Retrospective: Aliens vs Predator 2010

After finishing Alien Isolation and Aliens Colonial Marines recently, I wanted to complete the trifecta by playing Aliens vs. Predator 2010. It‘s not the second coming, but AvP 2010 is a game I can always play. The game mechanics are refined for maximum fun, the graphics are stylish and gorgeous, and the story is interesting enough to keep my attention. For me, it belongs into the „fine game“ category titles such as FEAR 2 occupy. So, the game already withstood several playthroughs, but was this loop one time too many? Let‘s find out!

-Finding collectibles is fun! I just wish you could see from the selection screen or at least an in-game menu how many collectibles are there to be found and how many already have been found in a level. As it is, the only place where such info is displayed is the results screen when a level is completed. And this makes an organized hunt for the collectibles very hard. Not cool.

-While I adore the whole arsenal of upgradable weapons Aliens Colonial Marines, I likewise love the simplicity of the Marine weapons in AvP 2010. Pulse Rifle is the jack of all trades, Shotgun is for close encounters, the Scope Rifle is for distance, and the incinerator is… well, it cooks Facehuggers and Eggs like a charm. Oh, and the Smart Gun is great fun and a godsend for when the chips are down. AvP 2 is a great game, but the opportunities to use, for instance, the Railgun were practically zero.

-I also like the extrapolation of the whole military hardware of the USCM. We get to see the Bougainville transport teased in the Technical Manual and also the successor of the Cheyenne class dropship. I especially dig the heavily armored sentry guns.

-I‘m a soundtrack nut, so here goes the obligatory bit about the music: It‘s great, actually! While ACM and Isolation both chose to emulate the sound of the movie they were inspired by (and both did a great job), AvP 2010 mostly tries to be its own thing. Some things sound familiar, like percussions reminding me of the Predator scores, but there are unique elements such as some interesting electronic soundscapes that enhance the creepiness of the environments, sometimes even blurring the boundary between SFX and music. Otherwise, it‘s appropriately gloomy and even tragic when needed. There‘s this one descending trumpet note that plays repeatedly that puts a smile on my face, since it reminds me of Michael Giacchino‘s score for Lost.

-The Club Hive shootout is as much cheese as it is kickass.

-Oh, we have to talk about the xenos! The AvP 2010 xenos are actually my favorite video game incarnation. They are a far cry from the Chihuahua-on-crack speed freaks from the original game. Instead, they sneak and slither and crawl over the walls, floors and ceilings, constantly evading your fire in a smart way. This is how you xeno, ACM! Now, before you get up in arms: The Sevastopol drone is, of course, a work of art by itself. However, as Isolation pays homage to the first movie, its Alien is also mainly stuck to the bipedal mode. The AvP 2010 xenos are not hindered by such limitations, enhanced by great animations. Except, ironically, the walking animation, which sometimes makes the Aliens look like sneaking cartoon villains.

-I still think that one Alien camouflaging inside the hive wall is brilliant.

-Another thing I appreciate about the xenos in this game is its Runner, acting as AvP 2010‘s ranged foe. It cleverly uses the existing canon instead of unnecessarily inventing something outlandish such as the Spitter.

-One can only wonder what an AvP game with a proper Crysis-style jungle would play out. Oh, the possibilities…

-The whole scene between Weyland, Katya and Tequila was genuinely touching, achieving the kind of response ACM tried so hard to evoke and failed with the whole Bella arc.

-Have you experienced this, too? Sections that gave you a hard time last playthrough are now suddenly a cakewalk? This was the case with the Praetorian fight. The whole assault of the Praetorian and its cohorts easily overwhelmed me previously. This time I pumped the thing full of shotgun shells and ended the fight within 20 seconds. Phew!

-Of course, there‘s also the (far more puzzling) opposite case: Section that were once easy now rip you a new one. Like the fight against Karl Weyland. I (maybe inaccurately) remembered this as a fight that was over before it really began. This time, the damn sucker littered the temple ground with the corpses of my poor player character. In the end, I fortunately prevailed. Still odd, tough.

