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Aliens vs Predator
Aliens vs Predator

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: Sega
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date:
18th February 2010
Aliens vs Predator Review
Review By @ 05:28pm 05/03/10
PC
Platform reviewed on: PC (Also available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

Back in 1999, the original Aliens vs Predator first person shooter on PC earned its place at Australian events as a LAN party hit. Sure, the tournaments were all focused on the Quake and Half-Life ilk, but AvP and its 2001 sequel were a great bash and offered something a little different from the regular deathmatch experience - the three unique species: human Colonial Marines, Predator and the xenomorph Alien, offered as player classes established some great game modes, at a time when you really only saw this kind of gameplay variety in user-created mods. Couple that with the fun single-player stories that also had you playing as all three species and it was a game worthy of the space it took up on your 12GB hard-drive - the engine features weren't the best next to the FPS power hitters, but it made up for that in gameplay.

Fast forward to 2010 and after a decade of mostly forgettable titles (and platform porting duty for other studios' IP) the original series developer, UK outfit Rebellion Developments, are back with more AvP action. Earlier in the year, it looked like it may not even make it to our shores. The Australian Classification Board stamped it with the big RC on the first pass, later letting it slide under the MA15+ barrier after an appeal on the grounds that the cited violence was distanced-enough from reality due to the game's fantastical sci-fi creatures.




So does this new Aliens vs Predator title rise to meet the lofty expectations of the longstanding Aliens and Predator franchises (that the most recent Aliens vs Predator films failed to hit) and the fond memories of its videogame predecessors? Unfortunately the result is less James Cameron/John McTiernan and more Paul W.S. Anderson. Like the lacklustre AvP films, the game has a lot of awesome potential to work with, but fails to take advantage of that in several areas.

At least unlike the cheesy AvP films, this game sticks within the futuristic timeline of the franchise where humans have the heavy weaponry to give them a fighting chance. For the newcommers, the game's three factions function thusly: The Colonial Marines are the human military of intergalactic exploration and mining efforts - they follow your standard military heirarchy and pack human future-tech weaponry; the Aliens are geneticly fine-tuned killing machines that gestate in the chests of other species and adopt their strengths - their bodys are their weapons, complete with acidic blood and a form of hive communication; the predators are natural hunters with superior strength and technology (including a personal cloaking device), whose weakness is their code of honour that encourages them to fight solo to prove their worth. Like it's predecessors AvP does a solid job of balancing them all out.

The story stays in reasonable canon with the various comics and films, benifiting from actor Lance Henrickson supplying his voice and likeness as Karl Bishop Weyland, head of the spacefaring evil megacorp who are covertly conducting genetic experiments with the Xenomorph Aliens. The single-player campaign once again puts you in the boots of all three species, much like how the Call of Duty games offer multiple viewpoints throughout the story except the gameplay is more varied due to each creature's strategic differences - this is undoubtedly the strongest point of the game.

Unfortunately, however, much of this potential is squandered, largely due to two main issues: the brief (barely six hours) duration of the singleplayer campaign and the incredibly bad decision to launch the game with only a half-baked peer to peer multiplayer component. That's right, despite having three intertwined yet individual naratives, it still clocks less than most modern shooters - the best comparison being the also recently released BioShock 2 which offers 10+ hours.




The pacing is reasonable, but there's a distinct lack of really memorable moments. Modern Warfare 2 was similarly short in campaign, but it never left you too long between all those blockbuster-style scripted events. The brutal finishing moves that were no-doubt responsible for the initial ratings controversy are admitedly pretty cool, but after the fourth time you've seen preddie tear out a guys spine you'll find yourself wishing for a quicker way to insta-kill enemies - especially when you're being fired upon and frustratingly can't react until the five-second animation has played out.

The level design is really quite bland and the environments suffer from simple geometry - the screenshots here (supplied by the publisher) are just well-selected scenes, not from first person view and not really indicitive of most of the actual game. I also found that the slightly cartoonish art direction takes a lot of the edge off the scare-factor that a game like this should really have - an alien slithers out from a pattern on the wall and it's not even worth a startle as you quickly dispatch your shotgun into its face.

That said, it's far from horrible to look at and lighting and animation in particular have been executed to good effect. The novelty of playing as a camoflagued predator stalking human prey from the tree-tops or a wall-crawling xenomorph pouncing from the shadowed ceiling is what keeps this game from sliding into complete mediocrity because the marine campaign is as generic as they come. The bar is higher than this for first-person shooters in 2010.

