Prometheus review (Facebook repost)

The short version is: I REALLY liked the movie, maybe even loved it! Just for the record: I concur with the general buzz about the movie’s strengths. It’s hard not to, because the visuals and atmosphere are really great. However, unlike what seems to be the majority of the fans and press, my enjoyment does not end there. I think it’s best to address what most people don’t like about this movie instead of raving about the good stuff you’ve already heard.

1. “There are some really stupid decisions made by the movie’s characters!”

Yes, there are. Taking off your helmets in any alien environment is grade A stupid. Millburn’s reaction to the black goo and the snake was not smart. I have to admit that my answers to this criticisms are the most subjective, biased ones. Basically, it comes down to this: There was some stupid stuff, but I didn’t mind it because there’s so much cool stuff going on. At least for me, it never got in the way of things. In any case, I also never felt that the stupidity was out-of-character. Holloway was kinda set up to be a hotshot and a jerk. Shaw’s decisions, while not always very clever, were driven by her personality (I refer to the “catching the Engineer helmet inside the storm” scene). And Fifield was, well, Fifield. As a side effect, the characters weren’t as likable as they could have been. But personally, I was not so much interested in the characters as I wanted to see a new intriguing chapter of the Alien universe that expands on the existing stuff and provides new insights. Which brings me to the next complaint…

2. “The movie posed too many questions without delivering any answers! It’s just one big setup for a sequel!“

This one was what probably influenced my expections the most before seeing the movie. It’s also the one that would have crippled my enjoyment the most, since I know Damon Lindelof’s work from LOST, which in my opinion was okay but less than perfect, considering the great setup. Oddly, I was pleasantly surprised. For instance, the movie ended more than three decades of speculations about the origin of the Xenomorph by strongly implying it was a bioweapon created by the Engineers. At least for me, that was one hell of an answer! Was this something completely unexpected? No, but since Matrix Revolutions, I take “not very surprising, but logical and consistent” over “yes, unexpected, but WHAT THE HELL were they thinking!?” anytime. Now, you may say: “Yeah, but if the Engineers want to kill us, why did they create us in the first place?” This is where I see some severe nerd rage about Lindelof’s involvement, insofar that it made the people oversensitive to questions left open by the movie, considering how he handled LOST. But bear in mind that, if anything, this is the BEGINNING of a larger story, NOT the end. When people complain about sequel baits and sequel-mania, I can see where they coming from. However, it’s a problem with modern blockbuster cinema, not a Prometheus-specific issue. I admit that there are loose ends, but would you blame “Star Wars IV: A New Hope” or better “Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes” for its loose ends? Leaving questions unanswered does not a make a movie bad by default, just as answering all questions does not make a movie good by default *cough*Matrix Revolutions*cough*. As far as it concerns me, the sequel baits were rather moderate, at least not in any quantity that it would warrant such criticism, and the movie provided enough answers for me to create the feeling of watching one movie that can stand on its own instead of just the first half of a longer one.

3. “The movie began too ambitious and degenerated into a mere monster flick!”

Okay, first, it’s an Alien movie! Of course, it’s also a monster flick! I bet you would have been pissed if you hadn’t gotten some monster brawling at the end. I also think that the public buzz and, to be fair, Ridley Scott himself greatly exaggerated the preconceptions regarding the movie’s ambitions and, thus, creating expectations for something that I think simply is not there. Yes, of course it is built around fundamental implications regarding the origin of mankind and science vs. faith, but it is first and foremost a sci-fi thriller, and by no means an M. Night Shyamalan flick. I thought that the movie always stayed true to its roots, and I never felt any inconsistencies between different parts of the movie. I also felt that Weyland’s arc, the search for immortality, upheld the level of ambition throughout the movie’s last third. By the way, I thought it was a nice character dynamic between him and David: Weyland created David and made him basically immortal, and David, grateful for his creation, wanted to give his “father” immortality in return.

