Welcome to the Alien Encyclopedia’s first „Behind the Scenes“ post! I’ll start off with something about the most recent Aliens video game, „Aliens Infestation“ for the Nintendo DS. This first part will deal with Infestation’s connection to Alien³. Generally, the „A word about…“ will be basically essays with a focus towards issues relevant to the Alien Encyclopedia, such as continuity and the timeline of events.
BEWARE: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!
- The „egg question“
As you maybe know, Infestation continues right after the end of Aliens and finally addresses what happened to the Sulaco in an official piece of lore. Or do they? Well, the answer is: Yeah, partly. Since Infestation is intended to be a companion piece to the upcoming Colonial Marines video game, I did not expect them to fully reveal the final fate of the Sulaco. So please bear in mind that some of the issues I will talk about may be addressed in Colonial Marines. But as of now, they took the already problematic initial situation of Alien³ and made it even worse.
A short recap: Perhaps the most famous unanswered question or, if you will, plot hole from the Alien franchise is that we get no explanation for how the Xenomorph egg got aboard the Sulaco to cause the havoc shown at the beginning of Alien³. There are several theories, ranging from that the Queen has brought the egg aboard the ship when she stowed away on the dropship during the finale of the second movie to the possibility that Bishop, following a secret directive of Weyland-Yutani has been programmed to bring along an egg. None of the theories are completely satisfactory, and this question has been puzzling the fans since two decades, as well as the final fate of the Sulaco.
Now, Aliens Infestation (and, in the future, Colonial Marines) set out to finally answer the „egg question“. The story we get in the first chapter of Infestation is this: Three weeks after the Hadley’s Hope incident, the Sulaco is discovered drifting in deep space. A second squad of Marines is sent to investigate aboard the USS Sephora, a sister ship to the Sulaco. The Sephora’s sensors detect a lifeform aboard the Sulaco, read: a possible survivor who can shed light on the fate of the Sulaco’s platoon. As the squad explores the ship, signs of a Xenomorph infestation (and UPP involvment) are found. When the marines finally catch up with the survivor, all hell breaks loose, and Xenomorphs attack the marines throughout the ship. When the threat is subdued and the survivor is extracted for interrogation, the Sehphora squad learns that the UPP found the Sulaco first, sent a strike team on board (of which the sole survivor found by the Sephora’s squad was a part) which found the ship’s android (=Bishop) and extracted the data about the Acheron mission from him, learning about the Alien presence on LV-426 this way.
The problem is obvious: Not only does the game not answer the „egg question“, it also now confronts us with a full-blown Alien hive, including a Queen, aboard the Sulaco without giving an explanation either! I understand that qhen you choose the Sulaco as a major stage for an Aliens video game, you have to somehow get the creatures aboard the ship. The cancelled Colonial Marines game for the PlayStation 2 also went that route, and I was fine with this as I expected that the game would give us an answer for their presence and even would answer the „egg question“ in the process. Aliens Infestation does not answer it, and it even makes things worse by stacking a ship-wide outbreak on top of it. Now, as I said, the game is intended as a companion piece to the upcoming Colonial Marines, so they probably had to weasel around this topic to make the story work and not interfere with the plotline of its big brother.
As of now, my conjecture is that Weyland-Yutani had smuggled Xenomorphs aboard the ship to cover up Burke’s involvement in the Hadley’s Hope incident. Infestation states that Weyland-Yutani has a Xenomorph research station aboard Phobos and has entertained it prior to the events of Aliens, so they would have the resources to pull this off. Additionally, since the existence of the Xenomorph would be revealed anyway when the Sulaco’s squad fails to return from LV-426, it is a reasonably good cover-up as Ripley and the others would be eliminated by means which cannot be traced back to Weyland-Yutani (in opposition to sabotaging the Sulaco or plain killing). Until Colonial Marines clears things up (or not), this seems to be the only plausible scenario for the Xenomorph presence in both Alien³ and Infestation.