Aliens vs. Predator for PC Review

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As far as this series goes, the original Aliens versus Predator released in 1999 and let players take on the roles of a Colonial Marine, Predator, and Alien. It contained three campaigns, open-ended levels, and accommodates both the first-person shooter and stealth genres. A sequel, Aliens versus Predator 2, was released in 2001 and ran on a different engine, refined many of the mechanics, but also lost some things that made the first game so great. It’s still a solid title and it even allows players to experience the full life cycle of an Alien, or Xenomorph. Developed by Rebellion Developments and published by Sega, Aliens vs. Predator was released for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in February, 2010. For this review, I played the PC version. This was developed by the same team that brought us the first game but this is not a sequel. It’s a reboot of the franchise and once again you get to take on the roles of a Marine, Predator, and Alien across three campaigns that intertwine with each other. I believe this was the first game in the series I actually acquired but never did play it because I heard it was awful. After beating the previous games it was finally time for me to jump into this one.

Once again there’s three campaigns and you can play through them in any order you wish. After choosing a campaign, you then decide the difficulty mode of  which there are four – Easy, Normal, Hard, and Nightmare – and on Nightmare, there are no checkpoints. In the Marine campaign, you play as a silent Marine simply referred to as “Rookie” and the campaign starts with you aboard a Marine ship near planet planet BG 386. After being given orders for a combat drop, a Predator ship destroys another Marine ship nearby, the USS Marlow. Rookie is knocked out during the drop and when he awakens, most of his fellow Marines are dead. And Rookie’s goal is to now survive and escape the planet. In the Predator campaign, you play as a Predator named “Dark”. In the first mission, you’re a youngblood proving yourself for the rank of Elite. Afterward, a youngblood hunting party of Predators onplanet BG 386 sends a distress call and Dark is dispatched to the planet to investigate. Dark traverses the planet in search of the youngbloods and eventually discovers that a Predalien is roaming around. Dark must contend with Aliens, Marines, and Androids, in an effort to search for the hunting party, acquire equipment, and defeat the Predalien. The Alien campaign opens with two humans impregnated with Chestbursters imprisoned in a Weyland-Yutani research lab. You play as “Specimen 6”, one of the Chestbursters that grows into a Xenomorph or Alien. Unfortunately, this time around you do not get to play as a Facehugger or Chestburster. Specimen 6 eventually escapes the lab and as far as I can tell, you really have no goal other than to slay humans and get back to the hive with the campaign ending in a showdown between Specimen 6 and three Predators. Just like the previous games, the campaigns are not that great and seem to serve only as a backdrop for you to slaughter enemies. But it is pretty cool that they all intertwine with each other, requiring you to play through all three to get a better understanding of the big picture. The Alien campaign seems to be the shortest of the three, but the single player as a whole is pretty short in general. You can probably beat all three campaigns in under six hours. Most of the voice acting is piss-poor, the Marine dialogue during gameplay is repetitive, you’ll hear them say the same things over and over again, and the only standout performance comes from Lance Henriksen who voices Carl Bishop Weyland. He’s a veteran actor of the Alien film series and he also starred in the first the Alien vs. Predator film. He was also in The Terminator among other films. This man is the human embodiment of science fiction.

Each character can perform several of the same functions. They can walk, run, sprint, jump, perform melee attacks, and block. You cannot crouch for reasons I really don’t understand. When talking about the melee combat, the Marine can actually knock back an Alien. I don’t know what the fuck the developers were thinking, but that is not good. The Predator can do it, too, but that actually makes sense. The Marine should not be able to do this. An Alien is not some little bitch enemy type that humans can just smack around. These are violent, aggressive, hostile creatures that can easily shove their inner jaw through any part of the human body in addition to killing humans with just their tail. The developers should have known better. And being able to perform melee attacks on these creatures as a Marine kind of eliminates some of the tension in this campaign. Regardless, the melee combat is more than just punching and blocking. You can perform light attacks, heavy attacks, and if you block at the right time, you can perform a counter attack which usually knocks an Alien on its ass. The Marine has access to a motion tracker which will detect nearby enemies and he can also climb over small obstacles. The Predator can jump long distances and the Alien can jump onto different surfaces and wallwalk, giving it the most freedom when it comes to navigation. To see in dark areas, the Marine can activate a flashlight or throw a flare and another flare becomes available when the thrown one burns out. The Predator can zoom in to see further in the distance and at first, the Predator only has access to heat vision for tracking humans but eventually you acquire another mask which grants you Alien vision for tracking Aliens and identifying holes and crevices used by the creatures. The Alien’s vision will adapt on its own and enemies will be highlighted certain colors, making it easy to identify them. The stronger the scent, the more dangerous the enemy, meaning enemies highlighted in green are unarmed and enemies highlighted in red are armed and pose a real threat. The Alien can destroy lights to cloak itself in darkness and is also the fastest character out of the three. Speaking of cloaking, the Predator can activate a cloak to turn invisible and this time it does not drain energy but it will deactivate if you walk in water. When the Predator uses energy weapons, you will drain energy but you can refill energy by finding energy sources like power nodes throughout the environments. The Marine can hold up to a max of three health stims and he can use one to heal himself at anytime. You can acquire more stims throughout the environments. The Predator can acquire up to a max of three health shards and they serve the same purpose as the health stims. These, too, can be acquired throughout the environments. The Alien’s health regenerates over time.

