Thursday, October 9, 2014

VGR Aliens vs. Predator (2010)

Tell me if you've already heard this one - A colonial marine, an Alien and a Predator walk into a bar...

"AVP3" in all aspects but name...

VGR: Aliens vs. Predator also known as Aliens vs. Predator (2010) or sometimes AVP3 by fans
From Rebellion/Sega/20th Century Fox
Played on Xbox 360
Also available on PC & PS3

Type FPS
Year 2010

The FPS a lot of classic gamers hoped and wished for and had all been waiting for since Sega officially announced we would be getting another episode of!

With no more Fox Interactive studios or Sierra to both develop or publish a new game, chances of a new Aliens vs. Predator seemed pretty slim this past decade. Specially with no new Alien nor Predator movie ever coming out from 20th Century Fox anytime soon. Yet around the release of Predators, some interest seemed to be renewed around these license and that is exactly when Sega snatched the license behind these two iconic science-fiction horror icons for a few years.

Sega would go on to produce to this day about 4 different Aliens/AVP-related games. Including the newly just released Xbox One/PS4 title Alien: Isolation on. (Although I ask.. no love for the Predators, you guys...) 

Where Sega really surprised and did good right away, was in getting the original 1999 Aliens versus Predator developers, Rebellion. If this 2010 Aliens vs. Predator is not officially titled "AVP3", it does seem to be a sort of spiritual update of sorts of the first classic AVP game. Following the same basic concept and gameplay mechanics.

It had been about a decade since the last AVP title from Monolith (funny enough, Sega could just as well have gotten Monolith to develop this new game, the studio had worked with Sega on the recent Condemned series actually).

This new game wasn't entirely based on what the games explored so far, instead it seems to draw a lot of elements from the more current AVP films at the time and some of the new ideas the Dark Horse comics explored in recents year, such as Predators using the Aliens for sport, practice and as a means for their rite of passages and the whole ancient Predators' pyamids.

Sega was also able to get Lance Henriksen to reprise a role in the franchise!

Once again, it's a horror First Person Shooter, featuring three different campaigns. Each visiting the same overall places (like the first Aliens vs. Predator game in a way), but each protagonist only really getting specific areas in those same levels. With the marine's being the closest to your traditional Doom-like shooters, and having to face the most boss fights And the Alien getting the shorter, more fast-paced game of the three. 

Despite the game being a sequel to Aliens Versus Predator 2,  the plot of this 2010 game is not related to it. Instead it's a brand new stand alone adventure (which I think is better, really).

Our story begins as a Colonial Marines Squad spaceship, the USS Marlow, is suddenly attacked by an invisible ship. A Predator ship comes out of its cloaking mode and destroys it, only leaving a dropping surviving shuttle behind.

This one of these games where the player's avatar is just called "Rookie" through the entire game (personally, I'm getting kinda tired of this overused trope...). Rookie wakes up on BG-386 in the middle of a battle. He is saved by this Corporal Teresa Aquila. Rookie follows "Tequila" into the remains of this human colony. They try getting it back online, at first, to get a message to get them out of the place. They try to meet with the other surviving marines. But it's already too late.. They find their Major, Van Zandt in a cocoon in this Xenomorph hive established in this old refinery. Rookie faces a thousands years old "Queen Matriarch" Alien Queen. He goes through a swamp. Tequila is back for our hero with a drop ship, but it gets under heavy fire from the Predator and crashes before his eyes.

The Rookie finds the colony administrator, Katya from the Weyland–Yutani. He learns how they found an ancient pyramid on this planet. Investigating the place he finds more survivors. Rookie rescues Tequila from the hive, but she's been infected with a chestbuster - it's too late! He grabs her free instead of shooting her like she asked. 

Rookie and Katya want to operate her to extract the creature from her body, but this Karl Bishop Weyland shuts down the facilities during the surgery. They put here in a stasis for now. 

Rookie finds out Katya is actually a synthetic. He goes after Weyland. It is revealed this man was only really passing for a descendant of Charles Bishop Weyland from AVP. In fact he was another android all along. 

In the end it is revealed Karl Bishop Weyland survived and has now the coordinates for the Xenomoprh homeworld in his possession! (Which sounds pretty close to what some of Alien comics  explored, the same that also introduced the idea of an Alien Matriarch.)

Like the previous AVP video games, the game features three campaigns, one for each race (or faction). 

You can select who you want to play as from the main menu. There's the Predator campaign, the Alien's and the human's (the Colonial Mairne).

Each has its own story and slight twist on your basic FPS gameplay formula.

Each only telling a part of this big epic story taking place on this strange alien planet.

The marine is the closer to play like your classic first person shooter games.

It's a scary adventure taking place a lot of time in pitch black darkness. With lots of dangerous monsters (and androids) after you. 

The marine can find lots of weapons and items to help him in his quest of survival. From the usual pulse rifles to the flamethrowers, going through smartguns, etc. As usual from the franchise.

You also have access to a shoulder-mounted lamp, flares and a motion tracker.

It's a fun scary and captivating playthrough, albeit a bit classic.

As the Alien you get to play as "Specimen 6". 

During one of Weyland's tests with the Xenos, this specific Alien emerged from his victim's mouth for some reason. Which is... quite unusual. Weyland impressed by the creature, decide to put it to the test in his "special program". 

After a call from the Matriarch, Specimen 6 escaped. It went on exploring the Predator's ruins. During the EMP blast, it gave the Alien a chance to escape. It released the other Aliens on its path (explaining all the monsters loose in the place during the other campaigns). It finally went on facing an Elite Predator. It defeated the Pred and was even able to grab him near a face hugger to breed a new... "creature".

