Ech0ez's Aliens Vs. Predator Review
Everything not listed in 'The Bad'.
Poor story, voice acting is sub-par, the Alien campaign is average, ranking system is terrible and map design in multiplayer is below average.
*If the images are too big, blame Neoseeker's innacurate preview system >_>
The Alien series is one of the single most iconic film franchises in history; Alien revolutionized the Horror genre and Aliens did the same for Thrillers and furthermore sparked the obsession with Space Marines that we so frequently in Sci-Fi these days, particularly in the video games industry. Predator isn’t as legendary or well received by critics, but it has become a cult-classic with an n incredibly large fan base and in many ways has created a large impact within its genre. Now whilst these two franchises individually are legendary, a good while back some dude whom was probably on drugs at the time figured it would be a great idea to cross the two into a ferocious species war; enter Aliens vs. Predator. The various comic series that spawned from it brought even more fame to the already legendary series and left a lot of people longing for AvP to actually make it to film, and watch Aliens and Predators clash on-screen. There were various games based off the comics dating as far back as the Jaguar, and in more recent years we had the two PC games, one developed in 1999 by Rebellion and one by Monolith in 2001. Unfortunately a few years later we did indeed get an AvP film, and a sequel to it which were both absolutely horrible and a few movie tie-in games that were vomit-inducing. Thankfully Rebellion once again stepped up to the task of bringing us a proper AvP title, rebooting the games franchise and bringing it to the HD consoles. However following the original AvP Rebellion haven’t made a single decent game, and whether a franchise built for the PC work on consoles, and whether getting it do so would negatively impact the PC version are all huge fears for the community anticipating this game, and now that it’s out can we really say it lives up to its predecessors?
So going over the basics AvP is about the clash between Xenomorphs, Predators and the Colonial Marines, offering games three different campaign experiences and a unique class-based multi-player with some inventive game modes. The game is obviously predominantly based around its multi-player component but the single player was still a fantastic experience in the AvP titles of old, and as such one would expect it would be here. The basic storyline of the game is that the infamous Weyland Yutani Corporation have discovered an ancient Predator temple as well as bred a Xenomorph Hive on some strange jungle planet and are proceeding to do research on them. The three campaigns all tell different parts of an overlapping story, although it’s pretty obvious right from the get-go that the Marine campaign came first and then the Predator, with the poor Alien getting shafted with a rather mediocre experience, but I’ll elaborate on that in a bit. There isn’t really an incredibly impressive storyline at hand, the Marine campaign has a solid story and through Audio Logs you get a very impressive and well-built up backstory, which suffers from the nature of the fact that most of the logs are hit or miss in terms of voice acting.
Visually the game is stunning, playing through the Marine or Predator campaign and witnessing some of the more artistic locations like the desolated Refinery and the molten interior of the Pyramid’s entrance are just amazing, and on the whole the game is just incredibly to look at. The superb lighting effects in the Marine campaign are top-notch and the design of the Xenomorphs and Predators is brilliant. The Marines are also very well done despite been incredibly ugly. Regardless of whether you’re playing the DX9 or DX11 version of the game, the Marine and Predator campaigns and even multiplayer are both simply fantastic. The Alien on the other hand utilizes a very unique graphic style that gives a ‘glossy’ look to everything and brightens the world up so you can see in the dark. It almost looks plastic and whilst I can’t say I quite like the look itself, it’s a very nice contrast to the other two species and presents a very unique way of looking at the world which I quite enjoyed. As for the audio, the game has a great soundtrack particularly during the Marine campaign that adds to the atmosphere and just sounds generally great; however the voice acting is generally horrible with a few key exceptions such as Lance Henriksen’s performance as Karl Bishop Weyland.
