Aliens vs Predator Review
The hunt is on!
Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 26th February 2010
Aliens vs Predator
- Developer: Rebellion
- Publisher: SEGA
- Release Date: 19th February 2010
Being a massive fan of the 1999 original version of Aliens vs. Predator, I was extremely excited by the prospect of this re-imagining coming to the current generation of platforms. Sadly despite not being able to fulfil all my expectations, Rebellion has still managed to put together a passable substitute for this classic masterpiece.
What made the original version so special was being able to control the most iconic characters from some of science fictions most loved films. Once again, the new version of Aliens vs. Predator allows you to do this you can play as the Colonial Marines, Aliens and Predators of the silver screen in a series of intertwined missions with each faction having its own and very different aim and perspective. As you would expect these three different perspectives offer very different experiences. For instance, when playing as the Predator you have to use stealth and planning, whilst colonial marines rely heavily on their technology to stay in the fight and playing as an alien their speed and the ability to walk on any surface are your biggest allies.
As with the 1999 version you once again play each of the various roles from the first person perspective. However certain aspects that made the game so good seem to have been lost in translation to this new generation. Firstly, as I mentioned above the Predator aspect of the game relies heavily on stealth. Sadly this doesn’t really seem to work for a number of reasons, but mainly because if you get to close to your intended victim then 9 out of 10 times they spot you despite being cloaked. However, this isn’t the biggest problem, any game that requires the use of stealth should provide an effective way of making instant kills but Aliens vs. Predator doesn’t. Instead it offers two ways of taking out your enemies with no fuss. Firstly you can blast them with a charged up shot from your plasma cannon, which in turn reveals your position to any Marines in your vicinity, ending any stealth approach. Secondly, you can distract enemies to lure them near to you, before dropping down, grabbing them and performing a kill move. Sadly, there are problems here too. Distracting an enemy isn’t as simple as it should be as any allies in your intended targets vicinity will come along with him. Also getting close enough to actually perform these kill moves is a task in itself as the Predator clunks around through the game world. When you actually do get things rights and perform an instant kill, yet another problem crops up, it seems to take an age to actually perform the move, which in turn leaves you vulnerable to attack and there’s nothing you can do to defend yourself until the move has completed. Despite all this hassle actually performing the kill moves are worth while in the end, allowing you to perform some of the predators most iconic on screen movements, such as pulling the spine -complete out your victim.
Problems with the Predator aspect of the game however don’t end there, ranged weapons are largely ineffective and clumsy to use, and you will often have to rely on your wrist claws in order to take out your enemies. Unfortunately, they appear to be attached to the weakest Predator in the galaxy often requiring 4 or five blows before putting an enemy down, not like the devastating one hit kills we see in the movies. Moving around the game environment also has its problems, and jumping between ledges and advantage points requires you to highlight the area before issuing the jump command, this makes traversing the game world something of a labour and doesn’t really allow for fluid movement through the various environments. For me the Predator mission represents the weakest aspect of the game, but things do get better with the Colonial Marine and Alien missions.
The alien portion is fairly standard and pretty much what you would expect from a first person action game. There is a certain element of stealth thrown in, which thankfully works better than that featured in the Predator based mission. You can hide in the shadows, away from view and also smash out lights to make certain environments work for you. Vents of course allow you to move around out of sight, but also provide you with locations to sit and wait for enemies to come to you. Once they do, they stand little chance against the aliens lightening fast attacks. All this coupled with the fact that you can seamlessly move from floor to wall and ceiling means that you can launch devastating melee attacks from almost any angle leaping out of the darkness at speed to take down enemies. On the whole it’s pretty simple but it works surprisingly well, and more importantly is quite enjoyable.
Again though the alien aspect is not quite perfect, and moving between walls, ceiling and floor often feels clumsy and can often leave you blind sided in addition to leaving you disorientated which can often result in you heading in the wrong direction. You can enable an auto transition feature which works much better then having to press a button to climb walls, but navigating in the darkness can still be pretty confusing, and its not really helped by the limited field of view you have as an alien.
For me the Colonial Marine mission is probably the best aspect of the single player game despite the fact that the actual action is pretty standard and shooter mechanics quite sloppy. However, this aspect of the game seems to have captured the feeling of the movies the best! The combination of darkness and the clicking and beeping of your motion sensor and the sound of your pulse rifle as you fire off rounds really help to create a tense atmosphere and the marine mission can really deliver some heart pounding moments. The only real problem here lies with the aforementioned sloppy shooter mechanics, but it’s by no means the worst shooter I’ve ever played. The biggest problem comes with not being able to look down the sights of your pulse rifle, which can often lead to you wasting ammo trying to hit the fast moving aliens. This is countered somewhat with an alternative rifle, however aiming with these weapons is slow at best. The shotgun comes in useful when in confined areas, but again using this weapon has its downfalls! Anyone fancy a face full of acid from exploding aliens. The smart gun with its automatic aiming system goes along way to address many of these problems sadly, this is only available towards the end of the campaign and ammo for it seems to be scarce.
The three campaigns are all pretty short and as a result, so is the single player aspect. They aren’t that bad to play through on the whole and do offer some replay value, especially the Predator campaign, if you can over look its shortcomings. But despite some weaknesses in the gameplay department, it’s very hard to criticise the game in other departments as visual design is top notch and any fan of the movies will instantly be able to recognise numerous elements that the developers have included. As the game is also licensed from 20th Century Fox all the sounds from the movies also feature in the game, such as the pulse rifle that I’ve already mentioned. Other sound effects include the chilling screams of the aliens and the sound of hearts beating when using the Predators heat sensitive vision.
Away from the single player campaigns, Aliens vs. Predator also feature extensive multiplayer support. The game includes some fairly standard modes such as deathmatch, team deathmatch and domination, all of course with an AvP twist. However, the better game types come in the form of Infestation, Predator Hunt and Survivor. The Survivor is a co-op mode in which players take up the role of Colonial Marines, as the title suggests the aim of the game is to survive the ever increasing wave of aliens that keep coming at you. The Predator Hunt game type, puts gamers in the role of a marine with one player taking up the role of Predator, the marine that kills the Predator gets to play as the predator who must kill the marines before the time runs out, with each kill increasing the amount of time you have to hunt. For me though, Infestation is probably the standout game mode. In this game one player takes up the role of an alien, and with every marine killed, that player joins the alien’s ranks meaning that survival as a marine becomes increasingly difficult.
Aliens vs. Predator may not have met my expectations or fond memories of the 1999 original and I can’t help feel a little disappointed in this game which feels like it needed more time to refine and think out some core ideas. As a result general shooter fans may want to look else where, however fans of the various movies should be able overlook many of the shortcomings and garner some excitement from playing as some of science fictions most iconic characters.
Review Score: 7/10
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