While the Marine and Predator acquire new weapons as you progress through their campaigns, the Alien can only rely on its claws and tail to attack enemies. The Alien can leap at enemies from a distance as can the Predator. Both the Predator and Alien can lure human enemies to specific spots to isolate them. The Predator will repeat dialogue heard from the humans and the Alien will hiss. Although, the Alien’s hiss doesn’t always seem to work in my experience. One of the coolest things about playing as the Predator and Alien is their finishing moves. The Predator can sneak up on enemies and perform brutal executions which is a way to acquire trophies from your kills and this time, you get to witness the violent process. You can rip out a Marine’s head and spine, slit their throats with your wristblades, and even rip out an Alien’s inner jaw. Aliens can perform silent stealth kills by sneaking up behind enemies but if you stun them with attacks, you can also perform execution moves. You can, of course, perform head bites, you can rip open a Marine’s throat, impale enemies with your tail, cut an enemy heads off with your tail, and even perform a harvest move where you hold down the enemy, a Facehugger appears out of nowhere, and then latches onto the enemy’s face. These execution-type kill moves are really cool to witness and the only thing I don’t like is that you can be attacked when trying to perform one. Whether it’s killing an enemy or interacting with something to progress, you can get attacked and even die because you can’t cancel out of the interaction which is actually really annoying. Some of these execution moves in particular, take a little bit of time, like the harvest move for example so you just need to make sure other enemies aren’t nearby.

Unfortunately, many of the weapons seen in prior games do not make a return but the weapons that do appear come with alternate fire modes. The Marine can only hold three weapons at a time but if holding the Smartgun, only two weapons at a time, one of which will be the pistol. You also can’t sprint while carrying the smartgun. The Marine starts with a pistol that has infinite ammo, making it a good weapon to fall back on if you run out of ammo for the others. It’s alternate fire lets you burst fire. Eventually you’ll acquire the pulse rifle which is basically an assault rifle that can also fire grenades. The shotgun is a powerful close-range weapon and you can also fire from both barrels. The flamethrower should be obvious and its alternate fire lets you spray fuel which can then be lit on fire. You’ll also acquire a scoped rifle and it’s alternate fire lets you zoom. And finally, you will acquire the Smartgun which has two firing modes – tracking which basically locks onto nearby enemies and freefire which lets you aim manually. The Predator’s arsenal has also been reduced. You can use dual wristblades for melee combat and the next weapon you acquire is the plasma caster, otherwise known as the shoulder cannon, which fires balls of plasma. You can fire quick shots by tapping the fire button but holding it down will charge up the shot and you’ll also lock onto the nearest enemy. You no longer have to switch vision modes to lock on. You will acquire proximity mines which can be thrown and detonated manually. Late in the campaign you’ll acquire the smart disc and combi stick. The smart disc is thrown and follows your laser sight before coming back to you. It can be utilized to kill multiple enemies in succession. You do not need to manually retract it and it does not drain energy. The combi stick can only be thrown but does massive damage and this, too, will return to you. Once you acquire the smart disc and combi stick, the combat becomes significantly easier and you are no longer forced to rely on stealth. It should be noted that the only things that drain energy are the plasma caster and proximity mines. Not even cloaking drains energy this time around. While the weapons do feel satisfying for the most part, the lack of others seen in previous games like the grenade and rocket launchers, speargun, and not being able to use the combi stick as a melee weapon are truly questionable decisions. The arsenal just feels very skeletal.

