Tuesday, December 4

Aliens Vs Predator (2010) Review

I played on: PS3, PC
I paid: £9.99 (Steam), £2 (CEX)
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Notes: Screenshots are from the PC version running on my old laptop meaning low to medium graphical settings.

I love the Alien films. Most people love the first 2 films but I even love Alien 3 and as terrible as Alien Resurrection is I even have a soft spot for that one. Don’t get me wrong it’s terrible but I find it enjoyably terrible and fun in it’s cheesy over the top way. It should come as no surprise then that I also have a soft spot for games based on these creepy alien bugs as well. Aliens vs Predator is one of my favourite of these games and one I feel is sorely underrated. I’m not saying it’s perfect but like Alien 3 it’s much better than most fans and critics give it credit for.

The story starts with Kyle Weyland once again played by the amazing Lance Henriksen opening an ancient Predator pyramid. The 3 separate campaigns all start here and move around each other in both time and locations. Although the plot’s about as deep as a puddle on a sunny day I do enjoy entering an area only to see the damage I left behind in a previous campaign. That being said the story is not much and ends on sequel bait that ultimately went nowhere. One thing I do want to mention is that most of the cast of heroes and a large chunk of the surviving marines are non-white including the player’s character. However, to pull it back down to the negative again, the way this plot is presented is kinda terrible. The audio mixing leaves you relying on subtitles with dialogue being inaudible over loud music or just flat out not playing sometimes.

Besides terrible audio mixing, the presentation is pretty good. The M41 Pulse rifle sounds just how it should as do the Xenomorphs and Predators. There is nothing like the screech of a dying Xeno over the howl of your pulse rifle. Visually as well the game looks beautiful and very faithful to the films and comics it’s inspired by. My personal favourite thing about the presentation is the brutal finishing moves you can inflict on the poor marines when playing as the Alien or Predator. These are very gory and fun. Although the animations do get repeated a lot and this does get old, they are still enjoyable to pull off and make you feel like a bad-ass.

The presentation does have a few issues with the odd glitch or dip in the FPS. I suffered from this on both the PS3 and PC so it’s not just my laptop. It’s never unplayable and although I noticed it I can’t say it’s something that bothered me all too much as it never got in the way of gameplay.

Speaking of gameplay, this game feels like the Aliens game fans deserve! This is certainly not the horror of Alien but it captures the tension and frantic nature of Aliens beautifully when playing as the Marine. You wake up after an accident during landing and with just a friendly voice in your ear your left to make your way through the destroyed base. The tension here is perfect and it’s such a good opening for a campaign that’s amazing most the time. Plenty of set-piece moments with Marines being picked off all around you. Every moment feels like it could be your last with Xenos crawling on the walls and ceiling only to drop down in front of you. Although I would not say this game is scary I found myself jumping quite a bit just because of the Alien AI appearing out of nowhere. I love this. When people moan about Aliens Colonial Marines I point them towards this campaign because it really does capture the feeling of the second Alien film so well. It’s short only lasting for 6 missions that took me around 2-3 hours to get through. I personally like the length because it never gets old and every moment feels action packed. The only minor complaint is that for a game called Aliens vs Predator you encounter very few Predators during the Marine and Alien campaigns.

Now the Alien campaign is easily the shortest coming in at only 5 missions next to the 6 for both Marines and Predators. Despite that, it’s easily my favourite since playing as a Xenomorph feels amazing and just how I would expect these biological marvels to feel. Your movement is very fast and allows you to easily crawl on any surface to easily flank your prey. The Xenos can take down their enemies with a flurry of quick light attacks or knock them down with a heavy strike to open them up for a finisher. This is not your only fighting option as you’re able to use your speed and agility to get behind your victims for another brutal, and this time, silent finisher. The biggest issue while playing as the Aliens is how disorientated you can become if not paying close attention. More than once I had to stop and figure out which way up and down were. This is more of an issue if you play with the ‘Alien auto-transition’ setting on like I do. Without this on you have to hold down a button to begin climbing along the walls or ceiling. This helps with orientation but slows your movement speed down so I normally have it on at all times just for that little extra bit of speed. Overall the Alien campaign is a very satisfying experience that although short leaves you feeling powerful.

Lastly, we have the Predators and although I’ve never really been a big fan of the films these monsters feature in I do enjoy this campaign. That being said it is what I would consider the weakest part of the experience. This plays out similar to the Marines campaign but you’re a bit tankier and have a different set of toys to play with. Hunting and stalking your prey feels fun but it’s very limited. You can only jump to certain areas and the movement feels slow and cumbersome. The pacing during this campaign also feels off with you only getting your hands on the really fun toys like the Combi stick in the last 2 missions. As with the last two campaigns, I finished wanting more but this time not in a positive way. The campaign feels like it ends halfway through and it’s really anticlimactic and left me with a feeling of incompleteness. This is also where I experienced the most slowdown with the frame-rate with 1 or 2 moments feeling more like a slide-show than a video game. The Predator portion of this game is okay but feels like it received less love than the other two sections.

Overall despite it being flawed and with a few bugs here and there Aliens vs Predator is a very gratifying game. Similar to the Aliens vs Predator film it’s not groundbreaking but it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be. Ultimately it is exactly what it wants to be, entertaining popcorn action and I love it for just this reason. Any fans of the Alien franchise should check this fun little adventure out. It won’t change your life but it will provide a lot of joy for the short time that it lasts!

Recommendation Rating: 7 out of 10

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