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Alien vs Predator vs Marine
The mouth watering prospect of two of our most beloved sci-fi icons going head to head in a battle to the death is irresistible. The idea was first realised in a comic, then there was the excellent FPS title Alien versus Predator back in 1999, and the fight finally hit the big screen in 2004. When it eventually came, the film was a disappointment, but for fans of the licenses the appetite for this match up has never subsided.
The original developer of Alien versus Predator, Rebellion, is back with a new release. Aliens vs Predator takes the same three pronged approach with a trio of overlapping campaigns which allow you to sweat your way through a tense outing as a Marine, chow down on everything in sight as a smart Alien and embark on a hunting expedition as a Predator. Throw in an engrossing multiplayer option and you’ve got an excellent first-person shooter on your hands.
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The premise is reminiscent of the film as a group of human colonists on planet BG-386 uncover a Predator pyramid full of Aliens. They waste no time in setting it off unleashing a horde of hungry Xenomorphs and the Predators race across the galaxy to try and bury their secret. Weave in the evil corporation Weyland-Yutani and you’ve got all the ingredients you need for a bloodbath.
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The three single player campaigns are merged into one story and they use the same maps. In fact you can even choose to play individual chapters as any of the three protagonists, but the game is best enjoyed if you play the three campaigns separately in their entirety. One of the reasons for this is that the experience of playing as the rookie Marine, the young blood Predator, or the sneaky Alien is completely different.
The Marine Campaign is the most story driven of the three and it plays the most like a standard first-person shooter. Dropping in as part of a squad on the ill-fated US Marlow the trouble kicks off immediately and you are left behind to fight your way through the base alone. You’ll recognise the Predator architecture from the movies and you’ll also weave your way through human outposts and Alien hives. The action is linear with a series of objectives allowing you to complete each level and move on to the next.
The Alien Campaign is the most enjoyable. You are cast in the role of Specimen 6, an unusually crafty Xenomorph. Beginning your life in human captivity under the watchful eye of the evil Karl Bishop Weyland you’ll soon hear the call of the Queen and make a break for freedom. Using speed and agility you’ll slash and bite your way to victory.
The Predator Campaign kicks off in the jungle where you’ll earn your Elite status before joining in the fun against Alien and Marine. You’ll need to make best use of the technology and abilities of the Predator to progress and you’ll face loads of Marines and Aliens in battle. Stealth is the name of the game here.
All three stories feature their own epic conclusion and their own boss battles and there are plenty of engaging twists in the action-driven plot. They are only a few hours each and the Marine Campaign is the most accessible. Both the Alien and, surprisingly, the Predator Campaigns encourage you to engage in melee attacks and the controls take some mastering. If you get your tactics right with the Alien and Predator you can really wreak havoc, but their adventures lack the same level of tension.
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Rebellion has worked with these licenses before and once again in Aliens vs Predator they bring the world to life faithfully. The character models and animations are very good and the gory deaths you can deal out when you get up close and personal to an unsuspecting Marine with an Alien or Predator are awesome.
The environment art is less impressive and while the settings are authentic enough there is little in the way of wow factor. The Predator statues are probably the best of a fairly drab bunch. This lack of imagination extends to the linear level design and it isn’t helped much by some tired texture work.
Overall the game is polished but it doesn’t feel cutting edge and you only have to look at the difference between the pre-rendered cut scenes and the actual action to question the visual quality of this title. This is no doubt because it was also developed for PS3 and Xbox 360 and it is worth pointing out that the game does look much better on a decent spec PC.
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You may not think the sound is a key factor in making this title fun but this is where the license really shines through. The sound effects from the movies are so effective in pulling you into the world. The incessant beep of the Motion Tracker or the hiss of a nearby Alien is enough to send a trickle of cold sweat down your spine. All of the sound effects are authentic and even the crack of the neck as a Predator twists and pops the head off a Marine is creepily well realised.
The music provides some action cues and fits the pace of the game perfectly. The voiceover work is excellent and naturally enough, Lance Henriksen as Bishop is the star of the show.
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With the single player campaigns being short the multiplayer is definitely an important part of this package and it does not disappoint. The finely balanced three way action is a refreshing alternative from every multiplayer FPS out there. Each species has a ranking system and you can level up but there are no new abilities so the balance is preserved.
There are six modes across six maps: Deathmatch, Species Team Deathmatch, Predator Hunt, Infestation, Mixed Team Deathmatch and Domination. You can also play the Survival mode as single player or co-operative online with up to three friends. In Survival you just fight off waves of attack for as long as you can. All the modes are great fun and the three species make for some interesting tactical tussles.
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This title doesn’t have the same impact as the original AVP game and sadly you don’t get to munch your way out through some guy’s chest like in AVP 2 but there is still plenty to recommend this. The gameplay is solid, the license is well used and the production values are high. It may prove tricky to get your head around the mechanics for the Alien and Predator but it is well worth persisting and both are very rewarding to play, once you get the hang of them. The single player is fun with a decent story line and it serves as a perfect primer for the multiplayer action.
The reviews for Aliens vs Predator have been mixed. There are some flaws but it is still well worth the money. Perhaps the design and art are lacking in places but there is immensely enjoyable combat all the same. The Marine Campaign is genuinely frightening and it makes terrific use of the license. The movies may have been a big disappointment but this title goes some way towards making up for it and it is a must buy game for fans.