4. “The biology of the Black Goo is fricking confusing!”

This is one criticism I have to admit I share. I definitely have to create a flipchart for this one!

5. Conclusion

All in all, I admit that, yes, this movie has its faults and I can even understand why people may not like it. For me, Prometheus is a great way of expanding the Alien universe and a treasure trove of information. I prefer a movie that aims high and misses to a mediocre flick that is executed perfectly.

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A Word About… Aliens: Thanatos Encounter

Dealing with Aliens: Thanatos Encounter was a surprisingly satisfying experience. At first, it seemed to have a frustratingly vague and thin storyline, but eventually, it turned out that the game allows a possible interpretation that makes the events much more specific. But let’s start at the beginning…

Aliens: Thanatos Encounter is a video game for the Nintendo Gameboy Color and was released in 2001. It’s a nice little game, transferring the gameplay of the classic Alien Breed (which itself was a shameless Alien ripoff) to the Aliens universe. The story outline is, as I said in the beginning, very vague. The intro tells you this: Marines returning to Earth from a training mission receive a distress beacon from the freighter Thanatos. MOTHER awakes the soldiers, and and they board the Thanatos to see what’s wrong. Xenomorphs, that’s what. That’s the basic setup for the story, and the game doesn’t get any more specific. The game gives no direct reference to when the Thanatos incident is supposed to take place. Yeah, we know Colonial Marines are involved, but that gives a timespan of roughly two centuries.

Let’s take a look at the vehicles and weapons in the game. The intro already shows one hallmark of USCM tech as we saw it in Aliens, the Conestoga-class space transport, though turned upside down in the graphic. The Technical Manual states no introduction date, but says that the Conestoga ships are to be replaced by the Bougainville class in 2180. However, we can’t use the 2180 date as it only marks the beginning of a replacement period with the commission of the first Bougainville ship. How long this period lasted we don’t know, but we can assume that it took several decades to replace the ships. Additionally, the vessel here belongs to a training squad, so the ship could have been used as a training vessel even after the regular Conestogas were sorted out. So, we’re out of luck here.

Shortly after, we get to see a UD-4L Cheyenne dropship. This one is the first hint that narrows down the time frame. According to the Technical Manual, the Cheyenne was specifically built to accommodate a manifest for USCM operations called „Marine 70“, which was enacted at, you already guessed it, at the beginning of the 2170s. Ergo, the game can’t take place earlier that 2170, which rules out the first 70 years of the corps’ existent. But that still leaves us with a huge timespan where it could have taken place. Again, „Marine 70“ gives us a clue.

In one mission, you rescue a scientist who tells you that there is a prototype weapon stored in the living quarters. This weapon turns out to be a Smart Gun. Unfortunately, the section covering the smart gun gives us no introduction date. So, I looked up „Marine 70“ again and was rewarded with another hint.
The article mentions the M56 smart gun as new technology. I quote: „Squads now have two elements: the M56 smart gun team[…]and the rifle team.“ And later: „The M56 is an excellent example of the way in which new technology and concepts have helped increase the tempo of operations.“ This implies that smart gun technology is fairly new, even in 2179 which is the in-universe date of the Technical Manual’s release. Now, Thanatos presents us with a prototype weapon called „smart gun“. This leads to the conclusion that the game has to take place before the movie Aliens, where smart guns are used by regular squads. This further narrows down the time frame to between 2170 and 2179, i.e. the 2170s.

Unfortunately, I found no more clues that would narrow the date down even further. The game gives no indication whether it takes place before Earth War, when no one but a few people knew of the Xenomorph, or after the Earth War, when the Xenomorph had become public knowledge. The Pulse Rifle weapon icon in the HUD is somewhat different in appearance to the M41A1, with a shortened carrying handle that might point to an earlier model, but that could have been merely out of reasons of space, as the „Equip Left“ or „Equip Right“ text had fit into the box with the icon. In the end, the final result is the conjecture that Aliens: Thanatos Encounter takes place in the 2170s.

