Tuesday, December 4

Aliens Versus Predator Classic Review

I played on: PC
I paid: £1.69 (eBay)
Available on: PC (Steam, GoG and CD-Rom)
Notes: N/A

Aliens versus Predator is made up of 3 campaigns. You have the Marine campaign which sees you playing as a random Colonial Marine during a Xenomorph outbreak. You will be trying to survive attacks from both Aliens and Predators. This is the most predictable campaign playing out as a first-person shooter. You then have the Alien campaign which sees you playing as a Xenomorph in first person. This is personally my favourite just because I’m a huge fan of the aliens. It’s very fun to be able to crawl along walls and attack victims from the shadows. Lastly, you have the predator which plays similar to the marines but with much more health and fun weapons. The impressive thing about this game is that although it’s dated in certain aspects none of the campaigns are bad. They all feel very different from each other and offer their own strengths and weaknesses. Which one you enjoy most will have more to with your personal tastes than anything else.

As I said the Marine plays as a first-person shooter set in the AVP extended universe. There is not a lot of plot to this game so don’t go expecting a well-told story here. You wake up to find that Xenomorphs have overrun the Weyland Yutani base you’re stationed at and you have to survive. The shooting is very fast and intense. Even a single Xenomorph is a viable threat that can kill you if you’re not paying attention. The largest dangers, however, are the facehuggers because before you even know where they are they can jump at you for an instant death. I find myself conflicted on these. On one hand, this is very close to the danger they pose in the films and mirrors how they behave almost perfectly. Then, on the other hand, this creates a lot of very cheap feeling deaths because sometimes they will kill you before you even knew they were in the room. One thing is for sure and it’s that this is a classic old-school shooter and as such it doesn’t pull its punches. You will need to save frequently throughout the game otherwise you will find yourself replaying levels over and over which can get boring. Once you get into this habit though dying doesn’t become quite the handicap it used to be. Which is good because you will die a lot during this game.

The Alien levels have you stalking around and hunting any threats in an attempt to protect your hive and make it to Earth. Most humans are weak and don’t stand much of a chance up close as you can tear their limbs off with ease. At a distance through the humans can be a danger, especially those with flamethrowers and grenade launchers. For this reason, it’s a good idea to focus on taking out light sources and remaining hidden in the dark as much as possible. Try not to behead the humans when attacking because you can use your tongue to bite their heads and regain health. This will become vital in the later levels. The movement with the Xenomorph is very fast and things can get a little confusing when you add in the wall crawling. This is my favourite part of the game simply because I’m a massive fangirl of these creatures and playing one feels outstanding.

During the Predator’s campaign, you will be looking for a fellow hunter that has been captured by the humans. You will have plenty of gadgets and toys to kill both humans and Xenomorphs. I love the speargun simply because it will pin body parts to the nearest wall. There is nothing more fun than mounting a poor marine's head to the wall behind him. You also have the invisibility that the predators use in all their films. This is useful for sneaking up on unsuspecting humans before removing their head from their neck. Although you’re not invincible you do have plenty of health, more so than both the marine and Xenomorph. You can also use your medicomp at any time providing you have enough energy for it. This energy is used to power your cloak, shoulder cannon, pistol and medicomp. Although it drains rather quickly it will come back slowly over time or can be refilled using pickups around the level. I’ve never been much of a Predator fan. I can’t say I enjoy their films all that much. The idea of a hyper-masculine culture based on hunting is not something that interests me. It’s surprising than just how much I enjoy playing as the Predator in this game. The brutal nature of these overpowered killing machines makes for a nice change of pace from the other campaigns.

The graphics are obviously very dated as this is a game from 1999. Personally, I kinda love the blocky style of games from this era. I think this is partly fuelled by my nostalgia but I can’t deny that there is something beautiful about this style. Seeing areas I love from the films rendered in late 90’s graphics feels amazing. I’m not saying I think this looks better than modern games because it doesn’t. Comparing the Space Jockey throne from this game to the version we see in Alien Isolation just shows how far visual presentation in gaming has come. Still, I think fans of both retro gaming and the films will enjoy seeing familiar locations throughout this game. Even if they are a little blocky with low textures. The audio is fantastic with only the voice acting letting it down a little. Everything from the pulse rifles to the ship’s alarm system sounds perfect. The voice acting is very cheesy as it all comes from full motion video (FMV) clips played through screens in the levels. While clearly terrible it’s a joy to watch as are most 90’s FMV cutscenes. The soundtrack is very reminiscent of the Aliens film, which is to say I love it. Overall the presentation is wonderful but dated.

Levels are laid out like mazes and this often ends up in you wandering around lost for quite some time. Very often you will figure out what to do by pure luck because it’s never made clear. This used to be a common thing in gaming and it’s not something I miss. Spending 20 minutes wandering around an empty level only to shoot a random part of the ceiling in desperation which makes a catwalk fall into place is nothing more than annoying. The fact that all the levels are very dark meaning stuff that could be telling you what to do is very often hidden makes this issue even worse. You do have alternate vision modes for each campaign but each of these come with their own issues. These mazes become even more of an issue when you’re playing as the Xenomorph. Due to you moving very fast along floors, walls and ceilings it’s very easy to get turned around not even knowing which way is up. The places you explore are great and include the Space Jockey ship, an M-Class starfreighter similar to the Nostromo and Fury 161. Sadly, however, the layout of the levels is nothing more than annoying and very outdated. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy them when not lost. Stalking through the air ducts of an M-Class starfreighter as a Xenomorph or blowing the alien queen out of an airlock as a marine is great fun.

As you would expect from a game that’s over 18 years old it’s very dated but still a lot of fun. Considering you can pick this up for around £5 ($7) on Good Old Games and even cheaper on eBay I’d say it’s well worth checking out. I genuinely had a blast playing this and have no intention of uninstalling it anytime soon. Although dated you will mostly have a great time, mostly.

Recommendation Rating: 8 out of 10

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