Several enemy types we saw in previous games make a return but some others do not. In the Marine and Predator campaigns you’ll primarily deal with Aliens. They will often rush you and perform melee attacks. They’re quite agile and are very good at staying hidden in the darkness. They’ll be climbing all over the walls and ceilings and the next thing you know, one is right next to you. When Aliens take damage or die, they do leak acid blood which can hurt you and late in these campaigns, you’ll encounter Aliens that can spit acid making them dangerous at long range. Sometimes Aliens will grab onto you in which case you can knock them off and whenever you set them on fire they tend to explode and if they do so near you, you’ll die which can become frustrating. It makes the flamethrower seem more risky than beneficial. You will come across Facehuggers and this time around you can actually fend them off if they try to latch onto your face. The Marine will fend them off with what looks like one hand which is another questionable decision. A Praetorian makes an appearance as a boss in both campaigns and then as an enemy later on in the Marine campaign. They just rush you and can take more of a beating before dying. All three characters will engage Androids and they’re more deadly than Marines. You can blow off their heads and they’ll continue to attack you. They’ll shoot at you and some of them release an EMP blast shortly after death. They are heavily armored and actually pose more of a threat to the Marine than the other two characters. They like to carry shotguns and a few shots from one can put you down. Some Androids are even capable of cloaking. The Predator and Alien will engage Marines who will usually just shoot at you if you’re detected. The human enemy AI really isn’t very bright and if you do die, it’s probably because you were just overwhelmed with gunfire. They’ll often shoot at you, occasionally run to cover, but they don’t do anything super intelligent like try and flank you or anything like that. As the Predator, cloaking only seems to be useful against Marines but even then, they can still spot you if you’re too close. The Predator and Alien will also have to watch out for Sentry Guns which will fire at you upon detection and you can visibly see their line of sight, making them feel a bit more forgiving this time around. You can’t actually destroy them by just attacking them, you need to locate the computer controlling them and destroy that. And that makes up the enemy types. Now you will encounter some bosses. In addition to the Praetorian, the Marine will discover an Alien Queen but you don’t actually get to fight it which is a huge disappointment. The Marine and Alien will engage Predators and the Predators like to cloak themselves, use their plasma casters, and even their wristblades if you get close. The Predator will engage a Predalien at the end of the campaign which may be the most scripted boss battle in the game. You attack it until it dies but it’s really not that challenging, at least on the Normal difficulty mode. The final boss in the Marine campaign is more cheap than anything.

The level design in Aliens vs. Predator is pretty good, overall, and you will visit many of the same environments in each campaign. You’ll traverse through a club, Alien hive, ruins, pyramid, and even a refinery, among others. Unlike the very first game in this series, Aliens enemies don’t respawn and the Marine campaign is the most linear out of the three. Unlike AvP 2, the Predator and Alien campaigns offer a lot more options when it comes to stealth. The levels are clearly designed in a way that accommodates both running and gunning and stealth. As the Predator, you can utilize ledges, treetops, and the tops of structures and buildings to stay off the ground and remain stealthy. There’s nothing more satisfying than luring a lone Marine to your position only to drop down, rip off his head, and then quickly escape to hunt your next prey. The Alien can navigate along any surface including walls, ceilings, through vents, and along structures. This allows you to approach enemies and situations from multiple angles. Now the levels are not as open-ended as the ones seen in AvP Classic but also not as linear as those seen in AvP 2. Scattered throughout the levels are collectibles in each campaign. The Marine can acquire Audio Diaries which provide backstory and lore. The Predator can acquire trophy belts and the Alien can destroy containers housing royal jelly. These would be the only real reasons to explore. Even though the environments are somewhat open, you are usually funneled in a specific direction and something on your HUD will always point you to your next objective. There’s very few areas where I got stuck and that’s only because it wasn’t clear how I needed to proceed but I can’t say I ever got lost. This game does include infighting between enemies, normally between Aliens and humans and it’s best to let these battles play out. I find that if there’s a sentry gun in the area, the Marines or Androids usually win but otherwise, you can count on the Aliens. There’s something to be said about AvP Classic. That game showed that the re-spawning enemies and their somewhat randomized placement made you never feel completely safe, making the gameplay feel tense. While the levels could be confusing as hell, their extremely open-ended nature added a lot of replay value to the game. AvP 2010 seems to lean more towards AvP 2 in terms of level design and encounters. It’s not a bad thing but the replay value can be quite low. You’re scored and ranked in each mission and your score is based on numerous factors like how many collectibles you found, enemies killed, deaths, and other variables. You can also replay any already unlocked missions at any time.

