Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rock, Hell, and Video Games: Part 2

And you thought this was going to be social ethics.

Aliens_vs_Predator_-_E3-Xbox_360Screenshots16868AVP_E3_Online_1     Oh well, talking about a game featuring iconic sci-fi characters is more fun, anyway. I gotta say, the concept of this game is an exciting one. Who could pass up the chance to play as an alien or a predator? Apparently, not as many people as reviewers would’ve liked. While big name video game sites like Gamespot or 1up gave AvP fair to middlin’ scores or worse, VGChartz shows that Rebellion’s Alien Vs. Predator for Xbox 360 is #5 in the Worldwide Top 10, while the PS3 version clocked in at #8. Not too shabby for an average game. While I haven’t had the luck to play the full version of the game, I did spend some quality time with the multiplayer demo, which I will be reviewing.

It’s All a Matter Of Patience.

     It’s funny, if I would’ve played the multiplayer demo for five minutes, I probably would’ve agreed with the majority of professional reviewers. The game seemed unbalanced. While I dominated playing as an Alien, playing as the Marine was an exercise in self-control. I died so often and such a lack of warning that I couldn’t decide between uncontrollably sobbing (see below image)
or banging my head against a nearby keyboard until I expired (see below image)
Ooh, that was violent. *giggles*
The Predator reduced me to cheap tactics, since all I had available to me at spawn was his melee blades. I’m not pleased to admit that I camped with the cloak in order to secure kills the first few rounds. Oh, the shame…

The Good

     However, after a couple awkward matches of learning control basics, I observed a few details that made me feel less concerned about the balancing of the classes. The Marine, which many would refer to as the fodder of the game, is actually a great class. I won two rounds after mastering how to shoot, since the default assault rifle and the shotgun are both absurdly powerful. While starting with melee only as the Predator, I soon discovered that the reason for this was that his powerups were killtacular. Helmet mounted tri-laser is the best thing since the spartan laser. Yeah, I’m into lasers. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t encounter any issues with the wall-climbing for the Alien. It was smooth and fluid- but then, I didn’t go searching out odd angles that looked like they would confuse the game’s mechanics. Perhaps I should be more thorough.

The Bad

Remember when I talked about my concerns about Halo Reach’s Assassinations? A prime example of why those aren’t going to work well is AvP’s multiplayer. The Predator and the Alien both have instant kill buttons that initiate an automated sequence where you gut your enemy in a variety of delightful ways. As fun as it is to watch, it’s deadly for you if an enemy is nearby. “ What’s that, Mr. Predator? Oh, you want me to shoot you with 4 shotgun shells in the back while you decapitate some other Marine? Why thank you, I do believe I shall take you up on your offer.” There is no crouch option for any of the classes in the demo. Hiding behind cover is now nearly impossible. Many thanks for all the wasted respawns, Rebellion.

To Conclude

Multiplayer is pretty good fun. There’s more balance to the game than you think. There are certainly design flaws for every class, and many of the mechanics are experimental. Give Halo a break, and try a few rounds of AvP to break the monotony. With a little patience, it’s a rewarding alternative. The worst thing that will happen is that you’ll watch yourself be impaled by a Xenomorph repeatedly, and, let’s face it, that’s what made watching the movies fun.

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