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Those three words sum up the entire premise behind Sega’s latest foray into the mature gaming world as they continue to try to distance themselves from a certain blue rodent. Aliens vs. Predator, the latest addition into a series that has been beaten to death with new iterations of the same name on nearly every system dating back over a decade, returns with what they are claiming is a brand new story, but is really just a rehashed version of the same old one Rebellion Developments and other developers have been pushing out for what seems like forever with this series.
Like in the previous installments of the game, this version of Aliens vs. Predator gives you the opportunity to take control of three different factions and play through their respective story lines. Unlike previous installments of the game though where there were three completely different story arcs, these three story arcs all interconnect.
You can play as the Aliens (Survivors), or xenomorphs, as they are referred to as in this fictional universe, where the Weyland-Yutani Corporation from the movies are still trying to obtain and train a xenomorph specimen for their own nefarious means. This time, they have captured one on a faraway planet that happens to have these strange ruins that look very familiar to anyone who has seen the movies. As the xenomorph, it is your objective to escape the facility where you were raised to maturity and to wreak havoc on your oppressors. With your prehensile tail, ability to walk on walls, and a hatred for the flesh bags who have imprisoned your queen, you must find a way to not only destroy the on-world facility, but find a way off-world to continue spreading your species.
You can also play as the Predator (Hunters). This ancient race whose society is based on battle and honor has come to this strange planet with a group of Youngbloods to test their worthiness by slaying the Predator’s most ancient enemy, the xenomorphs. It is with rage and disgust upon your arrival to find that humans have settled near one of your temples and have pillaged your proving grounds. You must not only wipe out the greedy humans for disgracing your people, but also avoid the constant xenomorph threat at the same time.
And last, and most definitely least, you can play as a Human (Prey). Assigned to a Weyland-Yutani task force, your marine squad is sent planet side after a colony unearthed something in those ruins they probably shouldn’t have. With your limited military might, your objective is to uncover exactly what happened to the planet-side colonists while escaping with your life.
As you can see, it is basically the exact same storyline for every Aliens, Predator, or Aliens vs. Predator movie or video game to have ever come out where your mission is the most basic of missions: to survive.
Aside from a lack of originality, the game does deliver some decent first-person shooter action. Each species brings its own distinct advantages and challenges to the game play. The aliens rely almost entirely on stealth and cannot afford a full frontal assault on any group of humans or else you’ll be mowed down with extreme prejudice. This means you spend a good amount of time trying to avoid vertigo as you walk on ceilings and try to take out all the lights in a room before dropping down onto your unsuspecting prey and rip them to shreds in an exquisitely gruesome fashion. Sometimes you slit their throats with your tail and other times you can use your inner mouth to rip out their eyeballs as they scream in terror and the blood splatters across your screen.
The Humans have the greatest disadvantage of the group and so in order to compensate, carry the biggest guns imaginable. From sniper rifles with night vision to wide impact shotguns, the humans have the most to fear so they have the most to shoot stuff with. Although this provides a more traditional FPS experience, it also provides the greatest challenge due to the fact that your foes can come from literally anywhere without you knowing. This also creates a nice sense of suspense as you progress and gives the truest feeling to the movies.
Then comes the Predators and they are the best-known hunters in the universe for a reason. From plasma rifles to disc blades to one hit kill staves, there is no reason why you would want to be anything but the Predator. Even on the hardest of difficulties, the Predator puts his two counterparts to shame and offers the least challenging of the game experiences.
Each species has six levels, including the almost mandatory tutorial level, and each campaign shouldn’t take more than five hours, even on the hardest difficulty, to complete any of them. This only gives you a 15 hour single player experience, and the multiplayer is usually a wash because everyone wants to be the Predator, again due to its being head and shoulders above the other two species.
There are four difficulty levels, with the hardest mode taking away all mid-level checkpoints, that could bring you back for more, but one play through should be enough for most any gamer, even the most die-hard of FPS fans. There was a minimum of glitches throughout with the very straightforward game play and the game features some good graphics, even though the background textures were somewhat plain, and some nice shadow effects. Throw in a decent musical score to set a suspenseful mood for much of the game and you have a solid, but not spectacular, experience for what has become a rather banal franchise.
Aliens vs. Predator is available now for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.