The Marine Campaign kicks off with a rather impressive opening cinematic that gives you the basic setting; you’re the ‘Rookie’ a member a Colonial Marine squad called down to the planet in order to handle the Xenomorph infestation that has overrun the colony there. However been the unlucky sod that you are, you find yourself knocked out before anything even happens and when the game kicks off you awaken in a dark creepy room all alone, with nothing for company but a gun, flashlight and a seemingly endless supply of flares. After your commander Tequila briefs you on the situations the game runs you through a short tutorial that runs you through the basics and you’re off to explore the colony. The basics are simple, your flashlight provides you with a small source of light in the immediate direction you’re facing, you can throw flares to illuminate dark areas with an eerie red glow and you can heal yourself using ‘Health Stims’ that are effectively drugs. Everything else is relatively standard, although it is worth noting that the Marine is slower than the average protagonist of most everyday FPS to enhance atmosphere, and his jump is about as effective as trying to use a dead squirrel as a trampoline so if you’re used to the typical style of play most modern day FPS use you’ll probably find yourself feeling quite confused at first. You’re also incapable of crouching or going prone and there aren’t any iron sights in the game so those of you who have an *bleep* every time someone mentions Modern Warfare or Call of Duty may wish to either think outside the box or just avoid this title altogether. In general the Marine has a very ‘retro’ feel given the slower movement pace and lack of several features we consider ‘standard’ these days although it manages to work perfectly regardless. Fending off the sorts of enemies you have to in AvP, pretty much all of said missing features would offer no benefit in the game barring a handful of situations crouching would come in handy, and the slow movement benefits the game’s incredible atmosphere.
The variety of different areas you explore range from the dark interior of the Colony to the abandoned and desolate Refinery, and there’s no questioning that the Marine campaign has a level atmosphere that’s more immersive and terrifying that practically every other game released across the last decade. This is partially due to use of absolutely incredible lighting and you’ll often find that the near pitch black interior of most areas you explore are only vaguely lit up by your flashlight, meaning your flares will be the primary method of sight and they cast a very creepy glow of everything nearby. But what really makes the Marine campaign so terrifying are your main antagonists; the Xenomorphs. The alien life form that has served as nightmare fuel for hundreds of people for decades provide an incredible adversary due to the nature in which they attempt to tear you limb from limb. Unlike your average FPS where your foes attack you from a distance and make use of cover the Xenomorphs are hive mind of almost insect like beings whom crawl about the walls and ceiling, attacking you from every direction and creeping through shadows where they’re near invisible until they’re an inch from devouring your face. The way in which they encircle you and come out every crack and crevice means you’re eternally looking over your shoulder and trying to avoid leaving any area unchecked for fear of been assaulted. This only gets all the more intimidate as the game goes on as you’ll find that your vicious foes begin to blend into the walls and attack you in much larger swarms than they previously would. They’re also a challenging enemy to face due to the fact they completely overpower you in close combat and thanks to their acidic blood if you attempt to take them down at point blank range you’ll die whether you succeed or not, thus forcing you to frantically think in the heat of the moment and you sprint between assailants in order to spin around and take them out. AvP is plain and simply a game where you cannot sit still, the Xenomorphs will kill you if you are constantly moving and choosing the time to sprint and strike carefully, which is part of the reason mechanics like crouch would be useless here.
The one thing that truly sets the Marine campaign apart from anything else is the Motion Tracker. This nifty device is essentially a movement-sensitive radar placed on the lower left-hand side of your HUD that makes a high pitched beeping sound whenever something nearby is moving and lets you see the general direction the target is coming from. This may sound like it makes the whole aspect of the Xenomorphs stealthy assaults pointless but on the contrary it makes them all the more intimidating. As you move about the darkened rooms of the desolate Colony and suddenly the tracker start making a sound nine times out of ten you’re going to piss yourself. The tracker picks up everything, from boxes falling to Xenomorphs in next room, meaning you’ll often be thrown into a tense “OH GOD IT’S HERE” moment to suddenly realizing you’re not under attack yet, and then three steps forward you’re suddenly assaulted by an attack breaking through a vent in the ceiling. The motion tracker in many ways is both your greatest ally and your greatest foe; without it you’d be torn to shreds in any encounter with the Xenomorphs but it also serve as the perfect tool to build atmosphere and keep you on edge, and the number of false alarms you get often means you’re never sure whether you should be scared or not.
