13th March 2010 - Since the 80’s, no sci-fi movie has matched the sheer ferocity and undeniable greatness of the original Aliens and Predator movies, and same goes with the original Aliens Vs Predator PC games, released back at the turn of the century. But Rebellion, the studio behind the first of these classic shooters, yet again take on the established series in their latest shooter and hope to hit a new market with the game releasing on consoles as well as the good old PC. But can they, after a few reputation shattering shockers released in the past year, not only redeem themselves, but make history yet again with the revival of two of entertainments most prolific and badass entities? Read on to find out.
Boot up the game and surely you’ll hop straight into the single player menu to check out the somewhat over hyped triple threat campaign. That’s right, in case you didn’t know, the game gives you the ability to play an entire campaign as either of your favourite space dwelling alien or take both said aliens on as a lowly human being. Whether you choose to play through each one before starting the next of just playthrough the first mission or so before curiosity takes over and you jump in to play the next one is your own choice, but given that each campaign takes the experience in a whole different direction and offers greatly differentiated play styles, you should keep to beating one at a time to get past the steep learning curve of the Alien and stay in ‘the mode’ as the Predator. Then there’s the Marines campaign, and oh boy, that one sure is something, but for what reasons we’ll get to a little later.
While playing the human campaign the story is obvious and engaging, and is the only one that takes on any kind of personal vibe. You play the role of the ‘Rookie’ on his first combat drop when things go from bad to worse and he must plow through countless Xenomorphs to save himself and his fellow marines. Throw in a few twists of fate, some predictable mission outcomes, one hell of a lot of cinematic and genuinely frightening moments and a few emotional grips and you have yourself a very solid campaign worth writing home about. Throughout the entirety of the Marine campaign, you have yourself the iconic motion tracker instantly recognizable to movie buffs, which really adds atmosphere. Beeps and boops come from the darkness quicker than you can fire off a shot and disappear with even more haste. It, along with the overwhelming darkness of most missions, really create the feeling of being hunted from unseen beings, and believe me when I say it is quite very frightening given how swiftly one of these enemies can take you down if your not on the ready. Its just too bad the quality of the campaign does overlook just how short it is, clocking in at around 3-4 hours.
But the most simple and fragile on the three species here (that’s the humans, for your information), surprisingly is the only one with a truly great single player experience. As the Xenomorph, not only must your hands argue with the controller ‘till you manage to get a hang of things, but the novelty of playing as said alien wears thin within just a few missions, making the rest of the 3 hour (that’s right, another unsatisfying short romp) campaign feel like a chore. To a lesser extent, but also on the same page, the Predator campaign has a little more depth and story that the Xeno’s, but is still a second-hand offering compared the Marines missions. And without making it too obvious, yes, the Predators campaign too only clocks in at a few hours. All up, that’s a decent amount of single player hours compared to a lot of shooters these days, but when split into three different campaigns that are all equally short, it leaves you wanting far more than you’re given and really brings down the games experience.
The more, the merrier
Staying true to this age-old philosophy, Aliens Vs. Predator only gets better with more players. And that comes in the form of a very unique multiplayer experience. With the single player not satisfying your gamer needs, and simply filling you up on your cravings to play as two of the most iconic movie villains of all time, you will likely find yourself strapped in and taking on the world with some buddies in the game online modes.
The game has all the stock-modes you would expect; Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Domination, Species Deathmatch (Aliens Vs. Predators Vs. Humans - this one is carnage with a full roster). But it also gives a few, more interesting and innovative modes. The pick of the little is ‘Infestation’, where one player starts as a Xeno, and the rest as frightened humans. Every human killed by a Xeno becomes one, until the numbers wether and players are running frightened, blind firing like madmen. The adrenalin of being the last survivor and having upwards 5, 6, even 7 beeping dots on your motion tracker racing around is unspeakable, and its great!
The multiplayer really picks up where the campaign leaves you wanting, so its good to see a deep variety of game modes. To set it further apart from other online shooters, AvP lets all players play as equal fighters and relies on the grand act of good gameplay to keep gamers hooked rather than the all-too-common ‘customise this, and change that to be ‘different’, and let players who get the game early be the best and have the best weapons (I could go on and on, but lets move on shall we)’. All up, its good to see an even playing field for a change.
