The Best and Worst Alien Games

The Best and Worst Alien Games

The Alien franchise has now been running for nearly 40 years, with the first film having been released in 1979, and has stretched its scaly talons out into many media including books, video games and pinball. While the quality hasn’t always been constant (I’m trying hard to forget Alien: Resurrection), the highs of the series have given us some of the best films and games of all time. With the newly released Alien: Covenant chilling audiences in cinemas today, I thought it was time to take a look at some of the best and worst games based on the franchise.

The first Alien game was released in 1982 for the Atari 2600, and there’s a good reason you don’t remember it; it was a Pac-Man clone with xenomorphs (as the aliens are known in the franchise) taking the place of the ghosts, and a generic human replacing Pac-Man himself. Clearly this wasn’t the most auspicious start for the digital arm of Alien, but it didn’t stop people trying. There have now been over 40 Alien games on various platforms, so let’s load up our pulse rifles, prepare the dropship and strap on our motion detectors to find the best and worst of the bunch.


GOOD: Alien: Isolation (Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)




Arguably the best Alien game made to date, Alien: Isolation managed to capture the atmosphere of the films better than any other attempt. You take on the role of Ripley’s daughter as she searches for her mother (chronologically between the first and second films), but inevitably runs into a xenomorph as well as a whole space station full of crazed androids.

Without effective weapons with which to fight the xenomorph, you have to run and hide whenever it shows up (and it can show up at almost any time), meaning fear and tension are your constant companions as you play. Hiding in lockers, under tables and in ventilation ducts will never make you feel truly safe, and while you can fight off androids and other humans, the xenomorph is always the hunter, never the prey. The first-person view adds to the horror as you’ll never know what’s around the next corner, and the game is definitely best played alone in a dark room with headphones.

DLC that allows you to play scenes from the first Alien film make the entire experience even more authentic, highlighting just how much effort was put into re-creating the atmosphere of the original and most terrifying film.



BAD: Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (PlayStation Portable)




Was anyone actually surprised that this game turned out to be awful? Based on a terrible film and made for a mediocre portable console, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem was a shameless cash-in that sought to take advantage of fans. Anyone who actually bought this game deserved to have wasted their money, but the low quality seems unfair even to the unwitting customers.

Playing as a lone Predator hunting xenomorphs seemed like a decent idea, but this third-person game controlled terribly and was far too easy to be any fun. The player’s character is virtually invincible, especially when pitted against the dull-witted enemies, so anyone with two thumbs and a brain will probably blast through the entire game in an afternoon, wondering where they went wrong.

Even for fans of the film (I am assured that some of them do exist) the game had little to offer, as it changed key parts of the story, missed out the ending, and didn’t even include the xenomorph/Predator hybrid. This was a terrible game in all ways, and should be avoided with even more caution than actual Predators.



REALLY, REALLY BAD: Aliens: Colonial Marines (Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)




Frequently featuring in lists of the worst games of all time (no mean feat, considering those lists usually include Shaq Fu and Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing), Aliens: Colonial Marines was a disaster from day one. First announced in 2008, it took five tumultuous years to bring to market. People and resources were frequently moved off the project to work on other, more profitable ventures (such as the Borderlands series), large chunks of the game were handed off to other teams entirely, and the game was at one point cancelled by publisher Sega - though it was unfortunately resurrected.

The game was supposed to be a squad-based shooter, taking cues from Aliens and its squad of marines, but none of it really worked. The xenomorph AI was awful and led to hilariously incompetent aliens, the story was nonsensical (despite supposedly being part of the films’ canon), and the multiplayer co-op barely worked at all. Even the graphics were low-quality compared to other games that came out at the same time, and the whole project has been widely agreed to be a terrible idea.

There were attempts to claw back some credibility with half-decent DLC, including a fantastic re-creation of the entire colony from Aliens, but it was too little, too late as far as fans were concerned.



GOOD: Aliens vs. Predator - The Minecraft Mod (Windows)




You’ve probably heard of Minecraft. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if you haven’t, you’ve probably been living in a cave somewhere and have missed out on the last five to ten years of society, and this entire article is probably scarily unfamiliar. Go and try Minecraft, build something, get killed by a creeper, then come back and carry on reading.

Now that we’re all up-to-date, Aliens vs. Predator is a mod for Minecraft that was developed by fans and allows you to play as xenomorphs, Predators or Colonial Marines, battling over a large map from the film in real-time. Defend the town as a marine, attack in large numbers as a xenomorph, or strike from the shadows as a Predator. Marines have lots of guns, xenomorphs have great speed, and Predators have advanced weapons and stealth on their side. This all makes for a surprisingly compelling game, and you’ll soon forget that the graphics are blocky and dreadful and just concentrate on surviving.

