Aliens Vs. Predator 2 (PC) review
"“Scary as hell” is a term I rarely, if ever, use to describe a game. So many games that claim to be frightening end up being relatively low on the scares due to poor atmosphere, weak gameplay, or a little of both. I can honestly admit that Aliens vs. Predator 2 had me scared, but only for exactly one/third of the game. You see, this game lets you play as three wildly different races, the standard Marine, the badass Predator, and the freaky-as-hell Alien (dubbed Xenomorph by the in-gam..."
“Scary as hell” is a term I rarely, if ever, use to describe a game. So many games that claim to be frightening end up being relatively low on the scares due to poor atmosphere, weak gameplay, or a little of both. I can honestly admit that Aliens vs. Predator 2 had me scared, but only for exactly one/third of the game. You see, this game lets you play as three wildly different races, the standard Marine, the badass Predator, and the freaky-as-hell Alien (dubbed Xenomorph by the in-game scientists). All three campaigns mesh together to tell one exciting story, but most importantly create a wonderful gaming experience that doesn’t piss all over the good name of the franchises. Well, let’s pretend Predator 2 and Alien Resurrection were never made.
The Marine campaign has you playing as a guy nicknamed Frosty. Frosty and his fellow Marines end up being hastily sent on recon mission to the mysterious Planet LV1201. Naturally, he ends up being split up from the rest of his squadron and must make his way back to his friends. The beauty of this campaign is that it builds up like a great horror movie. The first level has you making your way through an outside area where you witness things that gradually get freakier and freakier. You witness some Marines get blown up from a distance by an unknown assailant, and then you see three skinned bodies hanging from a pole. As you make your way into a complex, nearly all the lights are out and there are bodies strewn about. You flip on your shoulder lamp to illuminate the path path. Strange noises can be heard and sometimes you swear you saw a quick flash of movement.
Soon, the first Alien makes its presence known after trying to bust through a door. The buildup to this first confrontation was incredible, but the suspense takes a back seat to the action for the rest of the campaign. Fortunately, there is a good balance of both to satisfy fans of the movies. Just wait till you’re in a pitch-black building with no batteries left for your shoulder lamp as Aliens swarm all around. Oh my…
Speaking of the movie, some of the weaponry is taken right off the screen, such as the pulse rifle and the obscenely powerful smart gun. Also, one of the movies prevalent themes, “greedy humans meeting their demise” is in full effect here. The only real downside to playing the Marine’s levels is that there are some generic moments. I had to locate and hit some random switch in far too many levels. Having to do tedious tasks like that cheapens the experience. Despite that, you might be able to forget all about the boring switch-finding when you experience the last level. Taking place deep within the Alien hive with creatures crawling all over the place, this single level was better than anything in that vile Alien Resurrection movie.
If it bleeds, we can kill it.
Taking place at the same time of the actions of the Marines, the story of a lone Predator is unfolding. His fellow tribesmen have been captured for experimentation by the insane General Rykov. The General experienced the power of the highly-advanced Predator race close-up many years ago and ended up being crippled. Revenge is all this man lives for.
Just like the movies, the Predator campaign mostly involves hunting humans, their prey of choice. While slower paced than the Marine campaign, this campaign provides plenty of exciting (and sometimes stealthy) human hunting, and even some scares from our Alien friends. Fans of the two films know how cool the Predator’s weapons and skills are, and thankfully most of them made a flawless transition from the cinema to your computer. The ever-popular ability to become invisible is one of the most important abilities since remaining unseen is the key to happy hunting. The plasma blaster also makes an appearance and ends up being the most helpful weapon in the game. In fact, there are so many other weapons that each time you play through the game you can adopt a new style.
Predators don’t just find ammo and health packs lying around. They use a limited amount of energy to heal, use most of their weapons, and remain invisible. Their energy can be recharged with the press of a button, but if you have to recharge in the middle of a firefight then you’re probably dead. Intense moments like that are only common in the later levels, yet even so, playing the Predator campaign is a satisfying change of pace from controlling a genetically inferior human.
They're coming outta the walls. They're coming outta the go!@#$! walls!
And rounding out the game is the Aliens campaign. As movie buffs know, the Alien doesn’t start off as a big, bad killing machine, but as a small, parasitic creature dubbed a “face hugger.” The beginning of the game involves you sneaking around trying to find a proper host, in this case a sleeping soldier. As you make his way into his stomach, you begin to evolve. There’s an unforgettable scene where you slowly burst out of a person’s rib cage as he groans and screams in pain. It’s sick, but it’s fun. You then control another small creature called a chest burster (for obvious reasons) for some more stealthy maneuvering. Finally, after eating a cat, you grow into the intimidating Alien we all know and love.
Unlike the human and the Predator, the Alien has no long range weapons and must rely on using its tail, teeth or claws. You have to get up close and personal for the kill, but that shouldn’t a problem because you can move incredibly fast, leap enormous distances and climb on walls. Climbing on walls is incredibly disorienting, but surprising a hapless scientist and biting of his head is a moment you won’t soon forget.
Much like all the other levels, the Alien levels are designed well and take advantage of each race’s strengths. The levels in this campaign are full of ambushes where you can unleash pain on groups of hapless humans. There’s even a great scene where you defeat a powerful Predator and he just laughs and laughs until he self detonates, destroying the whole room. You have to get out of there faster than Ahnuld and Danny Glover did or else you’re dead.
Look man! I only need to know one thing: where they are.
The 21 levels provide plenty of gameplay, but there is also some great multiplayer to keep you busy. There are five different modes, plenty of classes for each race, and an abundance of maps. Fighting a free-for-all between humans, Predators and Aliens is a chaotic delight. There’s so much going on at once and so many different options that the multiplayer is probably some of the best I’ve seen in a while.
Aliens vs. Predator 2 creates an impressive atmosphere, despite the aging Lithtech engine. The lighting (or sometimes the lack of lighting) always manages to set the mood, as does all the environments. The sound also manages to set a mood with creepy cues and immersive music. To top it all off, the voice acting is excellent and not once hampered a scene. Everything is designed so well, from the way that the Aliens move from the war cry that the Predator emits that it’s hard not to admire the technical aspects of this game.
So, do you like any of the Aliens or Predator movies? If so, you’ll love this game. Have you not seen any of the movies? You’ll still like this game. Everything in Aliens vs. Predator 2 comes through to make a wholly satisfying sci-fi romp. Do yourself a favor and check this game out. Don’t worry; Danny Glover is nowhere to be found.
Community review by djskittles (April 27, 2004)
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