Aliens vs. Predator
I’ve come to the conclusion that this game was designed to hurt me. A bit egomaniacal I’ll admit, but nothing explains the pain this game has brought me. Nothing else explains failure of this kind.
Aliens vs. Predator is a game without a single excuse for its utter lack of quality or ingenuity. I’ll admit it is pretty; that’s about all it has going for it. Technically it should be titled Aliens vs. Predator 3, as it’s the second Aliens vs. Predator game from Rebellion Developments and very much the sequel to Monolith Productions’ Aliens vs. Predator 2. A good sequel should take what was good and successful from its predecessors and build upon that. It should add to the setting and it should only change those things that the fans felt really should have been changed. But AvP isn’t a good sequel. It’s a god awful, clichéd pile of crap that actually makes me want to go back to my review of Bioshock 2 and say “What the hell, just buy it and have fun. It wasn’t perfect but hell, at least it wasn’t as bad as AvP!” Now I’d expect crap like this from a studio like Monolith Productions which has released garbage like F.E.A.R., Condemned 1 & Condemned 2, and Tron 2.0, but not from an established and respectable studio like Rebellion Developments who’ve brought us nothing but gold like Aliens vs. Predator, that iffy Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death, and…um…OH! Remember those crappy PSP Star Wars: Battlefront games that were crippled by bad design and terrible controls, and made it only by riding on the coattails of their more successful console versions? Yeah, they made those. So this came as a hell of a surprise. (Note: I’m being sarcastic.)
The first Aliens Versus Predator was a great game. You felt to fear and terror of a colonial marine stuck in a badly lit colony surrounded by two of the most vicious, bloodthirsty, and generally antisocial alien species to grace the silver screen, and they both wanted to do bad things to your skull. Hell, at least the aliens from Species wanted to jump your bones first and they had the decency to look like a hot Canadian blonde while doing it. As a marine, your weapons could generally liquidate a bug (as the aliens are often referred to by the marines in the various comics, games, etc of the series) with 1 or two shots. Not much of a surprise as the Pulse Rifles fired “10 millimeter explosive tip caseless” rounds (to quote Gorman in Aliens). This made up for the fact that if one got close enough to you to take a swing, you’d die instantly. Not quite fair I’ll admit, but in the movies the damned things were able to rip through 3 inches of sold steel with their bare claws, so at least it was accurate. If you were fast enough to hit one of them but slow enough to let it get close, you’d discover that getting splashed with that acidic blood would either kill you instantly or take off a good 90% of your health. So, as a marine your main strategy was to kill them before they got close to you or else you’d die. Playing as an alien, it was pretty much the reverse. You’d die it you got shot, so get there fast or sneak up on them and whatever you do don’t get your ass shot off. AvP 2 continued this theme. They balanced it a bit better so now you didn’t feel quite as vulnerable as either the marine or the alien, but “one-shot kill” was still the name of the game. AvP 2 basically did what any good sequel should do. They took the earlier game, improved it in areas where it was lacking, and generally keep the bits that everyone agreed were a great idea. This is pretty much where Aliens vs. Predator (3) fails.
Someone's about to get penetrated here and it's probably not going to be the one you'd think.
As a marine, your weapons won’t exactly turn then bugs to goo as you’d hope or expect. It also takes a hell of a lot of ammo to kill one alien drone (well, compared to the first 2 games). This really isn’t a problem though as the damn thing won’t be killing you anytime soon. The damage the aliens do is laughable and you now have a block/melee attack to counter it with. That’s right, as a marine you can now pistol whip an alien and knock its ass back 10 feet. I’m surprised that one never came up in the movies. You don’t really start blasting bugs like before until you get the shotgun and the Smartgun. The motion tracking Smartgun is a thing of beauty right up to the point where you leave the predestinated “Smartgun” area of the game and it’s ammo stops showing up. As for the shotgun, nothing says “future” like a manual reload, double barreled antique eh? There’s really no excuse for this one. Half-Life had a better shotgun! Hell, the shotgun from Bioshock had a higher rate of fire than this piece of crap. No wonder you keep finding it on DEAD marines, you’d be better off with a wrench.
The predator campaign has you starting off with just the wrist knives and it’s only halfway through the game that you get the special mask that allows you to detect the aliens. This annoyed the hell out of me as the first 2 games gave you everything from the start. You got all of the main weapons and 3 different vision modes for your mask; one that showed off human’s heat signatures, one that identified just the aliens, and a third that lit up only predator related items (like weapons, blood, markers, etc) but allowed you to see clearly in the dark. Also, the predator’s super jump has been replaced with a button that tells you if you can jump somewhere. So rather than just jumping onto a walkway, you now have to hold a button and wander around until the “jump” icon appears, which is a bitch and a half if you’re in a fight at the time.
As for the alien campaign, there’s really no plot. You’re an alien and you get loose in a lab. Wooo! The only things that stand out are your remarkable inability to kill anything with just one strike, and your near magical ability to know exactly how to operate and activate electronic equipment by simply smashing it with your claws.
There are some out there who’ve probably started clamoring on about how there are instant kill moves in the alien and predator campaigns, and that’s true. Sadly though, they suck. As either of the games 2 titular characters you’re given the option of pulling a super move either randomly amid your attacks on a target or if you manage to sneak up on an enemy. By hitting a button you activate a 5 second long mini-cut scene where you graphically murder your enemy. Claws will be rammed through heads, heads will be ripped off, throats will be slit, and humans will be impaled grotesquely upon spiked tails in every which way imaginable including a few you’ll wish you could actually unwatch afterwards. Did I mention that while this unskippable 5 second clip of gratuitous violence occurs you’re completely vulnerable to attack by your victim’s friends? Yeah…enjoy.
Hint: As an Alien you might end up doing this to a marine. Your tail's involved, so use your imagination.
Also, the game is short. Really short. As in “it can’t really be that short can it?” short. Each campaign consists of 6 missions and the same damned maps each time. Rather than drawing on their own unique levels, the alien and predator missions basically steal the maps from the marine campaign. In AvP 2 this occurred to some extent as the plotlines in all 3 campaigns were parallel and interwoven, resulting in the events in one campaign influencing the events in the other 2. In this game though, it just feels like they were being lazy with the level design.
Finally, I have to mention the multiplayer side of the game. Normally I don’t like multiplayer. It often gets on my nerves as I’d rather play a good single player game then waste my time interacting with idiots I wouldn’t associate with socially. I have to admit though, that the multiplayer in AvP is pretty good. There’re still a few problems with how the maps are set up (see above regarding blatantly reusing maps), but all in all it’s a lot more fun than the single player game. Now, does any of this make up for the piece of trash that is the regular game? Not a chance in hell. It eases a little of that sting you’ll feel for wasting your money on this title but, it’s not good enough to stand on its own.
If you want a good Aliens vs. Predator based FPS with great multiplayer and a killer single player game, go online and find a copy of Monolith’s Aliens vs. Predator 2. As for Rebellion’s Aliens vs. Predator, if you really just have to play it, either rent it or wait till it's only $15 on Steam. Personally I recommend frying it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
We'll meet again. Don't know where, don't know when...