One of the first things you’ll notice no matter the campaign you play first is the exquisite lighting effects the game has, especially if your playing as a Marine, who is the only one who should be afraid of the dark. Armed with a flashlight, the games blacks are as black as anything, and hide lurking enemies, and the light is a weapon in its own as you furiously check and double check your corners for Xeno’s. Flares help too, with a bright red shine laying waste to all that horrid darkness. Its all part of the games atmosphere, which complements the films very well, really giving the previously mentioned hunted feeling more to go by.
But pretty light doesn’t make that which is lit up any prettier. The games environment and textures are very bland, and for this current-gen of games, is not a good sight. Save a few character models here and there, the whole shebang is rather lumpy and doesn’t help the lack of substantial gameplay elements feel any better, but in fact worse.
Like I said, the environment may not be so great, but pry your wandering eyes off the walls, as there are aliens to be had here. And my my, they aren’t as bad as the environment by a long shot. The character models for the games alien species, the Xenomorphs and Predators, are wonderful. The detail in the Xeno’s head in particular is astonishing, as well as the weaponry and skin tones of the Predators.
Its too bad the Marines don’t compliment the aliens as well in the looks department, and neither do the animation for any of the three, which makes the whole graphics and visual side of things a flop.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, the Marines motion tracker has its classic sounds and style that add to the atmosphere. But its not just this helping the games surroundings out, it’s the slew of noises you are laid witness to, from the unholy hissing the Xeno’s let off and the clunk of their bony feet on the ceiling and walls to the Predators signature clicking which will have your spine tingle. Its what makes the suspense of the campaigns click with the gamer and makes the levels their own experience.
And although the game score is lesser quality than it could have been, its used with very great timing and essentially makes things all the more enjoyable. The best part about the games sound is that although the voice acting is far from top-notch, the script is perfect. Fans of the series will love it when they hear all their favourite quotes and lines being spoken in realtime as they blast speedy aliens or are hunting a squad of marines down in a swampy backdrop.
While the idea of the three campaigns was a sure-fire selling point, the result very much a let down, lacking in any sort of replayability due to the very straight forward and linear gameplay, not to mention the lack of any character development or story strengths, apart from the humans. Unless you want some Gamerscore from collecting some hidden goodies, you’ll likely never pick it up again. Give it a few weeks, maybe a month and you might want to feel the rush of stalking some humans as your favourite alien again, but it soon becomes apparent yet again that this isn’t what it could have been.
If your thinking of getting this game for some offline action, you might want to think again, but if you love a good bit of competitive action and can look past its single player flaws, then you will find comfort in Rebellions great representation of species-on-species battles and its innovate team based modes and fast-paced firefights.
If you are an Alien and Predator fan and love the movies to death as many of us do (well, apart from those abominations of the series known by the title of this very game), then even the blunt single player experience will seem enjoyable at the sight of your unorthodox heroes.
Love them or love to hate them, Aliens Vs. Predator’s Xenomorphs are true to the series and provide a unique gameplay experience which sadly falls short of being great. And everyone’s favourite space travelling hunters are as fearsome as ever in this genre defying shooter, but suffer the same fate as the Xeno’s in terms of gameplay mechanics. But in a game which attempts to focus on the story from all angles, only the Marines point of view provides gamers with a solid experience. it’s a let down to fans of the series that the aliens didn’t get the same treatment as the humans, but nether less, its still enjoyable to play from a completely different side and see the world through someone, or something else’s eyes. An atmospheric and wonderfully sounding setting is present, but with linear and bland environments, gameplay is far off from worthy.
The multiplayer is where this game excels, providing players with an often-overlooked even playing ground with some very stylish and unique gameplay modes which give players the best gameplay of all three of the species and throw them together in a variety of well designed maps. Forcing players to use both brain and brawn and work as a team to overcome the enemy. With many tactical opportunities to be had here, AvPs multiplayer experience is obviously the place where Rebellion spent most of their time.
AAG Single-player score: 6/10
AAG Multiplayer score: 8.9/10
+ Multiplayer provides a great experience on many fronts
+ Pays homage to both series particularly through sound and atmospheric lighting
+ Marine Campaign is a highly enjoyable genre defying experience…
- Too bad the other two campaigns are far from it.
- Dated in all the wrong places; graphics and gameplay
- Very short campaigns, leaving you wanting more, but low replay value
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott