Walking down the hallway, you suppress a chill as you nervously adjust the grip on your weapon. A small bead of sweat trickles down the side of your face. Taking small cautious footsteps, you continue down the corridor, lit only by the flickering red hue of the emergency backup lights.
A sound, reminiscent of a dozen people tapping fingernails on metal, echoes throughout the corridor. Behind, beside, above. Warily, you follow it with your gun. The bead of sweat becomes a river.
The monitor picks it up -- a life form, approaching quickly. The arm sweeps a full 360, updating the creatures location. Your breathing becomes hasty. The fingernails become a nail gun on sheet metal; the torturous melody assails you from everywhere. Where is it?
Beep. Beep. Beep.
You retreat involuntarily until you feel the cool surface of the wall behind you. Your senses in overdrive, you wildly scan from side to side for the creature. Silence. For a moment, you think you're safe and begin to advance once more.
Death comes from above, strong alien jaws closing around your head as you are raked by claws.
Game over, man.
It is by no means an exaggeration to hail this as a fantastic title for either the "uninitiated" in the Aliens or Predator universes (heck, I haven't even seen Predator yet) or die-hard fans. The mood is superb with the lighting and ambient sounds keeping you on edge. As a marine, you really do feel vulnerable and alone. As an Alien or the Predator, you are the ferocious hunter.
In Aliens versus Predator, you don't just play a Marine, Alien or Predator. You ARE a Marine, Alien or Predator. You must think like one to survive. One of the most alluring qualities of the game is the fact that you get to play all three races. Run headstrong into a group of Marines as an Alien and death will most definitely be swift. Stick to the vents and drop down on the hapless grunts and you're assured an easy kill. Hesitate as a Marine and that Alien is looking at a soldier sandwich. Waltz about in visible form as the Predator and rest assured you will be the prey in no time. It is this "racial" thinking that will keep you alive. If you're an Alien, why scurry along the floor when you can climb sheer walls? Each race must exploit its strengths and minimize weaknesses to survive.
Aliens Versus Predator is yet another contender among several Alien/Marine skirmish titles. While the Atari Jaguar boasted Aliens Versus Predator years ago as a title, Rebellion, maker of both Jaguar and PC versions, has evolved the Jaguar title into the great looking, edge-of-the-seat action available for the !PC. As well, Gamestorm's Aliens Online is a far cry from the experience you'll receive as a Marine or Alien in Aliens versus Predator.
I recommend this title to fans of both the movies and the first-person shooter genre. Aliens versus Predator is essentially three games in one. Personally, I found the Alien aspect to be my favorite. The Alien has a very wide view and can easily scan a large room, climb the walls and drop down on prey from above. The versatility of the Alien is exceptional as it can cling to any surface, destroy enemies with a swipe of claw or tail or with a gigantic (life-restoring) chomp. The one major downfall of the Alien is its complete lack of defense. More than once, a nondescript single marine with an automatic weapon destroyed me in seconds.
The Marine and Predator both have the "toys" that power gamers will love, especially the Predator with his "heat vision," sniper zoom option and cloaking device. In multi-player matches, the Predator seems to be the popular choice, mostly for his exceptional defense and stunning offense. I, being a fast-twitch gamer, still choose the Alien and run circles around either Marine or Predator opponents.
Some may consider the game saving feature to be Aliens versus Predator's biggest downfall. I can definitely empathize and agree with players who were frustrated with not being able to save when they want. I spoke with Chris Miller, Associate Producer of Aliens versus Predator, and was told the main reason for the lack of a save feature was randomization. Miller went on to explain that in the game, all the creatures are randomly placed throughout the level. If players were to save and then reload, the element of suspense that is so instrumental in creating that "hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your neck" feeling would cease to exist. However, I think if players want to keep it random and unpredictable, they are welcome to save between levels as per the developer's plans.
The bottom line? While Aliens versus Predator offers an immersive (and sometimes nerve-wracking) experience, it is altogether too short a game in the single player version and does not offer any exceptional ground breaking features. Mind you, it is still a fantastic title worth your money -- it's just not a step forward in the evolution of first person shooters.
Graphics: Fantastic, immersive graphics! The Predator's heat view and the different ways the various species see the same environment are impressive. The dynamic lighting really helped the graphics be as great as they are.
Sound: Unfortunately, despite the decent sound effects, I was left frustrated with a crackling sound on my Monster Sound MX300 that I was unable to get rid of.
Enjoyment: The no-save during the level feature left me seriously disappointed. I enjoyed playing the Alien aspect and when, after 35 minutes in the same level, I was gunned down suddenly and had to begin again, I just exited the game and left frustrated. Otherwise, the game redeemed itself with the immersive environment.
Replay Value: The lack of a save-game feature really cut down on my willingness to play the game again. After getting through some levels, I was glad I'd never ever have to do it again. Not sure if I'd want to.
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