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Aliens vs. Predator 2

A stealthy hunter, a lethal alien or a helpless human…In the universe of Alien versus Predator 2, the choice is made yours. Do you want to play the part of the mouse, running, hiding, peeking from a tiny whole to the unforeseen danger, or should you want to exchange turns? Do you want to be the hunter, the deadly shadow that plants fear into his enemies’ hearts, the dreadful killing machine hidden between trees, waiting to claim the life of yet another foolish victim? Maybe neither ways appeal to you, maybe you like to crawl in the dark, causing terror and confusion to your enemies, before you savagely attack them and rip them apart. However you like it, and whichever you choose, AvP2 will grant you the most unforgettable experience and unsurpassable amusement any FPS game can ever provide you with.

Our story takes place in a far away planet that was colonized by humans for quite some time. Apparently, something goes wrong and the isolated colonists there find themselves facing what they couldn’t have imagined in their worst nightmares. Deadly aliens started appearing everywhere, attacking humans when they least expect it then using their bodies as hosts for them to reproduce. The humans found themselves stuck, and a small marine force was sent in, only to find out that any hope of survivors has been wiped out. To make things even worse, a new race joins the game, the predators, having remarkable body strength and advanced high-tech equipment. Things start to mix up, and it’s up to you to set things back right.

In Avp2 you will be given the option to choose between three races. One being the helpless marines, or by other words, the humans. The marine plays almost like any other FPS game, carrying a pistol, a typical shotgun, and most logically a machinegun and a rocket launcher. Along with a few others, but all are quite common and absolutely predictable. There isn’t really anything new about the marine’s weaponry here, but still, the marine will offer you a unique experience of his own. Having said that you must be wondering now, if he plays so predictably then how can he be so interesting? The answer is simple; it’s the atmosphere you are put in which makes you feel the difference. Basically, you will be playing in a new style you have never experienced before. Let’s lighten things up a bit and elaborate some more, shall we.

You are given many means of lighting; you have a spot light, a night- vision view and a limited number of flares. You will be equipped with a 180 Degree motion sensor that scans for any movement in front of you as well. It seems you are fit to face any situation with ease, no? Well, think again. Imagine this: you are walking in a long gloomy corridor with weak red lights flashing at the far side of the corridor. You turn on your spot light and walk forward slowly, watching your battery as it drains away monotonously. Then suddenly, you hear the sound of a terrifying cry coming from the ceiling, you look up, then all at once the flashing lights go out leaving you in total darkness. Suddenly, a sound of clawing comes from the ceiling, you look at your motion tracker and it shows movement to your right. You look there but see nothing with your ridiculous spot light. Then instantly, the alien breaks out, you know it’s near you; so you put on the night-vision goggles quickly as you back away and barely see it as it approaches you. Hanging to your last thread of stability you shoot and see foul acids get splattered all around you. You know more are coming, so you break up running, but your battery has depleted and it will need some time to recharge, so now, you can see totally nothing! What should you do? You light a flare and see a couple of others attacking, you throw a grenade at them and keep running, then just at the moment the flare’s light goes away you find a door, open it and escape through. Now (pause to take a breath!) have you changed your mind!

Once you play the marine, you will start to hear the sound of your own heart beating, and you can be pretty startled by quite anything. It’s the scariest thing you have ever experienced; walking in gloomy corridors, hearing the cries of colonists as their guts get ripen apart, while shooting nervously at anything that moves, and checking frequently your ammo and battery with anxiety. It’s called paranoia I guess, and you will be enjoying it all the time through.

On the other hand, you can exchange places, being either a predator or an alien. Each of them is more than interesting to play, and trying them can be considered a whole new game by itself. The predators’ abilities are nicely fitted in just like the original movie. He can see in four different visions, each suitable in tracking certain types of enemies, so humans can be seen clearly in a light blue thermal vision, aliens in another red one, while predators apply to a third vision that can illuminate the dark as well. He can cloak himself and hide between trees too, then use the mask he is wearing to zoom in to great distances, making him a sharp sniper and an excellent hunter.

The predator’s weapons, however, are most strange and might to certain degrees contradict each other. He carries a common spear as a primary weapon, yet can fire energy bolts that lock on to its target. He can use a net gun to entangle his enemies, yet utilizes a small pistol to fire explosive charges! Can you see the contradiction here? Well. since the predators are considered to be an unknown race, then I guess they can equip them the way they like. This never takes away from the game though, quite oppositely, it gives the predator an identity of his own, and makes the game’s three races (especially in multiplayer) much more diverse and different.

