Elsewhere, the straightforward three-way deathmatch is pretty finely balanced. Both Aliens and Predators can perform their unblockable trophy kills by moving behind enemies and hitting the button prompt. Once locked into the gruesome animation, the attacker is then at his most vulnerable, creating the potential for a ridiculous conga line of trophy killers, or for one intelligent player to hold back and toss a few grenades or plasma cannon rounds into the fray. Marines lack the ability to tear bones right out of another player’s body, and instead rely on countering melee attacks, which gives them more than enough time to pile a few shotgun rounds into their stumbled victim.
The multiplayer modes are fast paced – which makes sense, as more people are being stabbed and speared than shot – but it remains faithful to the fiction. Few concessions are made in porting abilities from the single-player campaign to multiplayer – admirably, you’ll be cloaking and leaping from shadows as a Predator, dropping from the ceiling as an alien, and running away from moving objects as a marine.
The constant exchange of what are essentially backstabs doesn’t grate either, instead the experience is closer to playing on an instagib server – that is, you’ll kill, die and respawn with enough regularity that you’ll place little value in your continuing existence, scoffing nervously at death as it buzzes by you over and over again.
Aliens vs Predator is a brilliantly authentic and cinematic experience, tinged with a vague sense that more could’ve been done with the single-player to properly spear our eyeballs into attention. It’s savage, dark, and ultra violent, but holding it back from a higher score are Alien and Predator campaigns that end too soon and don’t reach a satisfying conclusion. Does it compare well to the rest of the series? Yes, of course it does, at times it tears the throat out of the previous two games and dances on their acid-speckled, increasingly decrepit corpses. But will it make as big an impact? No. It’s old-school, a shooter from a decade past, and with that comes all the baggage you’d expect: often startling linearity, irrelevant plot, and scenes two steps away from the Modern Warfare-style blockbuster set pieces to which we’re fast becoming accustomed.
We’d argue that we wouldn’t want it any other way when it comes to Aliens vs Predator. It’s deliriously gory, unwaveringly confident and spectacular fun. And, at the very least, it’s far better than the dogshit films.
Feb 16, 2010