Perhaps now you can image imagine why this little treasure hunt was an exciting and satisfying experience for me. The fact that many Aliens comics and novels don’t bother to properly date their stories is something that’s been frustrating me since I started thinking about the chronology of the Aliens universe. At first, Aliens: Thanatos Encounter seemed to be another such unpleasantness, but eventually, the game provided me with enough clue to develop a conjecture that narrows it down to a single decade. Considering we started out with a time frame covering the whole existence of the USCM corps, I think this is not a bad end result.

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The Alien Encyclopedia turns 2!

Today is the second birthday of the Alien Encyclopedia, and things have been good for the project in 2013… something which cannot be said about the Aliens franchise. So come with me on a short retrospective about what happened to the Encyclopedia and all things Alien this year!

  1. The MU-TH-UR load

Before we talk about the major Aliens event this year (for better or worse), let’s take a look a tiny bit of catching-up the Encyclopedia had to do at the beginning of the year. By the beginning of 2013, the theatrical release of Prometheus has come and gone, followed by the home media release in October. So, there was a huge hole gaping the Encyclopedia where all the information about the latest movie entry in the franchise should have been.

When version 4 of the Alien Encyclopedia was finally released on March 16, it became obvious why the project had been lagging behind. Version 4 turned out to be the biggest update ever released, with almost 50 pages of new content. Not only did the update cover the movie itself in great detail, it also featured complete coverage on the viral media campaign launched for the movie. I am proud to say that, by version 4, the Alien Encyclopedia had become the definitive guide on all things Prometheus.

  1. Size does matter

With version 4, the Alien Encyclopedia also introduced a new third appendix containing exclusive Alien-related scale charts. I am particularly proud of this one, not only because I think it’s a cool new feature, but also because it would not have been possible without the help of some amazing people who gave their kind permission for using their awesome Alien-related artwork as a basis for the chart graphics. A huge “Thank you!” goes out to Samantha, Mike Brown and Space Jockey!

  1. Oorah to ashes!

Prometheus had now been dealt with, but there was no time to rest THE Aliens-related event of the year, the release of the video game Aliens: Colonial Marines, had taken place, and… well, I guess you know how that turned out. For completion’s sake: The game turned out to be the biggest disappointment of 2013, not only concerning the Aliens franchise, but also the whole gaming scene. The plot was sub-par, the graphics were outdated and the gameplay was nothing to write home about at best, irritating at worst. What little praise was left went to the faithful art design and the excellent score. As if the shortcomings of the game itself wasn’t enough, the release was followed by a shit-storm about the questionable handling of the project by Gearbox and the jarring differences and drop of quality between the demos and the final product.

  1. This time, it is war

The whole affair prompted me to write a three-part review about the game – the first one of its kind, read it here. However, it was time to put my personal feelings aside and to dive head-first into Colonial Marines coverage for the Encyclopedia. Content was locked in a record time of one month, a writing marathon which would turn out to be an exhausting experience, an experience which would cause me to put the project into hibernation for the months that followed. Fortunately, as I had I was ahead of time, and so I could afford to take the break. On November 16, exactly eight months after the release of the previous update, version 5 was released, which completely covered the Colonial Marines storyline, weapon upgrades and even Xenomorph color schemes. It was another huge update, only barely missing the record set by version 4.

