Tuesday, May 4, 2010

1 + 1 + 1 = none

As an idea or plot device, Aliens vs Predator should write itself. You take the aliens (or xenomorphs, since this age of political correctness knows no bounds) and you put them in a room with a predator at a ratio of around ten to one. That's all there is too it; throw several million dollars of special effects at it and how can you lose? There have been two movies of this so far, and neither of them were very good. The problem? People. People should not be the hero's the story, they should be the squishy things full of red goo that get splattered about while the two actual stars of the show go toe to toe. The two series had a few independent successes (before sequels and trilogies ruined them both), but every attempt to combine them in movie form has been decidedly less than the sum of its parts.

Video games have been a little more forgiving, as silly things like 'plot' and 'acting' are not as important. I never played the first game, but AvP2 on the PC was actually pretty good. Marine levels were tense and understandably difficult. Predator levels had you collecting skulls and spines for a good time and the alien levels induced vertigo at a rate not seen since Descent 3. I tried many times to play as the alien in multiplayer, always to find myself sticking to a wall when I wanted to be disemboweling someone, but it was fun none the less. The AvP reboot from Sega has all the right pieces so far; I do not understand many of the complaints that have been leveled against it. Of course it's a stereotypical shooter: you are killing monsters in dark places (with a working flashlight this time). This game has been made hundreds of times, but that doesn't mean that when I am creeping through a half flooded tunnel with a scant few rounds left in my smart gun that I don't nearly crap myself when a fully grown alien slides off of the wall and gives chase. It is tense but not frightening to play as the marine, and I really have no complaints.

The Predator and Alien may be a different story, but we will see. The one predator I fought as a marine went down a little too easily, which is a direct consequence of giving me a gun that reveals things that are invisible. I am hoping for the same stealth approach from the PC sequel. The alien campaign was especially deranged, with you starting off as a face hugger, stalking underpaid scientists in search of the perfect gut to develop in. It moved through each stage of the alien life cycle, getting quicker and more violent on the way. I do fear that the alien - walk on anything - mechanic will not work without a mouse and keyboard, but until then I will shoot everything that moves and enjoy it for what it is.

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