In 2009 I began working with Mrs B on her website FemaleGamers reviewing the latest console games. Sadly, our other commitments meant the website couldn’t continue and we brought it to an end early in 2010. I’ll be using this blog to review all the games, recent and not so recent, that I encounter. With Mrs B’s kind permission, I’ll also be posting some of the reviews I previously worked on, so don’t panic if they refer to previous years and months.
Aliens Vs Predator (Xbox 360)
Despite some disappointing pairings of the Aliens and Predators in both films and games, sci-fi fans, including me, always find themselves hopeful that a new release will finally get things right and deliver that definitive but elusive title. Rebellion, whose last Alien/Predator game in 1999 on the PC was well received, have taken on the challenge of restoring the fans’ belief once more but the question is have they succeeded?
Aliens Vs Predator takes place on Freya’s Prospect, a human colony run by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. The head of the corporation, Karl Bishop Weyland, maintains the human’s foolish pursuit of breeding Aliens in captivity while the discovery of an ancient pyramid on the planet has led to intense research and opens the way for Marines, Aliens and Predators to enter the breach and face off against each other. Aliens Vs Predator is divided into three campaigns – Marine, Alien and Predator – with each species having six missions to overcome across terrain ranging from a jungle and swampland to laboratories and even the hive of an Alien Queen. The story is carried along with some delightful cut scenes while the essence of both the Aliens and Predators are captured in faithful recreations of the eerie sounds both made in their respective films.
In the Marine campaign you play Rookie who reaches the planet on one of two ships. When a Predator vessel arrives at the same time, one of the marine ships is destroyed forcing the second to make an emergency landing. After being knocked unconscious in the descent, Rookie wakes to find he is alone with only the radio assistance of Corporal Tequila to guide him through the fallen colony. As well as a rich variety of weapons such as the pistol, shotgun, rifle and flamethrower, Rookie carries a flashlight, flares and motion tracker to detect enemy movement and help prevent any unexpected surprises. This campaign will require you to fight a lot of close quarter combat unless you happen to be a very good shot, unlike me! In order to keep your health up, Rookie will need to inject himself with stims and can only carry a maximum of three at any time. During each mission you will receive a series of objectives from Corporal Tequila and these will largely involve getting broken systems in the colony back on-line and re-routing power to assist in your search for missing marines. As part of the campaign Rookie can collect a series of audio diaries that help unravel the background to events at Freya’s Prospect.
In the Alien campaign you play Number 6, an alien born in captivity at the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. Having spent its entire life bound, Number 6 finally tastes freedom following the calls of its Queen to release her and the other captive aliens. Once liberated, Number 6 sets out on six missions of sabotaging machines and killing marines and civilians. As with the Marine Campaign you are given a series of objectives all at the behest of your Queen. An Alien’s weapons are its claws for close quarter combat and its tail for putting out lights giving you the advantage against your enemies in the enshrouding darkness. To make up for your limited combat capabilities, the Alien is by far the most agile of the three species, moving at frightening speed, working its way through air vents and being able to move along walls or ceilings. Your other trick is being able to hiss and lure your enemies close to where you’re hiding before ambushing them. When dealing with your enemies you have the option of simply killing them but to strengthen the alien cause why not harvest humans instead? In this rather unmerciful ritual, Number 6 restrains its victim pinning them to the ground and turning their head to assist the arrival of a lurking face hugger.
The Predator campaign sees an emerging warrior referred to as young blood put through its paces by Elders before being sent to Freya’s Prospect to prevent the humans accessing the ancient pyramid and unlocking secrets of the Predators’ ancestors that rest there. Your Elders offer advice and direction during your missions which take on a different approach with stealth being one of your main friends. The Predator is able to perform high jumps, leaping into treetops and onto roofs to watch marines from a safe distance. You can draw on your trusted camouflage as well while spying and surveying your surroundings. Your arsenal comprises of wristblades which are very useful in close quarter combat, a plasma caster that can fire laser projectiles, a combi stick that can be thrown across large distances, proximity mines to be laid as clever traps and finally a smart disc that acts as a boomerang, taking out whatever it hits before coming back to you. You can also call on different vision modes – one to help you spot heat from the bodies of approaching marines and another to highlight aliens who can seemingly attack from anywhere. Finally, the Predator is able to distract and separate groups of enemies by playing recordings of human voices that help lure unsuspecting marines to points of your choosing where you can finish them off quietly. While your health can be replenished via the use of health shards, the Predator also needs to keep an eyes on its energy bar that powers the plasma caster and mines. Overuse of either weapon will drain your resources but you are able to recharge this using some human technology. However, it is best to not be over-reliant, especially on the plasma caster.
There are some unfortunate issues with Aliens Vs Predator. Firstly, the game isn’t particularly long with the eighteen missions probably not lasting you more than a week. Four difficulty levels are available to test your mettle but any longevity will rely on the multiplayer option which offers some welcome modes such as a lone predator hunting marines or three teams facing off against each other. Combat can be problematic in Aliens Vs Predator. In the marine or predator modes, I found fighting multiple aliens close-up could be difficult at times with the camera not being the most friendly. Traversing walls and ceilings in the alien mode was a nice touch but again the controls were sometimes awkward with Number 6 inadvertently climbing some surfaces when I didn’t want it to. Other concerns were the predator’s camouflage which I deployed often but it didn’t stop me being frequently spotted!
Aliens Vs Predator is a good attempt to get these flagging franchises back on track. It offers some decent cut scenes, three very different campaigns and should please many fans. The brevity of the game coupled with some awkward combat are unfortunate let downs but if a sequel is planned hopefully Rebellion can address some of these issues and finally deliver the ultimate Aliens Vs Predator experience.
Final Score: 75%
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