On the whole the Marine campaign is absolutely perfect, whether you’re stuck fending off a swarm of Xenomorphs while an elevator takes its sweet time coming to save your ass, or dodging the shotgun blasts of dangerous Combat Androids you’ll find that the game rarely gives you chance to relax and it never ceases to be atmospheric. It doesn’t matter whether you’re fighting alongside a group of fellow Marines and watching them die one by one, or facing off against the impressive boss encounters you have throughout the game such as the duel with Predator in the ancient arena at the Ruins, the campaign is just top-notch from start to finish. As you creep through dark corridors which have an eerie red glow cast over them by your flares, listening to the ominous beep of motion tracker and the occasional hiss of a nearby Xenomorph, you’ll find yourself hard pressed to find any game even remotely close to this in terms of the fear you experience. As you explore the various locations in the dark and out of it, encounter Audio Diaries detailing the horrific deaths of your fellow Marines and watch the plot unfold as you play along you will almost without doubt, fall in love with this game. The only real fault in the Marine campaign is the length which still lasts longer than the other two mind you, but is ultimately only going to last you four or five hours. But when within twenty minute of start a game up you find yourself in a club facing down a swarm of Xenomorphs as epic rave music beats your eardrums and a holographic stripper dances around a pole in the background, you know you’re playing one hell of a game.
"You were wondering why this game was banned in certain countries?"
In a very large contrast to the near perfection that is the Marine campaign, both the Predator and Alien single player experiences leave a great deal to be desired. The Predator campaign kicks off with a short tutorial that is serves as your right of passage into becoming an ‘Elite’ Predator. The basic gameplay is similar to that of the Marine except you’re faster, have a better jump and your equivalent to Health Stims are Health ‘Shards’ which are some sort of sharp object that stabbing yourself with apparently results in pain relief I guess. You come to grips with the melee system of the game that both Aliens and Predators share which is essentially a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ style mechanic. You have light attacks, heavy attacks and the ability to block and they counter each other in that order; light attacks interrupt a heavy, the heavy can break a block and a block reflects a light and gives you the ability to counter attack. Counter and heavy attacks can temporarily stun foes, letting you unleash hell upon which is something to keep in mind when you getting close confrontation with your enemies due to the fact the Marine gets dominated by melee assaults and the Alien melee system works just like yours. Besides that you also get acquainted with the Predator’s standard technology including the cloak which renders you invisible when stood still but becomes a blur when you move about, the ‘vision modes’ which consist of your regular sight and thermal which is used to locate Marines and Androids. Besides that you also get to handle the Predator’s signature Plasma Caster which is basically a shoulder mounted energy cannon that either be fired in quick but weak bursts or charged up and locked on to a foe for an instant kill. Using the Plasma Caster costs energy can be restored by draining it from various terminals throughout the chapters, and energy also serves as the power source for your cloak. As you throughout the game you’ll gain more abilities including the Proximity Mines which do what they say on the tine, the Disc which is basically acts as an instant-kill boomerang with no cost and the Combi-Stick or Spear which lets you one hit kill foes but require decent aim. You also gain access to the Alien vision later on which is used to highlight the position of Xenomorphs. The final thing you need to make note of is ‘Focus Mode’ which shows small markers in the direction of health pick-ups, energy restoration points, Trophy Belts which basically serve as a pointless pick-up that are scattered through stages and getting all 45 throughout the campaign earns you an achievement, and final Focus Mode also lets you either lock on to foes to do a ‘jump stab’ or be used to find ‘jump points’ you can leap to in order to navigate the environment, letting you ascend to better vantage points to hunt your prey. Oh, and you can also zoom in your vision at any point and use your weapons with it.