  1. A word of thanks

I know I said it often in the past, but for good reason: I cannot repeat this enough, and so I would like to take the opportunity to send another “Thank you so much!” to Frans Hattingh, the proofreader of the Encyclopedia. He had come on board with version 3 (which did not prevent him from also proofreading version 2 for the release of version 3, which is much appreciated) and has stuck with the project ever since, doing a marvelous job with the juggernauts that were version 4 and 5. Thank you, Frans, and I hope you’ll be there for version 6, too 😉

  1. The year of the… horse?!?

Speaking of which: What has the future in store for the Alien franchise and the Encyclopedia? Well, fore the first time in the history of this project, there’s not a huge Aliens-related project looming on the horizon. Sure, there will be novels and comics in 2014, and there’s another game in the works, Alien: Isolation. However, this game is the only thing comparable to the magnitude of Prometheus and Colonial Marines, but if I am not mistaken, the game hasn’t even been announced yet, let alone given a release date. This leaves me with a bit of breathing space for version 6. With the release of this version, I’ll finally leave LV-426 behind as it will feature complete coverage of the Stasis Interrupted DLC for Colonial Marines, Newt’s Tale and Aliens: Infestation.

What to expect after version 6? Well, originally, I wanted to cover all the new Dark Horse novels before moving on with the comics, but I decided to change priorities. Instead of sticking to the plan of covering the novels and moving on from there, I will instead prioritize future content according to its relevance to the canon, which means that all things related to the Earth War storyline will be next. This way, I will get the important stuff into the Encyclopedia a lot quicker instead of slowing things down with “unimportant” side stories.

As you see, there are some interesting things in store for the Encyclopedia, despite the relatively calm year 2014’s gonna be. I can’t wait to begin coverage on the Earth War, and I hope you’ll stick around for version 6 and beyond!

P.S. A great way to stay up-to-date on all things Alien Encyclopedia and more is its official Facebook page. Go pay a visit here!

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The Alien Encyclopedia version 5 released!

At last, I present you with the newest version of the Alien Encyclopedia! Version 5, dubbed the “Colonial Marines Update”, consists of, you already guessed it, complete coverage of the Aliens: Colonial Marines video game, excluding the Stasis Interrupted DLC, which will be featured in version 6. Say what you will about the game, but it nevertheless adds a huge chunk of Aliens lore to the canon. For instance, you get to know the USCM (and Weyland-Yutani) arsenal of weapons on a scale rivalled only by the Colonial Marines Technical Manual. Other exciting information include new Xenomorph species such as the Spitter and Weyland-Yutani’s post-Aliens attempts to exploit the Derelict.

Initially, I thought this update would be much smaller than the previous, Prometheus-themed version. And regarding the time it took to write the content, it was true. Content was locked only a month after the release of version 4. So why is it released only now? Well, real life, what else? I moved houses in May and took part in a three-month advanced education program. And besides, after the writing spree for version 5, I REALLY needed a break. But I digress. It turned out that the page count of new material in version 5 became only slightly smaller than that for version 4. This version features almost 50 pages of new content, increasing the total page count to over 190. In addition to new and expanded entries, the Encyclopedia now also boasts a new scale chart with all the Xenomorph species introduced in Colonial Marines.

Thanks again go out to Frans Hattingh for proofreading. I actually was quite satisfied with this version after my own first proofreading. Luckily, Frans proved me wrong by doing and amazing job rooting all the mistake I missed. Thank you so much!

So what else is left to say? Go get version 5 on the Releases page! Oh, and don’t forget to visit the AE page on Facebook for the newest update on the Encyclopedia!

P.S.: Fun trivia I just discovered: Version 5 is released exactly eight months after version 4.

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Update: A break from the Alien Encyclopedia, but no delay

Okay, update time!

Content for version 5 is locked and finished. However, it won’t be released for a while since I have to take some time off of the Alien Encyclopedia. As I have stated before on Facebook, I was in a writing frenzy for the last month, and it’s beginning to show. I mean, when I fall asleep and something unrelated to Alien (like, for example,  the Gekko from Metal Gear Solid 4) comes to my mind and I automatically do a mental check if it’s already in the AE, I think it’s a sign to lay low for a while.

