Rock Paper Scissors meets Facehuggers.
As a child of the 90s, I grew up playing SNES and Pokemon. The core "Water beats Fire, Fire beats Grass, Grass beats Water" combat dynamic in the early games in that series are ingrained into my brain. As a result, any sort of "Damage Triangle" is immediately apparent to me.
Do you enjoy Rock Paper Scissors? The reason I ask is because this game has a lot of it. The two titular species share a melee system that boils down to a light attack, a heavy attack, and a block. The block can protect you from light attacks and leave the enemy open for a counter, the heavy attack can break through blocks, and the light attacks can interrupt a heavy attack. After dealing a set amount of damage, the enemy will be open for a gruesome kill sequence indicated by an onscreen prompt.
The effect this dynamic has on the game makes upfront confrontations between the two species boil down to Rock Paper Scissors to the death. Personally, I got a Dead Or Alive 4 vibe from it, if you can recall that games counter system. That may be appealing to some people, and for me it was, but for others it will turn them away from this game.
Unfortunately, the dynamic doesn't seem to work in heated battles. Numerous times I've blocked a light attack, only for my counter to, well, not actually happen. I just stand there while the enemy recovers from my block, waiting to get hit in the face by them. Heavy attacks only work when they feel like it, and often they choose the worst times possible not too. Light attacks are also guilty of not always performing their function of breaking a heavy attack. So what you're left with is a entertaining, albeit hokey, combat system that doesn't work half the time.
This is a really hard review for me, because I really like this game despite these issues. When everything works, it's fantastic. As a Predator fan, I've never been more enthralled as I was when I grabbed an Alien by the neck, decapitated it, all while a marine watched in terror. Then I used the targetted jumping system (Predators can hold the left trigger, and press A over wherever they want to jump too. It's a great way to make the Predator's mobility easy to use) to ambush the marine from above with my shoulder cannon.
the Alien has very little to work with in this game. His only means of attack are the melee system, and crawling on walls. As I said before, when everything works, this is fine and is fun as hell, but it doesn't work half the time. So all your left with is moving fast all over the landscape, and hoping the game lets you kill stuff. On the plus side, at least your vision and crawling always works. But that shouldn't be a plus, that should be a given.
Predators can use 4 weapons in addition to the melee system, such as the Plasma Caster, the disc, the Combi Stick, and Proximity Mines. The combi stick is a silent weapon that is thrown at targets for instant kills, but targets must be lead, although it doesn't give away a cloaked predator. The plasma caster is a loud plasma cannon that gives away the predator's position, but inflicts devastating damage. The Disc can kill multiple targets in one throw, is silent, and ricochets, but it uses the 3 laser targetting system, thus giving away a cloaked user. Finally, proximity mines dissapear when the Predator dies, so their use in mutliplayer is limited, and in single player you'll never need them. They do blow up real good, though. Predators also have 2 vision modes, one for humans (and other predators), and one for aliens.
To limit usage of the Predator's gear, the most deadly of his weapons use an energy system. If you use all of your energy, you'll need to recharge it at a power core.
Finally, Marines have guns and their motion sensor. Something moves, a blip appears on their hud. It's very small on the details, but that's on purpose. It's more to alert you to an incoming threat than to locate enemies. The guns are small on details, and that's not on purpose. None of the weapons feel powerful, despite the sounds they make. Almost in defiance of their weak appearance, they are utterly devastating. This creates an odd conundrum for the player, who will ussually not utilize the guns to their full effect due to just how pathetic they seem. After a while, I realized how powerful they were and stopped being mere prey for the other two species and became a viable third faction. Still, I can't emphasize just how weak the guns feel.
I haven't mentioned single player because it's not worth mentioning. Each species has a campaign, and they are all generic and mildly amusing. They aren't bad, they just aren't anything special.
Multiplayer offers a variety of gametypes, most of which are an absolute blast when the game works. The matchmaking takes longer than it should, and I have hard time believing it's due to lack of players since this game just came out two days ago.
I have never felt more like a Predator. I have never had more fun crawling around on walls as an Alien. I've never been more confused by my weaponry as a marine. I've also never been more conflicted about a game. I love this game, but it's just not something I can reccomend to anyone but huge sci-fi nerds like myself.
EDIT/NOTE: I gave this game two stars, but on some pages on the site it's showing this review as four stars. Not sure what that's about. Anyways, just to clarify, this game recieves two stars from me.