Aliens vs Predator
For: PlayStation 3, Windows PC, Xbox 360
Genre: Action, First-Person, Sci-fi, Shooter
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)
Aliens vs Predator
For a game franchise more than a decade old - based on two movie franchises more than twice that - you'd think Sega could turn out a new Aliens vs Predator title of the "reboot" variety. Maybe something along the lines of the new Star Trek movie based on the old TV series but with like, new people in it, new plot contrivances or at least new special effects to distract you from the absurdity of said plot contrivances.
Turns out: Nope. No reboot here. This is the same old Aliens vs Predator game, lock, stock and shoulder cannon simply supplanted into new environments, further debilitated by console controllers trying to do things that used to require a keyboard and mouse. (Ironically, the keyboard and mouse-friendly PC version of this "new" game plays like it was designed for a console controller, which is lame, but that's the way of most-popular-denominator game design these days.)
The shticky trick of allowing you to play the game three times as three different species - namely an Alien and a Predator (no doi) but also as a space marine fresh out of the cookie cutter - remains the game's primary appeal.
In fact, the game's multiplayer component plays to that skill set trifurcate rather well, Us vs Them vs Them Too-style. Unfortunately, it's not enough to save the rest of the game from utter mediocrity.
As a space marine, you're playing a generic corridor shooter tasked with, surprise, finding keys and flipping switches to unlock the door to the next corridor with another key or flippable switch at the other end. The absolute banality of it all is somewhat diminished by great lighting effects - or darkness effects punctuated by your myopic flashlight and the odd flash of frazzled wiring - and the ever-present threat of mauling by an Alien that may or may not show up on your standard issue, Commodore 64-era motion senor that goes tick... tick... TICK to great effect.
Playing as an Alien is basically an exercise in tactical stealth and melee combat, playing to the xenochomper's strength of climbing walls, ceilings and rafters. Sometimes, you'll automatically climb walls, other times you'll need to press and hold a button, which makes about as much sense as "press X to breathe."
Similarly, it turns out that Aliens can only attack from a small selection of predetermined angles, so it's a game of precisely positioning yourself and then precisely aiming at your intended target of sloppy flailing.
Playing as a Predator is a mix of the first two gameplay-types. You're armed with a couple of the coolest-weapons-ever, plus you're super agile - though, again, you have to aim at your jump destination precisely to affect a general-vicinity leap into or out of the fray. Moreover, a Predator is apparently more effective when up close and personal, despite what the old Ahh-nold movie depicted.
Worse, great gobs of self-serving gore defeat the purpose of stealth because you're then locked in to watching your fine predatory-self remove some dude's spine. This gives ample time for his buddies to turn around and toast you while you revel in your grisly subroutine reverie, nary able to opt out of the gobby gore to take care of the more pressing task of not getting shot. Whatever, dude.
All said, Aliens vs Predator doesn't help the long-toothed franchise in any way. It basically teases you with the promise of playing as some of the toughest killers ever conceived by your father's generation of conceivers, and then plays to your other adolescent inclinations of awkwardness, illogic, and mayhap-ability to suspend disbelief enough to warrant beating a dead horse to death.