-How cool is the jumping mechanic of the Predator? At first, it smelled of casualization. But it works and is also applicable widely enough so that it doesn‘t come across as scripted.

-I still marvel at the fact that this game wipes the floor with Colonial Marines when it comes to graphics… a game that was released three years later. The facial animations are leaps and bounds above the nutcracker faces from ACM, the textures are crisp for the most part, and the lighting is excellent, only surpassed by Alien Isolation by not as big a margin as one might think.

-Okay, there are occasional glitches, like Aliens getting stuck on geometry. Tequila even did an ACM-style teleport to a critical location. However, this happened only once.

-Let‘s be honest: In the previous games, there were some Predator weapons you never really used *cough*netgun*cough*. So streamlining the arsenal to the most efficient killing tools is a good thing IMO. Except for the mines. The mines can still go eff themselves.

-Okay, the whole „spear magically appears back in your hands after a few seconds cooldown“ took the streamlining a bit too far.

-One reason I like the aesthetics of AvP 2010 so much is that the refinery combined with the shades of brown remind me of Fury 161. I love Alien³. Sue me.

-Yeah, the Predator puzzles are very barebone. But that‘s not what we‘re here for, is it?

-The fight against the PredAlien is really cool, a worthy end to the Predator campaign. I was puzzled that its head ram often hit me over a distance, however.

-Aaaaand, again, we‘re cheated out of a proper showdown with a Queen. C‘mon, unleash the bitch! AvP 2 had two battles against the Queen, Aliens Infestation even had three! This is like skipping a lightsaber duel against Darth Vader in a Star Wars game.

-Seeing the Alien‘s tail when you turn fast enough? Awesome!

-Yeah, the immersion is great. I really tried to think and therefore play like the Alien. That usually meant that instead of sparing a room full of marines and civilians by stealthily heading for the exit, I made it a point of eradicating every single being. Hey, all for the Hive, honey!

-Okay, so there‘s this achievement you get if you harvest every civilian in the game. Fine and dandy. But, there are some scripted sequences (I counted three) where civvies get killed or kill themselves. I WAS able to cancel one suicide by pouncing the civvie. Does this mean that the other ones can be canceled, too? Hm, I have to investigate sometime.

-Fun fact: There‘s a nice (albeit slightly unpolished) alternate version of the ending cutscene for the Alien hidden in the game files. Happy hunting!

-It might seem that I praise the game to high heavens. But as many things as a there are that I like in AvP 2010, there‘s one major letdown: The campaigns, which could be summed by „solid, but uninspired“. This especially hurts after the blast that the campaigns of AvP 2 were. The whole interconnectedness of the three stories is nice, but never reaches the heights of its predecessor. It‘s just a consistent feeling of „Eh, nice, but there could have been more.“. Perhaps it‘s that the levels never get time to breathe, lacking complexity and basically consisting of a number of arena-like sections that don‘t flow together very well. There‘s also the level recycling. I didn‘t mind it that much, as I didn‘t mind the obvious allusions to the 2004 AvP movie, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, the taste of something rushed and treated without much love and, yes, inspiration.

-Coincidentally, the Alien campaign, the last of the three, was also the shortest and least fun, as far as it concerned me.

-Oh, what I would give for a direct sequel to this story, taking the action to the Xenomorph homeworld teased in the ending cutscenes.

-Hm, a survivor mode… I actually played it longer than I usually play this kind of modes, so there‘s that.

Another Alien universe game done! I can understand the disappointment surrounding this game, as it isn‘t the most inspired product and had the misfortune of following Monolith‘s AvP 2, IMO one of the best FPS single player games every. But if you get it on sale, give it a chance! It‘s actually a big barrel‘o‘fun. Now, mode which would remake the second game with 2010‘s graphics and gameplay… pass me the smelling salt!

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About mfriebe

Creator & Writer of the ongoing Alien Encyclopedia project.
This entry was posted in Behind The Scenes, Retrospective and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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