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Review: Aliens vs. Predator

Russ Pitts | 25 Feb 2010 13:00
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I have to admit that I've been struggling with how to review this game. With some games, you can immediately say "it's good" or "it's bad." Aliens vs. Predator, however, is not one of those games.

It's tempting to lay out the elements of the game, measure them against how well other games do similar things and then determine a score based on the difference. Many other sites review their games in just this way, based on things like graphics (they suck), story (meh), voice acting (heard better) and game mechanics (out-dated). If I were reviewing Aliens vs. Predator based on those criteria alone I would be giving it a very low score, because, frankly, it's far too similar in all of the above respects to the original Aliens vs. Predator from the 90s than it should be as a modern-era shooter.

But I'm not going to review it like that. Not because it wouldn't be fair to the game, or the developer (original AvP dev, Rebellion), but because it wouldn't be fair to you, the person reading this who needs to decide if this game will be fun to play. The simple fact is that, in spite of numerous lackluster elements, the sum total of Aliens vs. Predator is fun to play. It's a blast to play. In fact, it's easily one of the most interesting and immersive shooters of all time, just, in fact, like the original was all those years ago.

Let's take the bad news first. For starters, the graphics are selectively lousy. Characters and textures are disappointing in most instances, and the scenery is pretty repetitive. There are exceptions, like the wonderfully-rendered aliens who fade perfectly into the shadows, and the various weapons, which are the hallmarks of the franchise, but overall, this game will leave you wondering whether anybody at Rebellion has noticed that art design has moved forward in the decade-plus since they last visited this world.

Likewise uninspiring is the game's story which, through the course of three interconnected narratives (marine, alien and predator) tells the tale of the discovery of the ancient Predator shrine to the Great Predator who first defeated The Great Serpents (AKA "The Aliens") by evil scientist/entrepreneur Bishop Weyland. Weyland turns the shrine into a secret facility for harnessing the destructive power of the aliens, things go horribly awry (of course), the marines get called in, and then the Predators decide to show up, too. Cue: mayhem.

While a version of this story has been told in various forms (graphic novel, movie, etc.) the videogame version is far less interesting and sadly the most interesting parts unfold about 15 minutes in via cutscene. The rest of the story, which you get to play, is pretty much meaningless and predictable, and the voice acting, with the exception of the character of Weyland, reprised by movie star Lance Henriksen, is dull and lifeless. This makes it all the more shameful that the graphics aren't better, considering Lance Henriksen's character looks nothing like him. You'd think that one would be a no-brainer.

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