Aliens and Predators are both products of the film industry, created
wholly from scratch for the sole purpose of cinematic entertainment.
But unlike most things created in Hollywood, these had depth. Enough
depth was endowed on both franchises to spawn comic books, fiction and
games. Aliens vs. Predator 2: Primal Hunt continues the saga of the
two Hollywood beings coming to loggerheads again with humans lurking in
the background. While Primal Hunt works off the stellar Aliens vs.
Predator 2 foundation, it's unable to captivate the sheer on the edge of
your seat terror that the franchise is known for, ultimately coming off
as a mechanical and rather derivative expansion pack.
The first complaint people will have with Primal Hunt is the campaign
length. It's separated into three races: humans, predator and alien.
With nine missions divided by three, that's three missions per race. In
this day and age, I'd hardly call a campaign three missions and perhaps
it would have been better if the missions were structured linearly like
recent RTS trends, where you get to go through the story from the
perspective of each race. Primal Hunt tries to stay with the original
Aliens vs. Predator 2 concept of connected campaigns. What do I mean by
this? There are certain inflection points during the course of the
missions where the scenes play out exactly the same, except, depending
on which campaign you're on, you'll be playing it out in a different
Primal Hunt's main story pits the aliens against the predators this
time, rather than the aliens versus the humans. There's a
quintessential flaw with that and it involves the nature of the two
beasts. The aliens, for example, are much more adept at capturing
mobile prey. It is fun to stalk a bunch of clueless and lost humans but
not fun when you're stalking a bunch of armed to the teeth predators
whose only vocation in life is to add you to their trophy room.
Customary with expansion packs, Primal Hunt's developers add new weapons
for each race. None of them are particularly spectacular, save for a
self-destruct bomb that can be attached to a suicidal predator.
Although it sounds great, perhaps it would have worked better if it was
the exploding acidic alien who depends on swarm tactics. The humans get
a double pistol, no doubt to drum up the action. And you'll be seeing a
lot of action as Primal Hunt's levels are merely a set of action
sequences strung together with a storyline. The developers have put a
lot of emphasis in the cutscenes and story. They're not phenomenal in
voice acting or in presentation. It uses the in-game engine, which by
this time is showing its age but is still able to conjure up some
scenes of sheer terror, provided the action doesn't get in the way. The
storytelling gives context to the missions but I wished equal care was
put into the actual mission designs themselves. Playing as the
corporate humans, this title felt more like an alien turkey shoot
(punctuated with spells of quick saving/loading) than the survival
horror depicted in the film franchise.
Therein resides the crux of Primal Hunt. It simply uses its marquee
characters too willingly and wantonly in situations that are, in my
opinion, inappropriate. Remember the film franchise and how it was able
to use lighting, camera direction, set, music, and audio cues to summon
scenes of horrific tension? This happened even when the only antagonist
present in the scene was a mere facehugger. In Primal Hunt, full-grown
alien adults will drop in on you at the turn of every corner. Once you
see a full adult alien dozens of times, it begins to lose its menacing
There are improvements to be found besides the obligatory maps and
weapons. Primal Hunt is able to make some strides in the incorporation
of friendly characters working in tandem with the script. That's
something that takes it up to speed with other FPS titles released this
year, most notably Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. It's a step up
because in the last outing, you were often tasked impossible objectives
like going through an alien infested complex alone to open the door for
your personnel carrier while the rest of the crew chat and play twister
inside. Here, the humans at least have a fighting chance.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Primal Hunt is the new focus.
With aliens preying upon predators, it becomes brute force upon brute
force, making it less about finesse and more about action. That in
itself does away with the horror and terror that the franchise, both
film and game, is known for. Primal Hunt also adds some multiplayer
action but with such a shallow outing, it's going to be tough to find
players even with GameSpy support. Primal Hunt is primal in the sense
that it takes a step back from its predecessor. After a few days of
play, you can't help but hunt for more.