The failings of the single-player could well have been salvaged by longevity in the multiplayer component, but once again a developer fails to understand the requirements of the PC market. As with Modern Warfare 2, the decision to ship the game on PC without support for dedicated servers has resulted in a sub-par experience. Peer to peer matchmaking might still fly on consoles because that's all they've ever known, but flawed matchmaking and a dozen players all trying to communicate through some poor sods 16 kilobyte per second upstream is not this seasoned PC gamer's idea of fun. This may be more tolerable in North America or Europe where faster connections without monthly transfer quotas are more prevalent, but here in Aus we've grown too accustomed to our local ISP hosted playgrounds.




Rebellion have since released "beta" dedicated server support for the game, but it's too little too late. It's difficult for third party game server providers to run because it requires a complete install of the game as well an active steam account - two things that are a large inconvenience for a server hosted in a data centre. Then there's the fact that "ranked" play is only available from the peer to peer matchmaking modes - so even though a handful of providers have gone to the effort of creating a couple of local servers for the game, you're still left deciding between a consistently reliable connection for a good gaming experience, or earning any of the game's unlocks or Acheivements while enduring p2p frustration. They've effectively divided their own online community only a few short weeks after launch, a mistake that can only serve to further damage the little longevity that this game's multiplayer might have had.

It's a huge shame since all the game modes that we loved from the original games are back in fine form with some excellent new ones. Some of the highlights being Predator Hunt mode, where one player plays as the predator against the rest as marines, trying to stealthily dispatch them and Infestation where one player starts as an Alien with the rest as humans who when killed also become aliens - the goal being to try and hold out as long as possible. The variety of the species here again adds much value to the game with the very different ways in which each class plays, but given there's no mod support or even an avenue for user-created maps - what you're given is what you get and the novelty will wear off pretty quickly for most.

All told, we regret to report that Aliens vs Predator is a dissapointment to our (admitedly lofty) expectations -- it had much to live up to and does fall short. Some bad decisions and half-baked features (including an incredibly clunky menu-UI) seem to indicate either a product rushed to market or a token-effort port of a console focused game for the piracy riddled PC platform. It's not a total wash though and most fans of Aliens, Predator and shooters in general will no doubt find at least some value here, it's just a matter of weighing up how much those negative aspects matter to you. If it were an option, we'd definitely recommend a rental over a retail purchase but the mandatory Steam activation requirement prevents that so all we can say is "buyer beware".
What we liked
  • The different experiences afforded by the three species
  • A storyline faithful to the fandom
  • Nice lighting and animations
What we didn't like
  • Brief length of the singleplayer campaign
  • Bland environments and lack of memorable moments
  • Cartoonish art direction takes the edge off horror element
  • Poorly planned multiplayer support
  • Damaged longevity as a consequence
More
We gave it:
6.3
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
glynd
Posted 05:44pm 05/3/10
so the reason they banned the game in australia wasn't because it was violent but because it was mediocre?
IncrEdible_vEgetable
Posted 07:10pm 05/3/10
I have played the XBox 360 version (rented for 3 days from the local video shop) and I tend to agree with this review.

Console vs PC arguments aside (I am happy to play either, and both have their merits IMO), I also agree with the multiplayer aspect. In fact although I played a the demo for a bit online (which I thought was very average), I couldn't even get onto a game online and reverted back to single player. I thought maybe if the SP was good I would buy this, as I am a bit of an Alien/Predator fan (although AVP franchise was rubbish) but after playing the SP for a couple of nights I decided the game was just plain boring.

The gamplay was best when playing as the Predator, but ultimately after a few (very short) episodes the whole thing becomes repetitive and linear. I first played as the Marine, which was sub-par when compared to games like MW2 or similr recent FPS, and the Alien was cool...for about 5 minutes before becoming tedious.

To succeed this game needed to look amazing, and to be honest on my 50 inch plasma in full HD, it lacked substance or atmosphere. At no point was the game remotely scary or even tense, and at times it was downright tedious. Activate this, deactivate that. The parts that were kind of cool e.g. collect the Security Chief's head for retinal scan were far too easy. He puts up no fight and is guarded by one soldier. However the spacing of checkpoints and saves meant that I found myself repeating tedious tasks over and over.

The game save system was a little confusing too. AVP has Autosave, which saves at each Checkpoint. You can also manually save, which as far as I could see also just saves the game at the last checkpoint. There is a continue function as well as a load game function where you can choose which save point you which to start from; I guess with 3 different classes you could potentially have 3 or more games going at once. Not sure why they didn't just have a Save option for each class than allowed you to save progress from anywhere in the game and be done with it. Oh maybe because by making you save at set checkpoints you have to end up doing things over and over again and this is how they "extend the gameplay".

All in all I found the levels very short and the goals repetitive. I took the game back without being inspired to re-hire or finish any one of the three storylines.

Disappointing, as I was looking forward to this game as both a fun MP and potentially engaging FPS SP with replay value.

5/10






last edited by IncrEdible_vEgetable at 19:10:31 05/Mar/10
Bah
Posted 07:25pm 05/3/10
the screenshots here (supplied by the publisher)
So why not take some yourself?

