‘Alien Loves Predator’ Creator Reviews ‘Alien vs. Predator’ Game
Bernie Hou is the creator of the popular long-running webcomic, Alien Loves Predator.
First things first, I'm not a professional game reviewer, and ComicsAlliance didn't ask me to do a proper review, so I won't be giving you the kind of in-depth analysis of every part of this game that you'd get at one of the dozens of game review sites out there. And the screenshots you see here may differ, however slightly, from the actual game (at least as of this writing). That said, as a rabid fan of the Alien and Predator franchises and changing my underwear, I can't get enough of Sega/Rebellion's new "Aliens vs. Predator" game (PS3, Xbox 360, PC). If you're looking for old school first-person shooter action with the delicious twist of playing as the two baddest killer space monsters in the galaxy, "AvP" is the game for you.
"Old school" here, as always, is both good and bad. There's an overall lack of depth throughout the whole experience... but hot damn, it's great fun. It's like Kool & the Gang. I don't know if my life is particularly enriched by it, but I do know that after it's done I've had a blast and I'm a big sweaty mess.
The game has basically one main attraction -- being able to play as the 3 different species (Alien, Predator, Colonial Marine) -- and it trumps everything else. All 3 species are diverse from one another, fun, and impressively well-balanced. If that makes you moist, then you'll have a great time. On the other hand, if you're looking for a squad-based, tactical-like, vehicle-havin', cover-oriented, objective-laden, strategical-ish shooter, you should probably be playing "Call of MAG: Brothers in Dutyfield" or whatever it's called.
The Marine is obviously the most traditional character to play, and there's nothing unique about the gameplay mechanic here. What makes him a blast, though, is the simple fact that he's in the "AvP" world. You're tiptoeing through dark hallways, desperately waving your flashlight at every dark corner because they'll be COMIN' OUTTA THE GODDAMN WALLS and then unloading your pulse rifle (which sounds just like a real pulse rifle) at those dark shapes crawling at you on the ceiling only to realize they're just the dead pixels on your screen.
That feeling of being in the movie "Aliens" is most effectively evoked in the Marine's single-player campaign, which, while not particularly creative in terms of level design, transcends that with lighting, mood, and overall crapyourpantsery. It's a lot like "Doom 3", which is a very good thing, because I still remember that as one of the most visceral shooters I've ever played. Only this has ALIENS. "Doom 3" with Aliens! I'm in heaven. Or hell, more suitably, but in a good way.
The key to playing the Predator is to do what the dude did in the first movie: stay invisible, only move when you have to, leap from tree branch to tree branch, and rain shit down on everybody. I think Rebellion really nailed what it's like being a Predator. 4 out of 5 Predators surveyed agree.
I've seen some complaints that the Predator feels "underpowered", and that too often you feel like "prey", ironically. But let's be honest... the Predator we know from the movies is kind of a big pussy. REAL warriors don't hide behind all that technology, turn invisible and run away all the time. I mean if you're gonna be a badass monster, be a badass monster am I right? Last I checked, the Hulk isn't going around yelling HULK HIDE. And it's never CLOAKIN' TIME for the Thing.
So the sooner you can accept that the Predator isn't the super-stud you think he is, the sooner you can get to enjoying his unique and satisfying combination of stealth, speed, power and gadgets. And screaming like a little bitch whenever you heal yourself... way to give up your position girly!
Man, you know what I could go for right now? Chomping on a Marine's head. I dunno why I just came up with that, it's not like I actually eat humans. But I just feel like doing it. I dunno. Is that wrong? Hey look, I see a glowing outline of a Marine through that wall. That's weird, I didn't know I had x-ray vision.
Let's see if I can actually walk through that wall... okay... here we g--........ HOLY SHIT I JUST WALKED UP THIS F--KING WALL. Just like that. Lookit me everyone, I'm like SPIDER-MAN. I'm like, conflicted about my powers and everything.
Wait, I'm confused already... is that thing over there the floor, or the ceiling? How the hell do I keep this straight? There's this weird arrow-looking thing in the middle of my vision that spun around when I walked up this wall, but damn if I can remember which direction it's supposed to be pointing.
Hold on, the drool coming out of my mouth is "falling" that way, so that's the floor... and this--....... F--K ME I'M STANDING ON THE CEILING. I'm STANDING. On the CEILING. I am now the MAYOR. Of this CEILING.
Now let's get me some MARINE HEAD. I mean... you know what I mean. Chomp chomp chomp. Where'd that guy go? Oh, there he is. His glowing outline's upside down now, which is, you know, weird, but I'll get used to it. I hope.
Whooooa, I can move FAST! I'm FLYIN' across this ceiling. Or wall. That guy's outline's sideways now so I guess that means I'm on the wall. WHATEVER DUDE. I'LL GET USED TO IT. There he is. And... he's running away! How'd he know I was here? Are you gonna make me chase you, son? Are you gonna--
HHOOOOLLLLLYY WOOOOW what's going on?? I'm RUNNING!! You mean THAT, BEFORE, was me WALKING? HAHAHAHA! Are you KIDDING ME. I'm going so fast I'm getting wind burn on my testicles. Or whatever, where my testicles would be. You're not gettin' away now, puny Marine! I'm gonna grab ya! I'm gonna grab ya! Grab grab grab grab grab.
GOTCHA, MOTHERF--KER. Stop struggling, there's no way you're gettin' outta this. Your head's gettin' chomped one way or another. Now stay still while I open WIIIIIiimmmhhrmpttHH -- oh GROSS, WHOSE MOUTH DO I HAVE INSIDE MY MOUTH
Despite my half-assed joke earlier dismissing the glut of modern online military shooters, I actually play and enjoy all those games. I love the teamwork, strategy, and achievement-unlocking. Yeah "AvP"'s got none of that. You do play on teams, but there aren't complex objectives that require coordination. And there's almost literally no point in gaining XP besides some new skins you can collect, which amounts to choosing between different shades of black if you're an Alien. (Was that racist?)
But I like the change of pace. Sometimes I just wanna shut off my brain and have a good ol' sci-fi monster mash, y'know? And once again the varied mix of species inherently gives the whole experience a flavor you won't get anywhere else. Whichever race you happen to be playing, you're faced with at least 2 kinds of enemies that are so distinct from each other, yet so well-balanced, that it's hard to get bored.
There's plenty of satisfying game types, Deathmatch, Species Team Deathmatch, Mixed Species Team Deathmatch... and a few unique ones like Infestation, which starts off with one Alien versus a group of Marines, and then each Marine that dies joins the Alien team, creating an inescapable nightmare for the dwindling survivors. That one's a favorite for a lot of people, but I still don't get the ultimate point; it seems to me like you're just shooting the deck chairs on the Titanic.
The biggest gripes I have about the multiplayer have been well-documented in other reviews: the matchmaking is heinous, and if the host of your match quits, the game ends and you lose all the kills and XP you gained in it. But I'm hopeful they'll fix that all up in future patches, or at least that's what I tell myself to help me put up with it.
"Aliens vs. Predator"'s not going to be winning any awards. It's a decidedly unambitious entry in a crowded genre which seems to spit out a new Game of the Year every 2 months. But if you're an Alien and/or Predator fan, or if you're looking for a break from the usual everyday run n' gun, then pick this game up. Despite its lack of complexity and some technical issues, it's a real hoot.
OH, that's MY MOUTH, whoaaa. It's like I got RUSSIAN NESTING MOUTHS.