Aliens Versus Predator 2 Review

LV-1201.  A nondescript name for an otherwise nondescript and desolate stormy planet.  Appearances can be deceiving, though, as the innocuous LV-1201 lies at a crossroads, a meeting place for three races on a collision course of conflict.  For the Aliens, LV-1201 has been a breeding ground for thousands upon thousands of years.  Now the ever expanding human race has come to the planet and it must be defended against the invaders at all costs.  The Predators have used LV-1201 as a hunting ground for many years and now the human presence has disrupted the natural order of things.  Eliminating the humans will restore things to the way they once were and allow the predators to continue their hunts.  The human quest for knowledge and exploration has brought them to LV-1201, where they have established a research center.  The natural population has begun to kill the scientists, so Colonial Marines have been sent in to protect the research center.

Aliens Versus Predator 2 gives players the chance to play as an Alien, Predator, or Marine either through single player campaigns for each of the races or in multiplayer matches over the internet.  The single player campaign provides seven missions for each of the races, for a total of 21.  The bad news is that the campaign feels a little on the short side.  The first couple of missions in each campaign are not technically tutorials, but they do serve to set up the story and give the player the opportunity to learn to control each individual species.  Veteran players will breeze through the first part of each of the campaigns in no time at the normal difficulty settings.  That being said, the good news is that the storyline created for the campaign game is very good, and each of the three campaigns are expertly interwoven into a single story played out in parallel.  As an Alien, you are a test subject that manages to escape and set the wheels in motion for events that will raise havoc on the research station.  The distress signal is picked up by a military ship which contains the Marine featured in the Marine campaign.  At a point in this campaign, the Marine inadvertently frees a captured Predator stored at the facility.  How did this Predator come to be captured and what does it want to do after being freed?  Play the Predator campaign to find out.  The three campaigns intersect at more than one point, and it is very entertaining to see the story unfold from three different viewpoints.  Only after completing all three campaigns will the player get the whole story.  It's not easy to put together a compelling storyline for a game, but not only does Aliens Versus Predators 2 pull it off, it does so from three different perspectives.

The individual missions do an excellent job of capturing the suspense and atmosphere of the movies.  For example, in the first mission of the Marine campaign, the player soon finds himself separated from the rest of his platoon.  Trapped alone in the claustrophobic hallways of the science complex, the player receives mysterious readings on his radar, hears an occasional scurrying sound, and receives radio reports of fellow Marines under attack.  Although, there is no immediate attack, the suspense weighs very heavily and the just the anticipation of a sudden and brutal attack is enough to generate a sweat.  One disappointment with the Marine campaign is that it forces you to make your way through it solo.  The Marines in the Aliens movie were definitely a squad-based team, fully supporting each other in dangerous situations.  The Marine campaign seems to be full of convenient plot points that keep you on your own and fighting solo, and it would have been nice to at least fight a few battles with your squad at your side.

The Alien campaign gives players the chance to see things from the Alien's perspective by starting the player off as a newly hatched facehugger.  At this stage of life, the player is very vulnerable and must avoid detection at all costs while searching for a host.  Once gestated, the new Alien is still quite weak and must search for sustenance by finding small animals to eat.  After achieving full growth, the Alien is a force to be reckoned with, with deadly bite, claw, and tail attacks.  Other species are now the prey, and the player becomes the hunter.  The game does a good job of putting the player under the skin of an Alien as he/she slinks along ceilings, crawls through ventilation systems, and attacks anything that moves.  Aliens can restore health by gorging on their victims, and the first time you corner a helpless scientist to bite his head off can feel a bit odd.  However, you'll soon get used to it and feel that you are an Alien, fighting to rid your world of all other life and to protect your queen.