Video Game: Aliens: Infestation
A 2011 2D side-scrolling action game in the Metroidvania
style, developed by Way Forward
(of Contra 4
fame) in collaboration with Gearbox as a tie-in/alternate take on Gearbox's upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines
Remember in Aliens
when the protagonists discovered they had to wait 17 days for backup? This is the story of what happened to that backup, bridging the plot between Aliens
, incorporating some ideas from William Gibson
's unrealized Alien 3
script (just as Aliens: Colonial Marines
does). Needless to say, the player will be returning to the Sulaco
as well as LV-426 leading a squad of Colonial Marines in an effort to discover what transpired there and, more importantly, how to deal with the aftermath.
Most of the tropes applicable to the Alien
franchise in general, as well as Aliens
specifically, also apply here, for obvious reasons.
This game contains examples of the following tropes:
- Air-Vent Passageway: Used prominently across all the levels, featuring both "have to crawl through" and "can walk freely through" types. Expected of LV-426, as the movie has shown that the colony had these in spades, but somewhat unexpected on the Sulaco, where space was supposed to be an issue preventing fitting in air vent spaces you can hide a building in.
- All There in the Manual: The game doesn't explain who the UPP are or what the acronym even stands for.
- Anyone Can Die: The mutable team roster is actually an interesting take on the multiple-1up system, and since every one of your "1up"s has a name, a face, unique animations and unique responses for every single situation in the game, it feels like a combination of Anyone Can Die and Video Game Lives. The game keeps score of how many Marines you've lost this way.
- Art Major Biology: Inherited from the parent title. The traditional inconsistency of the alien gestation cycles is still here — the Marines have been on the Sulaco for a matter of hours by the time the first of them get chestbursted, and the replenishment drones that appear on the Sulaco after the Corporation ferries some eggs from the planet onboard mature surprisingly quickly.
- A Space Marine Is You: As expected from a game based on the Space Marine-centric Aliens.
- BFG: The M56 Smart Gun fills this role - it is slow to set up, takes a while to reload, but it turns everything in front of it into fine paste in no time.
- Black Dude Dies First: Can be played straight or averted depending on who your first casualty is.
- Cat Scare: Multiple uses, including several featuring actual cats. Which is funny, considering that there were no cats in the movie (Jones got left on Earth, remember?)... Unless the UPP brought some with them.
- Ceiling Cling: The xenomorphs have no reservations about attacking from above. For some reason, this makes them more resistant to the flamer.
- Colony Drop: Attempted with the Sulaco, a-la Alien: Resurrection.
- Continuity Nod: Numerous, seeing as how you revisit most of the first two movies' locations.
- Most of the battlecries (said when you pick up weapons and weapon upgrades) of the Marines are quotes from the movies or riffs on them.
Whistler: "Game over, bugs, GAME OVER!"
Henick: "Achieving peace through superior firepower!"
- When deploying on LV-426, you can see the leftovers of the movies' action. Less so on the Sulaco, but you do visit a few iconic locations there as well.
- And activities, such as driving a power loader.
- Or dumping a Queen out of an airlock in a boss battle.
- Ever wanted to see what a Monkey-grown Xenomorph would look like?
- What about a Space Jockey one?
- The battle robots bleed white, something to be expected in the movies' universe.
- Various bits of William Gibson's unused Alien³ script are integrated into the story, such as the Union of Progressive People taking the Sulaco over, and becoming fodder for a new wave of xenos, providing variety to the opposition encountered by the Marines.
- The Knife Trick mini-game. Guess what it's about?
- The end credits feature the title theme of Aliens...
- And an Expository Theme Tune called "LV-426", mostly made up of quotes from the movie.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Generic Company Man, as he introduces himself.
- Critical Existence Failure: Played straight. There isn't even any indication of heavy wounds for the player characters.
- Expy: Pretty much every Marine is an Expy of either an Aliens character or a Space Marine from some other franchise.
- Henick looks and acts like an expy of Hicks.
- Johnston acts a lot like Vasquez.
- Heston looks suspiciously like the Doom guy. Or Wolverine, your pick.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Every Marine you can recruit has a unique face, name, lengthy unlockable bio, personal armour colour (Palette Swap, yes), idle animation and dialogue lines for every single occasion in the game (except for the starting four, which have an introductory exchange instead of the various possible iterations of the recruitment dialogues (which depend on whether you actually HAVE a free slot in your fire team to recruit the Marine)).
- Expository Theme Tune: In the end credits.
- Genre Savvy: Steele won't let you enter darkened areas without proper lighting.
- Get Back Here Boss: One of the alien queen boss fights goes down this road.