It was finally captured again by Weyland.. but escaped once more! This Alien decided then to hid in the dark, in order to make a new hive. Turning into a "Praetorian" at the end of its life cycle.

The gameplay is entirely focused on close-range combat. It's a more brutal style of game. It's all about being sneaky and fast-paced. Like the previous Aliens vs. Predator games, the Alien can climb and jump easily. You can also hide in the shadows. 

The idea is to make the best use of your Alien senses. The Alien can even spot hidden cloaked Predators.

You can perform stealth kills and event "harvest" hosts in order to breed more Aliens. Simply grab one of them near facehugger creatures.

Help spread the hive!

The Predator offers the most different settings. You'll get to see some other kind of locations, which is a nice change of pace from the usual labs, colony and ruins

This one takes place ages prior to the main game in its first chapters. It all begins in a jungle. When your Pred was but only a "young blood" having to prove himself to rise to the rank of Elite via trials. 

Our Predator is then sent to a planet (BG-386) to investigate a signal. The Predator ship attacks a marine spaceship orbiting around the planet side. They find there dead Predators. Checking out the human colony, he finds an Alien Queen dead, already killed by the Rookie.

He finds the helmet of a legendary Predator. He replays some holographic scenes and discovers their first contact with Aliens. He continues to explore the ruins. Fights a Praetorian Alien in a deadly combat. 

He finally arrives at the Weyland-Yutani labs above the Predators' ruins where he finally encounter the Predalien! His quest is now clear, he has to destroy having destroy this Abomination once and for all!

The Predator gameplay forces you to use a more stealthy approach. There are some light platforming elements as well. Jumping from tree branch to another, using a fairly simply lock-on system, you can just leap from tree to tree using this "focus jumping" mechanic. 

The Pred has several vision modes. The best one and the most effective is the classic staple from the series, the thermal infrared vision. There's also another mode, more "electrical", which helps spotting Aliens. And a normal view for the players. While infrared clearly locates heath sources, like marines, it's harder to spot Aliens that way. So you have to be quick and effective, and be able to switch which one to use on the spot. Which is better suited to each environments, etc. 

It's a more tactical approach to the FPS genre. Stealth-based gameplay. The ideal being to avoid confronting your enemies head-on. It's all about "the hunt"!

The Predator also has a cloaking ability. Lots of fun gadgets and weapons like the classic shoulder plasma cannon, a disc, the combi-stick and the wristblades

The Pred can grab trophies by taking the skulls of his enemies for trophies. Which prompts pretty spectacular and particularly gory scenes for this game.

I specially liked how the story explored this old race that are the Predators and expand upon these mythical hunters, which there's only a few now and they're all scattered through the galaxy.

Aliens vs. Predator (2010) has some gorgeous visuals. Rebellion really cared about the franchise, they put a lot of work and effort into all these details. They have a big respect and of course love for the series. The game also has great creepy sounds perfectly taken directly from the film series!

The Aliens are great fun, fast-paced, there's this big sense of freedom from playing the Xenos.

The Marine and the Pred have a lot of weapons, straight from the films!

The game is far from perfect, though. For lack of a better world, the game has some strange level design elements here and there. It also feels seriously lacking more diverse locations really. 

It can also get specially frustrating dark at times, despite a great lightning contributing to the mood. (It's no AVP:R, mind you!)

The multiplayer is fairly good. Fun enough, well developed if a bit basic for nowaday. The multiplayer mode can be experience across several variations. From your classic deathmatches (team-based or not), a survival, and other specific gimmicks like Predator Hunt, Infestation, Domination, etc. There's also a whole experience-leveling aspect, like lots of new games these days do. Which is used to unlock stuff and better your ranking. The multi had barely any issues (at least at the time) besides not being playable by a lot of people. Match-making could take quite some time. If anything these species allowed for some fun differences in play style. And sure, playing these classes offered different aesthetics and sets of advantages over one another. 

There also was some DLC at the time, mostly more maps for the mutliplayer mode.

Overall, Aliens vs. Predator is a pretty good game, a decent follow-up to the AVP game series. 

While I always kinda preferred personally Monolith's second game over the Rebellion-developed original game, I was glad to have the original studio back for this third episode. It's a return to the same kind of creepy-atmospheric tone over the more "Aliens-like" action-oriented style of Aliens vs. Predator 2. And a return to a similar closer level design. 

All said and done, it's a great decent third entry. Recommended if you're a fan of old school FPS or the series in general. It has a really good atmosphere, nice visuals and great designs. 

The multliplayer was fun enough (though I doubt it's played anymore these days...). Far from AVP2's much better multiplayer maps and pace, a bit clunky and it doesn't feel much polished. 

Some of the aspects of the game do take some getting used to (I know the "no jump" particularly annoyed a lot of games). Specially the melee combat system which could have been better.

The three campaigns are not super long. The games feels slightly lacking here and there, like it had been a bit rushed in the production. It might feel and look a bit simplistic at times, specially compared to what is made nowadays. But I found it to be a fun, enjoyable and great throwback to Rebellion's classic original game.

Of course you know this is for a mature audience only, clearly. Based on R-Rated movies. It's pretty gory!

There has been some talks, if Sega can keep the licence long enough, between Rebellion and Sega for another sequel. Yes, Rebellion would love to make a 4th Aliens vs. Predator game. And I, for onem welcome it with open arms!
I give it:
2 / 3 Quacks!

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