So, will there be a delay? Actually, no. Quite the contrary, that the content for version 5 is locked a mere month after the release of version 4 is, if anything, a sign that I have been working at a breakneck pace.  What I will do now is basically just doing something else in my free time for a while. Just to keep me from going crazy 😉

…and there’s still one thing I want to do for version 5 that I want to take my time with. I hope it works out, but no promises made. Don’t ask what it will be if it comes together, it’s a surprise!

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Aliens: Colonial Marines review (part 3 of 3)

7 – Story (cont’d):

I have to start the negative side on a very basic level. Yes, I know that it’s been done to death at this point, but I see no other way but to take Gearbox’s statements about the story into consideration. And to be fair, there are two things you need to know: First, I didn’t really want a direct sequel to Aliens. I also don’t see any loose ends from the movie that needed attention. I know it’s nitpicky, but if any movie, it is the beginning of Alien³ that needs fixing. Which brings me to the second point, the one about ACM making Alien³ a better movie. I love the third movie and didn’t need the game to make it any better.

Here’s the big BUT: BUT that’s my personal opinion, and I know that I am in the minority here. Also, I admit that the beginning of Alien³ would benefit from an explanation. So, IS it a better sequel to Aliens? DOES it make Alien³ a better movie? No and No. What always irked me was the fact that the story is, for about 90 per cent, not a game changer. Save for the crash of the Sulaco and the very vague final “We’ve got everything”, ACM’s plot doesn’t change anything. By the time we get to the Sulaco, a crapload of stuff had happened that we get not clear explanation for either, what with the whole Xeno infestation that had happened offscreen long before the Sephora arrived. By the end, the Derelict is still there, and don’t get your hopes up for any explanation about its origin (save for an easter egg). What else? Well, we get to see that Hadley’s Hope is pretty messed up after the explosion from Aliens. Surprise! I think the problem lies with the circumstance that LV-426 was too good a setting to pass up, at least fan service-wise. But I think the game would have profited from a new setting, and I hope that LV-426 won’t turn into Aliens’ Battle of Hoth. Yet, it’s that fan service mentality that raises perhaps my biggest gripe, and I think you know what I mean: Retcons.

8 – Story (cont’d):

Like the review on, I can think of no other reason for bringing Hicks back than a grossly misguided attempt at excessive fan service. It baffles me that no one involved in the writing said: “Look, I see what you’re trying here, but it won’t work.” I see that people were pissed that Hicks was killed off-screen in the third movie. But as official canon, ACM has a responsibility to honor even the red-headed stepchild that is Alien³. It just can’t ignore its plot in blatant disregard. Alien³ happened, whether you like it or not. My personal opinion is this: The Hicks retcon did not make Alien³ a better movie, quite the contrary: It cheapened the emotional impact of it. But the objective reason for rejecting the retcon is simple: It did not work. I don’t know if there’s any scenario where resurrecting Hicks would have made sense, but it’s clearly not the one provided by the game. Hicks’ explanation is too vague and fails to explain the Xeno presence on the Sulaco either. And when characters ask “Why? How?”, we get “That’s a longer story.” If that’s not the rethorical equivalent of a middle finger given by a lazy writer, I don’t know what is.

Aside from the Hicks retcon, there was another one that bothered me, namely the Wey-Yu scientist explanation of the circumstances of a Chestburster gestation. The scientist says that an extraction of the embryo is impossible because it had created a cancerous placenta in the host that would kill it regardless. So how were they able to extract the embryo from Ripley 8 in Alien Resurrection? And how was Doctor Church able to remove the Chestburster from himself in the Labyrinth comics? Admittedly, there are scenarios where both cases could be explained. Ripley 8’s alien genes could have made the placenta obsolete, and Church might have been successful due to the fact that the alien nest where he was impregnated was dying of a sickness, and the embryo may have been too weak to develop the placenta. But considering that Gearbox acted as though they were the biggest Aliens fanboys on the planet, it still left a bitter taste.

