Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Aliens vs. Predator

I had not marked Aliens vs. Predator (2010) as 'Not Interested' on Steam but I had not put it on my wishlist either. So getting it from the summer sale was sort of an impulse purchase. It was cheap, though, and aliens are cool -- usually.

A standard Aliens experience

AvP offers three different campaigns for single player: marine, alien, and predator. Each of them goes through mostly the same maps but with slightly different objectives and enemies. It is the same story from different perspectives. I thought it neat they do not negate each other.

The marine campaign is the most fleshed out one as you would expect. It has all the familiar elements from the Alien franchise down to character names. No plot element surprised me. The supposed coordinates for the xenomorph home world found at the end was an amusing revelation, though, since we now know where and how the creatures originated thanks to the latest Alien movie.

With how the android character was also shown to be in cryosleep in the ending cinematic made me wonder if they actually need it. Maybe Ridley Scott decided to change the fact in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant in which David and Walter stay awake while the human crew is in stasis. Prior to those movies the androids too have always been in cryosleep.

The marine campaign was a bit scary at the beginning. The game is often quite dark and the thought of aliens lurking in the shadows made the atmosphere suspenseful. Once the creatures started appearing, the mood lightened as they were not as brutal as in Alien: Isolation. The xenomorphs should probably be more aggressive once they are close up.

Basic gunplay

Once again the assault rifle type of gun is ineffective. The pulse rifle looks and sounds authentic but it sure does not kill aliens, predators, nor combat androids very quickly. At least it comes with a grenade launcher that does actually blow stuff to pieces. Of all the weapons, it and the pistol are probably the most likely to remove limbs from the xenomorphs without killing them.

Sniper rifle works against aliens unexpectedly well but against androids headshots do not do much. The shotgun on the other hand is great against everything. Not being able to aim down sights bothered me somewhat. The lack of it is a tad too retro for me.

There is a simple melee combat system too. You mostly use it as the predator and alien but even the marine gets to block and counter attacks. It does not quite feel right to be able to stand against clearly stronger opponents like that but I guess it is a game balance thing for the multiplayer.

Only towards the end of the third campaign I started to get the hang of it. And I still felt like the predator's and alien's melee should have been more powerful against the marines. I mean a stealth kill takes care of them with a single button press (and a prolonged animation). But if you end up face to face with a soldier, you cannot just run them over like they were nothing.

Mostly linear

Unless there was a specific objective to kill enemies in the predator and alien campaigns, I sped through most levels. The predator can jump around cloaked and the alien can sprint so fast that no enemy can hit it. The alien can move on walls and ceilings as well, which can be disorienting. Transitioning between surfaces and entering vents is also unnecessarily clumsy as you need to press or hold down a separate key to do so.

While the maps are not too expansive, I somehow missed a whole bunch of collectibles. In the alien and predator campaigns I did not bother searching for them but the human ones are audio logs and I would have preferred to listen to them all. They were either very well hidden or there was some trick to finding them, like a way to break containers or something.

I would say that Aliens vs. Predator was reasonably enjoyable even as a mere 7-hour single player experience. For increasing the field of vision value, you need a third party tool. And you need to set a hotkey for it as deaths and area transitions reset FOV back to the default.

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