In 1979, the film 'Alien' was released to the public. It told the story of a seven man crew travelling home to Earth who received a foreign radio signal from an uninhabited planet. During investigation of the planet a crew member was taken host to one of the greatest movie monsters we know today, the Alien. Eight years later, 1987 saw the screening of 'Predator' and with it a new creature was introduced to terrify viewers. The film showed a small band of mercenaries in a time of war being picked off by the alien known only as the Predator. This alien is only focused on the hunt, finding new, tougher opponents to kill and add to its trophy collection. Ever since both films were released, many have speculated which is better and thus 'Aliens vs Predator' was born.
Aliens vs Predator is not entirely original. There have been many games and films throughout the years based on the same principal and this latest addition from Rebellion and Sega is no different. It is of course the humans who are stirring up trouble for themselves, as The Weyland-Yutani Corporation, famed for 'building better worlds' but having ulterior motives, have been breeding the Aliens in captive and killing Predator youngbloods. Headed up by Bishop Weyland, Weyland-Yutani's latest effort is to create the perfect killer and steal the Predators' technology for personal gain. Throughout the game players can choose to play as the Predator, the Alien or the Human and while each story will be different, they all lead to the same conclusion which is a little bit of a let down.
The gameplay differs in all three campaigns which really helps to distinguish between the three species. The Marine campaign is modelled around a classic first-person shooter, and as such, players can use an array of guns, but they also have to make use of the movement tracker in the bottom left of the H.U.D. This tool with give an early indication of where an attack will come from, allowing preparation for the upcoming battle. It gives a real sense of vulnerability, as sometimes the only viable tactic is running away. There are moments in the game where it feels like one of the Alien films in regards to exploring a facility, with nothing but four shotgun shells and three blips on the movement tracker. Moments like this would be perfect if it weren't for the pistol with infinite ammo and a 3-burst secondary fire to spoil the fear.
The Aliens campaign really promotes stealth. They can use no weapons other than melee strikes, so their main advantage is with their mobility. Not only are the Aliens faster than the other two races, they can climb up walls and even ceilings. The problem with this is that it becomes very disorientating. Practice makes perfect however and mastering the Aliens' movements makes the experience much more enjoyable. The Aliens campaign is short however, and some players may complete it in a mere two hours - if it were longer it probably would have started to get a bit monotonous though.The Predator essentially has the best of both worlds: two dual wrist-blades for melee weapons and a choice of ranged weapons as the campaign continues. Players are treated to the Plasma Caster in the opening tutorial, which is a small cannon mounted on the Predator's shoulder. It can lock on to enemies and blow them to pieces, but like some of the other weapons wielded by the Predator, it needs to be charged at small power supply points located evenly throughout each level. Even without the use of ranged weapons, the Predator's stealth camouflage, thermal display and ability to distract Humans makes it easy to stalk prey, but all of these advantages are rendered useless when facing off against the Aliens. The Predator must make use of melee attacks and tactics to face off against the waves of Alien foes throughout the campaign, tactics being similar to the Marine: running away, healing up, then carrying on the fight. The Predator and Marine are similar in a lot of ways, but with its ability to jump to far off surfaces and better technology, the Predator is by far the most fun to play as.
Most of the game is spent in either the jungle or man-made facilities and these, along with the other areas, are not very memorable at all. There are only a few set-pieces, and having to play through each area twice, or even three times, only serves to make things more monotonous. The only saving grace is that with each species there is a different style of play. Credit is due when it comes to the sound, as background music aside, the sound effects from things like the pulse rifles, and Aliens dying are spot on. It only adds to the feeling of being one of these characters and it works well.
Most games feel the need to include multiplayer nowadays and Aliens vs. Predator is no different. What is different is that it allows for some game modes that simply wouldn't work in other games, game modes such as the Predator Hunt or Infestation. Predator Hunt is essentially one player as a Predator versus everyone else playing as a Marine. The Predator has one minute to stalk and kill at least one Marine to extend their time, and the rest of the Marines simply have to kill it first. The Marine who makes the kill is then chosen to be the next Predator, but if the time limit runs out, another player is chosen randomly to hunt his ex-comrades. This mode would certainly be more fun if it weren't for the time limit, but it does help to make things more frantic. Infestation starts off the same way, but with an Alien attempting to kill the Marines. This game mode differs though as with each kill the Alien makes, another Alien is added to the fight until it's the last Marine standing. Both modes are fun and different from the simple Deathmatch, but AvP still has the generic game modes, like team deathmatch and Survivor, where Marines have to hold off waves of the Alien horde.
Multiplayer also includes a ranking system and as higher ranks are obtained, new skins are unlocked. In terms of collectables, each campaign has its own rewards to find; Predators can find hunting belts, Aliens will find containers of royal jelly and Marines are treated to audio logs. Collecting these are not necessary, but rewards are given when all have been collected. Aside from this, the only reason to play the single-player game after completing the story is possibly for trophies and achievements.
An uninspired story and repetitive level structure should make this game a chore to play, but interesting play-styles make things a bit more bearable. It's clear that the developers wanted to focus on the difference between the species and the experience players would have with them. It works for the most part and works well, but a stronger emphasis on the visuals and atmosphere would have much the game much better. Single player is a good and sometimes monotonous experience, but multiplayer is a very refreshing and utilises the different species well to allow for different game modes that can only be experienced in this game.