- Hub Level: The Sulaco ultimately serves as this for the game's story.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Partially averted. You can only carry one big gun with you, and a set amount of ammo for it (expandable for some guns via upgrades). The rest of your kit is mostly realistic - a sidearm, flares, grenades, detpacks, motion sensor note and whatever Lock and Key Puzzle components you have amassed. At the beginning of the game it feels like a set of things a man (or woman) can realistically carry on their person, but once you add a pipe wrench, a blowtorch, six grenades (plus 10 underslung grenade launcher grenades for the pulse rifle) and four detpacks, it starts to stretch the imagination a bit. We can safely assume that keycards, keys and the flashlight do not take up significant space, but the air tank for the Zero-G suit sure as hell does.
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: Facehuggers will try to do this to you, resulting in Press X to Not Die. You also see the occasional aftermath of these, both in-progress and already finished.
- Kill It with Fire: Among the usable arsenal is a flamethrower (with infinite ammo!). When fully upgraded, it makes a very good tool for clearing out xenomorph nests.
- Large and in Charge: The final boss.
- Lock and Key Puzzle: Blowtorches for unblocking (or re-blocking) doors, pipe wrenches for shutting off steam, keys for the Power Loader to smash crates and other barricades, detpacks to blow up other other barricades... All par for the course when you're playing a...
- Metroidvania: In a wonderful reversal, the movies that inspired the Metroid series finally get a game with action inspired by the Metroid series. This happens a lot in the video game world.
- Mini-Game: The Knife Trick, unlocked when you reach 50% completion. Two guesses what THAT refers to.
- Nostalgia Level: Most of the game, actually, seeing as how most of the locations you will visit have already had previous gaming incarnations.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Used to great effect on several occasions. Pretty much a given for an Alien game.
- Not Using the Z Word: When the Marines inevitably go up against Weyland-Yutani interests, the techies across the Sulaco start implementing this trope. They lurch, they move slowly, they lunge... and nobody comments on that. All the new sorts of xenomorphs get discussed at great lengths, but not the implications of gunning down what earlier seemed to be normal humans.
- Only Six Faces: Since it's Chris Bachalo, sometimes Marvel Comics artist, doing the portraits, some of them look suspiciously like Marvel character designs. As such, Heston looks like Wolverine, Fischer looks like Rogue, Cameron looks like Cable and Palms looks like Nightcrawler's human mask.
- Palette Swap: Provides variety in the human-grown drones and allows you to discern the Marines outside of save rooms.
- Press X to Not Die: When a facehugger or a full-grown drone will grapple you, you have to indulge in this to survive.
- Retraux: The Knife Trick menu is deliberately Atari-styled.
- Save Game Limits: One save per cartridge, saving only in specially allowed save rooms. In other words, par for the course of Metroidvanias everywhere (aside from the one-save-slot limit). The traditional MST3K Mantra of Metroidvanias about replenishing health and ammo when entering one is done via a Hand Wave about how they are combined Communication (for "logging your progress") and Supply (for stocking up on ammo and switching weapons) rooms.
- Sentry Gun: You have to survive and get around some of these set up around the Sulaco against the xenos because they don't understand the concept of IFF.
- You get to use them yourself in the final boss battle.
- Series Continuity Error: Hadley's Hope looks suspiciously intact, considering the protagonists of Aliens were abandoning it to avoid a nuclear blast - 16 days prior to the game's events!
- The research base on Phobos seems to possess xenomorphs unrealistically early, considering LV-426 was the first major run-in the Weyland-Yutani Corporation had with the xenos, and our Marines are the first on the scene besides the UPP, which didn't manage to get anything out because most of them got eaten or chestbursted or both.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: Type I. They kill most xenomorphs and robots and humans with a single blast up-close, penetrate cover and generally look cool. The downsides of a short range and the slow reload are negligible outside of boss battles.
- Shout-Out: Aside from references to the movies (see Continuity Nod above), there are these.
- PFC Chau, the geekiest of the recruitables (you find her texting "her BFF" from her bolt-hole behind a barricade of debris), is called Mei-Lin.
- The leader of the default squad is one Corporal John Cameron.
- Lance Corporal Williams has "Damn The Torpedoes" written on his body armour.
- Space Marines: Duh.
- Team Shot: Every time you enter a save room, your Marines arrange themselves into something like this.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: The Zero-G section. Complicated jumps, with several sequences of one Leap of Faith after another, all the while fending off xenomorphs... and in a game that doesn't let you move the camera.
- Vasquez Always Dies: Can be played straight or averted depending on whether the Vasquez Expy that is in your starting team makes it to the very end.
- Video Game Lives: See Anyone Can Die above. A slightly bizarre implementation, where your team members all have the same gameplay abilities, only partake in the action one at a time (despite moving as a unit, the game Hand Waves this as one Marine running point), and get Killed Off for Real if you lose them, in-universe. The game keeps track of who you met, who you recruited and who got killed in the Extras section.
- Voice with an Internet Connection: Lt. Colonel Steele, the guy overseeing our operation. We have to assume that the video feed we see of his face is for the player's benefit, as the movie's demonstrated tech level restricted the video feeds to be one-way FROM the Marines.
- Where It All Began: You will have to pay a visit to the Crashed Alien Ship, oh yes.