Agreed with the average sentiment, nothing really stood out.. maybe the pred kills as mentioned, but yeah they got tiresome and when i got the spear later on i just used it despite it feeling "cheap".
Also the movement of the aliens, you could tell it was made with a console in mind, they run about then stop dead giving you a chance to line them up, before they move again (I was kind of thankful for that as the mouse control just did not feel smooth at all, i could put that down to my p.o.s p.c. though)
Phar4oh
Posted 01:50am 06/3/10
wow... That's telling it like it is.

Rebellion would have been aware of the issues listed here but someone at Rebellion obviously decided they were all acceptable trade offs and pushed the game out the door. I wonder if despite these problems that it works out better for Rebellion financially. May be in the short term, but I bet everyone that felt ripped off by this rendition will be twice as wary reinvesting in the next franchise reincarnation.
Mitcho
Posted 02:46am 06/3/10
I got this game only for the MP side of the game and when i found out that there was no real MP to it because it was still in "beta" i felt like returning the game....but guess what its apart of steam.....

I remember playing the first avp and it was an amazing game and somehow they have missed the atmosphere of the first one. I remember playing infestion for weeks and not being bored...i got bored after 1 hour of it..

I feel the game was rushed out MP is STILL in beta, The class's are not balanced because the pred still gets owned before it can get close to anyone. The SP wasnt bad but it wasnt worth $80-90
rawb
Posted 03:57am 06/3/10
Imo AVP1 multiplayer is still hella fun, sif need these new cash in games that end up sucking donkey dong.
IncrEdible_vEgetable
Posted 09:36am 06/3/10
he class's are not balanced because the pred still gets owned before it can get close to anyone.


Do you mean the Aliens? If so then that's what I thought as well. The Aliens only having melee attacks against range weapons was a bit mismatched. In the demo the few games I actually got into, I thought the Predator was over gunned. The Marine seemed underpowered and the Alien attack modes were quite limited.

However I couldn't tell what the MP was like in the final game as I couldn't even get a game going as mentioned earlier.

rec
Posted 10:47am 06/3/10
Already uninstalled. I was so pumped. What a waste of money.
trog
Posted 10:54am 06/3/10
Already uninstalled. I was so pumped. What a waste of money.
did you not play the demo?
Viper
Posted 11:29am 06/3/10
This is why I love ausgames, because they actually talk about the damn PC version.
troubletcat
Posted 11:55am 06/3/10
I'm actually really liking the game. It's very fresh, and stands out as different from anything else on the market. The SP is not as good as what was in AvP 1 or 2 IMO, and it's absolutely lacking polish, but Rebellion do actually appear to be working on the situation. Now that there are some dedicated servers up, getting in reliable, low-ping game with a lot of player is no problem, and is a real blast (I've found). The franchise has always had exception multi-player gameplay, and AVP 3 is no exception. You have to put up with some silly design decisions (CHOOSE: A stable, lag-free game, or one where you can get unlocks and achievements) but the gameplay itself is fantastic as always.

There are a lot of complaints about balance issues, but as far as I can tell these are generally just individuals complaining about which ever species they are the worst at play as as being underpowered. I have seen a lot of complaints regarding all three species, each one being called both under or over-powered by different players.

I'm hoping Rebellion comes through with patches to improve the quality of the game further and that the problems with the dedicated server situation will be ironed out once the beta ends. I think some of these things - such as having to own a copy of the game to host a server, etc, might be BECAUSE it's in beta. Rebellion have always referred to it as a CLOSED beta, anyway.

I guess the point of my rantings is that I think the game has been getting a lot of unfair reviews. Ausgamers, as per usual, is pretty good, but I see the game getting relentlessly slammed by a lot of people. As it stands, it's really quite an enjoyable game, and it's only some relatively minor adjustments and fixes away from being a fantastic product overall. It's just a shame that a bad launch has probably significantly reduced its lifespan.
Methz
Posted 01:05pm 06/3/10
it may be fun at points. but like Dan said. This is 2010 man,get with the f*****g times and deesign some decent levels.
IncrEdible_vEgetable
Posted 05:55pm 06/3/10
Each level that I played had basically one main objective, was frustrating without being stimulating or challenging and was over too quickly with no real reward or sense of satisfaction.



Sound familiar ladies?


Crakaveli
Posted 12:04pm 07/3/10
Your first encounter with a hooker?
Eorl
Posted 03:14pm 07/3/10
I'm amazed you guys even bothered to write a review. Would of been more exciting then the game?
bulldog
Posted 10:10am 08/3/10
Well reading the review was more fun than the demo
Cowbar
Posted 04:19pm 08/3/10
Brought it what a waste of time and my money! just one big glitch of a game!
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