Aliens Vs Predator: review

  • Format: 360 (version reviewed), PS3, PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: SEGA
  • Developer: Rebellion
  • Players: 1 (2-18 online)
  • Site: http://www.sega.co.uk/avp/en

Even if you haven’t seen any, chances are you’ve at least heard of one of the Aliens or Predator movies or maybe even the ones where they crossed paths. They’ve also been involved in a number of games too and Rebellion, who already have a few under their belt, have taken another stab at perfecting the mix of xenomorphic creatures, hyper advanced hunters and squishy moving targets.

Set on the colony of Freya’s Prospect, the player can take up the role of a marine nicknamed Rookie answering a distress call from the planet, an alien christened Six causing the aforementioned distress, or a Young Blood Predator out to stop the desecration of ancient land by both other parties.

While the player is able to see these events from the three perspectives, it generally involves going through the same core levels just with a different play style. It’s worth pointing out now that those of a weak stomach would find the constant extreme gore in the Alien and Predator campaigns off – putting. Anyway, what’s really the key selling point of this game is the various online components and in order to be able to discuss those at length, what follows is a brief summary of the three campaigns.

The human campaign is both the longest and most involved of the three. Rookie is often on his own and the build up to your first encounter with an alien is handled brilliantly. Sadly, after that things become very generic and you won’t find anything you wouldn’t find in any other FPS here. Limitations with the human abilities can also be frustrating at times (such as no side-step or crouch). We also found the incredibly potent auto-aim to be detrimental in successfully hitting targets.

The Alien campaign offers a very unique style of play. You must lurk on walls or ceilings taking out lights to conceal yourself, just waiting for the chance to pick off hapless humans, which is usually quite fun. The only two disappointments about this campaign were that it was probably the shortest (unless you make it a point to stalk every enemy) and that it’s very distracting that aliens sound like excited elephants when they leap or die.

The most fun from the single player is most definitely in the Predator campaign. With his cloaking device and endless gadgets he is the most amusing to play as and clearly the most powerful – a point which has had somewhat disastrous implications to multiplayer.

Through all campaigns fans of the movies of each respective franchise will love numerous references and nods to them. The acting is about on par with them and the music (which seems to spike at random) is also fitting.

This won't end well...

Now we move to the multiplayer. The multiplayer is unbalanced. We suspect that you will read that in many places, but we equally suspect that the finger of blame will be pointed in different directions depending on who you ask. Some online mods have set ratios (such as classics like Deathmatch) and the ratio seems to be one Predator for every two aliens or humans.

In theory (we stress the theory part) that sounds about right given the overall strength of the Predator. However, certain other modes don’t seem to be restricted in the same way. Take Species TDM or Mixed Species TDM – these either have equal numbers of each race against each other or as many of whatever race the player wants fighting each other. Go into a mixed species match and you’ll be hard pushed to find a human and any less than six Predators.

It’s possible the fault with the balancing is not so much in the respective abilities of the races and more the core of the combat. The Predator and aliens have instant kill techniques if you press a button when facing an enemy’s back, often leading to insta-kill trains where everybody lines up nicely behind each other ignoring the redundancy of getting a kill just to then die afterwards.

Blame should not be placed on people going for instant kills though (especially since this is a key component to doing well as an alien) as the hand-to-hand combat is slightly broken. In theory it is supposed to be a rock-paper-scissors kind of mix between (light or heavy) attack, block and counter, but in practise it’s more like rock-rock-pencil. If a person is blocking, the only way this block can be broken (via close combat) is to use a heavy attack. However, a heavy attack takes time to build up and as such a blocking person can counter with a light attack and then go back to blocking. It feels like a massive oversight and is extremely annoying in multiplayer and the campaigns on higher difficulty.

There is fun to be had in multiplayer – until all the little faults that have slipped through in the core combat start cropping up over and over. You’ll start to feel less like you’re playing well or not and more like you’re just working through a broken system that’s deciding how well you do for you. You’ll start resorting to what everyone else seemed to do and go the Predator and find the laser or throwing disk and just keep your distance trying to get lucky with those. The only mode that doesn’t suffer from any of this particularly is Survivor in which four humans fight waves of alien AI which is good fun for a little while.

If you are willing to overlook some pretty bad oversights, lack of attention to detail, perceived unbalance and are a fan of the movies then you will find something worthwhile here. Those who might only be interested in the next big online game for Live or PSN or in a compelling single player campaign will need to look elsewhere.


6/10

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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git. Dislikes: Most things. Likes: Obscure references.

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