There are also some instances of characters acting stupid. Keyes not only wrecks the only dropship remaining on the Sulaco, but also thinks it’s a great idea to blow himself, the flight recorder and the umbilical to pieces when he gives birth to a Chestburster, five minutes after stating the utmost importance of the flight recorder reaching the Sephora. If I didn’t know any better, I would believe that Keyes was brainwashed by the Xenos. I could go on, but I will stop here.

9 – Conclusion:

Being an Alien fan might be the only way to get some enjoyment out of this one and not come to regret the time spent. I had a good time playing through the game and enjoying all the little things, the references, the authentic old and new environments and the superb soundtrack. But it could, and should have been so much more. Say what you will about Prometheus, but even if it failed, it was an ambitious movie that failed. I can’t say the same about ACM, and I had high hopes for it. After Prometheus, I really would have liked to see ACM creating some good press for the franchise. Here’s hoping that the Creative Assembly game will live up to its potential. After all, if there’s anything that defines a fangirl or fanboy, it is the ability, the need to be hopelessly hopeful.

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Aliens: Colonial Marines review (part 2 of 3)

4 – Graphics:

Good things first: The game is incredibly faithful to the franchise: Pulse Rifles, APCs, Powerloaders, they are all here and look the way they should. The levels look suitably dark and dirty, and the new areas expanding on existing ones from the movies blend in seamlessly, offering some nice eye candy along the way. The same can be said about character and enemy models. Yeah, one can argue about the design of the new Xenos, but they still above Kenner material, with the Raven being a highlight. It’s a stellar art design that saves the visuals. And, boy, are they in need of saving.

As you progress through the game, it will quickly become obvious that the graphics are incredibly dated. Low-res textures are aplenty, the animations are stiff and outdated and the shadows are plain ugly at times. The hideous textures are the most glaring problem, and there is simply no excuse for a game in 2013 to have these. And don’t get me started about the stiff animations and glitches such as floating medpaks. Ironically, despite being everything but a junkie for high-end graphics, this offended me the most about the game…and that should make you worry. If I were to judge the game by graphics alone, I’d consider the 50€ price tag an insult. Just for comparison: The most recent AvP game is now three years old and still looks much better than this.

5 – Sound:

Now this is where the game really shines! Everything sounds as it should be, from the motion tracker to the Xenos and the weapons. The voice acting is top-notch, with some great contributions by Aliens veterans like Lance Henriksen and Michael Biehn. The acting also sells you the characters and easily saves the day when the writing falters. Now, the biggest star is undoubtedly the game’s score by Kevin Riepl (Gears of War 1, Resistance: Burning Skies). As many aspects of ACM, it is a love letter to the movies. But it is more than that. Unlike Debney’s score for Predators, it avoids the pitfall of sacrificing its identity for the sake of excessive fan service. Yes, references to Horner’s work are abound in both thematic material and instrumentation, but also manages to grab your attention with original elements. What pleasantly surprised me are several adaptations of Goldsmith’s music for the first movie, incuding several reprises of his main theme, but this time with the musical texturing of Horner’s score for the second movie. This helps creating an overall musical identity for the franchise, a thing which the movie scores, as great as they may be individually, sorely lacked.

6 – Story:

Personally, I am a very story-focused person. I can play and enjoy an otherwise generic game if the story is just good enough. Add to that that I am an Alien nut, Colonial Marines has two things going in its favor that may very well outweigh its shortcomings in graphics and gameplay. And it’s not just me, as Gearbox itself has made a big selling point out of the story, claiming that ACM would be the sequel to Aliens everyone always wanted, even stating that ACM’s story would make Alien³ a better movie. Unfortunately, the story is mediocre at best, an insult at worst.

