Aliens Vs Predator Review 25/02/2010

It’s not bad, with a lot for fans to enjoy, but it just feels out of date, simplistic and gets dull quickly.

You would think anything associated with possibly the two greatest killing machines in science fiction history would be of a high quality and a great experience all round. Sadly this is not the case as when the two have clashed on film it has been, without any shadow of a doubt, rubbish! They had glimpses of what should have become of this gore splattered union, such as a couple of pretty decent fights between the two other worldly beings, but generally poor acting and low budget stopped them being anything like the original legendary separate films, that spawned both the franchises. The two have met in a game before as well, back in 1999 (the same guys, “Rebellion”, that made this 2010 version also made the original), which sadly I have never played but I have read it has glimpses of what it should have been but it was too clunky and repetitive to play, and simply not that great. So why does the combination of these franchises always result in mediocrity when individually they generally achieve greatness? Well “Rebellion’s”, latest crack at the franchise intends to answer those questions and produce a decent gaming experience for “Alien” and “Predator” fans. It is a first person shooter with a lot of hand-to-hand/melee combat, where you will play through as a human colonial marine, an Alien and a Predator all with interlinking stories. The story takes place on a planet called BG 386, where a human colony, funded by the company “Weyland-Utani”, has set up camp. This planet is also an ancient and forgotten Predator hunting ground where they store Alien queens in giant temples and breed the Alien in order to do battle with it (pretty much an identical plot to the AVP films, just in a different time and place). Discovering this, the company (as always) wants to breed the Alien and sell it as a bio weapon, but on the sly, they have also discovered a particularly large, ancient and intriguing Predator temple that holds a secret that Weyland wants very badly. When Weyland eventually opens the temple it sends out a shock wave that shuts down the colony and as a result all the imprisoned Aliens escape, slaughtering all human life. The colonial marines are called in to mop up the mess, which is where you come in as a human, but there is more going on than a simple “bug hunt”. As an Alien you have to escape your prison and help free the queen from the colony, whilst helping your species breed along the way. Again, things turn out to be not that simple. As a Predator you are sent to the planet to find out why a previous troop of “Young Blood” Predators never returned, only to discover the human’s plans. You must find out what Weyland is up to and set about stopping him from breeding the Alien, as if left in the hands of humans, all life in the universe will succumb to the “crawling dark”. You will also have to discover what is so important about the temple and why it is not simply a holding chamber for Alien breeding.

What’s good?

It has totally captured the “Aliens” and “Predator” universe. This is mainly why it leans so much towards being appealing to fans of the franchises rather than casual gamers, and why not? There is a seriously large amount of fans out there, myself included. So in that respect, “Rebellion” has really hit the nail on the head. Everything you would expect from the films is in this game: alien queens, pulse rifles, motion sensors, chest bursting, face huggers, Predator camouflage, killing people with your Alien toothed tongue, collecting skulls as trophies as a Predator, terraforming, drop ships, ancient Predator temples, Weyland Bishop, I could go on. They have managed to cram almost everything you would expect from the films, bar “Ripley” or “Dutch”. The sound effects of a marine’s pulse rifle is absolutely spot on, as is the death scream of an alien and the weird voice throwing thing a Predator does, the space craft are spot on as are the dark corridors and feeling of dread. It definitely captures the strengths and weaknesses of the three species as well and enables to them to fight relatively entertainingly with each other in hand to hand combat, which you would expect from an Alien and a Predator. If you get the various fight techniques right you can perform signature kills, the Alien generally slicing people in three with their tails or biting chunks out of them with their tongues and Predators use their claws to severe heads and spines. It is an absolute blood bath and without doubt does exactly what fans will be expecting, and if you are a fan of either franchise this will push all the right buttons.

The different styles of gameplay are really interesting and unique. Playing as a marine, Alien or Predator is as different as it gets and “Rebellion” has done an excellent job in capturing the strengths and weaknesses of the three species:

Human: The colonial marine campaign will be the most familiar, and the species you should handle first, as it is basically a typical first person shooter. From the word “go” it is really frightening, with lots of dark space station corridors to navigate and very scary Alien hives to go through with xenomorphs springing from all sorts of corners, ducts and vents. You often don’t have any clue they are there, other than your motion sensor going nuts, until they jump at you from the shadows. Although you definitely feel more vulnerable as a marine, you are by no means defenceless, with their biggest strength coming from their guns. You have pistols, shot guns, sniper rifles, the legendary pulse rifle, the fantastic Smart Gun, flame throwers, grenades and generally the full armoury seen in all the films. You will basically go through the campaign doing only what humans know best and shooting everything. You will mostly shoot Aliens, but there’s loads of androids to kill, Alien queens, and a Predator (although he was disappointingly not as tough as you might think). They can also do a bit of melee combat, such as blocking an Aliens slashes and clawing, bopping them away with the butt of your gun and shooting them whilst they are dazed on the floor. If you have ever fancied yourself a “Hudson” or “Vasquez” then you will love the marine campaign.