Aliens vs. Predator does come with multiplayer but I couldn’t find any games. I should mention I did acquire the DLC which is just two map packs. I don’t know if these are specifically for multiplayer or if they add anything else like maps to the Single Player Survivor mode. Single Player Survivor is a lot like the Skirmish Mode in AvP Classic. You just have to survive against Aliens for as long as you can. Unfortunately, you cannot choose your species so you only get to play as the Marine and there’s only a handful of maps to choose from. There are no options to configure, either. Once you’re in the map, you’ll have to fend off waves of Aliens. You’re scored based on kills and killstreaks and I guess the objective is to go for the highest possible score which does give this mode a bit of replay value. From what I understand, there is a variation of this mode for multiplayer that allows up to four players so if you can get some friends to join in, it may prove to be a lot more fun than the single player variant. Each wave brings more Aliens and after a certain wave, you’ll get to battle Praetorians. You’ll also have to deal with Facehuggers. I never managed to get passed wave six or seven so maybe even more shit is introduced in later waves. The maps include a mausoleum, C Block, monument, tempest, machine, and hive. They’re pretty diverse in theme for the most part and several of them seem to be based on areas seen in the campaigns but I do wish there were more. Weapons, ammo, and health stims are scattered throughout the environments. With that said, many maps include only specific weapons in the early waves but in a map like C Block, you gain access to more weapons as you progress through the waves. There’s nothing really special about this mode if you played the Skirmish mode in AvP Classic. Although, many of the maps are dark and seeing Aliens leap out of the darkness and attack you can be startling at times. But like the rest of the game this, too, feels like it could include more content. And considering AvP Classic was developed by the same team and the fact that the Skirmish mode in that game was much more customizable, I don’t understand why they couldn’t do more with the Survivor Mode here. What a shame.

From a visual standpoint, AvP 2010 is the best looking game in the series no doubt. For its time, I guess it looked okay, although I don’t like the washed out colors. The animations are smooth, the texture work pretty good, and the lighting is excellent. The game also contains some neat little details. For one thing, every character has full body awareness which is really cool. You can see visible wear on the pulse rifle. Gunfire will illuminate dark areas. You’ll come across Marines cocooned in Alien nests or skinned and hanging upside down, indicating a Predator passed through. You can see smoke emitting from the shotgun barrels after its been fired. You can see the Predator’s laser sight when locking onto enemies. Enemy Aliens will crawl towards you if their legs are blown off. When plasma shots from the plasma caster make contact, you’ll see sparks fly up into the air before raining downward. Androids that appear to be dead may come to life, sit up, and start firing at you. As for the audio work, the music sounds dramatic at times but there’s nothing too memorable in my opinion. I think I heard one or two tunes taken from the films but it wasn’t often. The weapons are on point and do sound loud and satisfying. The shotgun sounds extremely powerful. Once again, the Alien enemies sound just like they do in the film Aliens with their hisses, screeches, and squeals when taking damage. To lure a human enemy, the Predator will repeat human dialogue in a distorted voice just as it does in the films. On the technical side, the game did run smooth most of the time. The frame rate stuttered a few times but not often. And I only experienced one glitch. An objective didn’t activate but finally did after I left the area and came back.

I can say I did have fun with Aliens vs. Predator but it’s not as good as the previous games. Still, the actual gunplay, melee combat, and executions are all satisfying. It’s just fun watching Aliens explode and ripping off human heads. The atmosphere of this game is also somewhat unique. Like AvP 2, it borrows from the source material but is wrapped up in its own little world that feels somewhat original. Unfortunately, the storyline sucks but the stories weren’t exactly the highlights of the previous games either. I think it’s safe to say people play these games to experience each species, especially if they’re fans of the series. However, unlike the previous two games, this is really not the best representation of the Aliens franchise. Being able to smack the creatures as a Marine is a real no-no. I also question the Marine’s ability to fend off a Facehugger attack and the omission of crouching. The game also lacks in content. The campaigns just feel very by-the-numbers, it appears as if the Survivor mode was an afterthought, and if you’ve played the previous games, the arsenal is disappointing here for both the Marine and Predator. It just feels like the entire game lacks passion. It’s like they just wanted to make a new AvP in HD and not really focus on what made the series great to begin with. And this is the same developer that made the first game which many will say is the best in the series and I can understand that.

Ultimately, I would recommend Aliens vs. Predator but only because you can acquire it for pretty cheap now. That and the executions in this game are awesome. But, honestly, the previous games are better. If this was still being sold at full retail price, I definitely would not recommend it. It’s not a terrible game like some make it out to be but it’s not great either. If you’re a fan of the series, there are some elements that can be appreciated but if you’re looking to get into the series for the first time, start with the first game. AvP 2010 does not reflect what made the series so enjoyable in the first place. There’s definitely some questionable decisions made here and there’s also a lack of content. I did look for some mods because I think a good gameplay overhaul could really rectify several of the game’s issues but, unfortunately, I didn’t find anything like that. AvP 2010 is a decent game but it’s far from impressive. There are better shooters, better stealth games, and even better AvP games out there. If this looks interesting, I would say check it out when a Steam sale comes along. And I’ve seen this go on sale numerous times over the years.

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