A few weeks ago I attended Rezzed in Brighton and the main game I wanted to sample was Alien Colonial Marines.
Personally First Person Shooters are one of my favourite gaming genres and I love the entire Alien Franchise and lore (Prometheus we'll just leave out for now). So this game is a fusion of two things I thoroughly enjoy and therefore another reason why I will be out of pocket yet again.
This will be the ruin of us all
The brief casual synopsis of what Aliens is about can be laid out as follows:
Xenomorphs, corrupt corporations, space, female/motherhood and phallic everything.
Now Gearbox were behind Duke Nukem Forever and I've made jokes about how I wonder Randy Pitchford would feel if he was glued to a wall and his titties were slapped. I played that game, groaned unsensually throughout and thought it was a pointless piece of crap.
And while I'm not suggesting that Gearbox are sexists at all, it does seem slightly odd and against their own favours that no female characters exist in the Alien Colonial Marines Multiplayer game as of yet.
The simple fact of the matter is this.
The Alien franchise lead character, hero and strongest individual is a woman. For 4 films it has always been one woman. For one film that supposedly comes before the 1979 Alien film the strongest character, who endures the most pain and survives happens to be a woman. So why on earth would you create a game that is going to have the honour of being deemed canon in the lore of Alien and supposedly true to the source, yet not have a female character feature in it?
I'm not even saying that a female character should be hammed in, I'm saying it is a disservice to not have a character that symbolises those that came before (regardless of gender) feature in a primary role.
DLC characters include the well known Hicks and, yet omit Vasquez in place of the useless Drake. I often found Hicks to be quite boring, so I'm not interested in acquiring him. But it would be nice to have the option of picking the bad ass little Latino soldier who takes no shit Vasquez.
This isn't really suppose to be a post honing in on feminism or female roles in games. It's about this one game. I've written little titbits’ before and made it clear that while I'm aware and in agreement that there is a very clear and apparent throbbing cesspit of anti-feminism in the world of gaming, that bandwagoning and howling like an epileptic monkey, isn't my style.
The point is: What happens in every Alien film? The knuckleheads with the big guns get ripped to shreds and Ripley rolls her eyes at their incompetence and gets rid of the aliens herself and then shuttles off, leaving in her wake a massive explosion that pisses of the corrupt company she worked for and was sacrificed by.
Game developers in this day and age can't really be that blind to just how many female gamers are out there and how many of us don't usually mind about the character we play as in a game, yet would like to see more balanced depictions of our own kind.
Most FPS games have male leads and those leads cannot be customizable in their appearance. So unless a game has a female protagonist or is an RPG, playable female characters aren't as prominent. Yes there are female characters everywhere, but it's odd that we're still having this issue, when a game like Max Payne 2 that came out a few years ago and despite the character of Mona being a love interest of Max, she never felt forced or there for the purpose of eye candy. She played the same as Max and was integral to not only the plot but active in gameplay.
The omission of female characters from main roles in first person shooters is not something that keeps me awake at night, though it'd be nice if more balance was included. But in terms of a particular first person shooter about all of the above, that will no doubt be raved about and be a hit on multiplayer it's just plain ridiculous that as far as we've seen, a female character central to the story of single player or multiplayer is nowhere to be seen.
Colonial Marines is shaping up to be a fantastic shooter, it looks great and it does feel like an Alien game and the sound and music is very faithful to the atmosphere. Atmosphere is critical in an alien game. But if you want to actually be worthy of having your games story submitted to the chronicles of the Alienverse and make a game that stands out in more than just graphics and atmosphere from other shooters, you need to actually do the bloody obvious. You need to remember your source, remember who runs the world in that game and not shaft the essence of the world you're building into and the fans of that world.
You don't make an Alien game and forget that the only way you're ever going to get off the Xeno infested planet alive, is if Ripley or a spiritual protégé of hers who has to put up with regular bullshit women have, day in day out and the add on of being hunted by penishead stilt walkers, takes pity on you and does the job for you.