That’s not to say that I didn’t like parts of it. There’s still some suspension of disbelief necessary to accept that there’s anything left of Hadley’s Hope after the explosion, but I loved the element of the surviving aliens that have gone feral and mutated while lurking in the sewers. Unfortunately, that something the plot barely touches on, and perhaps it would have made for a better more prominent plot point. Why not even go wild with the mutation aspect and let them take the spotlight, perhaps instead of the Wey-Yu mercs? Nonetheless, I have to say that I didn’t take as much offense in the presence of human soldiers as other players. I thought it made for an interesting inclusion and helped giving the conflict a broader scope. A favourite moment of mine was the memorable introduction of the Queen, very cinematic and tense. I also had no problems memorizing the new marine characters. They were distinctive enough in character and appearance, but that was not that difficult anyway, given that there’s a main cast of only four new marines, plus Rook and Hicks. And, as I have mentioned before, the story is helped by the incredible faithfulness of the environments to the Aliens franchise.

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Aliens: Colonial Marines review (part 1 of 3)

Here’s my review of Aliens: Colonial Marines. I posted this on Facebook in nine parts, and I thought it would be a good idea to archive it here for your convenience. Enjoy!

1 – Introduction:

The game press is having a field day with this one, and while I don’t necessarily agree with them, I’m a little sad. That’s because, honestly, the Alien franchise could use a bit of good press. First Prometheus, now this. To cut things short: Do I like it? Yeah, kinda, however with a big BUT. More important: Will YOU like it? That depends…if you forgive or can look past a LOT of things, yeah, you may like it. What helped me is that I come from an era of gaming where graphics and gameplay were a LOT less polished. Is that a thing to be brought in favor of the game? No, not at all.

2 – Gameplay:

At its core, ACM is a pretty standard first-person shooter. Most of the time, you – guess what – run around, shooting at things. Now, whether you have fun doing this depends on how much of an Aliens fan you are. I am a huge Aliens nut, of course, and I enjoyed the campaign. I perceived it to have a very good pacing, changing things regularily enough to avoid trying my patience. Therefore, there is no single level where, on a second playthrough, I would think: “No, not that one, please.” (which I think often, even playing superior games) Here’s the first of many BUTs: BUT if you are less enthusiatic about the franchise, running around with a Pulse Rifle feeling like a badass may very well fail to carry you over some less exciting passages. In worst case, the whole pacing will collapse, and you will get bored regularily because one thing can be said for sure: This game does nothing that hasn’t been done a great many times before, and better.

3 – Gameplay (cont’d):

There’s one more thing I want to adress as far as gameplay is concerned: ACM is a cinematic experience. It is NOT the survival horror game that seems appropriate for the Alien setting. The cinematic aspect goes to such extreme lengths that it borders on interactive movie territory. Don’t expect your AI comrades to die, whether by enemy attacks or friendly fire. They are, in fact, invincible. Sure, the movie WAS in large parts an action movie, but it also played on the vulnerability of the characters. Aliens Infestation showed that both angles can be reconciled in a video game – your marines COULD actually die, and Infestation did a great job in implementing it in both gameplay and story. Again, if you are an Aliens nut and what care about is being inside the movie, this might not bother you. But considering the potential, I can’t help but being disappointed. I play Amnesia: The Dark Descent right now and have just finished Dead Space 1, and both games practically scream out: “Make an Alien version of me!” I’m eager to see if the Creative Assembly game goes down that route.

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The Alien Encyclopedia version 4 released!

Good things take time.  I planned to release this one way earlier, but again, real life interfered. However, the waiting is over:  Version 4 is released at last! So what’s new? Short answer: A lot. In my release post for version 3, I wondered if I could top the page count of the new content with this one.  Little did I know…

Version 4 features almost 50 new pages of content, featuring complete coverage of Prometheus and its entire media campaign. Dubbed the “Prometheus Update”, I am pleased and confident to say that this is the definitive guide to all things Prometheus. But that’s not all: In addition to the new encyclopedia entries, version 4 boasts an entirely new third Appendix consisting of exclusive Alien-themed scale charts! So, in addition to the new text, there’s some nice eye candy to take along with. Further changes include a rewritten preface, revised and updated reference lists and some other, minor stuff.

