The idea of Aliens vs Predator seems bulletproof. You take two creatures, both of them awesome in their own unique way, and have them duke it out. It’s a classic formula that is usually a recipe for success. Remember when King Kong fought Godzilla? Of course you do, because that shit was great! And yet for some reason damn near everything with the Aliens vs Predator name that has been released (lately at least) has been a huge disappointment.
The first movie was a write-off the second they announced the PG-13 rating. Two rated R franchises come together for the first time on film, and they choose to market it to tweens? What was the thinking there?! And what the fuck is a tween anyway?! Anyway it wasn’t just the rating that sank it, being a terrible movie sank it. The sequel brought back the gore, but didn’t bring the “being of a good movie”.
This game had a lot of potential. The demo was fun and all the trailers reveled in all the gory goodness. It featured three different campaigns, each one completely unique from one another. There was also the promise of chaotic multiplayer featuring marines, aliens and predators shooting and cutting the hell out of each other. This thing should have been gold. So what went wrong?
Let’s start with the general critique. Visually the game looks pretty good. The character models for all the humans and creatures are impressive, and the kill animations are all sorts of wonderful with their gory details. Ripping a guy’s spine out from a first person view is an experience most people should get to have.
My big problem is with the environments. Get ready for a lot of ruins and dark corridors because you’re going to be seeing a whole hell of a lot of them. Just about every environment is repeated across all three campaigns too, which makes everything feel stale. It’s simply not exciting to go through all of the same places again and again, even if the different characters do make your journey through those levels unique.
I suppose that’s as good a segue way as any to take us into discussing the various single-player campaign options. Let’s break it down character by character shall we?
Marine – The marine plays how you would expect - like a typical FPS. You have guns, you shoot those guns at things. It’s executed fine, but it’s not terribly exciting and there really isn’t a whole lot to it. They do keep things realistic (realistic in this world anyway) by not having you fight waves of predators, but that just leaves you fighting waves of the same aliens and also these cyborg soldier things for the entire length of the campaign. It simply gets far too repetitive far too fast.
There are some cool touches, such as throwing flares to help light your way and it can be somewhat suspenseful when you’re walking through a pitch black hallway and hear an alien somewhere in the darkness. However the negative far outweighs the positive, which leads me into my one of my biggest complaints, and one that will run across all of the other campaigns.
Why in the holy hell do the animations play out for so long? Here, as in several other FPS games, you heal yourself by pushing a button and using a first aid kit, or in this case some form of syringe. In most games, the recent Bioshock 2 comes to mind, the result is instantaneous, as it should be. However Aliens vs Predator doesn’t buy that shit for a second. It feels the animation should take 6 or 7 seconds each and every time you want to heal. And even though it gets annoying to watch this animation play out every time, I could overlook that if it wasn’t for one thing – you can get hurt while this is happening!
When would you most likely need to heal yourself? When you’re in the middle of a fight of course. The problem here is whenever you try to do so; you have to make sure you are nowhere near enemies and don’t get hit while the fucking healing animation plays itself out. Otherwise you could end up with less health then before you attempted this! I don’t know if this was meant to add challenge or realism to the game, and to some maybe this is a concern that can be ignored, but it frustrated me to no end. NEXT!
Alien – Alien is a lot more stealth centric than the marine, which of course makes perfect sense. You can’t just run screeching at a group of soldiers, you will be torn apart. Instead you have to sneak up on them. You smash out all the lights in a room and wait for them in a dark corner. You stay quiet until they walk by you and then BOOM you shove your tail through their fucking torso! Sounds great right? It sure does, but that doesn’t translate over to the actual execution which completely falls flat.
The biggest problem is the controls. The alien has the ability to climb on walls and ceilings but it doesn’t work nearly as well as you want it to. The process of moving from surface to surface should flow perfectly but it always feels disjointed. The mechanic just doesn’t work that well and drags the whole campaign down, especially considering how often it is crucial for you to make use of this game play feature.
I will say this – the kill animations are just wonderful. They are just as gory and crazy as they should be. Do they also take way too long to play out, leaving you completely vulnerable to enemy attacks? Yes….yes they do. Same complaint as before really, just wanted to make sure you know it hasn’t gone anywhere. NEXT!
Predator – I have to say this was the campaign I was the most excited to try out. I’ll give you one guess as to whether or not I walked away from it satisfied. If you guessed no, you obviously have not been paying attention to anything I’ve said before now.
I’ve already covered most of the big issues so just know that they apply here as well. The controls are clunky, the animations, while cool, take far too long to play out (I never realized how angry that aspect made me until I mentioned it 14,000 times here), etc.
So that’s the single player. Three different campaigns and none of them are particularly fun. If I had to choose a favourite I suppose I would pick the marine one because it did the least amount of things wrong. Another thing that really surprised me was how short the game ended up being. I burned through all three campaigns in less than six hours. I actually could not believe it. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t upset that it was over, but when you are given three different campaigns you expect it to last longer than an afternoon. There are harder difficulties and audio diaries to find, but trust me you’re not going to want to do any of that.
Thankfully there is multiplayer, and while it makes a good first impression, I found there wasn’t a whole lot there to maintain my interest. A lot of the same issues are here and there frankly isn’t enough motivation to progress through the rankings. It’s fun for a little while, but there are far better multiplayer options out there.
I almost bought this game and decided to go with a rental at the last minute. I would put this decision amongst the greatest I have ever made. Aliens vs Predator is by no means a terrible game, but it’s such a flawed and mediocre one that I can’t bring myself to recommend it.