Denny Markovic
27 Feb, 2010

Aliens Vs. Predator Review

PC Review | A bloody good time.
Aliens. Predators. Video games. When you put those 3 things together in your idealistic head, you can clearly see the potential of how utterly awesome such a mix would be. Considered to be one of the coolest match up ideas ever, the Aliens vs Predator franchise has been around since the dawn of the first Alien skull on the Predator ship in the second Predator film, spawning countless comics, two (utterly average) films, and quite a few games to boot. Most of the games have actually turned out pretty decent, particularly the two PC FPS titles, Alien vs Predator and Alien vs Predator 2, which were both critically acclaimed for their butt-clenchy atmosphere and unique take on Marines, Aliens and Predators. Now nearly a decade after the release of the second AvP, a re-invigoration of the franchise has been released, simply titled Aliens vs Predator (though fans call it AvP 3 anyway). Rebellion, the studio responsible for the first FPS game are behind it, so you’d expect some knowledge of the lore to come into play. But is that enough for them to bring forth a killer sequel to the iconic franchise?

To set the scene, AvP sets itself around a colony on BG-36, controlled by the company that seems to be everywhere, Weyland Yutani. Humans are down there for their usual greedy reasons, ranging from horrific testing involving humans and Xenomorphs, to discovering ancient ruins and tarnishing ancestral grounds. But as usual with the humans, they fail to control the Xenomorph populace and things quickly turn for the worst, particularly when the Predators arrive, who are there to wipe the Xeno infestation and reclaim their ancestral honour.

The three campaigns all revolve around the same arc to complete one whole story, though realistically it just feels tacked on as an excuse to get all three races killing each other. The plot is fairly paper thin in execution, as is the narration, but progression in all three campaigns is actually quite good. Playing as a Predator is stealthy, satisfying and very fun, where your tech and immense strength serve you well in the annihilation of both marines and Aliens. The Alien campaign is more chaotic and frenzied, where your agile nature and sneaky wall-crawling abilities allow you to mutilate most in your way, and also dodge a lot of bullets. And finally the Marine campaign is just purely intense, as you know you’re a weakling and you know it hurts to have Xeno in your face, so it’s up to you to play out a survival horror and not die. That being said you have a lot of firepower, so it’s up to you to use it well.

Each campaign is fairly varied and exposes the unique traits of each race, and will likely have fanboys screaming with glee. It’s comprised mostly of standard shooter fare where no new ground is really broken, though the melee and trophy system in place is interesting and serves the game well in keeping the experience authentic.

Because 6 on 1 is entirely fair.

Because 6 on 1 is entirely fair.
The melee system basically comprises of light, heavy and focus attacks, and also a block. Working much like a Paper, Scissors, Rock kind of setup, light attacks are quick but stagger you if blocked, heavy attacks break blocks but can be countered if hit by a light attack, and focus attacks can be used to close the distance on someone fast, as it acts much like a pounce. It’s an interesting system that for the most part transitions in combat extremely well, and really works in adding authenticity in a fight between Aliens and a Predator. Marines can thankfully block and throw a light attack too, so they’re not entirely helpless if closed in on, which aids in balancing out the game a bit more and not making it unfair.

Then come the trophy kills, which are pretty much the stars of the show in AvP. If you’re lucky enough to stagger an enemy in melee or come up from behind, you’re given the option to instantly kill them with a violently executed animation. It only works for the Predator and Alien, but boy are they brutal. Predators will actively stab people through the eyes, rip their spines out, and tear Alien mouths out then slash their face off, while Aliens simply bite into people’s faces and stab them in many brutal ways with their tail. It’s incredibly gory and dare we say it, fairly realistic in execution, but one can’t help but feel an immense amount of satisfaction from them, as they are beautifully animated and stay very true to the source material. So it’s quite clear that Rebellion did not hold back at all with the violence of AvP, and considering the source material, the game is obviously not designed with kids in mind.

Once you’re done with the campaign (which is overall about 10-12 hours in length), AvP has loads more content for you to dig your teeth into, the first choice being Survival Mode. Survival is basically another Horde Mode ala Gears of War 2, where Marines fend off loads of incoming Aliens for as long as possible before being slaughtered. You can do this on your own or with friends, but either way, you’ll still be tensed up from the freaky nature of it. Aliens crawl and hiss all over the place, and considering that your flashlight is about as useful as a laser pointer in a well, things can get intense very quickly with your motion tracker going off like crazy. It’s a very fun mode, particularly with friends, and will have your heart pounding out through your head from the sheer thrill.

Next up is the Multiplayer component, which is arguably the best aspect of AvP, but not without its flaws. The usual game modes apply, such as Deathmatch, Domination, Species Team Deathmatch and even Inter-species Team Deathmatch (which leads to amusing results of Aliens working with Marines..huh), which all make for a lot of good fun due to the species variation. But the real stars of MP belong to Infestation and Predator Hunt.

