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Aliens vs. Predator Review

Aliens vs. Predator pack shot
Developer:Rebellion
Publisher:Sega
Genre:First Person Shooter
Platform:Xbox 360
Official Site:http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator
Release Date:February 19th, 2010 (UK)
Reviewer:Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
 

I'm not of the Aliens generation. As a child of the 90s I grew up with big budget action flicks, rather than the grimy, horrific world of Cameron's Alien. I have, of course, since discovered and fallen in love with it.

I played this game's much-loved predecessors and I know how popular they are even today, so I can honestly say that this game is...not bad, but nothing spectacular.

It seems that rather than innovate Rebellion, the company behind the series, have stuck to their guns and produced something that an army of fans will be very familiar with. It ticks all the right boxes in that respect - there are three campaigns, a brutal multiplayer and as much blood as you could want.

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There's a pretty good plot, a tense gameplay style and all the sound effects AvP fans have come to expect - it's just nothing really new, it's all been done before - the game feels like the last two games in a new skin, with slightly tidier graphics and a certain amount of attention to detail. And that is probably both good and bad in equal measure.

Of the three campaigns the Colonial Marines' is by far the most engrossing. All the details are there - smart guns, the iconic pulse rifles, tattoos and the motion detector which, while constantly emitting an irritating clicking noise, is essential for staying alive. The Marine's campaign takes you through a hurried evacuation from a doomed colony. Much like the excellent 'Aliens', the Marines are hopelessly outnumbered and have to fight through corridors filled with alien xenomorphs and pitfalls at every turn, often having to rely on little more than a pistol and some elbow grease to stay alive.

Of course it doesn't help that the Weyland-Yutani Corporation have been up to their old tricks and an Alien queen is loose and rampaging across the planet. Rightfully the Marines decide to get out of Dodge, and the missions are a frenzied blast to escape at any cost. The Marine campaign is a fun blast, if a little uninventive.

While there's plenty to keep a gamer interested, the odd lack of iron sights for the rifles is very 90's, and the game just pootles along, not really innovating in any big action. While this is great for suspense, where are the massive battles between massed Marines and aliens this game cries out for? Copious in their absence.

The Alien missions are a mixed bag. Rather than have an entirely different campaign the other species' missions all tie in together, but are light on storytelling, seemingly relying on the Marine's campaign (with Bioshock-style voice recordings) to tell the story. The Alien campaign picks up inside a research lab, with you playing as 'Number 6', and unusually smart Alien.

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Pretty soon you escape (since Aliens can never really be tamed) and go on a rampage, following orders from the Queen, who communicates with you telepathically. This campaign is pretty straightforward really - kill everything is the order of the day. Luckily Rebellion gave you all the skills you need to pull this off - with the Aliens' razor-tail, acid blood and ability to climb all over the place in attendance.

The action is close and bloody, with some of the trophy kills, which are pulled off by mashing the X button when you knock an enemy over, being particularly gory - knifing a marine through the eye and the camera zooming in so you can see your second jaw going into a human's head being particularly nasty, this is no game for the feint hearted.

Playing as an Alien is fun, but flawed. The controls are a mess and the transition between walls, ceilings and floors are difficult and unpredictable. While there is a jump button, it's not very accurate and will often send you leaping all over the place, and it can take a long time to get used to the Alien's style of movement, but once you're in it can be great fun hunting from the shadows with your siblings.

The third campaign - Predator - is quite different to the other two, the Predator's weaponry and technology offering a totally different play style, but one which still suffers several flaws. The Predator can call on the cloak, night vision, thermal vision, plasma cannon (with tri-light targeting matrix), a pair of wicked arm blades and the Predator's considerable agility to fend of the Marines and Aliens alike.

This campaign is again tied into the other two, but where as this one opens well (with a big explosion) the campaign turns out to be just another Predator hunt-a-thon, and my hopes for a decent look at this enigmatic race are dashed pretty early. The action is however pretty good: the gameplay, as you jump from tree to tree, cloak online and plasma gun tracking, is great fun, though I was disappointed that you couldn't pounce on enemies, having instead to drop behind them for your gory trophy kills, which while brilliant in their extremity are a little repetitive.

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The AI really shows its weakness in the Predator campaign though. While in the Marine campaign the Aliens work as one force, and in the Aliens' the enemies react quickly to you, playing as a Predator is a distinctly underwhelming experience - the enemies are stupid, really stupid. As well as barking out repeated orders like "Don't let your guard down" every two seconds, they're too dumb to patrol in pairs, can be distracted by a loud noise and don't notice when a soldier standing next to them gets dragged into the shadows - it's shocking.

Aside from the single player campaign, which is a good 8 hours or so of gameplay on hardcore (the best way to play), AvP also features more of that Rebellion multiplayer magic - which again feels like an updated version of the older games, rather than anything new. If you're a long term fan of the series looking for a spruced up game then you're in business.

As well as species deathmatch, a cool version of Gears of War's Horde mode, Survivor, is great fun with a few mates, and a mode where one Alien must gradually convert a squad of marines into more Aliens is also a blast.

The maps, however, are too small, don't have enough levels to climb on and over and come up on rotation far too often - it feels unfinished and is desperately in need of a map pack to add a bit of variety. Undoubtedly that will cost though as seems the norm these days.

Graphically the game is nothing that spectacular. Rebellion have done a good job with the engine but the graphics are just not up to par with some of the new release games out there, looking washed out and rough around the edges, with some texture pop-in from time to time. The sound is great however; each Alien scream and the whine of plasma weaponry sounding like it came out of the movie itself, a fact sure to please any fanboy.

Summary

AvP is a really mixed bag. The single player campaigns and the multiplayer are OK, but there's nothing really new and innovative about the game to set it apart from its predecessors. Occasionally rough graphics and poor AI can make the experience a little disappointing at times, and though there is plenty for an Aliens fan to enjoy, mainstream gamers might be put off with the game's presentation.

The bottom line
7.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Lengthy campaign on hardcore
  • Good multiplayer
  • Good variety of play styles between species

Not so good stuff

  • Poor AI
  • Difficult controls
  • No Marine iron sights


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