Developed by Monolith, and brought to you by Fox Interactive, Aliens versus Predator 2 is an exciting FPS that should not be missed. This license has been hotly anticipated for a very long time, but despite the rumours, the film crossover that so many people have been waiting for has not yet been made. This idea was floated so far in advance, even of the first game being released, that people seemed to get a bit bored with the premise by the time it arrived. Aliens Versus Predator was a very good title which, for no good reason, just didn´t rake in the cash like they were expecting.
In Aliens Versus Predator 2 you can choose to play through the single player as an alien, a predator or a human. However the real strength of the game and its replay value will come from the multiplayer mode. The single player campaigns are simply far too short, just as you are really getting into it you realize that you have reached the end. In this sense the single player serves as a practice run or tutorial, teaching you all the basics of the game before you try to plunge into a much more difficult multiplayer battle.
I had the most fun as an alien. You begin in face hugger form and must search for a host to attach yourself to, after a short incubation period you eat your way through their ribcage and emerge as a chest burster and, as you are virtually defenseless in this state, you will need to hide until you grow into a full size alien. This life cycle is a great idea and each form the alien takes requires different tactics, in multiplayer the successful murder of seven in a row will elevate you into a queen. Life cycle can be turned off for multiplayer and this may be advisable as it is very easy to kill with a face hugger, then equally easy for your opponents to shoot all bodies thereby ensuring you never come out of the chest and develop into a full alien. All but the heaviest of aliens also have the ability to climb up the walls and run along ceilings which gives you some great tactical options.
The predators are also very nicely realized in game. You have the same array of powers and weapons that you will remember from the films. Predators have the ability to cloak for short periods (which drains your energy). They can also restore energy and health, but doing so leaves you defenseless for a few moments and will give away your position. When restoring health the predator lets out a loud scream so you have to be careful about when and where you use these functions. Weapons include a net and spear, a basic blaster, the disc (which kills opponents instantly but must be aimed accurately) and even the ability to self-destruct, taking out everything in the immediate vicinity with you.
Marines come with the standard weapons seen in the films and of course the radar device, which lets them know when enemies are near (provided the enemy is moving the radar device will pick them up). The marines also have radio contact and can enter loader suits (big metal frames like the one Ripley uses to fight the queen in Aliens).
The controls for the game take some getting used to. Marines get the standard FPS defaults and this also applies to the predator for the most part, so no problem there. The aliens, however, are tough to get used to but it is well worth persisting. The problem is how easy it is to lose your bearings as soon as you start to climb up walls, this requires you to hold down a key as well and takes a fair bit of practice to really master but the results you can get make it worthwhile.
Graphically the game looks good, the settings are similar to stuff you will have seen in the films. The cutscenes are pretty ugly, as rather angular characters created for the game, run through a pretty uninspiring backstory. Just imagine some predators dropped into the alien universe and you've got it, the marines in game are very obviously the marines from the alien films.
One of the reasons this game is so fun and reminiscent of the licenses is the sound used throughout. From the sharp bursts of fire emitted by the marine's rifles to the chilling scream of a predator somewhere in the distance, the sound simultaneously builds the tension and reminds you of the universe you are playing in. Best of all is the blip of the radar when you are down in the dark and all alone, spinning around desperately looking for the approaching hordes.
When playing multiplayer it is important to find a good balance. This can be difficult because some maps favor certain species above the others. Aliens like tight enclosed areas with plenty of darkness and hiding places, in the open it is too easy for marines to drill them down. Due to the relative strength of the predators there should always be more of the other two species. Playing as the alien really does it for me, what must have been a collision nightmare for the developers creates a huge almost limitless playing area for the aliens. Marines can very effective especially if they work together and use crossfire to cut down opponents fast.
Overall this a great fun FPS with an excellent multiplayer. The range of species gives you a wide variety of tactics to master and this in some way makes up for the short length of the single player campaigns. It truly is thoroughly enjoyable to run up a wall, round the ceiling, and down the other side, before closing those jaws shut around some screaming marine's head. If you like FPS games or the licenses involved then you should definitely pick this up.