If you ask gamers what one of the biggest disappointments of the past year was, chances are several of them are going to mention Sega’s Aliens: Colonial Marines. Probably after punching a hole in a nearby wall. For decades, video games have been cribbing from James Cameron’s classic Aliens, and from the larger Alien mythology. But while there have been a few good Alien games over the years, we haven’t had an official spin-off that truly captured the frantic action, the claustrophobic fear and paranoia, of Cameron’s Alien sequel. Many a shout of joy went up, then, when Aliens: Colonial Marines was first announced. And many a cry of grief went up when the game arrived…and was bad. The victim of delays and behind-the-scenes production issues, Colonial Marines disappointed on virtually every front. And as it turns out, gamers weren’t the only ones left bitter about the experience. Aliens actor Michael Biehn, who returned to voice the character of Corporal Dwayne Hicks, called the experience “passionless.” Ouch.
On paper it sounded amazing. An in-canon sequel to Aliens, Colonial Marines would follow up directly on Cameron’s film and explore many of the locations from the films, casting players in the role of a squad of Marines sent to figure out what the hell happened to Hadley’s Hope and the last squad they sent to investigate. Early footage looked like the Aliens game fans had been waiting decades for. But when Biehn was called in to voice the role of Hicks, his first impressions were not good. Speaking to Game Informer, Biehn says the experience “wasn’t fun at all.” He continues:
It seemed kind of passionless. I think in movies, television, and the gaming world, you get some people that are really, really passionate, and some people that are just going through the paces. They think that because they have a brand name they’re going to get a hit game or hit movie out of it. That certainly was the situation on [Aliens: Colonial Marines].
The tragedy of Aliens: Colonial Marines is not just that the game itself was bad, but that it wasted a concept full of potential. They had everything they needed to make a game that Aliens fans would have been drooling over for years, and instead they served up a clusterfuck that would have impressed even the incapable Lt. Gorman. And now the prospect of a top-notch, in-canon game exploration of the Aliens universe will just remain an unfortunate footnote until somebody tries again.
They should have nuked the site from orbit. It was the only way to be sure.
Thankfully, Biehn did have a more positive video game experience in recent months. He voiced the protagonist of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, lending his pipes to Sgt. Rex “Power” Colt. If that sounds a bit cheesy, that’s the point. Only loosely connected to last fall’s excellent Far Cry 3, Blood Dragon is a standalone expansion that drops players into what designer Ubisoft described as “an ‘80s VHS vision of the future.” You get to roam a retro-futuristic open-world island environment killing cyborgs. What’s not to like?
Biehn says voicing Colt wasn’t all that different from his roles in genre classics such as The Terminator and Aliens.
I think that there’s an inner dialogue that goes on in my character’s head when I play those stoic [movie] characters. I just don’t talk. I don’t say the things that I normally would say. Like ‘This is bulls—,’ or ‘This mission is bulls—,’ ‘I hate this,’ ‘I hate that,’ ‘F— you,’ and all that kind of stuff, you know? I think I was basically playing the same character but I say the inner thoughts that I’m not allowed to say on film.
Sounds like my internal monologue while playing Aliens: Colonial Marines…