When people think of the Alien vs. Predator franchise they typically picture one of two things: either a bunch of gnarly games from the 90′s, or two crappy movies that were just looking to cash in on fans dedicated to these two awesome franchises. Unfortunately Rebellion’s new AvP game seems to mirror the latter of these two images.
As the name suggests, AvP pits those nasty Xenomorphs from the Alien movie franchise against the complete badassery of the Predator from the Schwarzenegger classic. The single player portion of the game is split into three campaigns, one for the Alien, one for the Predator, and one for the colonial space marines.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with these two movie franchises, let me break it down. The Alien is a sleek killing machine armed with claws, a razor sharp tail, and acidic blood. What makes the Alien so deadly, besides its weaponry, is that it can crawl on any surface and hide in the darkness. Because all of its close range weapons and mobility, the Alien plays out like a stealth character.
In contrast to the Alien and its stealth capabilities, the colonial space marines are your typical human grunts. They play like your typical first-person shooter; running around picking up ammo and guns, blowing away anything that gets in your path.
If you were to mix the brute strength and stealth of the Alien and firepower of the marines, you’d come up with the Predator. The Predator is an advanced alien life form that gets its jollys by hunting both the aliens and the marines. This bad boy comes initially packed with claws, a shoulder laser cannon, and a cloaking device. Later on you’ll find more advanced weaponry like proximity mines and the smart disc.
While all three of these characters seem like they’d be fun to play as, the campaign is so uninspired and repetitive that it is more like a chore than a game. When playing as the Alien, all you ever do is climb through vents, destroy lights, and eat marines. Sure you fight the occasional Predator, but the combat system is such a joke that all you have to do it keep blocking his melee attack and then stab him to death with your tail.
The Predator’s campaign really isn’t that different. Instead of crawling on ceilings, you activate your cloaking device, hop up onto higher ground and pounce on marines. Unfortunately this doesn’t work on Aliens because they can see you when you’re invisible, so you have to straight up melee them. You could use your shoulder cannon or other weapons, but because they use up so much ammo you can only get a few shots out of them before having to find an power source to reload. One cool thing the Predator can do is lure marines away from their squad by using his voice matching technology. The only problem with this is that it makes the game way too easy.
The marine campaign is by far the worst of the three. All of the guns at your disposal feel so underpowered. To give you an idea of what I mean, at one part of the campaign I was being rushed by three Aliens in a tight hallway. I fired a grenade in the middle of them and they just shrugged it off. The only redeemable aspect of the marine campaign is Rebellions use of the Alien’s camouflage. There is nothing scarier then walking down a hallway and hearing your motion detector go off as the walls start moving with Aliens.
Some other things that add to the overall blandness of the campaigns are horrid repetitive voice acting (in particular the Vasquez ripoff named Tequila), terrible AI, the nonsensical movie tie ins, and lack of detail. Nothing gets more annoying than being surrounded by your marine squad mates and having all of them repeat the same phrases, in particular “Don’t let your guard down marine!” This wouldn’t be so bad if you only had to deal with it in the marine campaign (especially considering you’re by yourself for a majority of it), but when you’re playing as the Predator or the Alien and stalking some marines they keep spouting the same phrases. What makes this even worse is that they’ll keep saying “Don’t let your guard down marine,” even as they see you pick off one of their own.
This brings me to my second gripe, AI. As I mentioned above, when playing as the Alien or the Predator, the marines won’t react unless you are right in front of them. For example, I was playing as the Predator and stalking a group of eight marines. I was able to hide in a tree and keep louring the marines, one by one, to the same spot and killing them. You’d think the pile of bodies would be a dead give away. This crappy AI isn’t just reserved for the marines. You’d think that the Aliens (who are being bred by humans as biological weapons) would be able to handle a circle-strafing marine, but I guess the scientists overlooked that flaw.
Speaking of Aliens being grown as weapons, there are several major plot holes in this game. The biggest being the presence of Karl Bishop Weyland. For those of you not familiar with the Aliens story arc, Weyland is the head the corporation that is developing the Aliens as weapons. This is all fine until you realize that he was in the first Alien vs. Predator movie, which took place in contemporary times. How he has managed to stay the same age in an era where humanity is colonizing other planets?
This game has such great visuals, but it fails to utilize them as a way to improve the game. There is no reason to stop and survey all the hard work the graphics team at Rebellion did. You just end up rushing through these environments shooting bad guys and pressing buttons like it’s Doom II. I wish the game let you interact with the environment besides pressing buttons and picking up ammo.
I know what some of you are thinking. “But what about multiplayer?” To be perfectly blunt, it’s a joke. Sure there are plenty of game modes, some of which are actually fun, that is if you can find a game. The player matching system is just awful. In almost every instance I tried to play online my ping was over 200. Also there are so few players that I waited an average of 10 minutes while the game looked for other people.
There are some redeemable aspects to AvP. Playing as the Predator can be fun if you have the right mind set. Maybe I’m a violent person, but I can’t stop grinning when I hop down from a cliff and land on a marine, only to punch though his chest and rip out his spine with his head attached.
AvP also succeeds in the sound category. Disregarding the awful voice acting, the game’s sound effects are spot on. Hearing the thumping of the motion detector made me feel like I was in the movie, especially when it turns into the terrifying ping alerting you that something is ahead. All the guns sound just like they do in the films, pleasing diehard fans. Also, nothing sends shivers down your spine like hearing the hiss of a hidden Alien.
Despite these few successes, there are just too many flaws and poor design choices for me to recommend this game to anyone at the $60 price point. Die hard fans of these two movie franchises will been sorely disappointed to see how Rebellion has treated such a rich and interesting source material. All in all, Alien vs. Predator is a game that just feels rushed.
Rebellion has created gorgous environments and models. It's a shame you aren't given a reson to notice them.
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Alien vs. Predator is a game plagued by poor design choices ultimatly resulting in a game that feels rushed.
Aside from the horrid voice acting, the sound effects are sure to please fans of either franchise.
Multiplayer is a joke and the three single-player campaigns feel long... but not in a good way.
Aliens vs. Predator is a game that looks like a triple-A title, but plays like it belongs in the bargin bin.