Shh! You smell that? I smell crickets..

Shh! You smell that? I smell crickets..
Infestation works just like a Last Man Standing would, in that Marines take on Aliens and the last Marine standing wins the game. The twist however is that at the beginning, one person is chosen to be an Alien, and every Marine he kills also becomes an Alien. Essentially it turns into a game of tag, though tagging people only increases your numbers and lowers theirs. Being the last Marine is fairly terrifying to say the least, but is absolute awesome amounts of fun when playing in a big match. Predator Hunt is next up, which works similarly in that one player is chosen as the Predator and has to hunt Marines around the map while they hunt him. Tagging the Predator results in him reverting to Marine, and the killer becoming the Predator. The highest scoring Predator in kills wins the game, so it boils down to racing around trying to find and kill the stalker so you can stalk things yourself. Fun stuff.

But for all the positive aspects, AvP suffers from its fair share of technical hitches which seriously serve to ruin much of the experience. Match-making has reared its ugly head again (we played the PC version) and simply does not work very well, sometimes putting you in matches with massive pings, and also exposes the hosts inexplicably large advantage over you when it comes to melee fights. Dedicated servers are coming, but we review what we have now, and what we have is something that disappoints. Level design can also be fairly hit and miss, though it depends on which map you’re on with certain game types. Some maps such as Pyramid, which is a constantly moving and elaborate maze, are terrible for small games and modes such as Predator Hunt. So, unfortunately Rebellion screwed up a little with the design of some levels and game types. There are also some strange bugs prevalent in the game, particularly in hit registration, though this could be attributed to the lag output in games.

Hey guys I heard there was a Gloria Jeans around here!?

Hey guys I heard there was a Gloria Jeans around here!?
On a presentation note, AvP does not disappoint, bringing in some incredibly authentic design and aural pleasure. Predators look and feel just like a Predator should, and the blast of a Plasma caster is painstakingly accurate, particularly when it locks on and clicks in with the sound. Pulse Rifle fire and design is spot on, as is the motion tracking noise and certainly brings in much of the atmosphere of the films. Aliens too, with their noises and look, are absolutely perfect and highlight the violent nature of the creature. The game is technically quite sound as well, with very good texture work and outstanding animation, especially in the trophy kills. That being said, the visuals only really apply to the PC version, as the console version is, simply put, very lacking in comparison. So if you have the option, it’s the PC version all the way when it comes down to it, as it’s not only visually a lot stronger, but controls better too, as the fast paced nature of the game is clunky at best with console pads.

Aliens vs Predator is somewhat of a flawed masterpiece that would’ve been rated a whole lot higher if extra coats of polish had been put on. The game is easily the most accurate representation of the two iconic monsters to date, and fans should rejoice as to how well done it actually is. That being said, the narration is paper thin in execution, the game has a few bugs and technical issues such as memory leaks, and Multiplayer is hurt immensely by its lag and somewhat buggy nature. It really is a shame as what is there is outstanding when it works, if not very old-school. Knock a point down on the final score if you can only grab the console version, as it simply is not as solid as the PC version, but with that said, if you’re a fan of the franchise or interested in seeing what the fuss is all about, Aliens vs Predator is definitely something to look into. It’s a very fun romp, if not a little rough around the edges.
The Score
Aliens vs Predator is a fanboys dream come true and works very well for the most part, though a bit of bug spray and polish could've pushed it through to the stratosphere. Recommended.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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4 years ago
Good review, although I would say that Predator Hunt is more like 'tag' than Infestation is...but that's just nitpicking.
4 years ago
Will you revise your review if the soon to be released patch and fixes, makes this MUCH better?

Denny Markovic wrote
works very well for the most part, though a bit of bug spray and polish could've pushed it through to the stratosphere.
4 years ago
^No, we review what is available to us now, no revisions.
4 years ago
someone on my PSN has this to say about the title

AVP = top 5 worst FPS eva.

I just loled as I have no interest in the title.
4 years ago
man, I can't seem to pry my fan boy goggles off when it comes to this game, I love it, and am constantly baffled by the average scores!
4 years ago
Gutsman, I feel the same way.

I'm having an absolute blast with this. Granted, once they get the dedicated servers in and the matchmaking sorted, it'll be infinitely better, but even in its current state the single player campaigns are terrific, and each team's mechanics are just brilliant to play.

It seems there are far too many who can't see past their cookie-cutter run-and-guns to appreciate something with a little more finesse. This isn't a game that holds you by the hand, but it is certainly rewarding.
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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  18/02/2010 (Confirmed)
  SEGA Australia
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