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19 Reviews

Aliens vs Predator

Review: Sci-fi's biggest scrap is about to chestburst onto your console...

From now on, every time some casual gaming type tells us that graphics aren't important and they can get by with blurry, indistinct visuals, we're going to point them in the direction of Aliens vs. Predator.

There have been Aliens games on past generations of consoles, but it's only in this first arrival on Xbox 360 that the lithe, glistening horror of Giger's creations can be adequately represented.

Developer Rebellion clearly knows the universe inside out, and has nailed the tone and style of the films - gritty, dirty sci-fi at its very best. AvP isn't the prettiest game, but it has moments of striking scale and subtle detail that make it one of the more atmospheric.

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In addition to the more barren dustbowl areas, there's also a dense Predator-inspired jungle, no doubt a product of the terraforming efforts, which makes for extremely challenging terrain when you're a vulnerable Marine confined to the forest floor.

While early in the Marine campaign you'll be facing Aliens in industrial corridors, in the jungle you cross paths with the Predators who thrive in more open environments.

Similarly, these technologically advanced killers are pitch-perfect, and squaring up to one of them in a multi-levelled arena is as exhilarating as you'd expect.

While the narrative scenes impress, AvP excels at set-pieces that occur during the levels themselves - whether they are straightforward scares or cinematic action sequences, such as frantically holding off a wave of Aliens until an elevator arrives.

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There's a reason we haven't mentioned the Alien or Predator campaigns yet - they're just not as good.

The Alien is by far the weakest of the three, simply because it's difficult to fashion a narrative around what is essentially an oversized, mindless insect.

That motivation that drives you through the Marine portion disappears, and it's just a case of offing Marines and Predators as messily as you can muster. There's also a certain clumsiness to it: you have to physically throw yourself at the enemy to kill them, which from a first-person perspective can be confusing, and often fatal if they sidestep your lunge.

The Predator campaign is somewhere between the two. There's a stronger storyline, and the inclusion of ranged weaponry gives you more in the way of options when approaching a collection of heavily armed Marines.

Of course, if you're being mobbed by Aliens, who aren't fooled by your fancy cloaking technology, you're still going to need to get your wristblades dirty. If anything, it's harder to stick the Aliens and come away unscathed than any of the other threats in the game.

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Fortunately, playing as the monsters makes more sense in multiplayer, not least because Rebellion has built a couple of specific modes as homages to the Alien and Predator films.

Infestation sees all but one of the players begin as Marines, with the remaining player as the first Alien. From then on, every Marine killed comes back as an Alien, so what begins as a tense stand-off quickly becomes a massacre.

Then there's Predator Hunt, where the only way to score is to kill people as the Predator, and the only way to become the seven-foot tall scaly assassin is to kill the player who currently controls him.

AvP is a nerve-shredding rollercoaster of a game and fans of the films will be more than satisfied with the reverence with which Rebellion has built the world, characters and weaponry.

However, we can't help but wonder if the traditional structure should have been abandoned for a lengthier stint as the Marine.

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