anticipation and the dread in a way that's both nostalgic and hilarious.

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  3. Based on my love of horror and how enchanting it was to discover Aliens: Colonial Marines just a few months away from being finally released, I had really set my gaze upon it. My choice on purchasing the product was encouraged by the demo Randy Pitchford so eagerly demonstrated to the public. This was persuading me to preorder this new alien product with the preconceived notion that we would be receiving a gem of a game. Though sagaciously, I decided to garner an adequate amount of patience to deter such an act. Instead, I waited for the game to be released, and waited for the reviews to be churned out by the major video game reviews sites and the much more trusted users. Based on this unfortunate happening that has disseminated the burning embers of a loathsome disgust through the alien community, I have extracted a discipline of thought as to how the gaming industry should change. But in order for the business practices of an institution change, a the community must oppose them through not preordering games to being with. If we keep preordering games, then there becomes less of an incentive for the developers to further develop and add quality to the game. For this to happen, not one gamer, but many, need to foster sensible purchasing decisions---in the case of not preordering---since it forces the gaming industries to create a product based on quality, rather than through the scheming marketing hyperbole that Gearbox used to capture the interest of those who became ensnared by the false promises offered in the demo version of this Aliens: Colonial marines game.
    On the other hand, we have a new alien game Alien: Isolation being created by a new developing team. From what I've seen and heard, it does hold a lot of promise. The story of Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripley's daughter being used, does not appear to be shoehorned. If you are interested, I have designed a presentation of why, based on my initial impressions, this game might have a quality story for once. So instead of parodying the next game inspired by the movie Alien, I think we should be cautiously optimistic on this one. If anyone's interested in the presentation, you can view it on youtube. The name of the presentation is Revolving Sun-Alien Isolation: Will the Story be any Good?. Also, if you like, you can also view my blog at www.invertedgravity.blogspot.com to observe my film and and animation work.

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