Trapped between two brutal and stealthy alien species with naught but a few guns, grenades and a motion tracker to hand, you’d expect that the humans would be the main ingredient in this heady death stew. And you’d be right. Compared to the Xenmorphs and Predators pound-for-pound, the Marine’s greatest skill pretty much seems to be dying.
Massively limited by his (lack of) environmental mastery in comparison to the other two classes, the Marine is really up against it. Whereas his extraterrestrial enemies can cover pretty much any area of a map’s verticality, he is obviously limited by the presence of staircases and his own, very human, jumping distance. Even with a motion tracker, death can come for him from anywhere, swiftly andwith very little warningwarning. Also, he’s not terribly fast.
From our experience of the game’s basic deathmatch mode, it will take a skilled Marine player indeed to dominate in an every-man-for-himself free-for-all. With some consistently focused and meticulously paranoid play, it’s certainly possible to stay on top of things for a while, and even heavily armoured Alien players can be taken down one-on-one with a pulse rifle and some keen aim. But when outnumbered by even just one or two? In an enclosed environment? Bad news indeed.
The Marine also lacks the Alien and Predator’s close-up insta-kill moves, but does have a more reserved trick up his sleeve to combat them. When set upon with melee attacks, he can parry them with his own in a weak-beats-strong, ‘Scissors, Paper, Stone’ mechanic. Successful parries mean stunned aliens, which gives him just long enough to squeeze off a headshot. It’s not much, but it can very easily be the difference between life and death.
The thing is, while this all makes him sound like AvP’s Mr. Neverplayed, his limitations actually give him a very important bonus. Whereas Aliens and Predators are more than capable of cleaning up on their own, survival as a Marine very much promotes tight co-operative play. And that’s a very good thing.
AvP’s multiplayer understands this, and is set up to provide for Weakass McBulletboy with several tailored game modes. The aforementioned Predator Hunt mode is obviously geared up for paranoid tactical team-play, essentially condensing the first Predator movie into a single game mode. Then there’s Infestation, which is basically Halo 3’s zombie mode but with Aliens. A single, player-controlled Alien attacks a team of Marines, and every Marine killed switches sides, right up to a frantic last-man-standing battle against inevitable dismemberment.
And finally there’s Survivor mode, in which four Marines face off against wave upon wave of Aliens. Yes, it’s Horde/Nazi Zombies given an H.R. Giger paint job, and as such will actually probably be the most long-lasting of all of AvP’s multiplayer modes. Doesn’t sound like such a worthless third wheel now, does he?