maanantai 10. lokakuuta 2011

REVIEW - Alien vs Predator (1993)

GENRE(S): Fighting
RELEASED: January 1993
DEVELOPER(S): Activision, IGS
PUBLISHER(S): Activision

Comic book writer and artist Chris Warner and his small team of cohorts created a crossover between Alien and Predator in 1989. In 1991, Dark Horse Comics published the first full-length comic book simply entitled Aliens vs. Predator. Since then, the crossover has evolved into a successful franchise, spanning several different novels, comic books, movies and of course, video games. The first video game that pitted the two deadliest extra-terrestrial hunters in movie history against each other was released in 1993 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was partly developed by IGS, whose last "effort" for the SNES was the God-awful The Rocketeer, it was a crossover between two media franchises that had spawned nothing but dirt in the video game scene, and the choice of genre wasn't really the most obvious or even the most comprehensible one. What can I possibly expect out of this game?

The cosmic freakshow of the century

A 25th century construction site in New Shanghai is taken over by a particularly vicious breed of aliens. The human colonists send out a desperate distress call, which is picked up by a Predator ship passing by. The Predators are looking for a good place to hunt humans in, but after they find out about the alien insurgence in New Shanghai, they set their sights on this new, more challenging prey.

I've a confession to make. Even though I'm a fan of both stand-alone franchises, I've never seen either one of the Alien vs Predator movies, I've never read one comic book on the subject, and I've never even played any of the other games, most of which are also simply titled Alien(s) vs Predator - which makes things a bit confusing. Apparently the franchise has developed a strong fanbase, but the concept has never made me all that hot - I don't know why. Perhaps it's because I've heard that the movies are all-out action, and are missing the horror and constant tension of both worlds. If you've dismissed the movies for similar reasons, I think that by hearing what the SNES game Alien vs Predator is all about, you'll be in for a true treat.

The Predator sprite looks cool, but I can't help
but think of a mix between Toxic Avenger and
Shredder from TMNT.
The game looks decent enough, not much different, yet much less interactive and "alive" than other 16-bit games made in the same vein - I'll be sure to mention some names soon enough. The soundtrack's quality is at an absolute 50/50. Some better, faster tunes, such as the boss theme, remind me of Mega Man X - and that's more than a compliment, as the classic features some of the best music in the SNES library. Some tunes are just frustratingly bad, and it seems the music just gets worse towards the end of the game; it's like Activision didn't plan for the player to get that far or something.

Save eating and drinking while you read for a couple of paragraphs later. Alien vs Predator is a side-scrolling beat 'em up cooked up with the same, yet not as stable formula as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, III and IV, Final Fight and Batman Returns. That's right, you're playing as the Predator and travel through ten levels beating the shit out of all sorts of aliens familiar to you from the original trilogy, including facehuggers - a particularly annoying breed of them. Occasional boss fights against some hellishly agile ninja aliens occur. You can pick up temporary weapons and power-ups as you go, including the Pred's trademark spear, a throwing disc and a stealth device (which doesn't seem to have any damn use at all), and to replenish health, you can either drink a glass of some mystery liquid or eat a God damn piece of ham. Yep, the exact same piece of ham that has been there since day one in every other video game. Couldn't imagine it to be on the Predator's menu of choice, as well. By holding X for a while, you can also shoot laser beams, and by holding it for a while longer, you can send a wave of laser energy across the whole screen.

All the while the "plot" "thickens", with the narrative occasionally reminding us that even though the Predators are helping the humans, they're still selfish, murderous bastards. In case you're wondering, the squishy plot is of the writing of the guys at Activision and IGS; the only thing it has in common with the original comic book series is its name.

Suck on my powerslide, bitch!
RoboCop versus The Terminator was ridiculous, but it was a surprisingly decent game, up to a a point. Here we have another sci-fi crossover half based on a franchise that did its part in Arnold Schwarzenegger's rise to power, and once again, what we have here is an almost decent game. However, RoboCop versus The Terminator was believable when it came to the gameplay; having Predator bruceleeing and chucknorrising a huge bunch of aliens from here to eternity isn't exactly what I thought to see before I first laid eyes on this game. If only Ripley had known how far she would've gotten with her fists!

Although the game lives on the cool concept of you being able to play as one of the Top 10 movie villains of all time, against another one in that very same Top 10, the first thing you need to do if you're going to enjoy the game in the least is forget all about them. The game is ridiculous to watch, but it's fairly fun to play. The controls don't exactly suck, and in my mind that's the most important thing. The second most important thing is content, and that is what Alien vs Predator lacks, by a great deal. The whole Alien vs Predator concept is abused, the game is admittedly repetitive, and the thrill of the few unique things about it dies down very quickly. Having unlimited continues would help, since the game gets quite hard, and making it harder than it really is from the beginning is that enemies can attack you off-screen, while you can't do anything to them before establishing eye contact.

In the end, we've seen dozens of this kind of games. Better ones, at that, but Alien vs Predator could seriously be a lot worse than it is. Hell, I was even hoping it would be, 'cause people have spit on it for years. I've bashed a lot of games that other critics have praised to high heaven, but I've rarely had _anything_ good to say about a game that is downright hated this widely. There's a first time for everything, I guess.

SOUND : 6.5


a.k.a. Aliens vs Predator (JAP), AvP

GameRankings: 66.50%

There's a total of five wholly different games named Alien vs Predator, or Aliens vs Predator. The arcade game was published by Capcom in May 1994, and its gameplay was loosely based on that of the SNES game. Atari Games published the Jaguar game in September 1994. In 1999, a reboot of the franchise was released on home computers, and in 2010, another reboot was released on home consoles. Since the release of the Jaguar game, each game in the series has been a first-person shooter.

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