Aliens: Colonial Marines

My favorite poster from 'Aliens' 1986

My favorite poster from ‘Aliens’ 1986

Aliens: Colonial Marines

By Scotty O. White

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It is the 30th anniversary of the James Cameron film Aliens,,Thirty years ago I was still in the fourth grade and while my parents were pretty liberal when it came to what movies they allowed me to watch. I didn’t get to see this film until the following year when it was available to rent at the video store. Yes kids, before there was the time of streaming movies you had to go to a place where there were aisles and aisles of movies that you could rent and take home to watch. It was like Redbox but bigger. My family living in rural Alabama rented movies…a lot, it was after all, a lot easier than traveling fifty miles to the theater.

Once I saw the film I was mesmerized by it. The story of Ellen Ripley a survivor of some debacle on a spaceship involving a monster. At the time I had not even seen the original ‘Alien’ and would not until it would air on ABC television years later. So i just filled in the blanks on my own. I followed her as she was coerced to go back to a horrible planet where horrible things had happened, but this time she would be escorted by badass Marines. You had Corporal Hicks who had a shotgun and had leadership thrust upon him when his team was slaughtered. You had Hudson the private who was only a few weeks from getting out of the service whose antics and mouth constantly got him in trouble, oh and there was Vasquez a tiny bad ass lady with a large machine gun and tons of attitude. There wasn’t many times in my life that I thought military service was for me, but trust me if there was a chance I could fight monsters in space, nine year old Scotty would’ve signed up .Years later ‘Full Metal Jacket’ would have me rethink such thoughts.

R.-Lee-Ermey-Gunnery-Sergeant-Hartman-Full-Metal-Jacket

Also honestly if you have monsters you have to fight, send in the Marines they’ll get the job done!

Hudson getting the job done.

Hudson getting the job done.

I mean this movie was an easy sell for me. I was already living in a post “Star Wars”. “Gi Joe” filled world. This film had everything, cool space ships, an awesome troop transport, the walking fork lift loaders, man I wanted to drive one of those things so bad, Hell I still do! Also the weapons were awesome. The iconic Colonial Marine’s Pulse Rifle with the ammo counter on the side and a grenade launcher underneath, the heavy machine Smart Gun, the pulse trackers. I was sad to find out there were no toys for me to buy so I had to use my Gi Joe’s to stand in for Hicks and Hudson, I had a Leia figure who stood in for Ripley and sadly no one to stand in for Newt.

I love the Pulse Rifle so much

I love the Pulse Rifle so much

For outside roleplay I found an old 2×4 that I colored black with some spray paint I had “acquired” from my father’s barn, I nailed a piece of rope to it and that became my pulse rifle with strap. I found an odd shaped stick in the yard and used it as my pulse tracker and I went out looking for Xenomorphs. I still remember running through the fields in front my house making the “Th-Th-Th-Th” machine gun noise followed by a “ch-chuk..BUHRRRR” for the grenade. I want to be a part of this universe so bad!

I killed so many of these guys in my yard.

I killed so many of these guys in my yard.


As time waned on my interests attached to other things. I still had a love for ‘Aliens’ but I didn’t play it out in the yard anymore. I grew up, to a point, My freshman year of high school I met another kid who loved ‘Aliens’ and he even had this board game version of it from Lightning Edge Games. We played this flimsy paper map with these flimsy paper pieces during recess and lunch, never really finishing a full game.
Leading Edge Game's version of Aliens (early 90s)

Leading Edge Game’s version of Aliens (early 90s)

It was a blast though especially when you got to the ‘Let’s Eat Burke’ stage, reenacting with a dice roll the time Paul Riser was killed by a Xenomorph. Those was good times. I miss that game. I’ve looked around and have found it on Ebay a time or two but the price was just a little too high.

Though some years later I found that someone has converted the game for Flash so you can try it out! Here is the LINK

Last Picture before the 'Lets Eat Burke' stage

Last Picture before the ‘Lets Eat Burke’ stage

Over the years they did finally put out some Toys that were just a little too weird and tied with the Predator franchise. I was also too old by then to play with them, but I did pick a few up for nostalgia sake when I tried to collection action figures. Dark Horse also put out a Colonial Marine’s comic dealing with Vasquez sister that I just couldn’t get into. I even tried to make my own tabletop RPG but I just couldn’t recapture the magic. I suppose that just how it goes, there somethings in childhood you are able to recapture, I guess for me playing the Colonial Marines was just a fond memory. My love for the movie would fade a little more into just something fun I watched from time to time.

