I’m really not sure what the critical hate is about when it comes to Rebellion/Sega’s new Aliens Vs. Predator game. While I’m still waiting for a friend of mine to pick his copy up so we can delve more into the multi-player aspects, I’ve completed all three single player campaigns, and have yet to see what the fuss is all about.

The biggest critical issues in the game seem to be the lighting aspects and the story. Before reading website commentary, I tackled the Marine campaign first. Is the story amazing? Not really. It borrows plot elements very heavily from Aliens, making it seem like the little brother of an awesome film. Sure you recognize it, but it does have differences. Does it feel out of place? No. Did I hope they would have changed some elements at the end of the story from Rebellion’s 1994 Jaguar title (yes, I once owned that)? I do. But the boss was still interesting, if a little easy, and the CG cut scenes are great.

The lighting did make it difficult to navigate and play at times. You essentially have the feeling of being “meat” as the Marine in both single and multi-player. Both alien races are incredibly powerful. But at the same time, wasn’t that what the movies were about? Being overwhelmed against come crazy, murderous monsters? In that respect, it was successful. While I did get lost a few times, and not know where to shoot because aliens were everywhere around me, and I had to run fumbling through corridors…. How out of place is that for the films, really? There were moments where I’d run into an elevator to leave the area with no bullets, near death, and aliens leaping at me as the elevator door finally closed to block their advances. I personally found it exhilarating.

I will, however, admit that the flashlight is fairly useless, and while it does provide a little light, there were times that I wasn’t even aware that it was off. Adjusting the video did help matters, because even running through the jungle in broad daylight in incredibly dark.

The game excels at “false scares”, at at times made me jump over something that brushed past my character, but never attacked. Facehuggers suck to shoot at, especially due to their size, speed, and the game’s overall darkness level.

The Predator is good fun, with its multiple vision modes, invisibility, and nasty little weapons. While it is powerful, and its finishing moves are gory, the Alien took me by surprise.

The Xenomorph is blindingly fast. Sonic the Xenomorph, and it does not play around with its finishing moves, which prompted a few “Wow” exclamations from me. Harvesting humans is a little creepy. H. R. Giger always had this weird sexual element in the overall Alien design, and while movie-goers know what a facehugger looks like, does, and how it implants embryos, I’m going to call it for what it is: The whole process looks like “face rape”.

Overall, there are some solid visual elements in the game. People have criticized the animation and detailing, but I don’t see what the problem is or was. The voice acting is weak, save for Lance Henriksen, who gives a convincing performance as Karl Bishop Weyland. The music and sound effects, however, are more than appropriate and atmospheric.

All of these critics have a problem with the storyline in a standard FPS title is like staging a debate as to how the two paddles originally came together for a match in Pong. You don’t play these sort of games expecting an amazing story, though the only disappointment is that I found myself exercising zero empathy for any of my Marine partners. I didn’t feel compelled to save them, as there is no reward for doing so, and they certainly didn’t come close to the Colonial Marines in Aliens, who were equally dog food in about as fast a time, but gave at least some background and one-liners. I also don’t think they should have shown the “Rookie”, but that was just me.

Is it a game that will change my life or make me look at gaming differently? No. But I didn’t have a problem with it either. Some good jumps, a lot of weaponry and things to shoot at, and it’s pretty gory, but appropriate for the subject matter. I loved the Jaguar version, and saw elements of that here, albeit with better graphics, and more fleshed out environments. If you expect an entertaining romp, it’s no problem, so don’t let the excessively negative reviews deter you from a night of blasting outer space terrors.

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