Alien: The Alien was my favourite. It was quite empowering to play as the thing that’s been scaring the crap out of you for 4 hours as a human, plus they are the most effective killing machine when you get used to it. I loved stalking marines from the ceiling, observing their movements, and running in for a quick silent kill whilst their back is turned. Aliens have only melee style, hand-to-hand combat, which includes your powerful claws and knife like tail, which you will combine with light and heavy attacks. The xenomorph’s will claw and bite their way through enemies, meaning you will always have to be up close and personal to make a kill. They are excellently prepared for such strikes though, as they are lightning fast, can grip on to any wall or ceiling and utilise darkness as their ally. Taking out lights, attacking from the shadows, from vents or from above is the key, whilst trying not to attract too much attention to yourself. The Alien also has heightened senses and can see all living things through walls and round corners as long as they are relatively close. This is good for setting up signature kills which are really good fun. You can hiss at a marine round a corner, attracting their attention, then run up a wall and on to the ceiling and after they have walked under you, drop down, sprint up behind them and grab them, impaling them with your tail so that it comes out their mouth. You will also use your tongue to bite a chunk out of their head, tear bits off them, snap necks and generally make very gory, but very satisfying kills. Or, if you grab an unarmed human, you can help the xeno cause by holding them down for a face hugger to latch on to them. It only takes one or two bullets, or one slash from a Predator to put you down, but that is a true characteristic of the Alien. The Alien gameplay has its flaws (more of that in a bit) but it is really unique and really good fun when you get the hang of it.

Predator: The Predator is similar to the Alien but uses a much more stealth like approach mixed with technology and single powerful strikes. Cloaking and taking out targets silently is his asset when fighting marines, but Aliens can see through your camouflage, so quick reactions and good hand to hand combat skills are needed. You have the same light and heavy attacks as the Alien using your wrist blades, as well as excellent signature kills by grabbing, but you can also take out enemies from afar with your plasma caster, spinning disc or spear, which is all one hit one kill options. You also have proximity mines, but opportunities to use them are fairly infrequent. The Predator is the most powerful character to play but you will have to be a lot more tactical and use surveillance to become efficient with him. He doesn’t have too many flaws being super strong and tough but keeping an eye on energy use is tough and being overwhelmed by Aliens will also be the Predator’s undoing.

The colonial marine campaign is absolutely terrifying. Quantifying fear is difficult as it is entirely opinion based. Personally the only game that genuinely frightened me was EA’s excellent “Dead Space”. The feeling of isolation and dread was huge. Aliens Vs Predator is easily on a par with this though. Ever since seeing Ridley Scott’s “Aliens”, at the young age of 12 and consequently not sleeping for around six months afterwards, H. R. Giger’s “Necronom IV” has truly petrified me. There’s just something so immensely fear inducing about the Alien to me and this game really brings that fear out. From the word “go”, the marine campaign is a scary one. You have to navigate some very dark corridors, with just a pistol, trying to find your way to a fellow marine, who’s giving you guidance via your radio, and all you have is your flash light and your motion sensor. The tension builds for so long, the dull beat of your motion sensor is the only thing you hear, and upon the first “blip”, as your motion sensor detects movement, my rectum instantly prolapsed (not literally). I know it’s just a game, I know its just one alien, I know I will kill it (as it’s the intro to the game) and yet I was 12 years old again, watching the marines go into the hive for the first time and watching “Hudson” looking at his motion sensor and shouting “their all over us man!” and absolutely crapping myself, fearing, yet knowing, what was coming round the corner. You will have to venture into several hives yourself in this game and they are equally as intimidating as they are in “Aliens”. Xenomorphs will come out of the walls, totally camouflaged against the background. Your motion sensor will picks things up but you won’t see anything, and of course you will encounter queens. It’s obviously not as scary being the Alien, but the Predator campaign has its moments as well and if you were ever frightened by any of the films, this will probably bring out that child like fear in you once more.

What’s bad?

The story isn’t that great and is told in too much of a disjointed small portioned way. My main issue with AVP is the story as, although it’s relatively interesting, it is totally unoriginal and in far too much of a hurry to set up a sequel. It doesn’t really dwell on any of the most interesting aspects of it and you generally race through everything so quickly it’s far too easy to miss things. You also have to pick up audio transmissions throughout, which again, is ok, but they are scattered everywhere and it’s too hard to decipher what’s going on from them. It comes across as more of a story to accommodate the title, rather than the other way round, as though Rebellion acquired the rights to the franchise and didn’t have very long to come up with a script, so mashed some things together quickly. It’s a lot like the films in many respects, does the job, but does not inspire or captivate in anyway.

