- Publisher: SEGA
- Developer: Rebellion
- ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
- Genre: FPS
- Pros: Three distinct play styles; decent presentation; fun multiplayer
- Cons: Marine campaign is pretty lackluster; hit detection issues; awkward controls; very short SP
The single-player campaign is split into three distinct parts – Marines, Aliens, and Predators – that all intersect together to tell one complete story. Each campaign only takes a couple of hours and you can beat all three in 6-8 hours total. From a gameplay perspective, the three campaigns couldn’t be more different from each other.
The Marine campaign is pretty straightforward FPS faire. You have guns, a motion tracker, and a flashlight and have to hunt down Alien xenomorphs and Predators like any typical FPS. It is easily the scariest of the three campaigns, as the enemies can pop up out of pretty much anywhere and your motion tracker does a better job of just scaring the crap out of you by going off constantly than really telling you where the danger is. The levels eventually open up from dark corridors into jungles and temples, which is kind of a shame, really, because the best part of the Marine campaign are the couple of dark scary corridor levels that start everything off. It is at the same time compelling because it is so scary and surprisingly true to the Aliens movies in terms of pacing and tone, but also kind of bland because the core gameplay is just sort of clunky and uninspired. It is a mediocre FPS on a system filled with great ones.
The Alien campaign is much more interesting. It is purely melee based – you have to use your claws, tail, and teeth to take out enemies – but it is fun and fresh and new simply because you get to play as a freaking Alien. You can climb on walls and ceilings at will as well as see enemy outlines (as well as tell how powerful they are) through walls so you can plan your attack ahead of time. The Alien is pretty fragile, however, so instead of direct confrontation with enemies you have to hide in the shadows and wait for the best time to pounce. The Alien can move incredibly quickly, so you spend your time dashing in and out of vents, slashing up enemies, and then retreating back to the shadows to wait for your next victims. It takes a bit of getting used to, since the Alien can move so quickly and it is very disorienting to run around on walls and ceilings, but it is also incredibly fun and satisfying as well.
The Predator campaign is by far the deepest of the three. The Predator has a lot more abilities including both melee attacks and projectiles and can also use a cloaking device to sneak up on enemies as well as distract humans to draw them away from their allies so you can pick them off one by one. Similar to the Alien campaign, using the Predator isn’t about direct conflict. It is about stealth and taking enemies out one at a time and then retreating into hiding to set up your next attack. It is a slowly paced campaign, but perhaps the most satisfying of the three because of it.
In the end, the campaigns all have strong points, but the Predator and Alien campaigns are definitely the best of them while the Marine just feels like any other FPS. One issue with all three is that the learning curve is fairly steep and takes a lot of getting used to and the controls are sort of clunky and unresponsive at times which seriously hampers the experience. One problem is the ridiculously precise detection window where you have to be in exactly the right position before context sensitive actions like jumping in a vent or using a finishing move pop up. Shuffling around to get into the right position to do stuff just saps the fun right out of the game. There are also some A.I. issues where CPU controlled characters just don’t work like they should. They’ll use cover incorrectly or even get stuck on level geometry surprisingly often.
With all of that said, the game is still fun. Yeah, there are problems, but the Alien and Predator campaigns in particular are unique and fun and worthwhile.
The three campaigns’ real attraction is that they serve as great training missions for the multiplayer. The MP is the star of this package, and learning the distinct play styles of the three races is vitally important. All of the modes you’d expect in a MP game are here, but made more interesting simply because the combination of the three different species make every match very unpredictable. Most of our SP complaints are also forgiven here simply because most human players aren’t idiots like the A.I. The MP is just fun overall.
Graphically, Aliens vs. Predator is a pretty decent looking game. The character models are good and the environments are nicely detailed overall. The lighting effects are particularly noteworthy as they are very well done and really add a lot to the creepy atmosphere of the game.
The sound is also well done. The voice acting is hit or miss, but the sound effects and music are absolutely perfect. Just like the lighting, the sound really plays a big part in making the experience something that is uniquely and distinctly Aliens vs. Predator, and the sound effects for hissing Aliens, machine gun fire, the ping of a motion detector, and more are all exactly what you would expect from the franchise.
Ultimately, Aliens vs. Predator is going to be a love it or hate it game for players. Is it flawed? Yes, but it is still fun in spite of those flaws. Like I said above, it is better than the sum of its parts. There are problems here and there with A.I. or controls, but the overall atmosphere and the presentation and just plain fun of the different play styles make up for it. At the very least it makes for a decent alternative when you need a break from the standard multiplayer FPS’ that top the chart. I can’t recommend it for a purchase because it does have some issues, but I can happily recommend it for a rental or a pick up after a price drop or two. I know its cliché and stupid to say this, but here goes – Fans of the franchise will enjoy it.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy