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Game Over Online ~ Aliens vs Predator

GameOver Game Reviews - Aliens vs Predator (c) Fox Interactive, Reviewed by - Pseudo Nim

Game & Publisher Aliens vs Predator (c) Fox Interactive
System Requirements Pentium 200, 32MB RAM, 3D accelerator
Overall Rating 90%
Date Published Tuesday, May 25th, 1999 at 04:55 PM


Divider Left By: Pseudo Nim Divider Right

The first-person genre has been incredibly crowded ever since the success of Doom and Wolfenstein. There were many games, some good, some great, some incredibly horrible... all in all, innovation has been incredibly scarce, and most of the time they build on the same premise: find the key, take a bodycount, and get out of the level alive. Period. Fortunately, some games didn't take that approach - and we had Shogo: MAD, Blood and Blood II, and lately, Half Life. Now, however, a newcomer is joining the ranks - and this one promises to bring innovation to new heights.

We all remember "Alien" and "Aliens." (People also remember "Aliens 3" and "Aliens 4," but those, frankly, sucked, so nobody cares about them - too much emphasis was on gore and the horror theme, rather than the suspense and action which peaked in "Aliens"). We all also remember Predator, which was, arguably, one of the best Schwarzenegger movies along with Terminator I and the like. So really, it was only a matter of time, in today's movie licensing frenzy, that a game should come out based on one of these movies. However, Fox Interactive figured hey, why use one license when two are available - so it scooped up both Predator and Aliens into one game.

The result? A blastfest of action-packed combat, fuelled by innate hatred of one species toward another, locked in a deadly triangle of death, fear and despair and fighting to stay alive. Why do I say 'triangle'? Because what kind of Aliens is it without the Colonial Marines? They are rad, they are bad, and they are mad to go against the Aliens, but that's off the point.

The story goes as follows. In the line of research, the scientists at Pandora Base allow an Alien to escape inside the base. However, a security system foul-up ends up in an escaped Predator, as well, making things just a tad more interesting. If you play as a Marine, your mission is to locate the data tapes that will allow you to destroy the base while the Aliens are still rampant inside it (which sounds just like a real movie - done for people who believe that data tapes can destroy physical structures... yeah, next thing we know punch cards will be used to cure hostile viruses). Weaponry-wise, you get the standard Marine loadout (such as a pulse rifle, machine gun, flamethrower and that cool huge mother of a gun that Vasquez had in "Aliens"). As a Predator, you get a wristblade, a heat-seeking shoulder cannon, a speargun (from which you can't seem to be able to pick up the spears, once you use them), and the Predator disc, of course (just like in the second movie). When playing as an Alien, you get no weapons. That is, you have your claws, and you can spit acid - but that's it. However, the Alien can crawl on ceilings, and given its dark tint it's nearly impossible to see - until it drops straight down behind you and bites your head off. Or otherwise makes you suffer.

The extra equipment of the three species is really cool. Or two, I should say - the Aliens don't really have any technological gizmos. The Marines, however, have a motion sensor (the one that freaks you out more and more as white dots approach you), as well as a light intensifier, which significantly amplifies any difference in light, which helps a lot in dark spots. The Predator has, of course, the cloaking device and the heat sensor - and it's amazing how much fun it is sniping some unsuspecting Marine who's gotten just a little too close for comfort.

The graphics are quite amazing. As an example, blood spills on the ground when a creature is shot, which is especially disadvantageous for the Predator, as anyone can see which way a Predator is headed after he's been hit. The engine also supports colored lighting, lens flares and all the latest bells and whistles that one has come to expect from today's resource hoggers. Which, incidentally, AvP is not - in 640x480 it runs perfectly on my P200; definitely much smoother than Kingpin, though Kingpin is based on the two-year-old Quake II engine.

The atmosphere is incredibly well-presented, as well - for example, when you start as a Marine, you are in a dreary, claustrophobic facility, with Aliens crawling all around you unseen, with creepy music and long shadows all around you. When I first played as a Marine, the environment was so similar to the movie's, and I felt (or so I believe, anyway) so much like a Marine that I moved in drastic, paranoid movements, every time my motion sensor blinked cold sweat formed on my neck, and every second I was prepared, or I thought I was prepared, for what was to come. My base was provididing me directions... then, at one especially dark passageway, the signal faded out with an "Private, the signal will fade out for a while, but watch out... we think you're not alone there." By that time, I was so hyper I'd have probably shot my own team member had I thought he looked like an Alien. Then... a white dot came. And another one. Approaching. Fast. But I couldn't see anything! I desperately turned around a few times, then faced the direction they were coming from... closer... closer... then the traditional darkness, screams and shrill noises. Once it all quieted down, I had two dead Aliens right in front of me, burning holes in the floor with their acid blood. "Whew! That one was close," I thought. I won't bore you with further details, but suffice it to say later on I shot an Alien or two just a little bit too close for my own good, and as my Marine slowly died of a few huge acid-burned holes in him, I couldn't help but wonder - why were the Aliens so small? Perhaps the designers didn't want the player to die of a nervous breakdown of encountering a huge creature, a few times a man's size right away - but I still felt they were sort of smallish. I can only assume they get much, much bigger later on.

Playing as a Predator is wicked, too. To my taste, that's the best of the three species; one of the reasons, perhaps, is its ability to cloak and use the heat-sensitive vision to identify targets. The said targets can't see the Predator until it's too close - but only a dumb Predator approaches its prey too close, and a dumb Predator is a dead Predator. Sniping from a distance, hiding in the shadows - it's the life of an assassin. And I like it. A lot. It's also an incredibly scary sight to see a cloaked Predator - so scary, in fact, that if you sneak up on a Marine he'll scream out really loud and start spraying bullets in all directions - without any targetting whatsoever. And if he kills you, he doesn't stick around, either - he runs away as fast as legs carry him. Quite cool. And the last cool thing about the Predator is the on-screen status display - unlike the Alien's and the Marine's displays, which show information in plain English, the Predator readouts are in... well.. Predatorese. It's like looking through a Klingon status display on a Bird of Prey.

As for the Aliens, I am ashamed to say that I was unable to properly evaluate them. While I understand that that's probably how the Alien sees, feels and moves, that's not how I see, feel and move, and as a result, I was completely unable to control him. It honestly felt like Descent but with a heavy amount of gravity. Too bad I couldn't see a replay of how I ran around - it must've been quite an amusing sight. The Aliens are a great species to play if speed, stealth and ability to crawl on ceilings is required - however, the Alien sees the environment slightly distorted (sort of like a warped perspective), and, in addition to that, the first Alien level is very roundish, with lots of round rooms, edges and the likes. And gravity. What do you get? An Alien that's running around in a circle, pretty much. The Hunt mode is sort of neat, though - it's similar to the light intensifier of the Marine. Check out the same room with and without the Hunt mode in the screenshots on the right.

As I mentioned before, the audio and visual ambience is extremely well-implemented. The side that feels most of it, in my view, is the Colonial Marine - because the rooms are a lot darker, the area feels abandoned, sparks fly from broken electronic equipment, and the overall level of desperation is felt that prompted the deployment of a Marine into such disfavourable circumstances. Critters chirp in outdoor environments, and just the right amount of silence dominates - perfect for the creepy environment that it is.

So, in a resume, how does Aliens versus Predator measure up to the tough competition of today's harsh market? Probably about how a Predator compares to a Marine. They all have their strenghts and weaknesses, but if AvP excels somewhere, it's innovation. The species are extremely well-balanced, and multiplayer is amazing, since different species can, and have to use different tactics to survive. In addition, I believe fans of both movies should be pleased; and while there's no Arnold, the Colonial Marine should do just as well. This game is definitely a keeper - and a creepy keeper at that.

 

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Rating
90%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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