The Alien and Predator gameplay isn’t particularly great either. I can’t imagine getting hand to hand combat to work well on a first person shooter is particularly easy, and AVP is a good example of this. It’s really simple for a start and is incredibly “old school” and arcade like. You have light and heavy attacks and blocking but there is not much in terms of fluidity and smoothness and it does not require much, if any, skill. If someone attacks with a light attack, block and do one back. If someone is blocking use a heavy attack. Its far too easy to stop heavy attacks as all you have to do in the small decade it takes to charge up is perform a light attack and your knocked to the floor. It doesn’t really get any more complex than that, and even that does not work too well. You will always end up blocking, hitting an enemy to the floor and then grabbing them to perform a signature kill. These are good but they do get dull after a while, as it’s the same button action again and again, they take far too long to perform and other near by enemies can still attack you whilst you are doing them, to which you can do nothing about. There are few things worse in gaming than being punished for something that you can not avoid. You just generally end up running up to an enemy and hammering the attack and blocking buttons. As a result it’s totally chaotic, constantly interrupted by signature kill cinematics and is generally uninspiring. Being totally mellee combat based, the Alien suffers from this simplistic gaming the most. The Alien moves so ludicrously quickly that you often sprint right past your victim by accident so they see you and start shooting you in the back. As an Alien this will inevitably result in your death. It’s also too easy to get stuck to surfaces and it’s seriously disorientating when traversing ceilings and walls. There is some enjoyment to be had from the combat but it’s so repetitive and simplistic and I reckon more depth and a more expansive combat system is needed. It will basically feel a bit out of date compared to other games. “Uncharted 2” shows that an incredibly simple hand to hand combat system can work very well, so there is not much excuse.

The graphics are also not that great. Possibly a harsh criticism this, however when compared to other visual treats available on the PS3 it doesn’t look brilliant. The Aliens look good, but environments and in particular characters and cinematics look really wooden, bland and not very detailed. They are by no means terrible but not particularly awe inspiring either. Graphics are so highly rated on the PS3, with several titles being utterly jaw dropping visually (Uncharted 2 for example), so with a big name title such as this you really expect more.

Conclusion

The game, rather unsurprisingly, is very much like the films. They have all the trademark Alien and Predator stuff, lots of gore and fighting, and if you switch your brain off there are moments that you will enjoy. But it never really blows you away at any point or makes you keep coming back for more. It’s pretty good, but not that great. If you’re a fan, there will probably be a lot for you to like here. It has totally captured everything you would expect from these franchises, from the noise of a pulse rifle, to the death screech of an Alien, to infiltrating hives and stalking people using stealth camoflauge, it really does hit the nail on the head. The fear induced by the marine campaign is the pinnacle of this. It’s terrifying. There is also lots of cheap thrill signature death moves that although shallow, will inevitably tweak all the right knobs for fans. If you are not fussed on this universe, however, there are many much better games out there. It is quite good fun experiencing the different species, but the first person combat is seriously old school and retarded-ly simple, and the marine campaign is just a normal shooter. If Modern Warfare can be likened to the “I-phone” of the computer games world, AVP feels more like two empty bean tins tied together with string. It works, but it is too simple, doesn’t look great, and is generally far from brilliant.CA.

Summary

Is it user-friendly/easy to get into? – 8.0

A very simple game will always result in it being very easy to get to grips with. The marine campaign is a standard shooter, but the Alien and Predator will take some getting used to. The Alien is too disorientating and the Predator has too many tools. Tutorials at the beginning are pretty good at teaching though.

Is the story any good? – 6.0

It’s ok, and does what it’s supposed to do: tie in all three species into a story and set it up for a sequel. It really only does that though and it feels far to woolly, fast paced and as if it was quickly collaborated together in someone’s lunch break.

How does it look? – 8.0

It’s pretty good. The Aliens all look good as do hives, but environments are a bit bland and character animations are really wooden and unconvincing. When compared with other titles it does not have that extra fine detail that would make it look awesome. Not bad though.

How does it sound? – 9.5

The sound goes most of the way to making this game appeal to fans. Pulse rifles, Alien screams, Predator voice throwing all the sfx you would expect are perfectly re-produced. Voice acting is a bit stereotypical but it works.

Is it good to play? – 7.0

Lots and lots of shooting, hacking and beheading to be done. Marine campaign is truly scary and stalking people as an Alien was very enjoyable for me. The stealth and signature kills are all quite impressive as well. The hand to hand combat is very chaotic however, very crude, simplistic to the point of sleep inducing and it will bore quickly.

When will I get bored? – 6.0

It takes a fair amount of time to complete but not too long. The Alien campaign is literally an hour or so. The simplistic combat gets repetitive quickly and even the signature kills get old at speed as well. The online stuff will keep things going, as it is unique if nothing else, but has all the same cheap thrills followed shortly by tedium of the single player. I got bored of it pretty quickly.

OVERALL – 7.0

Review created by C. Armstrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.