Monday, 6 May 2013

The Past and Times of Yore: Aliens vs Predator (2010), Cause screw Colonial Marines

Release Date: Febuary 18, 2010
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Sega

Developer: Rebellion
PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Players: 1 and Online Multiplayer

Classification: MA 15+

I’ve played a few Alien vs Predator games in my time, the first was the quite mediocre 1993 side scroller beat-em-up on the Super Nintendo system, the second was the fairly awesome 1994 Arcade side scroller beat-em-up which was a much better, more well-designed version with support for up to 3 players. The third was the 2001 Alien vs Predator 2 FPS releases for PC along with the 2002 Primal Hunt expansion that I remember playing back in high school but didn’t get round to actually playing it through properly till much later though I did really enjoy the storylines in those ones and they did seem a bit longer then the latest one. The 2010 version was something I had been looking forward to playing for a while as I been wanting to play a new more modern Alien vs Predator. When Aliens Colonial Marines came out to much critical review I was kind of disappointed, not in the way the game turned out (I hadn’t actually known about it beforehand) but because you could only play as Marines, well I it’s called Colonial Marines you could argue but there’s also Aliens there too and you can play them in the Multiplayer I spose.

Yes, what the hell did happen? apparently even the Developer lead doesn't know

I had already played AVP through a first time then decided to again after playing the Predator Hunt mode at the Bluewire lan which was quite fun with one person going around as a Marine with a motion tracker and the other playing as a cloaked Predator, the second time round was just as fun I think as I knew what to expect and was ready for it, takes some of the surprise away I guess but there were enough surprises that I didn’t remember anyway.

I do agree with that Yahtzee’s Zero Punctuation Review of the game he states his frustration and confusion over the many, many Alien vs Predator games out there which have been called the same thing since 1993 and the fact that the games should be called “Alien vs Predator vs Human” cause that’s what it is really and I agree completely. Also if you’re going to make an Alien vs Predator game make sure you play as the Aliens and Predators the most, as it seems the Marine singleplayer campaign is always the longest, playing as the Alien does get a bit tiring at times jumping around and crawling upside-down all over the place and you never seem to be the Predator long enough in my opinion.

Zero Punctuation AVP 2010 review

The story in this version of AVP happens on another codenamed planet: BG-386 where the Weyland Yutani Corporation headed by Karl Bishop Weyland himself has discovered an ancient Yautja Pyramid, “Yautja” in case you didn;t know (I didn’t) is the factual name of the Predators. Weyland hopes to unlock the power inside the Pyramid and the game intro starts with him opening these giant doors while inside before some sort of blue energy comes bursting out of the doors and out the top of the Pyramid into space, though I’ve played it through twice and have never been able to work out what it actually meant. So anyway, the Weyland Yutani is also studying the Alien Xenomorphs who are on the planet as well and have thus captured a Queen which they are using to breed alien test subjects which inevitably escape causing chaos which prompts the United States Colonial Marine Corps to show up as well as the Predators who are responding to a distress call from a pack of Youngblood Predators who are on an initiation hunt. The stories slightly intersect with each other as was the idea with the AVP2 Primal Hunt expansion and as before the main difference between the Marine and Alien/Predator missions are that is that the latter is much more stealthy and preying on unsuspecting humans. One thing I found pretty cool was that after finishing one section you could play it again as another race but I could never really do that as I’d be in the mindset of a certain playing style and couldn’t move away from that.

"Hey no-one will notice us doing this right?"
I found the AVP Marine campaign to be a pleasant experience, it’s just you’re usual FPS dark, it was scary, you just hear the motion tracker going and it’s frightening as. To tell the story basically you are a rookie Colonial Marine who is responding to a distress call from the Weyland-Yutani corporation on BG-386, while you are heading down to the planet in a dropship, your mothership “The Marlowe” (I swear I’ve heard that name used before, I think it was Battlefield, Bad Company 2) gets shot down by a Predator mothership and you subsequently get knocked out in the landing. One of my favourite bits of the Marine campaign was at the start where you wake up and have nothing but your pistol and flashlight with your comrade Corporal Tequila giving you advice through your radio as you travel through the dark corridors and outside into Colony which looks quite scary and unpleasant due to the planets usually featured in the Alien movies being very dark, windy and generally uninviting. It’s thrilling as you play through this part as it mimics the intensity of watching Alien movies where your waiting for something to jump out at any moment.

Pictured: dark, scary corridor
I’ll have to admit walking around dark scary corridors with occasional flickers of the always helpful motion tracker was a bit more fun then when you were actually fighting the Aliens, as at the start I hadn’t played an Aliens game for so long I had forgotten how quick they moved and it was very hard at first to kill them and I was backing up all over the place and not watching my back so I ended up bumping into another one while shooting. There is some melee moves you can do but their pretty useless as they just shove the Alien off you and your better off just shooting them.  I soon realised that if there was multiple Aliens they all sometimes crawled the exact same path to get to me so I sort of just killed them as they came, but meh what are you going to do? Pretend you don’t know where they’re going to go?