If you were to sum up the Predator campaign in four words it would be “Cloak, Jump, Kill, Repeat” which the occasional walking about, direct confrontation is rarely an issue since the poor Marine AI never seem to use their motion trackers to take note of where you are, and the Xenomorphs can generally be picked off at a distance unless you’re up against a great deal of them. Close confrontations are much of an issue either since you easily overpower everything at point blank range besides the two boss battles in the campaign; as such you should rarely be faced with a challenge during the course of the Predator’s story. The only time you should ever be having an issue is against groups of Xenomorphs due to their habit of ganging on you and unfortunately your block only covers you front and a few shots from behind and you’ll find yourself dead on the higher difficulties. Generally though the Predator is a complete pushover which is a shame since the Marine campaign presents quite a challenge the atmosphere isn’t on-par either. The sensation of been a Predator as you leap about the treetops and blow slaughter your opposition with your assortment of awesome weaponry quickly loses it’s appeal when you realize there isn’t any challenge to be had short of playing on the highest difficulty, and even then it isn’t an enjoyable challenge but a frustrating one. The biggest weakness of the Predator campaign is the poor AI of the Marines and Androids which unfortunately make up the majority of your targets, the Xenomorphs present more of an enjoyable opponent but only because they attack in swarms and you don’t get the Alien Vision until later on in the game. It’s a shame as well because exploring the various environments as a Predator is a very enjoyable experience, and the somewhat underplayed storyline of the Predator campaign is actually quite good although it does feel somewhat lacking in substance at times but the storyline of the whole game feels like that. Initiating ‘Trophy Kills’ and ripping the heads of humans off and proceeding to stroke their spin in an incredibly creepy manner is also somewhat interesting, if you’re into that sort of thing. The Predator campaign is pretty much a case of wasted potential and it makes little sense as to why since chronologically the Predator’s story runs alongside the Marine story so you’d think by playing on the overlap you’d be able to create a great campaign that should be on-par with the Marines, but unfortunately it simply isn’t. It’s enjoyable mind you, but if you compare it to the quality of the Marine campaign it simply falls short.
"Don't worry, I hear face *bleep* is actually quite pleasant."
So finally you have the Alien or Xenomorph campaign, which is probably the weakest of the lot. The campaign kicks off with your birth and a short scene following before skipping to your adulthood where you’re now a fully grown ‘Drone’ Xenomorph living in captivity and been tested upon by researchers. You get the usual tutorial sequence which gets you used to moving about as the Xenomorph as well as climbing on walls which can be done either by holding a button, or set to do so automatically in the options menu by turning ‘auto-transition’ on. You also get a very brief explanation of the nature of melee attacks although the actual way the rock, paper scissor system works is pretty much skipped over due to the fact you won’t be fighting your fellow Xenomorphs and there are no Predator encounters until the end of the campaign for some reason. The Xenomorph is set apart from the Marine and Predator due to the lack of ranged attacks and the fact it can scale any obstacle barring the dastardly invisible wall through the use of, well it’s never actually explained anywhere as to how their species stick to walls but you just take it for granted. Given the nature of such gameplay as you’d probably expect the Alien is a very stealth-based species to play as, you have to make clever use of shadow and your ability to move along the walls and ceilings if you hope to deal with Marines whom will easily overpower you if you’re spotted thanks to their firepower. You can initiate a ‘Focus Mode’ just like with the Predator which will let you pounce onto your targets which are useful in more open area and if you follow up high-speed sprinting with the pounce you’ll often be able to take out your foes with little to no opposition. You can also ‘hiss’ to lure Marines nearby and then slaughter them, especially with the ‘Stealth Kill’ mechanic that lets you use the interaction button to instantaneously kill an enemy if you sneak up behind them.
