September 28, 2008

Old Familiar Feeling: Aliens (Part One)

> — Valor @ 9:12 pm

Halo: Combat Evolved was released in 2001 as the first installment of the sci-fi saga.  Its tone is nearer to the Alien films than its sequels, being the darkest and most melancholy game in the trilogy.  Marooned on the ring with the newly awakened Flood and under constant Covenant assault, the ragtag group of UNSC survivors struggled to endure in an atmosphere of isolation and despair.  An Aliens sense of terror is most visible when the UNSC Marines engage and are overrun by the Flood, particularly during the Flood’s introductory level, “343 Guilty Spark.”

Both Colonial and UNSC Marines are en route to battle via dropship, ready to rock.

More than anything in the Halo universe, it is the UNSC Marines who benefit most from Aliens.  After all, Aliens is largely about twelve iconic space Marines.  Bungie clearly loved them and fashioned their own closely after them.  In some cases, Bungie’s renditions are uncannily similar, as we will see.

Meet Sergeant Apone from Aliens (left) and Sergeant Johnson, as he appears in Halo 3 (right).  They obviously have a strikingly similar appearance.  Both are tough-as-nails, mustache-lipped, black, cigar-chomping, gung-ho Sergeants with a penchant for playfully mocking their Marines and spouting humorous one-liners.

In fact, sometimes their dialogue is identical.

Apone: All right, let’s go people.  They ain’t payin’ us by the hour.  Let’s go, head ‘em out.

Johnson: Hit it, Marines! Go! Go! Go! The Corps ain’t payin’ us by the hour!

In some cases Halo’s Johnson borrows military banter from other Aliens cast members.

Hicks: All right people.  Let’s move like we got a purpose.

Johnson: You heard the lady.  Move like you got a purpose!

The following dialogue occurs in the Colonial Marines dropship as they head toward the colony, before meeting the Xenomorph.

Frost: …telling ya, I got a bad feeling about this drop.

Crowe: You always say that Frost.  You always have a bad feeling about this drop.

The following discussion takes place in Halo: Combat Evolved before the UNSC Marines encounter the Flood for the first time.

UNSC Marine: I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

Johnson: Boy, you always got a bad feeling about something.

The following comical exchange in Halo 2 is worth noting here.

Grunt 1: Me have bad feeling about this.

Grunt 2: You always have bad feeling! You had bad feeling about morning food nipple!

In Halo: Combat Evolved the only female soldiers we encounter are pilots and the only pilots we encounter are females.  The latter is likely another testament to Aliens’ influence.  In Halo the one pilot we actually see (and don’t merely hear) is an unnamed Bumblebee-class Lifepod pilot (upper and lower right).

She reminds more than a few of a character in Aliens called “Ferro” (upper and lower left).  Both look similar, are self-confident, down-to-business females, sport eyewear while on the job and have comparable helmets with mics whereby they inform their passengers of relevant flight information.

Ferro: Stand by to initiate release sequencer. On my mark. Five. Four.

Bumblebee Pilot: Heads up everyone, this is it.  We’re entering the ring’s atmosphere in five…

Both have only small roles and appear toward the beginning of the stories, exiting their main ships in smaller vessels which they pilot, transporting the main characters and soldiers to their destinations which become the settings for much of the rest of the tales.  Both also die in crashes.

Perhaps worth mentioning is that when Ferro does crash, the circumstances are very similar to Halo’s beloved dropship pilot “Foehammer’s” death.  Both dropship pilots are called upon during a time of crisis to evacuate the heroes from danger.  Then, just as they appear overhead, they begin to veer off course and go down right in front of the heroes’ eyes.

Notice the similarity in dialogue and jargon below that Foehammer and her Marines share with Ferro and hers.

Hicks: Ferro, do you copy?

Ferro: Standing by.

Hicks: Prep for dust off.  We’re gonna need immediate evac.

Ferro: Roger.  On our way.

Gorman: [To Ferro] Immediate dust off on my clear, then stay on station.

Ferro: In the pipe. Five by five.

During the “Halo” level in Halo: Combat Evolved:

Cortana: [to Foehammer] We have survivors and need immediate dust off.

Foehammer: Echo 419 staying on station, Foehammer out.

During “The Maw” level in Halo: Combat Evolved:

Cortana: Cortana to Echo 419.  Come in Echo 419.

Foehammer: Roger, Cortana. I read you five by five.

[…]

Foehamer: Affirmative.  Echo 419 going on station.

Mirrored lines like, “stay on station,” “five by five” and “immediate dust off” show us that the Bumblebee pilot isn’t the only one who got an injection of Ferro into her fiction.

Someone at Bungie was paying attention to Ferro when they titled one of the achievements in Halo 3, “we’re in for some chop,” considering it is a direct quote from her.  When Ferro says this line she is announcing to those aboard her dropship that they will be experiencing turbulence.  In Halo 3 the player must destroy an enemy vehicle with X-button equipment to be awarded this badge of honor.  The connection between these two scenarios might come across as a bit tenuous, but hey, it gives Bungie another chance to quote Aliens so why the heck not?

It shouldn’t surprise us that when Bungie was looking for a pilot to ferry the Chief into his battle they need look no further than the cool-as-a-cucumber Ferro who ferried the Colonial Marines into theirs.

In Halo 2 we are introduced to female Marines in combat for the first time.  Of the few, the female Marine who gets the limelight, including a cutscene (upper right), is the one bearing a striking resemblance to Aliens Vasquez (left).  Both are brave, macho Latina Marines who are heavy on attitude and keep their cool even when the boys start getting nervous.  Bungie cast Michelle Rodriguez (bottom right), known for her tough-gal roles, to voice the part.  Sadly absent, however, is Vasquez’s red bandana and Smart Gun.

[Continue to Part Two]

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