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Aliens vs. Predator 2

Score: 90%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Monolith
Media: CD/2
Players: 1 - 16
Genre: First Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

One of the important parts of a game like Aliens vs. Predator 2 is the ambiance of the game. It's not enough to be pretty; in an established setting like this, you have to match the 'canon material' as closely as possible, giving the same senses that the source provided. Aliens vs. Predator 2 manages this with aplomb, providing a graphical and aureal environment that truly immerse you into the experience.

Playing as a Colonial Marine is just as fear-inducing as it was in the movies. Dark hallways, things skittering in the night, and a hell of a lot of bad things jumping out at you make for a harrowing experience, and one best not attempted by the faint at heart. The graphics portrayed by the LithTech engine are sharp, detailed, and true to the source; when I saw those low-slung wide doors of the Weyland-Yutani corporation, I knew that someone had paid close attention. The two other races that you can play as (Predator and Alien) have their own graphical touches, and while neither of them are as fear-inducing as the Marines, they certainly look sharp.

The game's sound is also excellent. Music is of the proper low-key ambient style that games like this need to have; barely there until it needs to be, it provides another source of tension and drama. The voice acting is universally excellent, although the only speech you'll understand is that of the humans. And the sound effects . . . when you hear the humans screaming as they get their heads chomped off by the Aliens or sliced off by the Predators, you know you're deep into another world.

Just don't play too late at night, eh?


Aliens vs. Predator 2 is basically three separate play experiences in one. You can play the game as the Marine, the Predator and the Alien; each of them is a vastly different experience, and one that deserves your attention. They are laid out in the suggested order of play, which is a good idea to follow for plot and experience reasons.

Those of you who played the original Aliens vs. Predator know that the game was disjointed; Aliens vs. Predator 2, on the other hand, tells a nicely-woven tale of a corporate venture gone awry. You'll see things in each of the three campaigns that you saw in the others, only from different perspectives; it really makes for a fascinating experience, and a more absorbing one.

The Marines campaign is the most straightforward, in terms of classic shooters. You've got a lamp to keep yourself from getting completely terrified, along with night-vision goggles; you've got a pulse rifle, a pistol and even a handy knife; you've got your wits and a long, dark journey ahead. Prepare to jump at indigenous lifeforms, and to really jump at the real bad guys; you are outclassed and outnumbered, and it's a hell of a fight to get through. Nonetheless, the experience is quite like any other shooter, if much spookier than most.

Next up is the Predator. Armed with four different modes of vision, some insanely powerful weaponry, and the ability to turn invisible to the Marines, the Predator makes for an interesting experience. It's definitely more complex; the weapons have targeting systems and various hobnobbery you have to deal with. But the Predators are amazingly powerful beings, and this power comes through in the game. Stealth is key, and long-ranged attacks are the norm.

But the most exhilarating experience, by far, is that of the Alien. Starting from a lowly facehugger, you must impregnate a host and come out as a chestburster. Moving from there to the standard drone, you are armed with your tail, your claws, and your powerful jaws. There's no 'ammo' or anything of the sort for the Alien, just a health bar that gives you a hint of how much more damage you can take. You can run along walls, upside down, and all around; this can be extremely disconcerting if you don't know what you're doing, but soon enough it becomes second nature, and running along the ceiling at the Marines is an enthralling ride. The Alien sees with pheromones, which means that machines are invisible to it in the standard mode.

If you don't feel like experiencing the three fascinating (albeit relatively short) campaigns, you can jump into multiplayer. There are a multitude of game modes, ranging from the standard Deathmatch to the more intriguing Survivor (last the longest) and Hunt (one vs. many) modes, and two modes highly reminiscent of Assault from Unreal Tournament--Evac and Overrun. All of these are entertaining, and with the recent multiplayer patch, the experience is solid.


The four campaigns each have four selectable difficulty levels, allowing you to pick and choose your own experience. The game itself isn't exceedingly challenging, due to somewhat simple AI; nonetheless, there are a lot of 'bad guys' in whatever scenarios you dive into, and the experiences are far from trivial. Gearing it towards your own skill level is a simple affair, though, and it should make the game entertaining for everyone.

Game Mechanics:

Aliens vs. Predator 2 uses a combination keyboard-and-mouse control scheme that should be familiar to any FPS fans. The actual keyboard layout is a bit confusing at first, but the default configuration ends up being quite useful once you get its peculiarities down; there are a lot of buttons in the game, and the important ones are already placed at easy-to-hit locations, which is nice. The campaigns even sport something of an 'in-game tutorial'; as you come across certain things, it will pop up a message explaining them, helping you pick it all up as you go along. The menus are easy to navigate and very well-done, with neat graphical touches. The load times lean heavily towards 'too long,' but aren't quite there; still, it would be nice if it didn't take so long to come back from a saved game. Speaking of which, you can save anywhere in the game--this might not seem like much to most gamers, but those who experienced Aliens vs. Predator know just how important this sort of thing can be.

Aliens vs. Predator 2 is the sort of game that Alien Resurrection for the PSX tried to become and failed: moody, frightening, absorbing, and above all else fun. What it lacks in length it makes up for in depth, in both the single-player and multiplayer scenarios. You need to take it to the latest patch-level to really experience the whole thing, but those willing to dive into the dark future of this setting will find an experience not soon forgotten. Genre fans would be foolish to pass it up, and those who find most licensed games seriously lacking will be pleasantly surprised.

Frightened, even.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

Win9x/Me,2K, Athlon or P3 450, 128 MB RAM, 750MB HD space, 4x CD-ROM, 3D accelerator w/ 16MB VRAM, 16-bit sound card, mouse, keyboard

Test System:

Athlon 1.1GHz running Win98 SE, 512MB RAM, GeForce 2 GTS w/ 32MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live!, 8x DVD-ROM

Windows Arthur's Knights: Tales of Chivalry Windows Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated