Aliens vs Predator is very specific in what it does well and we may as well say right now, up front, that telling a great story isn’t one of those things. The follow-up to the Rebellion’s earlier AVP game (which is distinguished from the 2010 revival by the fact that Alien is now plural, begging the question why they didn’t call it Many Aliens vs Predator) may have afforded itself some space for a new story by resisting the urge to be a direct sequel, but it’s space which has gone to waste regardless.
So, Aliens vs Predator (that’s the new one) bears no relation to Alien vs Predator (that’s the old one) beyond the use of the same franchises and frighteningly symbolic ETs. The story is one that’s going to be familiar to anyone who has watched the films and Aliens vs Predator is pretty unabashed when it comes to copying plot points, scenes, lines and characters from the earlier explorations of the series.
That’s not a bad thing though – a massive part of AVP’s enduring charm stems from the geeky desire to be a part of the franchise. We all want to be Corporal Hicks or Arnie for a little bit (lets not pretend Arnold plays anyone other than Arnold) and we’re sure we aren’t the only ones with back-pocket survival plans for Alien/Predator invasions. Mine involves using my co-workers as bait and escaping while wearing a long leather jacket.
At the same time though it is a little disappointing that Rebellion hasn’t aspired to do something original or truly new with the game because, as much as we love smart guns and barricaded corridors, we also like to be surprised now and again. But, no, Aliens vs Predator has gone with a plot that reads like a futuristic version of the first, better Alien versus Predator film.
It is therefore a story which can be neatly summed up in a few cavemen sentences. Humans find old temple. Humans explore, find Aliens, experiment. Aliens get free, kill humans. Predator goes hunting, tries to kill everyone. Humans stuck in middle like tired pigeon flying over the Atlantic.
How about now?
There’s a few little extra bits of detail lacquered in on top of that boiled down version and they’ll likely appeal to those most fervent of franchise fanatics, but in reality most of these flourishes are little more than veneer. At this point in the lifetime of the Aliens series giving a role to Lance Henriksen is starting to feel like an obligatory fan service more than something that actually strengthens the series, but Weyland Yutani’s gravelly voiced boss shows up regardless. As always, he ends up the architect of his own demise too. Ho hum.
Before we go any further with the review, we're pleased to say that we've got some video of the game in action for you to check out. Rather than try and create a heavily edited video review with us yakking away at the camera, we've decided to present the game 'as is' - we used FRAPS to record the first nine minutes of the Predator campaign, so you can see the game as nature and Rebellion intended. Harry and Joe are then on-hand to narrate the action. We recorded the game at maximum graphics settings, but at a resolution of 800 x 600 to keep the file size sensible. Even then, we ended up with about 8GB of video - so we ran it through Final Cut Pro and created a h.264 .MOV file; it doesn't give up a lot of quality, but weighs in at a far lighter 414MB. We've also embedded a YouTube version of the video, and if you're a subscriber to our podcast, you can grab a 154MB iPhone/iPod touch version. Be warned, it's very violent - this is video of an 18 certificate game. We'd also like to thank forum member Gunsmith for inspiring us with his excellent narrated Ironman run-throughs of Crysis Warhead.