"Auugh, ze Aliens!" This is with the brightness turned up full no less
So I ended up wasting a heap of ammo, it also doesn’t help that the Pulse Rifle is fairly inaccurate, I started off firing in short bursts but it just wasn’t doing enough damage so I ended up spraying and that didn’t do much either, because of this I kept running out of ammo, while using the shotgun I was a lot better as it packed more of a punch and since the Aliens were all up in your face anyway, distance wasn’t a problem. I also have to admit I played the campaign on easy again, and yes you’re probably all thinking what a noob loser, but I just enjoy it more that way as when I’m playing these games again I cbf with a challenge, also what the hell was a supposed to do if my pistol ran out of bullets (on easy you have infinite pistol bullets), it was hard enough shooting down groups of Aliens with it when my main weapons ran out of ammo and you can’t kill Aliens using melee attacks.  The flamethrower and the smartgun are pretty cool I guess, but my favourite weapon by far was the Scoped Rifle, not only was it fun in the jungle and cave levels shooting down Aliens crawling along walls and ceilings while spitting at you, it also proved invaluable against Predators.

A brief example of the coolness of the Scope Rifle, the x-ray outline targeting, not needing to headshot, and three three round clip makes it kind of overpowered though.

I liked towards the end of the campaign where you saved Tequila from the Alien Hive and had to hurry to get her back to the Medlab to get the Alien spawn out of her. I won’t spoil the (or any) of the endings but it was basically just what you’d expect, a fun romp shooting Aliens and a Predator with lots of Aliens and Predator movie references.

As before I did the Alien campaign next, which the game actually wanted you to do last but I’m like screw that I’m saving the best till last. Playing as the Alien is quite enjoyable as it’s pretty much playing the enemy in its purest form as a speechless creature who wants to harvest or kill everyone and everyone else wants to kill you. It was great seeing the Alien side of things, the way you started off in captivity in a lab then (as usual) power goes down, you bust out and all hell breaks loose. As an Alien you receive your mission objectives from the Queen which all Aliens share a common link to and one of the first things you do is free your brothers and sisters! what fun! Anyway so the Alien campaign basically sees you playing as an Alien referred to as “Specimen 6” who quite helpfully has had a number 6 burned into his head since he first escaped from his host's chest. "6" escapes from the Weyland-Yutani test facility, freeing the queen and then you scurry around killing and/or harvesting whoever you come across.

"Not another goddamn sentry gun!"
Playing as the Alien (properly) does require a bit of skill as the main objective is to stealth kill the Marines by sneaking up behind them and pressing E, of course you can just swipe at them with your claws or fling your body at them to crush them but it’s nowhere near as cool with the animations you get when stealth killing such as plunging your tail through their chest, or if your particularly fast to bite them right in the face with your double jaws, the defenceless scientists get a more terrifying death as you grab and hold their heads for a waiting facehugger to latch on to. The skill part comes in by deciding where, how and when to get behind them and while you can crawl around upside-down on the roof and on the walls you do get a bit directionally challenged and sometimes screw up completely exposing yourself in the light or falling on top of them and have to either quickly swipe the fack out of them or run away, which you can do extremely fast, as an Alien you already run quite quickly though when you activate the sprint button man it’s like you’re an Alien version of the Flash or something. So to sum it up as an Alien, you can crawl around on (almost) everything, you can slash, you can tailswipe you can jump fast and a long way and you can gruesomely stealth kill or harvest people.

Oooo bet that smarts.
I actually realised partway through the Alien campaign that I’d turned the brightness up all the way from my previous playthrough which made playing much easier as you could actually see things though when I changed the brightness to the recommended level the scariness and atmosphere was pretty intense. I realised how much darker the game was and it made it much better playing as the alien as you were supposed to be hiding in darkness. I don’t think I could have played it that way with the Marine as I wouldn’t have been able to see anything at all as that flashlight is pretty weak it would have been like playing Doom3 all over again where playing as the  Predator the Thermal/Heat vision is nightvision anyway, your view as an Alien is a bit odd with its slight fish eye lens but you seem to have some sort of glowing nightvision happening which I suppose is supposed to reciprocate the fact that Aliens have no eyes, yes that’s right.

Sometimes is is actually hard to distinguish whether you are upside-down or not, thankfully the reticule in the middle of the screen always points to the floor
Now for my favourite, the Predator. Yes as I said I was saving the best for last and with the Predator being one kick-ass sonofa, I enjoy playing them the most. You only fight a Predator once in both the Marine and Alien campaigns but as the Predator you switch between Aliens and Humans depending on what you are doing. You have been sent by your clan to BG-386 for your first mission as an elite Predator hunter guy for reasons which include finding out what happened to a group of initiates who were sent to planet to hunt the Aliens as a right of passage and I’m guessing something to do with the Ancient Yuatja temple core being opened by Weyland and shooting a massive beam of energy into space (but just guessing)  You arrive to find that the initiates have become caught up in the conflict between the Aliens and Marines and some have been killed in which you have to mournfully stroke their helmets then detonate their wrist computers to stop the humans from discovering predator technology.