Now I know there were other interactive products that could possibly give me that experience I was missing. There were a ton of video games but they were tied into the ‘Alien vs Predator’ franchise before it was a film, and there was a collectible card game that had the marines in it but none of that really grabbed my attention outside of being the quick novelty.

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The Marines were almost forgotten to me until around 2008 when I started hearing rumors of a new video game featuring the Colonial Marines. This would be a direct sequel *to the film. There is this scene in Aliens where the surviving Marines, Ripley, Newt and Burke are trying to figure out when they will be rescued. They aren’t considered missing for seventeen days and Hudson freaks out. The game would pick up that story thread where you are a part of the team that came to find out what happened. They were even planning to get some original actors to voices old characters including Corporal Hicks himself- Michael Biehn. . I started to get excited, checking out to internet rumor after internet rumor trying to find out anything. Then Sega announced that they would put out an ‘Aliens Vs Predator’ video game instead and my heart sank. I thought that was the end of it.

Then sometime in 2011 I read on website that the Colonial Marines was back in development and my heart jumped I was excited, I couldn’t wait. In fact I went to Amazon and preordered it right as soon as it was available. First of all I rarely preorder anything, especially video games I can wait, secondly I don’t go for the collectors statue edition but I had to get this one. Not because it had a pretty neat statue it was all the extra gear you could get for your Marine. There were all kinds of neat weapons including Ripley’s pulse rifle/flame thrower combo but most importantly the Phase Plasma Rifle, What you don’t know what that ist? Well that’s the weapon that the T-800 asks for in the gun shop in the first ‘Terminator’ film. (which also was written and directed by James Cameron) It’s also something Hudson references on the drop ship heading to LV 246.

Waiting to terminate Xenomorphs

Waiting to terminate Xenomorphs

So pause. I can have a game set in one of my favorite movie universes and have one of the coolest weapons from a post apocalyptic future. Count me in, take my money now! So I preordered and I waited..and waited..and waited some more. There were delays oh so many delays, but I can be very patient, and being in college at the time allowed me to once again put my attentions elsewhere.

Finally it arrived. I had taken the day off from work and decided it would be in my best interest to skip whatever classes was possible and dedicate that day to me time, and that’s exactly what I did. I opened my package with glee, carefully taking the statue of the Marine in a loader fighting off a Xenomorph, then putting that statue aside because honestly I don’t care about the statues I just wanted my game, I wanted to shoot Xenomorphs with a plasma rifle! I took the game out and popped it into my Xbox and of course I had downlaod all the content that I was entitled to and again I waited while the game loaded and did it thing.

I would like to tell you that ‘Aliens: Colonial Marines’ was the best game I have ever played, but I think you know the answer. The game was abysmal with some confusing story about weaponizing the xenomorphs. You get to rescue Hicks which I suppose ignores the events of ‘Alien 3’ and which I’m all to happy to do, the game just didn’t hold up. It looked neat, it sounded authentic, but at the end the day I was bored. Oh and the Plasma Rifle I so longed for, it was some weird charging sniper rifle thing that was too slow and unwieldy to use. It was never my precious ‘Terminator’ rifle.

XM99A_Plasma_Pulse_Rifle

I didn’t let disappointment get me down. I bought the game, I spent a lot of money on it, and I was going to at least complete it. Which I did, even though the final Boss fight with the Alien Queen is just run around and not shoot until you ready the airlock suck her out of your transport. It was lame, like the rest of the game.

I haven’t played it since it released in 2013. I know there were other Downloadable Content, Maps and the like but I never got them. In fact the game is sitting with the rest of my games in my closet. I keep thinking I should play it again, i wonder if it is as bad as I remember. Maybe I can look at it with new eyes and accept that the little ten year old boy playing Colonial Marines is gone, that I’m not going to recapture that magic or mystery I had, or maybe I can wait a little longer for someone who loves the franchise like I do to give me the experience I’ve been longing for since 1987.

Postscript.

Neill Blomkamp tried. The ‘District 9’ director did some make up tests and some cool storyboards of an idea for a new a Aliens sequel that had an older Hicks, and Ripley going back to LV246. It almost was going to happen, Michael Biehn was ready to sign on, but Ridley Scott’s Prometheus sequel’ did that one in until a few days ago when the project may have some life in it after all. Fingers crossed.

Hick's Make Up Test

Hick’s Make Up Test

Ripley Blompkamp concept

Ripley Blompkamp concept

Newt All Grown up

Newt All Grown up