Theyíre coming through the walls!
Rebellion created a great AVP game on the PC back in the day and now weíve got faster systems, better graphics and more horsepower than we had before for home machines and consoles, itís time for a new AVP experience Ė but is this experience a homage to the films or does it fall completely flat?Story
Woven through three interlinked species-specific campaigns, the story of AVP follows the events after Karl Bishop Weyland opens a veritable Pandoraís Box of Predator origin, something bad happens, Aliens get loose, USCM are called in and the Predatorís arrive to contain the whole thing and have a glorious hunt. Itís not exactly the best story told for the genre but hey, it works and itís faithful enough to the source material.Gameplay
Itís a first person shooter or brawler depending on which of the 3 species you play it, you have the usual mix of control types with a skill set that you need to learn. By far the easiest to play as is the USCM character that basically just shoots things. Thereís no crouch here or fiddly controls to learn, point and shoot, toss a flare, turn on your flashlight and scream when the motion-tracker pings anything thatís not a USCM npc backup AI character. Thereís the Pulse Rifle, the Smart Gun, a cool night-ops style sniper rifle and a shotgun, not to mention pistol with unlimited ammo for backup as your arsenal and you can only use 2 weapons at a time.
The pistol is always equipped and the Smart Gun takes up 2 inventory slots, so itís an all or nothing weapon. The Marine can also block and riposte, or strike with his chosen firearm to knock an Alien or Predator on its ass with a carefully timed counter. Thatís all you really need to know to play as the Marine, the rest is going from A-B in the short themed levels and kicking as much ass as you can manage, whilst tracking xenomorphs and turning them into acidy salsa. Humans heal with stim-packs.
The Predator is armed with several high-tech gadgets that will be familiar to fans of the films and comics, has brutal wrist blades and can leap around the scenery or onto unsuspecting characters. He can cloak for an unlimited amount of time, use a plasma caster or combi-stick (spear) for distance combat. His mask works just like the movies with several vision modes, and the ability to distract human prey to a specific location useful for setting up the perfect trophy-kill ambush. The Predator can stealth kill enemies and has several combination attacks to put some serious hurt on their foes. Predators can suck the energy from human power sources and use it to replenish their stores; they heal via the use of health shards that work like human stim-packs.
The Alien is tricky to use at first, since they can traverse on any surface, running up walls, taking out lights to cloak the area in darkness and hissing to lure in unsuspecting prey. Their vision automatically adapts to the luminescence or lack of it, in an area. They are armed with claws and teeth, can use their tails to smash out lights or lash out at enemies in combat. The Aliens health regenerates via head bites and it can dish out some vicious damage in combat with its combination of claws and tail attacks. The Alien also gets around via vents which can be freely entered/exited and can be used to get the drop on prey.
Out of all the 3 stories the Alien story is perhaps by far the most interesting.
In combat you have a fast attack, a heavy attack and as the Alien and Predator, leaping or alternate attacks depending. A fast attack can break a heavy attack and you can block then swiftly counter, it is a bit clunky at times but works well enough once you get the hang of it.
There are numerous checkpoints throughout the game and you can save at any time as well.
All 3 campaigns are short and itís possible to blast through the stories in under a day, there are 2 survival maps that can be played single player as well, but these offer nothing substantial and are fairly frustrating after being able to play Halo ODST and Gears of Wars 2ís horde-style survival modes, not to mention L4D and L4D2.
There are some issues with the Alienís traversal from time and time and the combat can seem clunky at first, there are some times that the physics seem to be a little off and for every awesome AVP style moment there are some frustrating ones from the gameís engine itself. Some doors can be tricky to move through as an Alien especially if you have auto-traverse on and you can often find yourself on a ceiling when you really wanted to be on a wall stalking the poor sap that had no idea you were there. The Alien has been given a nice navigation aid though in terms of its minimal hud marker, with a point that always shows where down is in relation to the creature.
The gameplay does a good job of replicating the feel of the 3 species, you feel like a sneaky stalker as the Alien, a stealthy hunter as the Predator and an embattled warrior as the USCM.Graphics
I actually like the graphics for the game, theyíre gritty and they have the right feel about them. Rebellion seems to have taken the source material to heart and produced a fairly faithful view of the Aliens and Predator world with the Marine equipment textures and design being the star of the show. Thereís something immensely satisfying about finding a Smart Gun and letting rip with a staccato stream of hot lead into the Aliens all around you, hearing them squeal and hiss as they get nailed.
The look of both the Alien and the Predator as well as the colony, swamp and jungle environments, Alien Hive and so forth have been replicated pretty faithfully. Thereís a nice use of light/shadow in the game and dynamic lighting, quality texturing, though whilst there was no tearing we could see there were moments where the shadows and a few other close-up textures suffered from jaggies and the like.