"You fought well brother, now I will give you a proper burial by blowing you to smithereens"
The Predator possibly has the most complicated weapon system, though it isn’t really that complicated, your main attack is a melee with your wrist blades which have light and powerful attacks and you can also block and knock down your opponent and press E for an.... well I won’t say cinematic kill as it’s still in third person you basically get treated to an auto-kill of you dismembering your enemy in some way whether it’s pulling a Marine’s spine out our tearing out an alien’s double jaws then snapping it’s neck the Predator sure like to take it’s time with these things, at the rare time that I did this while there were other enemies around I almost felt that they were just waiting there for me to finish him/it off before they attacked.

Your other weaponry consists your shoulder cannon with has various charges from unguided weak shot to guided body-vaporizing overkill though it does need to be recharged which you can do at various point. There’s also that super-fun, spinny razor disc that Predators use which can slice through multiple enemies in one throw, some remote detonation mines and the hugely overpowered Combi stick which not only one-hit kills most normal enemies but automatically teleports back to you after thrown.

"This is going straight to the pool room"
As the Predator you basically go around killing Aliens and Marines and mopping up the mess they’ve made, similar to the Alien campaign you are also quite stealthy as a Predator you are able to leap great distances and the levels are designed in such a way that you can jump around treetops and ledges and strike from above you are able to use your cloaking device but it's not failproof with Marines  and it doesn't even affect Xenomorphs at all. I love using the different vision modes that your helmet has though you start off with normal and Thermal-Heat vision and it isn’t until later in the game that you get the Xenomorph vision which allows you to see Aliens much more clearly as the Thermal Vision allows you to see humans and androids. You can also distract your prey similar to the Alien except this time you can make them go to a certain location so it is much easier to sneak behind them

Thermal Vision: As well as marking out enemies and other dangers, your helmet also provides nightvision and tells you where it's safe to jump,or really where it's possible to jump.
I had a blast playing as the Predator with their clicky growling language and their superiority over the other races, especially the way they opt to destroy their technology rather then it get into clumsy human hands and speaking of which as well as running along doing your linear story mission there at least one other side activity for you to do. Throughout the 3 singleplayer storylines there are certain objects unique to each race hidden around the levels that you collect/destroy, for Marines it’s an interesting set of audio diaries belonging to various characters in the game (be they dead or alive) which you can listen to once collected, for Aliens it seems the scientists have taken “samples” of the queen and you destroy all canisters you find and as the Predator you collect any Predator equipment that the younglings before you have lost to keep the humans grubby mitts off them. And of course there is a healthy amount of Steam Achievements for you too.

Aha! an Audio Diary, plus a few other things
The graphics in AVP as you can see are presentable for the time, they’re not groundbreaking their just as you’d expect, I’m actually having trouble distinguishing if graphics are good or bad these days,. With a few exceptions they all seem to be the same. That said though it was a massive change from the last AVP game from the 90’s, as seeing Aliens explode when you shoot them and Predators rip out someone’s spine looks amazing even though it is a 3 year old game not to mention the dark and dramatic lighting which really captures the feel of the Alien movies.

"Oh no! the corridor is even darker now"
Upon reading some past reviews of the game I now feel saddened that I never got the chance to properly play the AvP multiplayer as in some reviews it’s hailed to be the better part of the game and I wouldn’t doubt it, with all 3 species shooting and jumping around everywhere it’d be quite the chaos as I remember briefly playing the 90’s AVP multiplayer years ago and playing the newer one again now. I must remind myself to try and get the game going at the Bluewire, Lanslide or any other Lan I go to, as a few people still should have it from when they bought it. Was pointed out on a review I read that this one is called “Aliens vs Predator” instead of Alien vs Predator as the last 5 or so have been called and I guess that makes all the difference in the world.

More hell breaking loose then any other game I know
So Aliens vs Predator was an enjoyable fair for me, I enjoyed a more recent version of the game which really captured the gore (and perhaps even more so) of the movies and man it was indeed gory. I would have thought I’d find the Marine missions boring but they were a great introduction and scary as hell in some parts. I love being an Alien and Predator as well and unlike most people I ask, I love having three intersecting storylines all in the one game though I did record that of all the Singleplayer Campaigns: Alien is the shortest, Marine is the longest and Predator is somewhere in the middle. Throughout the singleplayer campaigns there are dozens of movie references, the dark corridors and jumpy-effects in the Marine missions, the stalking above ventilation shafts and hanging upside-down in the Alien missions and the tree-jumping cloaked stealth killing in the Predator missions ah I could play it again and again, which I sort of am, getting all these screenshots and videos. My only regret was not being able to play much of the multiplayer when having wrote this as that’s the eternal problem I suppose you can’t really play old games in multiplayer if everyone’s playing something else.

I would most definitely recommend the game to fans of the series as well as the movies, sure it may be a bit short and a bit old, but I tell you you’ll have lots of fun and double that fun if you can scrape enough people together for the multiplayer. It is my long standing hope that after this Colonial Marines game/mess that there will be two games made where you play solely as the Alien or Predator, the Alien one I highly doubt but surely we can do better than Predator: Concrete Jungle as it seems an Alien vs Predator game devoid of any cookie-cutter FPS Marine content isn’t that appealing to developers but I’ll just have to wait.


Tearing out spines since 89'

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