They should have called in Ripley.
I’m not one to believe in superstitions normally, but it seems to me like the Alien vs. Predator legacy may be cursed. How else can you explain that something as conceptually badass as two of the most impressive sci-fi franchises of all time merged into an orgy of marine decapitations and chest explosions has somehow become completely, totally, and utterly lame? Whether we’re talking about deplorable AvP films or the shame-addled history of cartridges left in its path of self-destruction.
[image1]Okay, so maybe the Capcom arcade beat-’em-up was fun, but without fail, nearly every other incarnation has fallen well short of what one would consider the lofty goal of making an actual enjoyable experience. Rebellion’s latest manifestation just reiterates these tired sentiments of dissatisfaction that fans who’ve been holding out hope are all but too used to.
But hey, you’re getting quite the deal here. Instead of just getting one broken and disappointing game for cost of purchase, you’re actually getting three. It’s like The Orange Box except that Brown might be a more appropriate color to go with here, for reasons that should appear all too clear to you soon.
In campaign mode, you’re given the option to play through three unique intertwining story arcs. You can choose to be an acid-blooded Alien, a stealth-suited Predator, or a perpetually screwed Colonial Marine. It really doesn’t matter which you pick as each experience is just as humdrum as the other. But for now, let’s think of the Alien levels as easy mode, Predators as normal, and Humans as hard.
As the Alien deemed Number 6, you’ll creep around in the shadows, climb on walls, and kill-bite through people’s heads with your tiny secondary mouth. Alien missions are the simplest, playing something like a violent, dull version of Metal Gear. The formula goes something like this: sneak around, kill a marine, repeat.
[image2]The major problem is that the controls are unresponsive and just plain flat-out suck. There’s a reason why most FPSs don’t include hand-to-hand combat as a key element: It’s nearly impossible to get it to work. AvP likes to break this cardinal rule whenever given the chance, most notably as an acid-splitting Alien, but in all three modes, you’ll experience the epically unresponsive hand-to-hand combat. The sad part is, it could have been saved if the controls had a better response time; as it is though, you’ll probably press the grab button several times before it actually kicks in.
You also get the unique ability to run on walls and ceilings to get the proverbial drop on your prey. Sadly though, it’s more of a "watch the camera spaz out and disorient you" function than anything else. The minute you try to climb a surface, you run into problems.
Playing as a Marine, you’ll feel more like a piece of meat hanging in a butcher shop more than anything else. You walk around in extremely dark environments, and shit jumps out at you from behind corners and out of vents. You’ll get some flares to help you see in the dark, but they flicker out quick and since the Aliens move around a lot and don’t stay in the same place, they become useless fast.
But the real fun begins when you try to aim (…not). Based upon what I’ve seen, it looks as if they don’t train Marines how to aim and fire a gun in the future. Ammo is extremely sparse throughout the entire game in what seems like an attempt to add some Resident Evil-style suspense as well, but really it’s kind of pointless.
[image3]I’ll give them credit, though. There were points when I jumped or freaked out when an alien popped out of the shadows and started wailing on me, but that was it. Having to waste half my ammo on the damn thing, then try and get through the rest of my level with a pistol, is not good design. And don’t even get me started on the facehuggers. Those damned things are the cheapest, most poorly designed enemies I’ve ever seen in a game. Unless you catch the things as they hatch, they’re next to impossible to aim at and fire, and they can kill you in the blink of an eye.
The Predator experience falls somewhere between the previous two. For one half, it has you sneaking around and ripping spines out of humans, and the other half taking on the xenomorphs in combat. You get a lot more tech with these guys then you do with the Marines, including a stealth suit, but even with all the gear, it’s still a joke.
On top of what is already a spiral of shame, the game just doesn’t look that good. There is a serious lack of polish here graphically and there were several times I experienced some nasty clipping issues. At least there’s a decent amount of variety in skins for the marines and colonists, and the lighting effects are done well. There’s just a lot graininess to it all.
The last time I played a game in this series was when it came out for the Jaguar. Sadly, it seems not much has changed in the last decade and a half. For something that seems like such a no-brainer, folks do sure seem to screw this one up a lot. As it stands now, you’d probably have more fun being on To Catch a Predator than playing Aliens Vs. Predator.