Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Available for the Xbox 360 (reviewed), PlayStation 3, PC
Published by Sega of America
I so feel your pain as I, too, have been emotionally scarred by the abysmal AVP movies foisted upon us by both Paul WS Anderson and the “Duo of Darkness” Colin Strause and Greg Strause. It’s amazing how poorly those films turned out considering how rich the mythos is behind the franchises involved. Dark Horse Comics perfectly captured the formula, as did British developer Rebellion with its 1999 PC game. Here we are eleven years later, and Rebellion is back with a whole new bag of tricks for its latest bit of blood-drenched software Aliens vs. Predator for PC, PS3, and the Xbox 360.
Being a big fan of the 1999 game, the more news that got out there about this new version, the happier and more excited I became. Series staple Lance Henrisken was back doing the voice work, and every released bit of game footage looked more badass than the next. Then the early reviews started coming, and they were shockingly negative. Allow me to address the reviewer from Game Informer in particular — What game were you playing? Have you any idea what this franchise is about? Did you just play the demo and deem that enough to write your review? Holy shit. Allow me to quote from the Game Informer review – “Listening to the aliens crawling through vents and jumping out at you would be scary if your motion sensor wasn’t constantly bleating in your ear the whole time.” Guess the reviewer never saw Aliens, huh? He was obviously clueless as to the importance of the motion sensor and the key role that it plays in building an extreme amount of tension. Yep, right guy for the job! By virtue of that quote alone, I have to call bullshit on the entire review.
Enough about what others have said. Let’s get to the goods. Aliens vs. Predator is broken down into four sides. We have three separate campaigns whose storylines weave into one another and then of course multiplayer.
In terms of the game’s main plot, without spoiling anything, let’s just say Bishop (Henriksen) is back to his old tricks for the evil corporate entity Weyland Yutani, and events back at the ancient Predator Pyramid have reached their boiling points.
The Marine mission is no doubt the most fleshed out of the three campaigns offered here and will make you feel as if you’ve just magically appeared in James Cameron’s film along with a host of monsters that would like nothing more than to tear your body into as many pieces as possibly. All you have is your motion sensor, your gun, and a flashlight to help you through the darker areas of this sadistic interstellar funhouse. Picture the dark stylized gameplay of Doom 3 and swap out the demons with Aliens, Predators, facehuggers, and killer synthetic soldiers. One complaint I’ve seen over and over again in terms of control for the Marine is that you cannot crouch. Let me stress this. You will not have time. There’s no room for hunkering down and waiting for your shot to come. You need to move, move quickly, and stay moving. The experience is nothing short of intense.
As an Alien (the shortest of the campaigns), you will assume the role of Number 6, a particularly intelligent and violent Xenomorph. Via psychic link with the Queen, it will escape its confines, free the thing commonly known to Ripley as “The Bitch”, and then create a new breed of creature by fusing a facehugger to the face of a Predator.
In the Predator campaign you must deal with all of the above but do so in a much more stealthy manner. The Predator, while faster than the Marines but not as quick as the Aliens, is a bit underpowered in terms of hand-to-hand combat. This is a creature that will excel by taking to the high ground and using every trick and toy at its disposal such as the shoulder cannon, thermal vision (both human and alien), transparent camo, and of course voice mimicry to lure unsuspecting enemies in for the kill. The Predator once again is here to clean up the mess, put an end to Weyland Yutani’s motives, and take out the “Abomination” brought about by the Aliens.
The graphics aren’t the best out there, but they’re easily on par with Halo 3 or Halo: ODST and most second generation Xbox 360 titles. The character models are solid (especially the Aliens, who look absolutely as grotesque as you could have hoped), and the animation and lighting really know how to get the job done. Sound is where this game really shines, and Rebellion has used every aural effect that it can to really breathe life into this world, thereby giving it some of the most atmospheric moments in the franchise that we could have hoped for.
And then there’s the kills. The glorious kills. Each entry into the Alien and Predator franchises (except for Paul Anderson’s ninety minutes of retardation) have been home to some hefty bits of R-rated violence. This game brings that and then some. Looking for gore? We’re talking up close and personal gore? This is it. From poking out eyes to decapitations aplenty to the ripping of spines, it’s all here for you hold dearly in your little black hearts.
In terms of multiplayer there’s an abundance of ways to play Aliens vs. Predator away from the single-player campaign. If you’re up for a little co-op action, the game is home to Survivor Mode, which, much like Call of Duty‘s Nazi Zombies, has you and three friends mowing down endless waves of creatures with increasing difficulty. The only problem here? You cannot bring back a fallen teammate. Though you have the option to heal yourself with medkits, you cannot use one on your downed comrades. That’s a bit of a bummer but is completely tolerable as long as more maps for this mode keep coming. (If you bought the Regular Edition, there are only two; if you bought the Hunter Edition, you get four. The extra two maps are coming out as DLC very soon.) Then, apart from the usual deathmatches, team deathmatches, and mixed specie deathmatches, which you can play ranked to unlock more skins for your usage, two more modes really add some icing on this cake — Predator Hunt and Infestation.
In Predator Hunt one person is chosen to play as the Predator against a squad of Marines. The premise is simple: Kill as many as you can before being killed. Be careful, though, should you get killed while you’re a Predator, the Marine who killed you then becomes one and you go back to being a puny human. This mode is slow-paced and methodical, but you adrenaline junkies need look no farther for your fix than Infestation mode. In it at the beginning of the match one person is chosen at random to become an Alien to take out the platoon of roughnecks. Every person that you kill joins you and becomes an Alien. This goes on until the last human is standing. Can you hold out until the time limit, or will the Xenomorphs reign supreme? Fast, furious, violent fun! Just the way we like it!
The only things keeping Aliens vs. Predator from achieving a perfect five out of five are a few minor flaws like some sub-par textures here and there and an overall lack of polish that comes standard with most games of today. Had this have come out even five years ago, it would probably have been heralded as a classic by now, but given the step up in quality over the last several years pertaining to the visual and gameplay upgrades of the first-person shooter, Aliens vs. Predator can feel a bit antiquated. Still, that far from means it is the bad or even mediocre game that some have claimed it to be. If you’re looking for Call of Duty with creatures, you’ll probably come away very disappointed. However, if you’re a fan of the series, you’re likely to love every gore-soaked minute. See you online!
4 out of 5
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