5 Reviews

Aliens vs. Predator

It's not a nice thing, having Steve Hogarty hug your face

My favourite sound, probably out of all of them, is the ones made by aliens
when they're being horrifically slaughtered in their second film, Aliens. It is, I think, based on a heavily distorted recording of a trumpeting elephant, sped up to make it absolutely terrifying in a way only the panicked, high-pitched scream of a flailing pachyderm can be.


In second place it's the dense, tinny shred of a pulse rifle. Then there's the muffled, static veil draped over your ears when the Predator switches to thermal vision, married with his exotic, guttural clucks as he lops his tongue about inside his mandible box-mouth. Sexy.

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Every Aliens vs Predator game has understood the importance of replicating the most aurally recognisable aspects of its characters, and this release continues that tradition. It sounds incredible. Incredible enough to make me want to say words like "aural soundscape" and "crunchy sonic feast". Here's a game that's mostly about inflicting horrendous injuries on deserving creatures, and it's one in which you'll appreciate every sinewy crunch, gargled howl, bloody slosh and hollow snap.

Aliens vs Predator is sickeningly violent - more so in one of the three campaigns than the others, admittedly - in ways that are borderline comical and dancing on the periphery of decency.

GORE-TASTICAL
Lovely, spine-tearing, eye-socket spearing madness then. Where the films lost credibility the moment they went PG, Rebellion's AvP wears its 18 certificate with pride. These are Schwarzeneggar's Predators and Ripley's aliens. Sadly, these are the same one-dimensional barking space marines you've seen a thousand times before, but the point stands - this game doesn't flinch in showing you brutality on a level not seen since the early films. The good ones.

NO YUTANI
So, evil megacorp Weyland-Yutani have found some ancient ruins on a distant planet, and in their efforts to exploit the artifacts found within they've attracted the attention of the ruin's guardians: the tribal, dreadlock-sporting Predators. (Bit of a pedant's minefield, this review, but we'll stick to calling the angry monsters 'Predators' for the sake of our sanity). The planet also happens to be home to a colony of Giger's xenomorphs, thereby allowing for the classic three-way struggle seen in both of the previous games to erupt all over again. Three campaigns straddle the same plot arc, giving you three perspectives from which to view the various goings-on, and three markedly different experiences. The Marine draws the short straw, a panicking, fleshy sack of prey permanently seconds from being scythed in two by a swishing xenomorph tail. It's a campaign of fear, into which Rebellion stir a steady stream of ratcheted tension. The cautionary beeping of your motion tracker is such a recognisable device that it hardly needs explaining, but here you go: the closer a moving object is to you, the higher pitched and more rapid the beep. The thing generates fear.

Registering false positives in nearly every darkened corner, the environment takes pleasure in suggesting random shadows might contain dripping alien death, and for the first 10 minutes you won't even meet one of the things. You'll be yelping at vents, alarmingly shaped shadows and dangling bits of wire which, in a case of misjudged engineering, look identical to the tails of lackadaisical, ceiling-dwelling aliens.

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The Alien campaign, on the other hand, is a reduced affair. Weapons and frippery are replaced by tooth and claw, and the unique ability to climb on any surface allows you to stalk marines from the darkness like a pervert Spider-man. You're the smarter-than-your-average specimen known as Number Six, receiving curiously detailed orders from your Queen (who's kind enough to mark objectives on your HUD, in between shitting out a thousand eggs) and fighting to save her and your colony from the nefarious human threat.

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