I have some great people to thank for making this version possible, and it’s seems, it’s getting more and more people with every release. And that’s a great thing! Regarding the textual side, Frans Hattingh returned to take up the proofreading.  Of course, I wasn’t surprised at all by the fact that he did an awesome job, pointing out flaws from the subtle to the downright Freudian and going out of his way to report inconsistencies in style and also some errors in lore. The Alien Encyclopedia would not have been same (and much worse) without him. To top it off, he’s a really nice guy, and I’m proud that I could again rely on his help.

I know that it’s an overused phrase, but the scale charts for the new Appendix would not have been possible without a bunch of really great artists who gave their kind permission to have their work incorporated as silhouettes. These are: Mike Brown (, Samantha ( and Space Jockey ( Thanks to all of you!

So, what’s left to say? Go grab it on the Release page! I hope you enjoy the fourth version of the Alien Encyclopedia. Wanna leave feedback? By all means, do so! Leave a comment on the blog or pay the Encyclopedia a visit on Facebook!

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The Alien Encyclopedia turns 1!

My gosh, how time goes by….and how much has happened!

On this day one year ago, the first version of the Alien Encyclopedia was released after roughly 6 months of writing. Back then, the Encyclopedia was 57 pages large and featured basic coverage of the Alien movies… yeah, that was some time before Prometheus would hit cinemas. But hey, you gotta start somewhere!

1. This year in Alien history

While I sometimes moan not having launched this project at a time when there was significantly less stuff to cover, I believe that the timing hardly could have been better. 2012 was the year of Prometheus, and although the movie was not without flaws, the contribution for the Alien canon, especially in form of its excellent promotional campaign, cannot be denied. But it was also an exciting time for the Encyclopedia itself: During the first year, the Encyclopedia has left the original movies behind and now also includes complete coverage of two of the new Dark Horse novels and detailed information about the USCM equipment used in Aliens. On March 17, 2012, the Facebook page for the AE was launched and has been updated regularly since. Another important milestone was a newspost at featuring the Alien Encyclopedia. Wanna take a look?

2. A new breed of allies

This project started out as a one-man show. However, during the last 365 days, I’ve met a number of great people who have given invaluable input for the Alien Encyclopedia. There’s Scott Middlebrook, who allowed me to use his research work for dates and size estimates and who was also kind enough to proofread my first release. Then there’s Michael Seigler, who contributed scans for material from the Kenner action figures. Of course, this list would not be complete without Frans Hattingh, who proofread version 3, also took a look at the version 2 entries while he was at it and, just because he’s awesome, gave an overhaul to the cover design. Right now, he’s busy proofreading version 4, and I couldn’t ask for a better guy for the job.

Recently, a glorious bunch of talented artists have joined the small club. There’s Rado Javor, whose stunning artwork graces the cover of the Alien Encyclopedia. And Samantha, Mike and Space Jockey gave me their kind permission to use their artwork for the scale charts, a feature that will be introduced in the upcoming version 4 of the Alien Encyclopedia.

3. The shape of things to come

Speaking of which! The release of version 4 is just around the corner, featuring 145 pages, with 46 new pages largely dedicated to Prometheus. Originally, I planned to release version 4 today to celebrate the anniversary. Alas, I underestimated the flood of information to cover. However, I am confident to say that version 4 will be the definite source for information about the events of the movie and from its promotion campaign. And there’s barely enough time to catch your breath. Less than two months, to be precise, until the Aliens Colonial Marines video game will finally answer questions like: What happened to the Sulaco? And what happened to Hadley’s Hope and the Derelict after Ripley had left?

Times will continue to be exciting for Aliens fans, and I am proud to say that the Alien Encyclopedia is going to be a part of it. I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to the project. I also want to thank you, the reader, and hope you will be part of what’s coming. See you on the other side!

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