What was thought to have been an exhausted franchise, the Alien series has experienced a resurgence recently, thanks in part to Creative Assembly’s remarkable efforts on their successful title, Alien: Isolation. Somehow they managed to betray the expectations of its most disheartened fans, and rekindled what thought to have been long-lost – the terror and the suspense that defined the original films, making the iconic creature frightening once again.
Creative Assembly’s faithfulness to its source material did not go unnoticed to its fans, with all the little tidbits sprinkled though-out the game, but most noticeably one sequence featured mid-way through its story, which retroactively explains a minor discrepancy between Alien and Aliens.
Believe it or not there were some fans of Alien that were critical of James Cameron’s sequel, Aliens, pointing out inconsistencies and potential plot-holes in relation to its prequel. The most notable being the acoustical beacon that the derelict spacecraft had been broadcasting – which previously had lured the crew of the Nostromo – which went evidently unnoticed to the colonists that were terraforming the planet for over 20 years before the events of the film.
It wasn’t until after Ellen Ripley’s shuttle, Narcissus was recovered when contact to the colony became lost. Later it is revealed that the character Burke had given the colonists the co-ordinates to the derelict spacecraft harboring the deadly alien spore, implying that he received the data either from Ripley herself, or from the shuttle’s black-box flight recorder, which had accessed Nostromo’s on-board computer before its destruction.
So what happened to the derelict’s transmitted S.O.S.? How could have the colonists on the planet not have picked it up roughly 35 years later when the crew of the Nostromo managed to pick it up while drifting far away in space?
There hasn’t been any explicit explanation on film, but there is a possibility hinted at in the re-released director’s cut of Aliens, which is a brief shot during the restored pre-infested colony sequence. The shot is during the scene when the ‘mom and pop survey team’ (Newt’s parents) stumble upon the derelict spacecraft, and the ship is shown submerged in the planet’s surface, clearly damaged by the surrounding tectonic activity. Arguably this could be speculated that this caused the beacon to go inactive, therefore justifying how it when unnoticed for so long.
However such exposition requires a little bit of deduction on the viewers part, and really such a minor inconsistency would really only concern the most intrigued fans. But it’s such little details that fans of the franchise like to gloss over and collate, as the films depict such a grounded science fiction world, with many of its elements correlative to our own.
In Isolation, Creative Assembly took the liberty of rectifying the issue by creating their own original exposition. In the game’s story the main character, Amanda confronts a man named Marlow, who is a captain of the ship Anesidora, who had recovered the original flight-box recorder from the Nostromo after its destruction. In a playable flashback sequence you play as Marlow as you explore the resting site of the Derelict like in the film – lured to the planet soon after recovering the flight-box – and after venturing inside, manually shut off the beacon yourself.
If Isolation is considered genuine cannon to the series, then this eliminates any required speculation on the issue regarding the Derelict’s beacon. For as underwhelming many players felt regarding to game’s overall story, Creative Assembly at least took careful measures not to step on anything already established by the original films, and even provided some retroactive continuity that works logically within the cannon.
For those interested in the Alien series and are hungry for more lore, there is an amazing website filled with many fascinating in-depth articles regarding the films and even the games called Strange Shapes – guaranteed to provide a wealth of insight for even the most avid fan.