For those of you on consoles, sadly there’s no modding for Minecraft, but pretty much any PC that’ll still boot up is capable of playing Minecraft. There’s really no excuse for not trying it.



REASONABLY GOOD: Aliens Adventure Game (Board Game)




Yes, Aliens Adventure Game is indeed a board game, so there’s no need to plug it in, and your parents aren’t likely to shout at you to stop staring at that screen and do something more wholesome. Maybe that was just my parents.

Regardless, Aliens Adventure Game is a role-playing game in the same vein as Dungeons and Dragons, casting you in the role of a colonial marine fighting against the xenomorphs and investigating corporate interests, but everything is resolved using dice and pieces of paper, like cavemen used to do. This means a huge amount of freedom is available in the game (as long as you can envision doing something, you can try it), which should appeal to many of you. The game also includes a huge amount of source material, including xenomorph physiology, ecology, planetary system maps and character information, making it a fascinating read in its own right.

One criticism of the game is how long it takes to play; rolling dice and referring to tables is the order of the day, and the level of detail does tend to slow things down. Firing a bullet can require referring to up to NINE tables just to determine what happens, and when a few dozen bullets can be fired every game round (which represents a few seconds of real time), it can take hours just to have a very short gunfight. Still, the game can be downloaded for free, so feel free to check it out at and recreate some of the greatest moments from the films.


GOOD: Aliens: Armageddon (Arcade)




The worst possible scenario imaginable has happened: xenomorphs have been spread across the Earth by a crashing ship, and they’re killing everything. Luckily, however, the best possible scenario has also happened: it’s been made into an arcade game and it’s actually a lot of fun.

The aim of the game is simple: fight your way to an evacuation ship and leave the planet for good. Along the way you’ll lose count of how many xenomorphs you’ll kill, ducking in and out of cover and collecting weapons and grenades with which to fight off the invading horde. There are two versions available: the 42” fixed gun version (which is a lot of fun) and the deluxe 55” version with detachable guns (which is a LOT of fun).

Aliens: Armageddon is a great antidote to slow games like Aliens Adventure Game, as well as to terrible ones like Colonial Marines. Any Alien fan looking for an exciting adventure in their favourite universe should have one in their own home.



MEDIOCRE: Aliens (Arcade)




Made four years after the film of the same name, Aliens is a side-scrolling shooter that has the player taking the role of Ripley or Hicks, fighting their way through hordes of xenomorphs using smartguns, flamethrowers and grenade launchers. While not the most creative of ideas, it was a fun enough game for its day and provided worthwhile entertainment for 20p at a time.

A two-player mode enhances the game further, and the boss fights are a particular highlight. The final boss of the game is the Queen Alien, which you fight using a powerloader (just like Ripley at the end of the film). Players can either open the airlock to flush her out into space, or keep on shooting until she bursts. This is the more satisfying option, of course.

The game departs from the canon considerably, with spider xenomorphs and xenomorphs who shoot lasers, but this doesn’t detract from the fun. It’s no Contra, but it has its charm.



GOOD: Alien (Pinball)




The recent Alien pinball manages to capture all of the excitement of the first two films in the franchise in a beautiful machine, complete with giant xenomorph head and alien eggs. Two versions are available: the Standard version and the incredible 35th Anniversary limited edition, which looks set to become a collector’s piece for all Alien fans.

The most interesting part of the game is the ability to choose between Alien and Aliens modes, with survival being the order of the day in the former, and blasting hordes of xenomorphs in the latter. Pulse rifles, robot sentries and facehuggers are all present, and the flow of the game is fantastic for all pinball fans.

Being a relatively new game, Alien Pinball is available to buy for your own home right now, and I can definitively say it ranks among the best games on this list even if you’re not a pinball fan.




So, those are the best and worst Alien games of all time, according to me. The best on the list are the ones that manage to recreate the feeling of the films, are respectful with the canon, and evoke the terror that a xenomorph could be hiding in your house, or even inside you.

There are no currently announced plans to make a game based on the new film, or (thankfully) Prometheus, and instead the games seem keen to expand in separate directions to the cinema. Taking the franchise into a space exploration genre might make for a good departure, or even a strategy/tactics game like the recent XCOM reboots.

What games do you think should have been on this list? Do you love Alien vs. Predator on the Atari Jaguar? Do you think I should have included the classic Commodore 64 first-person game? Let me know! You can get in touch with me through the comments below, via Facebook, Twitter, Google +, or email [email protected].

Written By: Dave Morgan



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