Game: Aliens vs. Predator
Developer: Rebellion Developments
Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC (reviewed on Xbox 360)
The Aliens vs. Predator universe is a strange one, on the one hand you have a handful of films described as classics with others in the series deemed utter failure. However, there are few film series’ that have “great videogame” written all over them like this. A potential fanboy dream, this title aims to bring together the Aliens, the Marines and the Predator in one big package, aiming to satisfy fans everywhere. Does it succeed? Read on for the full review.
STORY: The story to Aliens vs. Predator is rather generic at best, the big bad corporation are trying to experiment on alien cultures (seriously, when will they learn?) whilst some marines are just going about their business. As you’d imagine, everything goes crazy and you are thrown into the middle of something that you as the character neither understand or have time to think about.
Since you play as all three species, the characters you play as all have concurrently running stories. All the environments are used multiple times and, at times, it does feel as though you are playing the same story three times, just from slightly different perspectives.
GRAPHICS: So here’s where it starts to get a little murky. The visuals are nothing spectacular, though they get the job done. The Predator in particular looked quite poor to me, especially in cut-scenes. Whilst it’s not atrocious to look at, you certainly feel as though you are playing a game that is a few years older than the release date would suggest.
The game is extremely violent when playing as a Predator though and to be honest you’ll get tired of seeing the same kill animations over and over again.
SOUND: The sound is where the game actually does shine. Great attention to detail has been taken with the sounds used in the game. The famous pulse rifle sound, the Alien screams, the Predator “clicks”, they are all there and they all sound fantastic.
Music wise, the game is a mixed bag. During the Marine campaign the music feels vital, creating nervous tension throughout. Not music per se but having the motion detector beeping away is still, even to this day, horrifying. On the other hand though, the music in the Alien and Predator campaigns is completely forgettable.
GAMEPLAY: As you would imagine, with the three species the gameplay does indeed vary quite a bit. Playing as a Marine is the standard first person shooter fare. You are a human, you move from point A to point B killing Aliens and Predators, and later a different enemy that I won’t spoil here. The Marine campaign has some of the strongest aim-assist I’ve seen in quite some time, though it seems very “flaky”. Sometimes it almost drags you along a wall tracking an Alien yet at other times you can’t seem to get a bullet in a face-hugger for love nor money. Weapons wise you’ll find you stick to the tried and trusted ones but since the game ignores what weapon you finished a level with and gives you one it deems appropriate when you start the next level, it’s pointless growing attached to any particular weapon anyway.
The Predator campaign I found extremely disappointing. I didn’t feel strong enough, nor stealthy enough. The stealth mechanic seemed buggy, not helped by the fact that if you do anything apart from jump or move, you fall out of stealth. The enemy AI during the Predator campaign is best described as confusing. Whilst in stealth mode, sometimes it’s as though you don’t exist whereas during other moments the enemy soldiers will turn on a sixpence to see you in a tree miles away! The way the Predator campaign progresses is also rather disappointing, you start off as a weak young Predator and become tougher as you find new abilities. This is a well used technique but it feels rather strange having your Predator finding these super powered weapons in random locations where other Predators lay slain. They died but the young pup Predator survived?! Strange!
By the end of the Predator campaign though you do feel powerful, but it’s too little too late. Throughout the Predator campaign you recharge your abilities by using various electronic devices around the areas, always conveniently placed. You can distract guards by throwing your voice, though quite why a marine would respond to “Come here you fucking maggot” so happily, is beyond me.
The Alien campaign seemed to be more entertaining than the Predator one but, again, it all feels a little “unfinished” at times. Moving around from floor to wall and then ceiling is headache inducing, though to be fair it does convey the sense of speed a Xenomorph possesses. Much like the Predator uses his gadgets to unlock doors, the Alien uses his face, switching briefly to an “in mouth” camera as the tongue comes out and you bite the living daylights out of that nasty piece of engineering.
Obviously though the Xenomorphs and Predators don’t have guns, so all their combat is melee based. It’s does have “meaty” feel to it but I found it unsatisfying and, at times, quite annoying. It is quite fun to jump from the ceiling onto an unsuspecting soldier though. The Xenomorph also have a few instant kill animations that I personally didn’t find quite so irksome as the Predator ones.
The worst of the gameplay however comes with the games boss encounters. I didn’t enjoy a single one of them, the Predator ones were especially poor. They are all easy enough but they are utterly boring to actually experience. The finale of the Predator campaign in particular is extremely bad.
The multiplayer modes are what a lot of people were most looking forward to yet they fall slightly flat as well. All the game modes that sound like fun in princible, just aren’t all that great. The idea of four Marines (you and your friends) taking on a Predator (some random online user) is a superb one, however that is most definitely not the case. The Predator player starts off with none of the abilities you would expect, instead you have to run around collecting abilities like weapons which, again, is a mind boggling decision. Moreover, the rounds are pretty quickly played out. There is also a Xenomorph version of this mode which offers something slightly different but still not too great.
The games “horde” mode is actually quite entertaining, but with so few maps it gets boring very quickly. Species deathmatch is interesting, but the Xenomorphs seem to have the edge in a game where you are never quite sure if the playable species are balanced or not.
LONGEVITY: All of the campaigns are short, very short. The Marine campaign lasts slightly longer than the other two but all in all they should take you about three hours each to complete. You could choose to replay them if you wanted to mop up all the collectables but unless you are after the achievement or trophy associated with them, you really won’t want to bother.
I played through the game on harder difficulties as well but unless you don’t mind dying an awful lot and frustrating yourself, then that might be best avoided.
The multiplayer is where the meat of the game should lie, but sadly there really aren’t many people playing it and the lobby system leaves a lot to be desired. At times I waited nearly ten minutes to get a game going. Assuming the multiplayer aspect picks up and more people start to play it then I’m sure (if you absolutely loved the game) then you could find a good deal of longevity in the modes on offer.
VERDICT: Just the idea of another Aliens vs. Predator game alone offered so much but, sadly, it just wasn’t meant to be. The majority of the game is poorly executed and as a result it just isn’t as enjoyable as it should be. The most telling sign for me was that of the single player campaigns; I enjoyed the Marine one the most, where in reality it almost certainly should be the other way round. Surely playing as a Xenomorph or a Predator should be the most fun?!
The game is perhaps worth checking out if you are an absolutely hardcore fan of the universe the game takes place in, but there’s no more here than you’d expect and it feels phoned in at times. It just never feels like the developers went that extra mile with the game, especially when you take into account the fiction and sincere love the universe appreciates. It really is a shame, a great shame.