The weakness of the Alien campaign lies in the poor AI of your foes. The Marine deals with the generally intelligent Xenomorphs and an assortment of bosses while exploring an incredibly atmospheric and scary set of environments. The Predator also has Xenomorph foes and the stealthy gameplay of the Predator mixed with his ‘sniper’ like weaponry often means that whilst there’s no denying the Predator campaign is easy, it’s still enjoyable. The Alien on the other hand solely faces off against Marines and Androids until the final fight and unfortunately there’s absolutely no challenge to it. The way that the Marines completely ignore their dead companions is just downright idiotic and often means you can wipe out a whole room full of them without even getting spotted, despite the fact they let out screams of agony as you ram your tail through their eyes. There’s simply no end to the idiocy of the AI and it becomes all the more apparent in this one campaign and ultimately destroys the experience. The sensation of been a Xenomorph clambering about a variety of environments and stealthily hunting people is crushed by piss-poor AI. There’s also no redeeming factors to be had outside of combat, you have the ability to ‘Harvest’ civilians for a potential achievement but it ultimately doesn’t impact gameplay and feels like a pointless addition to demonstrate the fact the Alien you play as can seemingly pull Face Huggers out of her ass. You’ll find that the Royal Jelly Canisters which are the Alien equivalent to Audio Diaries and Trophy Belts are poorly hidden either right in the open or in near impossible to locate areas and sever no impact on the game barring an achievement once again, and finally your objectives are just plain stupid. The Marine and Predator have objectives that whilst annoying since a purely linear experience has questionable levels of ‘fun’ make sense. The Marine is trying to survive and help his comrades as well as uncover the conspiracy of what’s going on, and the Predator is trying to locate the fallen Youngbloods and remove the stain upon their race’ honour that the humans have caused by defiling their sacred temple. The Alien on the other hand is breaking computers for absolutely no reason in general. Your orders in the first mission make sense since you’re freeing the Xenomorph Queen or the ‘Patriarch’ as she’s also known, but almost every objective you get afterwards make little to no sense. Why am I disabling this satellite exactly? What purpose does this serve to our queen? The Xenomorph have a hive mind yet for some reason you never seem to get any reasoning or valid explanation for your actions, you have no ‘grand objective’ to work towards and throughout the whole thing you’re following orders and doing things for the sheer sake of it. Not only that but I find it hard to believe that for a species that operates in an insect-like society with a hive, various specialized ‘species’ and so forth, that we’re always working on our own. We see fellow Xenomorphs like three times throughout the whole campaign, despite the fact Xenomorphs are often shown to attack in swarms.
The Alien campaign as a whole is just full of wasted potential, whether it be the fact you never get to really fight alongside your fellow species, the fact that ‘Harvesting’ people serves no real purpose, the piss poor AI of your foes or whether it’s just the fact your objectives lead up to nothing. The Alien campaign serves as nothing but a ‘prelude’ to the Marine campaign, nearly everything you do is for the purpose of setting the stage for the Marine and it evidently has a negative impact on the poor Alien. Not only that but the Alien campaign is also extremely short, even when compared to it’s fellow stories and will probably only last you an hour or two depending on how good you are at following blatantly obvious orders and whether or not you choose to play dumb to compensate for the idiotic AI.
When you view the entire single player experience of AvP it becomes apparent that the Marine campaign was the central focus, with the other two species serving as ‘tie-ins’ to the primary story. This is also evident in the design, the Marine campaign is fantastic in its immersion and atmosphere and on the whole an incredibly enjoyable experience with many epic scenarios throughout it, while the Predator and Alien get rather dull stages hindered by poor AI and an incredibly uneasy progression throughout their respective stories. Regardless of these issues however the single player is enjoyable, it certainly isn’t worth owning the game for by itself but it does offer a few hours of one of the more inventive and enjoyable campaigns in a multi-player centered FPS released in recent years.
Multiplayer in AvP consists of seven different modes spanning eight different maps (Although certain modes are limited to certain maps), the three species as you’d expect and a ‘Ranked’ system that works on XP earned in matches. Before I actually go into any degree of explanation of the way multiplayer actually plays, I’m going to explain the incredibly poorly implemented Ranking system. Basically you gain XP during matches for a variety of things such as kill streaks or killing in specific manners and once you attain a certain amount of XP you ‘rank up’. Ranking unlocks various skins that can be used in online play and in total there are around six skins available for each of the three species. The issue with the ranked matches is the fact that you can only play a ranked match through a ‘matchmaking’ system that randomly pairs together players from all over the world and has one locally host the match, which results in a variety of issues including severe lag depending on people’s connections and locations as well as the fact that if the host disconnects the match is ended automatically. The game does actually have both Dedicated Server support and the ability to browse through and join Player Matches where you can see the ping you’re going to get, however these matches are not ranked, thus meaning if you want to unlock skins you’re going to have to make do with the tedious matchmaking process, which in this day and age plain and simply shouldn’t be accepted in PC gaming. Another issue that will probably bother a fair deal of the people reading this review is that the game support Steam Achievements, however at least seven of them if not more require you to be playing a ranked match which further forces this poor system down people’s throats if you’re an achievement hunter. I’d also like to point out while I’m on the subject that a lot of the achievements are very poorly thought out, two of them require extensive amounts of time put into ranked play to achieve a high XP count and one actually requires you to play a ranked match with six Steam friends, despite the fact the only way for a friend to directly join you is through the Steam client itself. The whole system seems very poorly implemented and in all honesty is most likely a result of the game’s multiplatform release which is a shame considering that Rebellion are legendary for the original AvP released on the PC back in 1999.
