From the white-knuckle claustrophobia of Ridley Scott’s Alien to the action-packed, war movie stylings of James Cameron’s Aliens, the Alien franchise has proven itself to be surprisingly versatile on the big screen. That versatility has also expanded to the various video game adaptations too, with each new effort seemingly offering something different for players to sink their teeth into.
From Aliens: Isolation to Aliens: Colonial Marines these are the best PC games based on the Aliens movies ranked in a handy, thoroughly accurate order.
More than any other game in this list, Alien: Isolation captures both the terror and anxiety-frothing ambience of Ridley Scott’s seminal 1979 Alien with ravenous aplomb. Set fifteen years after the events chronicled in Alien, Alien: Isolation focuses on Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen Ripley who finds herself on a perilous journey to uncover the truth behind her mother’s disappearance. Unfolding from a first-person perspective, Alien: Isolation wastes no time in establishing the cut-it-with-a-knife atmosphere that so wholly defined RIdley Scott’s 1979 big screen effort.
Starting in the remote trading station Sevastopol, Alien: Isolation is all dark corridors, irregularly functioning lights, creeping shadows and late 1970s style blinking button terminals as you navigate your way through the corridors. To say that developer Creative Assembly absolutely replicated the physical set aesthetic of Alien, would be something of an understatement to say the least. Beyond its painstakingly crafted aesthetic though, lay the beating black heart of a routinely terrifying and extremely challenging stealth offering.
Much like its big screen inspiration, the titular alien is central to Alien: Isolation and the game wastes no time in reminding players how helpless they are. While it is possible to put down the various rogue synthetics and aggressive humans that stand in your way, no such tactics can be employed with the alien, since direct confrontation results in an assured (and messy) death. Instead, the church mouse approach must be taken whereby you must hide under tables, in lockers, behind cover and basically anywhere you think the alien can’t reach you (but usually can), all the while the iconic beep of the stress triggering motion detector keeps your heart beating through your chest. Quite simply, Alien: Isolation utterly understands what made the 1979 movie work so well and then expands that concept – an unstoppable, omnipresent threat – across more than 30 hours plus of intense, hand-chewing stealth gameplay. Absolutely horrific, but essential stuff.
If Alien: Isolation went to painstaking lengths to channel the anxiety-inducing look and feeling of Alien, then Aliens: Fireteam Elite undoubtedly goes as hard as possible in the opposite direction, doing its very best to encapsulate the loud and bloody warfare of James Cameron’s Aliens sequel. As one of three human marines (empty spots are handily filled by CPU players that amusingly appear as synthetic soldiers), you’re tasked with quite simply blowing legions of alien enemies to bits as you carve a grisly path to your objective within abandoned space hulks, ruined temples and more.
Taking place from the third-person perspective, Aliens: Fireteam Elite plays similarly to other horde based shooters such as World War Z and Back 4 Blood. A perfect fit for the frenetic ultraviolence of the Aliens universe, Aliens: Fireteam Elite is a wholly satisfying third-person squad-based shooter that is a whole heap of fun when played with friends – not least thanks to ultra-aggressive aliens and the audiovisual presentation that beautifully replicates the sound and fury of the 1986 Aliens movie. If anything, Aliens: Fireteam Elite would greatly benefit from providing wannabe marines with a first-person perspective and its omission is baffling to say the least.
Though Aliens Vs Predator raised eyebrows when it released for the ill-fated Atari Jaguar console back in 1994, it was arguably the PC release some years later that would linger in the noggin the longest. A first-person shooter effort developed and published by Rebellion, the same folks that many years later would bring us the Sniper Elite series, Aliens Vs Predator Classic 2000 permitted players to choose between the Alien, Predator and human marine, with each of three sides boasting their own unique single-player campaign, in addition to a series of riveting multiplayer modes.
As one might expect, each of the three protagonists plays appreciably differently. As the alien, stealth murder is the order of the day as you clamber across walls and ceilings before pouncing onto your enemies and tearing them to shreds. Taking up the boots of the human marines, overwhelming firepower is how you get the job done, with the gruff marine able to leverage everything from pistols and shotguns, through to pulse rifles and the iconic smart gun to destroy their foes. Finally, the Predator represents an enticing hybrid of the two approaches, thanks in part to its cloaking device which enables players to attack from the temporary cover of invisibility, while the laser cannon and spear both prove to be devastating solutions to short and long range combat encounters respectively.
Aliens Vs Predator
Once more developed by Rebellion, 2010’s Alien Vs Predator would again allow players to take up the mantle of the Alien, Predator and human marine across a trio of very different single-player campaigns. In place of the frenetic pace that Aliens Vs Predator Classic prescribed across its campaign and skirmish modes, Aliens Vs Predator 2010 incarnation instead takes a slower, more cinematic approach fitting in with the Call of Duty inspired shooters of the time.
Though ultimately serviceable, Aliens Vs Predator feels very much like a cookie-cutter first-person shooter going through the motions that just so happens to have Aliens, human marines and Predators in it. As thoroughly average as Aliens Vs Predator was in 2010 then, at least it isn’t as bad as either of the two Aliens Vs Predator movies. So that’s something at least, eh?
Aliens: Colonial Marines
I would be surprised if you were surprised about why Aliens: Colonial Marines ranked rock bottom in this feature, but its spot at the nadir of Alien video games on PC is spectacularly well deserved. Spending years in development hell, perhaps the most damning assessment you could make of Aliens: Colonial Marines is that it probably should have stayed there – in the tenth circle where awful tie-ins that should never have seen the light of day remain eternally. Unfortunately for everyone else, Aliens: Colonial Marines did see the light of day and well, here we are.
Jointly developed by Sega and Gearbox Software over a period of six years, Aliens: Colonial Marines is a thrill and enjoyment free first-person shooter which has players stomping about in the boots of the titular marines as they blast through locations that have been ‘inspired’ by locations in the first two Alien movies. Lacking any real or meaningful connection to the movies and summarily undone by a raft of bugs, extremely poor visuals and often hilariously dumb enemies (something the ruthlessly cunning alien should never be accused of), Aliens: Colonial Marines should have been fired out of the nearest airlock long before it ever released.