Snapping an alien’s teeth through a human face is gruesome. Pouring rounds out from a pulse rifle at flickering silhouettes is scary as hell. Lifting your claw to claim a trophy skull is simple fun. And with developer Rebellion returning gamers to the world of Aliens vs Predator today, there’s never been a better time to glance back at some of the best games to embrace the Alien, Predator and AvP films. While not comprehensive, here’s a look at the ones that are still fun and worth checking out after all these years.
The early ‘90s were a strange time for the Alien franchise in gaming (and for movie games in general). At best, movies were used as loose inspiration for games, and Konami’s arcade side-scrolling take on Aliens is a fine example of this.
As tag team heroes Corporal Hicks and Lieutenant Ripley, you make a lot of things explode, and it’s fun. However, it seems somebody took a lot of liberties with the creature design. Get ready to face off against spiders and mutated, brainwashed humans. We don’t remember them from the movie.
Alien 3 for the Genesis continued what the Aliens arcade game started. The third movie tried returning to the original film’s suspenseful roots and brought new ideas to the franchise. Remember when Ripley worked together with the prisoners to stop the one Alien? Well, forget about that. Developer Probe Software decided Alien 3 was a silly idea and went straight to Aliens for its inspiration. Here, you take up Ripley’s impersonation of Rambo and just destroy enemy after enemy. And who would’ve guessed? There’s a happy ending, making it even less like the movie.
Alien 3 for the Super Nintendo ended up being like nothing else here. Once again casting aside the “work together to stop one Alien” aspects of the movie, Ripley slings flamethrowers and grenades to take out all life on Fiorina 161. Surprisingly, the SNES version is an open-ended affair, with various missions giving you freedom to do whatever you want. It’s a great experience that draws more on the film than you might first expect. Getting lost and running for an escape in a world that visually resonates with the movie make Ripley’s sacrifice a bit more somber. And fun.
Neither the easiest nor most fun to play anymore (it’s annoying to bust out a Jaguar), Alien vs Predator was at least a step in the right direction. Feeling like a prettied-up Doom, but with a constant feeling of dread and suspense instead of empowerment, AvP gave each species a unique reason to exist. Whether it was gaining honor as a predator, being scared as a marine or silently sprinting about as an Alien, developer Rebellion created a foundation that would lead to better things.
Take Final Fight and splash a pulse rifle into the mix, and the arcade scene had its own Alien vs Predator. With an anime-inspired art direction, the arcade AvP had a distinctive cast of humans and (English-speaking) Predators forming an alliance to stop an Alien infestation of Earth. And just when you (and hopefully two other friends playing along) think putting your fists into Alien skulls is getting boring, the game twists and pits you against the ones you thought you were helping. Evil corporations doing evil deeds – it’s a plot device that always entertains.
Alien Trilogy might not quite hold up as well as others on this list, but it’s an enjoyable experience that bridged the movie-inspired ideas of past games with the then-rising popularity of first-person shooters. As a marine-like Ripley, you started the game on LV426 (Aliens), went to a prison (Alien 3) and finally ended up on an alien spaceship (Alien). It’s nothing like the movies, but it has a look and feel that differentiates it from everything else on this list.
After Rebellion’s first attempt at exterrestrial combat on the Jaguar, it put together something special with Aliens Versus Predator in 1999. Picking up where the last game left off, this new incarnation raised the bar for fear by making each and every playthrough unpredictable. The last time you played through a level, there were a few Aliens here, and a Predator waiting for you when the elevator doors opened, right? Not this time; enemies’ positions randomize, and the feeling of being hunted hangs over you constantly. And while there’s still something special about the pulse rifle, mastering disorientation as the Alien and wielding the Predator’s technological empowerment make the other campaigns great, too.
Developer Monolith Productions throws you back in the shit with something that feels similar to what Rebellion did before, with three separate campaigns played as an Alien, a Predator and a Colonial Marine. However, Aliens Versus Predator 2 lacks the unpredictable enemies of its predecessor and opts for a more scripted adventure. Thankfully, this doesn’t dull the scares any, and the Marine’s tale begins with a brilliant, steady build-up of suspense that makes any leaking pipe or gust of air an enemy. Wear a diaper for the beginning, and bring shooting gloves for the rest. If only the game’s multiplayer community remained in full force; nothing beats an intense survival match in which your buddies slowly fall prey to Aliens while screaming, “Game over, man, game over!”
Feb 16, 2010
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