Needless to say if you’re lucky enough to consistently get ranked matches with low ping or you choose to play on the dedicated servers and get around and lag-based issues, you’ll find the multiplayer itself is highly enjoyable on the whole. The modes consist of your standard free for all Death Match, a Species Team Death Match which teams players by class, a Mixed Species Team Death Match which has two teams that are made up of mixed class and then you have the more inventive modes; Domination, Infestation and Predator Hunt. You also have a Marine-exclusive Survivor Mode which takes place on a few specific maps exclusive to the game type which pits you and up to three fellow Marines against waves of AI controlled Aliens that’s very comparable to standard ‘Survivor’ modes you see in a lot of FPS on the market at the moment, and it’s a highly enjoyable experience. Standard Death Match is an incredibly frantic experience if the match is nearly full, especially if you’re playing on one of the smaller or more cramped maps and this in some ways actually serves to make it either very enjoyable or absolutely horrendous depending on what you tend to enjoy. It’s fast paced and incredibly disorienting and you often find that you can’t go two or three kills without been struck down yourself and whilst some people enjoy this sort of play a lot of other don’t. You also have consider that this is also the mode where the ‘Stealth Kill’ mechanic is generally spammed the absolute most, with suicidal Alien players continually scoring kills at the cost of their own life which often results in them actually winning easily, and the other two races wind up having to resort to cheap tactics if they expect to win. Death Match is probably the most imbalanced and controversial mode in the game and it also highlights the game’s faults and is generally one of the weaker experiences available in AvP. On the other side of the coin both Species and Mixed Species Team Death Matches are an absolute riot to play and highlight the games strengths perfectly, AvP is arguably one of the better co-operative multiplayer experiences released in this generation and on the whole it’s an incredibly enjoyable. The only issue particularly apparent in these modes is those specifically relating to maps and the fact there are some questionable class balance issues I’ll address in a bit, but on the whole the team-play in AvP is top notch.
They're coming outta the walls! They're coming outta the GODDAMN WALLS!"
Elaborating a bit on the previous game types, Domination places Marines against Aliens in a battle to control three specific points on the map in order to earn points and is surprisingly fun but unbalanced game since whoever gets two of three points first pretty much wins the match, and as a general rule you’ll find that skilled Alien players will dominate (No pun intended) due to their higher mobility. Predator Hunt is a very unique mode since very player but one take on the role of a Marine and the last takes on the Predator. The Predator must score kills within time limit in order to extend said time, otherwise he/she respawns as a Marine and another Marine is selected to be a Predator. If a Marine is able to kill a Predator then he/she will become the new Predator and it basically comes down to who scores the most kills as the Pred. Finally Infestation places every player in the shoes of the Marines bar one whom is selected to be an Alien 30 seconds into the game. Every Marine that dies, whether it be by the Alien’s arsenal of deadly body parts, or suicide due to inconveniently placed cliffs will respawn as an Alien. The objective is for the Aliens to ‘infest’ all the Marines, and when only one Marine is left he/she must survive 30 seconds as the last man standing in order to win the game. Both Predator Hunt and Infestation are highly enjoyable and inventive modes and also the few modes in the game that seem more enjoyable when there are a higher count of players, heck I’d go as far as to say that 18 player Infestation matches are some of the most fun I’ve ever had in a multiplayer game period. They add a great deal of variation to your standard FPS multiplayer and they never cease to be incredibly fun, especially with friends. Domination on the other hand is probably the weakest mode of the lot due to poor balancing and generally boring style of play, attempting to capture and defend specific points on the map may be fun in a more standard FPS but in a battle where one class is armed with artillery and the other with melee it loses a lot a great deal of its appeal in my eyes, especially since you’ll find that the two sides wind up avoiding each more than clashing.
