|System: X360,PS3,PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Rebellion||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 16, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-18||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Leon Hendrix III
If you've ever seen Alien or it's equally impressive follow-up Aliens, you're probably with me when I say that the past few Alien, Aliens, Alien vs. Predator, etc. have been enough to make James Cameron roll over in his giant pile of Avatar-related money (onto his other giant pile of Titanic-related money). Even though the acclaimed director is probably too busy focusing on the impending Oscar race and his "competition", something tells me that the newest AVP game still wouldn't get the Cameron stamp of approval.
That's not to say that Aliens vs. Predator is a bad game. It's a very serviceable attempt at an FPS game that provides a few tweaks to the traditional formula. Gameplay is familiar enough to make sense and diverse enough to earn a few hours of patience. And let's not forget, the AVP name is enough to bring in a few hardcore fanboys. The big "but" here is a common problem in video games these days; there simply isn't enough weight here to make a splash. FPS fans will want a more polished or at least a more unique experience, casual gamers will want more accessible characters, and AVP fans will probably want more story than a couple of single-player modes can provide. The endgame here is pretty clear-almost everyone who has a reason to play this game could find a better reason to play another.
AVP's single-player campaign is really three short stories told from the point of view of human, alien, and predator characters depending on which you select. These individual stories are an interesting idea and the gameplay is diverse enough to support Rebellion's decision. The stories, level design, and combat mechanics are all driven by the individual star of the show. Say you select the alien character, Six; a video prologue tells the story of an alien spawn which, after violently bursting from the chest (and throat) of a human test subject, is captured and kept for research. As the sixth xenomorph under observation by human scientists, you race along the corridors of a research facility and hunt down your captors using alien attributes. The stories are watchable, not memorable, and they provide enough of a pretext for a few hours of blasting, mauling, or impaling as the situation dictates.
Playing as each character provides a marked difference in gameplay-predators feel like methodical hunters. They move slowly through environments, rely on stealth, distract and lure hapless humans, and cloak before leaping in close to strike foes. Alien combat is a bit different: players will crawl along ceilings and walls, slash at lights to hide in the shadows, and move at lightning speeds to harvest civilians for "face-huggers" or take bites out of their quarry. Soldiers rely on a variety of weapons and explosives to tame the wild extraterrestrial masses. Marines can use melee attacks as well, and predators have some long distance attack capability, but for the most part gamers are choosing between alien speed and human ingenuity. The predator for some inexplicable reason seems the weakest of the pack.
Rebellion has worked with the AVP universe before, and it's familiarity with the characters is apparent in some of its choices but lacking in others. They managed to strike a chord between totally isolating new gamers from the experience and sacrificing the core of series favorites. The philosophy manages to handicap gameplay, however, as the basic controls and attacks become bland and rote very quickly. Within a few hours (or less) you will have seen most of the "quick kill" and "stealth kill" animations. I put them in quotations here because I'm not sure how stealthy impaling someone on a bony tail blade is, but it certainly isn't very quick, but we'll get to that. It's not that these images are so unbearable, but after a while things just get boring. I never really thought I'd say this, but another blade through the eyes? Yawn.