Alien vs Predator Review: Triple Threat of Boredom
With Aliens Colonial Marines still fresh in my mind I thought I would take a look at the most recent Alien series entry before Gearbox's bad 2013 product. Rebellion were the developer behind the 2010 Aliens vs Predator, and this is a franchise that has had huge potential, yet always underachieved grossly. The films have been awful and the older games are fondly remembered, but are well aged now. Rebellion's reboot of the franchise should have been a great game, taking full advantage of the potential of the races and the lore. However, the final product is far from fulfilling this potential for a series of reasons.
There are 3 distinct campaigns in Aliens vs Predator, one for each of the races involved in this universe. The human campaign starts out in a promising fashion, leaving the player separated from his squad in an alien infested building. This quickly ends and the player is thrust into a run of the mill fps experience indistinguishable from most other shooters. It has no consequential characters or narrative beyond the usual Weyland-Yutani seeking power beyond their control story, and this is far from interesting to me. The Predator and Xenomorph campaigns fare even worse in terms of the story, though I do appreciate the Xenomorph intro of giving the player control over a prison breakout, slaughtering helpless scientists in fun fashion.
Overall there is not a lot of narrative interconnection between the three campaigns, and the story is a bare bones excuse for an action game.There are some boss fights but none of them are particularly good or inspired. There is also no exploration of the expanded universe or lore of the series. There are no new alien types in this game, no new robots or war machines that could have been created for the game, nothing new. The marines are here to kill the aliens, the aliens are hungry, the predators are here to kill everyone. The story does manage to characterise the Xenomorphs and Predators in line with the setting, and this is a positive point in its favour despite the lack of any attempt at a narrative.
Graphically the game is not up to modern standards. While its not outright bad, the levels are completely uninspired and difficult to differentiate areas form each other. The character models are generally good, but lighting is poor and environments monotone. Its just a visually bland set of environments that was needless considering the lore. Rebellion could have done anything regarding the setting but they picked the same old industrial corridors, a real shame.
The sound fares a bit better, with some good atmospheric effects like screeches in the distance, but voice work is really under used. To make this worse, the dialogue is very weak, though the Aliens and Predators are both voiced really well and in fitting fashion.
The three campaigns feel very different in terms of the gameplay mechanics. The marine campaign plays like a typical first person shooter with light horror elements, or rather attempts at them. You have an assault rifle, shotgun, pistol ect and progress through a set of linear and unremarkable levels against a series of enemy types. It is not awful but it is definitely the least engaging of the three campaigns in my experience. The Xenomorph campaign begins with a really interesting level cataloguing their escape from captivity, but despite them playing with a focus on melee and crawling on walls and other surfaces the campaign is not properly utilised. The Predators are stealthy thanks to their focus on cloaking devices, but these unfortunately tend to break down to shooting at the end of the day aswell, though with greatly different weapons to the human levels.
The multiplayer is better than the singleplayer experience, but unfortunately it boils down to a rock-paper-scissors situation. It is difficult to find a game on the deserted servers at this stage, and the maps available to play on are just ripped from the campaign and are not particularly well laid out at all.
The single biggest design flaw with Aliens vs Predator are the poor controls. The weapons feel clunky and cumbersome, and responsiveness for them leaves a lot to be desired. Even worse, the melee combat controls are barely functionable a lot of the time, which is disastrous during the Xenomorph and to a lesser extent Predator campaigns due to their heavy reliance on close combat. When an alien uses their ability to climb ceilings the camera spins uncontrollably leaving the player not knowing where they are, which is not helped by the poor level asthetic resulting in confusion and frustration.
It is simply not a satisfying game to play in terms of the design, and while is is certainly serviceable it is far from ideal and constantly places small obstacles in the players way to a smooth experience.
Aliens vs Predator is a game of failed potential. It takes a concept that could be crazy in scope and is perfect for a large scale campaign and deep mutiplayer. What Rebellion produced is a merely adequate, towing the line shooter that fails to distinguish itself in any meaningful way from the shooter crowed. It is not a terrible game, and there and there are certainly some laughs to be had, but it was certainly not worth full price at releaser, and is barely worth a rental now compared to the best games that are releasing. Its ok, but easily missible. This franchise is just having no luck, but it is a better product than the more recent Colonial Marines...yay.
- Strong atmosphere when it gets levels right
- Good looking character models
- Significant gameplay differences between the races
- Poor level design and bad controls
- Imbalanced factions
- Too short and creatively bankrupt
- The marines are still shocked to run into these situations
- 3/10 - Bad