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Reviewed by Jason Zingale
t's funny to think that the very first “Aliens vs. Predator” game was released all the way back in 1993, because while it may have seemed like a no-brainer to fans of both franchises after spotting that famous Easter egg in “Predator 2,” it took much longer (11 years to be exact) before 20th Century Fox was confident enough to release a film version. Several other games have been released since then, most notably the 1999 PC title, which has long been considered the best of the bunch for its multiple campaign modes and solid multiplayer action. If you were a fan of that game, then there’s a good chance you’ll like Rebellion’s latest crack at the “Aliens vs. Predator” franchise, because it uses the same basic structure, only with updated graphics and a more diverse multiplayer mode.
Set on planet BG-386, all three campaigns center around the same overarching series of events after the Weyland-Yutani Corporation unlocks an ancient pyramid in the middle of the jungle. When the Predators are alerted to the discovery of their secret pyramid, a hunting party is sent down to the planet to ensure that no one leaves with their advanced technology. Meanwhile, a hive of deadly Xenomorphs (or as we know them, Aliens) have awakened to kill or harvest the bodies of any intruders, and what they lack in strength they more than make for in numbers. And as for our poor Colonial Marines, who have been called in to deal with the aforementioned bug infestation, well, they’re stuck in the middle of an alien war armed with only a flashlight and some guns.
They may be the inferior species, but the Colonial Marines are easily the highlight of the single-player campaign. It doesn’t exactly reinvent the FPS wheel, and there are far better survival horror games on the market, but when compared to the other story modes, this is the one that everyone will remember most. It’s also the most familiar, because whereas the Marine campaign is essentially a standard FPS (complete with health packs, melee attacks, and an array of weapons ranging from a pulse rifle to a flamethrower), the other two are a little different. The Aliens, for instance, are more about stealth, which means you’ll spend your time crawling around walls, taking out lights, and luring your prey into dark corners. The Predators, on the other hand, are a combination of the two, with a shoulder-mounted plasma caster to kill enemies from a distance, and a cloaking device to sneak up on them and tear their freaking heads off.
All three campaigns are fairly short (particularly the one for the Aliens), but when viewed as a complete package, it’s more than enough to keep you occupied. Unfortunately, while it might seem like you’re getting three games for the price of one, the controls for the Alien and Predator are lacking the same polish as those for the Marine. Much of your success as an Alien depends on your ability to crawl around on walls, but it’s often dizzying to move around upside down, and the speed at which you can run is almost too fast to make such quick reactions. Additionally, the Predator just doesn’t seem as strong as it should (especially when compared to its dominance in multiplayer), and though it shares the marquee, it only pops up once in each of the other two campaigns.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of Alien versus Predator action to be had in multiplayer, with a wide variety of modes ranging from regular Death Match and species-based Death Match, to a King of the Hill-type game called Domination. Those who prefer playing as the Colonial Marines can also participate in the Horde-like Survivor mode against a never-ending wave of Aliens, while Predator Hunt and Infestation play out like variations of tag. It might not be the best multiplayer experience around (namely due to a surprisingly barren game lobby), but much like the movies of the same name, “Aliens vs. Predator” is all about giving the fans what they want. The single-player campaign might have its problems, but between the gory kills, the classic sound effects, and the ability to play as an Alien and Predator, Rebellion has succeeded in doing exactly that.