RETROspective: Alien Trilogy

The Bitch Is Back !

1995 Probe Entertainment/Acclaim Playstation/Sega Saturn/MS DOS
Video games based on films have a difficult reputation of often being either cheap cash-ins, or failing to live up to the quality of the film itself. It€™s especially difficult when the film in question is a horror flick €“ forcing the game to remain faithful to the film and achieve the difficult task of being just as scary. If the atmosphere is wrong or if it doesn€™t feel truthful to the film, games based on horror films will quickly fall apart. It€™s probably for this reason why it€™s more common for horror games to become films rather than the reverse €“ with games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill both becoming hugely profitable movie franchises. Games based on horror films on the other hand, often results in such monstrosities as Land Of The Dead: Road to Fiddlers Green and Evil Dead: Hail To the King. The 1980€™s in particular saw a slew of terrible horror video games such as Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday The 13th for the Nintendo Entertainment System. There€™s one horror series however that€™s had a decent run of solid games which have managed to closely capture the same atmosphere of the films on which they are based. Alien and its three sequels are perfect fodder for gaming adaptations, as the series is both pant-wettingly frightening and action packed in equal measure €“ a perfect gaming mix. There have been a number of games based on the successful sci-fi series - including Alien vs Predator for the Atari Jaguar and its later sequels - but the one which often conjures fond memories for many gamers is Alien Trilogy, released in 1995 for the Playstation. Probe Entertainment €“ creators of the similarly excellent Die Hard Trilogy - managed to successfully create a game which both atmospherically and tonally matched the three films from Ridley Scott, James Cameron and David Fincher. A first person shooter set within the dark corridors and various home worlds of the sci-fi series, Alien Trilogy can be compared to other first person shooters of the time like Doom and Quake. Rather than follow the approach of Die Hard Trilogy€™s unique multi-genre gameplay, Alien Trilogy features a single story which borrows from and references all three films in the series. You€™ll explore the claustrophobic ship corridors of Alien, the Queen's lair from Aliens and the dark and dingy prison areas of Alien 3. An added luxury is that it was made in a time in which the dire fourth instalment didn€™t exist - so there€™s no dodgy underwater sections or basketball mini-games. The gameplay is pretty basic - offering little more than shooting your way through tight corridors in an attempt to successfully find the exit while killing everything that moves - but Alien Trilogy was memorable for its faithful level design and enjoyable references to the series. For many who owned a Playstation back in the mid €˜90s, it was one of the first video games based on a film which wasn€™t just a generic tie-in side-scroller. While Alien Trilogy was likely to have been heavily inspired by Rebellion€™s Aliens vs Predator for the Atari Jaguar the previous year, later entries in the series would themselves be inspired by certain elements of Alien Trilogy itself. Next year€™s release of Gearbox€˜s Aliens: Colonial Marines is also reminiscent of Alien Trilogy, bringing the same mix of atmospheric horror and action to modern consoles. Looking back at Alien Trilogy retrospectively, it€™s easy to pick on the ugly pixelated graphics and linear design - but it remains a solid example of how to successfully convert a horror franchise into a decent videogame. Playing the game recaptures the same feeling of constant danger and atmospheric suspense of the three films. The sudden surprise of a Xenomorph jumping from shadows, or facehuggers crawling over the screen, were some of the scariest moments that could be found in gaming back in 1995. Gearbox€™s Aliens: Colonial Marines looks set to create a similarly frightening experience next year, which will hopefully continue the series' reputation for above average video games based on the sci-fi horror franchise. _________________ What are your memories of playing Alien Trilogy ?Which other video games based on horror movies are worth playing ? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KW2IQrfci0I
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Cult horror enthusiast and obsessive videogame fanatic. Stephen considers Jaws to be the single greatest film of all-time and is still pining over the demise of Sega's Dreamcast. As well regularly writing articles for WhatCulture, Stephen also contributes reviews and features to Ginx TV.