Alternatively you can play the alien, starting as a small face hugger looking for a body to use as host. You would then infiltrate this body by mouth and grow inside. Once you’re ready, you will have to make your way out of his stomach by biting through his guts – a most spectacular experience I must say, but not to the poor guy I guess! You will start small, more like a worm, looking for food while avoiding the human’s spot lights and crawling behind trash barrels. After a while, when the time comes, you will find yourself a grown drone, and can begin to wreck havoc! Now, isn’t your mummy proud of you!

As an alien, you can walk on walls, hide in vents and see clearly in total darkness. You can pounce at enemies fifty meters away and can even bite their heads off for a one-hit-KO. Although the alien has so little abilities in comparison to the marine and the predator, he can prove to be more fun and amusing to play at times. I really liked toying with those marines in the campaign, hiding in dark corners, then when they approach pouncing at them and turning their sorry asses to shreds within seconds. You surely don’t get to play as a nasty alien in any other game – not with this depth at least, and that’s why I consider the alien mechanism by itself a great step ahead.

The three campaigns are well connected together and can only make sense all together. While you might not notice that at first glance, when you play the three of them you will start to notice the elements of a well planned story line. You will acquire a piece of the puzzle from each perspective, and can later on connect those pieces together to understand the whole picture. The missions themselves in each campaign are intense and will always provide you with something to trouble your poor mind. In the marine’s missions, you will be almost always running from something and won’t have peace of mind for a second. While in the alien, it takes a different approach. At first you will find yourself weak and will need to evolve to more powerful forms, and then when you become strong enough, you will start on errands to protect the hive and punish the humans. Whereas the predator will be in a pursuit that shifts around at some point to an escape. There’s never a dull moment and you will always find yourself pushing through the three of the campaigns with ease and joy.

Graphically, the game shines. Look at the suitable colors, the smooth edges, and the beautiful weapon designs. Everything looks totally awesome, well textured and exceptionally realistic. All visual effects are included and nicely fitted; shells fly out of the weapon when you shoot, explosion effects look astonishingly convincing with bright colors and realistic smoke released on impact. Observe the human faces, how they blink and how their mouths move when they speak. Everything you can actually expect and hope for is there, so stop thinking too much and relax a bit…

There has been a known gamma issue with AvP2 though. Some people complain about the lack of a gamma bar to make the game’s colors brighter, especially in the marine’s missions where everything looks so dim and dark. This procedure has been obviously intended from the game designers to make the marine’s missions more scary and intense. You can easily notice how clear and bright the colors look in the predator’s missions, which obviously isn’t a coincidence. You might face some hard times and find yourself cursing and swearing at the whole system, but believe me; afterwards, you will begin to appreciate it. Hush! What was that…Spooky!

When you play the marine, the music can be your savior and can be your doom. When you run into an alien or when an alien is tracking you, a tense music will start to play both alerting you to the presence of an enemy and putting you into a mental state of total concentration. You will be looking up, down, right, left, to the back, to the ceiling, to the doors, to the vents. You will be looking totally everywhere waiting for the alien to pop up any moment now and attack you. The game’s music is amazing and does its job of putting you into the atmosphere to the best extent. Even in the other two campaigns, the music is still great, pleasant and most suitable.

The game’s designers have troubled themselves into making twenty-one missions, divided into three campaigns of seven missions each. Each campaign differs greatly from the other one, and can be considered a whole new game by itself. Every time, you will find yourself changing techniques and even your way of looking into things around you, thus you will hardly get bored, and can finish the three campaigns without ever losing interest or getting tired of the game.

The campaigns can keep you occupied for a good amount of time, but the real replay value comes from the multiplayer. It is the one of the best I have ever seen in an FPS game, and yes, it is better than counter strike. Think of the possibilities here, you have four different characters to choose between; with the corporate character added. Each character has about four subclasses that differ in their weapons, speed, life and general abilities. Six modes are available so you can play on, in addition to many different and interesting maps. You can play in many different strategies taking into account your character, weapons and surroundings. If you were an alien, hide in dark places. A predator? Then cloak yourself and go for high lands and hunt. The multiplayer here is much better with much wider possibilities and options to try.

In the end, Alien vs. Predator 2 will prove to be more than an ordinary game. It will offer you one outstanding experience that takes place in a far away planet in such an intense and attractive atmosphere. Later in the night, when you lie awake in your bed, you will remember. You will recall the cries of agony coming from the mouths of many colonists who were ripped apart by aliens, and what terrible pain they suffered, but then you will smile. You will smile because you know that you were powerful enough to survive.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in March 2003.

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