A game of three unequal halves?
Aliens Vs Predator, developed by Rebellion and published by Sega, is available on the Xbox360, PS3 and PC. Once more we are invited into this universe inhabited by burly Marines, technologically advanced Predators and the nightmarish Aliens.
The single player game is split into three campaigns, one for each species, which results in three very different experiences.
The Marine campaign is where we will begin. What you have here is a very enjoyable survival horror style experience. Unlike most shooters, Rebellion have pulled out all of the stops in order to create an atmosphere of stark terror. Set across a collection of different environments that faithfully fit in with the settings of the various movies. These settings have been beautifully created and look quite stunning across all of the campaigns.
So, in the Marine campaign you begin as a rookie who has been thrown in the deep end. Creeping along dark corridors that are lit up by aÂ rather rubbish torch, the tension rapidly builds. Before long, you will find yourself going head to head with our favorite psychopathic Aliens, as they seemingly come out of nowhere. Catching glimpses of the shiny black Alien carapace with your torch is a truly terrifying sight, and more than once can result in an over enthusiastic spraying of bullets into the darkness.
This campaign begins with a real feeling of hopelessness, being the weakest race you are obviously outmatched. But, as the game progresses, it calms down a bit and is less likely to result in a coronary. There are a lot of very cool moments in this campaign and this atmospheric, detailed story is certainly enjoyable to play.
The Alien campaign, however, was not so enjoyable. The story is less interesting, although it does offer some insight into the mind of the Alien. Being a mindless killing machine is just not as much fun as it sounds. No ranged weaponry means getting up close and personal with your prey, more often than not sneaking around on the ceilings.
This is actually where I had the most trouble. The idea of taking to the walls and ceilings sounds great, but in practice was very disorienting. A lot of the environments are quite similar. Add to that the disorientation of being upside down, on the ceiling, and more than once I found myself getting lost. Even attacking from this perspective does not feel right.
However, the attacking itself, once performed, was very satisfying. Dropping down and ripping out the throat of a Marine felt really good. Controlling your Alien was relatively simple, with the exception of the disorientation problems, and being able to lure your prey into the darkness with a screech was a nice touch.
Finally, we have the Predator campaign, which falls somewhere between the other two . The story is a lot less involved than the Marine campaign, yet manages to bring more depth than the Alien story, or at least make more sense.
Playing as a Predator, a seven foot tall hunter, was enjoyable. However, somewhere along the line, Rebellion seemed to forget that these creatures roam the galaxies searching for new trophies. Personally, I just didn’t feel that powerful. Mind you, you do start out as a novice of sorts.
Anyway, the Predator has a number of abilities that made playing this campaign enjoyable. Being able to lure Marines and then leap down and remove their heads and spinal columns was a particular highlight. Of course, the most important ability is being able to turn invisible. Against the Marines, this works really well. It is of no use against the Aliens though, as they can still see you.
The three campaigns intertwine at times and players will grow familiar with the various settings, as they are repeated, albeit from a different point of view. Of the three campaigns, I found the Marines to be the most interesting to play, whilst the Aliens really did nothing for me. However, this could be because of my play style and others may indeed favour the Aliens, or even the Predator.
The environments throughout the game need a special mention. They are indeed true to the feel of the movies and have been finished to a very high standard. All of the past Alien/Predator games really do look silly now. Also the character models themselves look great. The Predator looks just like he did in the movies, the Aliens have that lovely, shiny, beetle-like carapace and even the Marines look as good as any sci-fi shooter on the market.
The controls for each of the species are different, which can take some getting used to if you are jumping between campaigns. But there are enough similarities to allow the transition to go reasonably smoothly. The difficulty is set quite high on the Marine campaign, yet seems lower on the other two. But this may just be because the Marines are by far the weakest of the races.
Moving onto the Multiplayer online options, we find a decent selection of options available. Along with the standards that you can find in any online shooter, there are a couple of interesting additions. Infestation will feature one player as an Alien, with the rest as marines. Each Marine that the Alien kills will turn into an Alien. This mode provides a frantic race for survival or to avoid extinction, with the match becoming harder for the Marine players and easier for the Alien player as time passes.
Another interesting mode is the Predator Hunt. In this the only player who can score kills is the Predator, and the only way to become the Predator is to kill the current Predator.
Unfortunately, the multiplayer mode is flawed, not by the gameplay, but by the execution itself. Firstly, it is very difficult to actually find a game to join, especially if you want to play a particular mode. Secondly, there are no dedicated servers, so having to rely on someone to host the game involves hoping that the host does not decide they are bored, or rush off for their dinner. There is nothing more frustrating than having a really good match, only for the host to disappear and the game to finish.
Aliens Vs Predator is a good game that brings these iconic creatures back into our lives. Although the game is not without problems, the package as a whole is sound and will be a worthwhile investment for fans of the movies, and an enjoyable experience for those who love a good shooter. If you are thinking of buying it for the multiplayer element alone, then maybe wait a while and see if Sega can fix the current problems.