The () franchise traces its origin all the way back to the late ‘80s when Dark Horse Comic’s Chris Warner, along with several other comic authors, first decided to pit two of film’s most iconic and deadliest species against each other. Over the decades, the universe grew into cosmic proportions with the production of games, films, novels, action figures and comics, all expanded based on and enriching the already mesmerizing mythology.
With the upcoming new film schedule to be released in theaters by July 9 this year and the rumors that Ridley Scott, director of 1979’s original Alien, is planning to direct an Alien prequel, the franchise is on its way to make a comeback into mainstream media. However, before the takeover officially starts, Sega in combination with Twentieth Century Fox decided to give the fans a taste of what’s coming up in the form of the video game, (), released Feb. 16 in North America for several major platforms.
In this modern gaming era, where First Person Shooter (FPS) games dominates the market, it is very hard, even for a franchise rich in its history of production of games, to be original and innovative. This fact, along with past trends that dictate games based on comics or movies must fail, puts at a disadvantage from the start. However, the game does a surprisingly superb job of overcoming these adversities while staying true to the franchise’s history and its characters.
The single player mode of is divided up into three independent but related stories that together formulate an overarching plotline. Each of the stories will have the players playing as either one of the human Colonial Marines trying to find his lost comrades and commander all the while trying to survives waves of extraterrestrial attacks, a lab born Xenomorph (Alien) attempting to free its queen and other members of its species from the cruelty of human experiments or a noble Predator on a mission to purge all other dangerous species off the face of the planet.
Like mentioned above, the stories are all interrelated. Player will notice that actions taken while playing as one species will have dire consequences on the progression of another. This is particularly fascinating as now players will adapt three different points of views and a deeper interpretation to a seemingly at first unimaginative storyline.
Although ’s method of presentation on its plot is interesting, its success does not exceed the gameplay which fully characterizes the franchise. As people might expect, playing as the three different species brings different experiences and requires different strategies all together. Whereas speed and stealth through darkness are essential to the plans of Aliens who focus exclusively on melee attacks in close range, the more flexible Marines or Predators might take a different approach.
The Marines gameplay will remind players of the most basic FPS gaming experiences. Roaming through the map looking for new weapons such as rifles, shotguns, flamethrowers, etc., players will find themselves in situations they have been in over and over again in other survival/horror FPS games. Close corridors covered in darkness and the exquisite outlines of Xenomorphs, perfectly rendered by the game’s powerful graphics, right before biting off your head will have you jump in your seat at any moment.
Playing as the Xenomorphs (Alien), a personal favorite, on the other hand, brings an entirely new experience. Besides the previously mentioned enhanced speed and disguises, one of the key and most fun elements of the Alien gameplay is the ability to traverse on any surface. Walls, ceilings, cliffs, the sky is the limit, literally.
Watch in fascination as the entire simulated world rotates on your every command as you jump from one surface to another, not to mention the strategic advantage this provides you over your enemies. The game also provides this particular species the ability to break environments that provide light for better stealth. All this environmental interaction really shows off the powerful engine this game is built upon and provides a lot of fun.
Last but not least, the Predator gameplay stays true to the mythology of this particular specie. Anything and everything reminiscent to Predators such as heat vision, cloaking devices, disk launchers, javelins and more will be at the player’s disposal. even added a jumping mechanic that helps Predators hide in high, difficult to see areas such as tree branches and building structures. Playing as a Predator generally requires more strategizing, which fits nicely with the history of the creature.
Overall, the perfectly alluring and different gameplays together with the game’s beautifully rendered graphics provides to the players a very cinematically real experience. Although the gory and bloody first person style finishing moves, “Trophy Kill” or “Stealth Finish,” expresses extreme brutality, they stay true to the mature-rating films from which all of this was based on. It also gives certain satisfactions for the players to rip the head and tail off an Alien from the perspective of a Predator.
However, sometimes the difficulties of the game can be frustrating. When it’s hard to kill a single Alien sometimes with an arsenal of weapons, will sometimes pit the players against a group of enemies with a single pistol. The bright side is that this provides replay values, which is something that the player will not get from the multiplayer experience.
It is hard to imagine that something done right for part of the game can also bring its downfalls, but this is true for the multiplayer aspect of AvP. While all the wonderful powers and weapons introduced earlier will make the players feel like a true hunter in the single player mode of the game, it makes the multiplayer experience extremely unbalanced. One hit kills, no matter how awesome it might look, should not ever be part of the multiplayer experience without some sacrifice accompanied with it.
No matter which one of the many different multiplayer modes the players decide to play, whoever sees another player first will almost always bring them to a bloody death with a finishing move.
The victim will almost never have a chance and strategizing is certainly out of the door. Because of this, the Marines, who do not have finishing moves, are extremely underpowered in multiplayer.
Although I wish to review more of the multiplayer content, it was just extremely difficult to play them. A game usually takes ten to 15 minutes to set up alone due to the lack of dedicated players, and with good reason. Even games in progress will only have about four to six players max, most of the time one or two.
Players will find themselves running around for a big chunk of their time looking for enemies, then come to a quick battle that’ll end in seconds followed by more running around. The multiplayer definitely has potential to be great. The developers will just have to do a lot of balancing, and fast.
Overall, is a fantastic game when purely focused on the single player content it provides. Fans of the franchise will love the attention to detail to the mythology of Alien vs. Predator while new comers can simply enjoy the ever changing and innovative gameplay to a lesser extent.
However, in a time when multiplayer gaming is such a significant chunk of the market and has the ability to make or break games, needs to step it up before the players lose interest completely.