Welcome to pt.1 of my Aliens vs. Predators review for the Xbox 360.
“All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the Corps! A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal’s a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune! Every formation a parade! I LOVE the Corps!”
First things first, let me say this: I have been waiting for this game for years. A little under a decade actually. I was a tremendous fan of Monolith’s first two AVP games that hit the PC back in the early 2000’s. Many a dark night were spent LAN’ing it up with my two roommates, chain-smoking cigarettes and howling across the apartment as we had our three-man, or rather, three-species, death matches. The first few nights we felt a bit guilty when we realized the sun was coming up and we should get some sleep eventually. However after a couple more epic weekends, we were as unrepentant as a Xenomorph chomping down on some poor Marines skull.
Second, let me also say this. While I’ve been looking forward to this for awhile now, I’ve recently been burned by a similar desire. I just recently got on board with Cryptics new “Star Trek Online”, and left a couple weeks later, frustrated and completely underwhelmed. Less then a month later, I don’t know if my poor heart can take another beating. So this damn AVP better be good!
This review will come in several parts. First, the single-player campaign. Second, the Predator campaign. And then, best for last, the Alien campaign. Then, I’ll move onto the whole point of this: multiplayer.
“Remember: short, controlled bursts.”
No kidding! I’m only about half-way through this Marine campaign, I think, and easily most of my ammo is being dumped into the walls and floor.
The controls are so loose and fluid, it seems hard to be precise, and it’s too easy to shoot wide. Which isn’t exactly ideal when I’ve got a 10 foot tall Xenomorph trying to eat me.
Right away, two minutes in, and I knew they needed to spend more time tightening up the controls. Everything happens a bit too fast, it takes you out of the moment a little. Not that things shouldn’t be fast in a game like this, obviously when things are crawling out of the walls you’ll need quick reflexes, but I run out of ammo so quickly, pouring it all into the décor, that I find myself spending most of my time with the pistol.
Luckily, the pistol has unlimited ammo. You’re going to need it. But if you’re like me, and you fell in love with James Camerons ‘Aliens’ when your mom’s boyfriend brought it over to keep you occupied when you were 7, you fell in love with all of it, but especially the sounds effects. The high-pitched shrieks of the Aliens being torn up, the pulse-rifle blasting away. Those were the scenes you rewinded to watch over and over again. So it’s very satisfying to relive those moments now on Xbox, however it’s disappointing when the ammos gone for the good guns so swiftly, and you’re stuck using the pistol.
The alternative, of course, is get up real close to the Aliens so you couldn’t possibly miss. Great idea; until their exploding body splashes molecular acid blood all over you and yeah, kills you. Ah well, its accurate, I’m a dummy, and I’ll just play smarter. (btw, don’t shoot Grenades at targets 5 feet away or less)
Other thoughts? Well, the acting is pretty bland and uninspired. These Marines seem like they’re trapped on foreign planets infested with bugs every afternoon they sound so laidback, clearly LV-426 was a long time ago. Clearly “Tequilla” is some distant relative to Vasquez, but she never really sounds Latino until she says her own name. There’s another black stereo-type female Marine in the game who’s name I didn’t catch, but I instantly thought I should pass her cell phone number onto the Cole Train.
Bringing Lance Hendrickson in was a nice touch, his ‘opening’ scene was nice, and it’s good to know he’s still good at playing himself.
Level design the game is so far excellent. The levels go from cramped, narrow hallways that accurately infuse the moment with a claustrophobic tightness, all the way to huge, outdoor vistas that really remind you how grand and ominous these places are. The buildings and canyons loom over you, and frankly just add to the tenseness as I scan the walls for crawling black things or blurry distortions leaping around. So far so good.
One final thing for now, the older AvP shooter games were very heavy on mood. They were very theatric with a rising action, during the Marine campaign you actually had to trek for quite awhile before actually firing a bullet. It seemed like at least a half hour of gameplay went by before you actually saw an Alien. And then you didn’t see one, you saw a dozen of them; and goddammit it was time to run!
This time around, well I think it was about five minutes, and that was me purposely taking my time and playing into it a bit. When we finally do see the first Alien, it’s a nice sequence, it provided a good ‘pop’ to wake you up.
I just wish I had more bullets in this damn M41-A Pulse Rifle!