In space, nobody can hear you snore.
Every once in a while, a game comes around that changes everything. A game that takes everything you thought you knew about gaming and shakes it all up, bringing back the wonder, the joy, and the fun that you felt when you first wrapped your tiny hands around a controller. A game like Mario 64, which opened the third dimension and expanded the possibilities of what a platformer could be, or Katamari Damacy, whose goals and style were so different from anything else that it still defines innovation. A game that generations of developers will reference for years to come as the source of their inspiration.
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem is not that game.
[image1]I’m not saying the game is bad. It’s not bad. (See, I just said it.) It’s just so darn boring. For a game based on a film franchise known for heightened suspense, terrifying creepiness, and action-packed battles, Requiem is about as thrilling as a wet sock.
Unlike its predecessor in the series, Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction, in which you get to choose between playing as a Predator, Alien, or Human, Requiem requires you to play a Predator warrior, whose only purpose in life is to hunt down and destroy all those pesky acid-blooded aliens and any evidence of their existence on Earth, as well as any Predator technology that could find its way into human hands. Armed with the latest cutting-edge alien cleaning solvents, you run through the woods and small towns of Colorado like a galactic garbage collector, dissolving facehugger husks and tidying up parts of a crash-landed Predator ship. That’s right, you are a vicious Predator janitor.
It’s a premise that could make for a fun game, but the problem is that every drop of challenge has been sucked out of it, making it feel more like a walkthrough than an accomplishment. Most of the aliens can be picked out – and picked off – from a distance, and the ones you miss come barreling straight at you. No lurking in the shadows for these guys, nosiree.
Get your targeting and your timing exactly right and you can take out attackers with some cool special moves, but largely, you’ll find yourself hacking and slashing, button-mashing your way through the barely perceptible onslaught. For one of the most feared species in the galaxy, the aliens go down surprisingly easy, and don’t pose much of a threat to a hardcore Predator like you.
[image2]And if you find yourself low on health, don’t worry about it! You can always go to the select menu, where at your leisure (the game is paused), you can use your suit’s energy to restore you to full health. It’s so easy you’ll feel like you’re cheating.
The level goals pose about as much of a challenge. While the alien husks you need to destroy are hard to see without special goggles, you can always just look at your map, which helpfully indicates exactly where every last objective can be found. Strangely, while the Predators are meticulous about destroying even the smallest alien husk, there’s nothing you can do about the bullet-ridden corpses of the aliens you kill. I guess if the humans find those, it’s okay?
For a change of pace from the storyline, you can always switch to skirmish mode, where you try to obliterate as many attacking aliens as you can within an allotted time. You can even find a buddy and team up for some multiplayer action, though the objectives remain as straightforward as ever: just kill everything that moves. In both skirmish and story mode, you win honor points based on how many crawlies you destroy and how well you destroy them. Between levels, you can use your honor points to upgrade your weapons; amass enough honor points early on and you can do serious damage. The truth is, however, that you’re already so overpowered that increased weaponry feels like a sick joke.
You do get some fun Predator technology to play with – the cloaking device looks particularly cool and lets you sneak past unsuspecting humans. The different view modes like the one that allows you to spot husks look great, but are ultimately not all that necessary. What’s more, all the cool technologies are available from the very start, so once you get bored with cycling through all your different sets of goggles, you might as well quit right then.
[image3]The graphics are good but suffer from the same general sense of dullness that infects the rest of the game. Because the action takes place at night, every level is saturated with a dark blue, twilight-colored tint. While a choice like that could create a dark or suspenseful mood, instead it just makes it difficult to make out the character details and makes the visuals drab and dull. (Note: Color is nice.) The music seems heavily borrowed from the movie soundtrack, and as such, provides a fitting backdrop for a modern suspense action game.
Again, this is not a terrible game. It sounds strange, but I think Alien vs. Predator: Requiem would have been stronger if they had removed some of the features – the ones that made it so easy. The hand-holding map, health boosts, and high-powered arsenal sap the fun out of what could have been a decent third-person shooter. Instead, this game is straight-up mediocre through and through. But as Ash says in the original Alien, “I admire its purity.”