Regardless of thought on individual modes however the thing that ultimately makes or breaks the game are the classes, which are questionably balanced unfortunately. The Predator is probably the most controversial and dividing of fans out of the lot, primarily due to the fact the Predator’s melee is more deadly than that of the Alien, and the existence of the ‘disc’ which is arguably the Pred’s most lethal weapon since it doesn’t cost energy and it’s an instant-kill that can take out several enemies per shot and is also quite difficult to avoid if you aren’t at a distance. All of the Predator’s weapons also have the ability to instantly kill which when coupled with the fact they have what is consider the most potent melee besides the Alien’s ‘wall tail’ most people find them to be overpowered. Needless to say you’ll often find that this is balanced out due to the nature of the way the races work together, due to the way the Predator’s weapons work you’ll find that in team games Predators generally can’t fire at enemies that are too close to their companions or stick too close together, which puts them at a disadvantage against Aliens which tend to always attack in ever changing formation. The Predators also have to be weary of the fact that Marines tend to stick relatively close together so if any one Pred makes a move he/she is likely to be gunned down regardless of help from any of their team. Predators also start to lose their effectiveness when there are 12+ players in a match since it’s much harder to watch their backs and continually cycle through vision modes when Marines and Aliens are everywhere, as such you’ll find that whilst Predators tend to dominate matches with smaller numbers of players, in the larger matches it will often tip towards Aliens or Marines depending on which of two modes it is. Mixed Species Death Match is probably the most balanced of the lot due to the teams can be a mix of any proportion of races, and funnily enough alternative species actually tend to be better support in team games, particularly for Aliens due to their lack of ranged weapons. On the whole the classes are actually very well balanced due to the nature of the modes themselves, despite the fact they all have certainly qualities that could be considered ‘too good’ and Predators may well be dominant in terms of 1v1 scenarios, you’ll find that most of the time all of the races are effective if you take the time to get efficient with them.
So considering the generally fantastic gameplay modes, well balanced classes and generally enjoyable experience regardless of which species you ‘main’ you’d think AvP has a superb multiplayer right? Well unfortunately not quite and the reason for this isn’t because of poor ranking systems, or any sort of issue with the gameplay itself, but actually in the map design. There are six general multiplayer maps and two survivor exclusive ones and whilst there are four more on the way in DLC at some point, the maps themselves are pretty poorly designed and most of them are near direct rips from locations in-game instead of any multiplayer-specific content barring two maps, and slight alterations made to locations to make them suitable for multiplayer. Now aside from the fact that a grand total of less than ten maps is absolutely ridiculous in any multiplayer game that expects to keep a community going for longer than a week, the maps themselves are also incredibly dull and similar in design and even aesthetic. Two of the maps are jungle themed, two of them are themed around ruins and then you have the Refinery and the Pyramid which are both mostly made up of the corridors and the latter is the single most confusing area I’ve ever seen in a video game. Seriously the Pyramid is just a network of corridors that have certain doors that open and close after periods of time and even adjusting floors, which basically makes it absolute hell to try and navigate and because the corridors are so small it’s difficult to play as any race without getting lost and stuck. The map design in AvP is just generally poor and whilst it may not impact how much you enjoy the game depending on how much you care for the environment, it personally strikes me as just poor design as to how there are so few maps, they’re all poorly designed and they’re almost all direct copies of in-game locations. You just can’t help but think somewhere along the lines Rebellion just got plain lazy.
"Completely irrelevent, but bloody hilarious."
In summary AvP is a very mixed game. The single player is divided into three campaign of which one is amazing, one is ‘good’ and the last is roughly average and the multiplayer component is very enjoyable but hindered due to the nature of the poor ranking system and generally sub par maps. As far as presentation goes the game is mixed between superb visuals and music and poor story and voice work, however the overall atmosphere of the game is simply top of the line. No matter what way you look at it AvP does have clear faults, but it also has a lot of things going for it. Whilst it may not live up to the status of the previous two PC titles, it’s certainly an enjoyable experience that you should definitely consider looking into even if you avoid purchasing it at full price.