“ Genre: Strategy / Manufacturer: Electronic Arts „
If youre a die-hard sci-fi fan, or a fan of the golden oldies, youve surely heard of both Alien and Predator. The first films in both of the films legacy are considered the best films ever made. Shame they screwed up on Alien versus Predator in 2005. Thankfully, this isnt based on the film (probably because this was released before the film). Aliens Versus Predator Extinction isnt like the Alien versus Predator games on the PC games, as its not a First-Person Shooter. It is in fact a Real-Time Strategy. This is actually the first RTS Ive ever played. Probably because Im a console gamer, and theres not a whole lot of these games on consoles. Thats probably due to the fact that consoles dont use Keyboards. There are lots of controls for RTSs and its hard to cram that into a controller, especially one like the PS2. So, does Extinction have crap controls and ultimately suck? I certainly think not. I controls excellently, plays great and sounds excellent. But, while great, this could have been excellent had Zono polished the visuals and added multiplayer. I cant believe this is so underrated!
Perhaps the hardest thing to do on a console is to make a console RTS controls actually work! With so much to do in RTSs, its hard to fit it all onto a controller, especially with a controller like the PS2 controller. They will take a bit of getting used to, especially if youre a seasoned PC RTS gamer, but once you get used to them theyll be like youve been playing for years. You move the cursor with the left analog stick and navigate your mini-map with the other. You can jump to locations by pressing X while navigating the mini-map, or get men to go to that location by pressing circle while on the mini-map. You can press Square to jump to your base, and triangle to jump to an event going on at the minute. You can go to a command list by pressing the R2 button. You can also do an action with the Circle button. You can do a special ability with the R1 button, shift with the L1 button and change the camera view with the R3 button. There is a lot to learn here, and, luckily, theres a tutorial to help you out. Usually tutorials are either all text and are boring, or the guy who is telling you how to play is crap. Luckily, this is not the case, as the tutorials are immersive and you dont mind listening to the tutor.
So excellent controls are fine, but if the gameplay isnt good then thats wasted. Luckily, that isnt to be, as the gameplay is great. You can play as three different factions-the Marines, the Aliens and the Predators. They dont just look different; there are some key differences between them. The three factions each have their own campaign, and each campaign feels different to each other. Youll spend a good twenty hours to finish all three. The easiest campaign is the Marines, and the hardest is the Predators. Probably my personal favourite is the Aliens campaign. The objectives were most varied, and perhaps my most favourite mission was in the Alien campaign. Basically, they captured the Aliens, but then Predators attacked the base and while doing so, set one of the Aliens free. Now, you have to get some of your buddies out, find eggs so you can get a queen, and then kill some Lieutenants. It was fun, challenging and interesting. My least favourite campaign is the Predator campaign. Most of the missions required you to get skulls in each level, which got rather repetitive. Plus, this was brutally hard, meaning I wasnt really enjoying myself.
Okay so theres three different factions, so let me explain how they play and what their campaigns are like. The Marines are, well humans, and are perhaps the weakest seeing as they arent Aliens, and everything else is. You have youre standard infantry, as well as other gunmen like Flamethrowers, Smart gunners (who have rapid firing weapons) and Snipers. Aside from the gunners, there are also Medics (who obviously heal people), Synthetics (robots who can carry stuff) and more. Perhaps the most important person in the Marines faction is the Comm Tech. He can call for more Marines to come in by radioing them to a drop point which can be found around the level. He can also repair machines like Synthetics, giant robots that shoot like crazy and these machines called Atmos which give you money.
Money is important, as you need to call for more Marines to come in. Aside from radioing Marines to help, you can also buy upgrades for soliders. These can help as you may need them to take down a huge number of enemies. You can upgrade every Marine. The campaign objectives are pretty varied. One mission will have you investigating a pipe assembly, another will have you trying to find a Predator cloaking device and perhaps the best mission is when you have to go into the Predators base and find a Doctor and then blow up the place. They are best at ranged combat, thanks to the fact they use guns.
The Predators are much better in melee combat. They are strongest when up close, though the ranged fighters can do some hefty damage as well. If you need more Predators, you have to kill and get skills to earn points, which are known as Honour. You can buy more Predators from these points from a Shrine. There are different types of Predators you can buy. You have your standard Predator called the Brawler, as well as Predators who are more powerful or have Spears. You also get Predators who throw some kind of Ninja Stars, Predators who shoot fireballs and even these guns that hover and shoot.
Predators can rip skulls out of killed enemies. This is pretty satisfying, as the sounds of ripping and when the Predators scream its so cool. Sadly, Zono must have thought that it wouldnt get old, as most of the Predator campaign missions involve you ripping skulls out of certain enemies. Trust me, it gets repetitive quickly. Also, the Predator campaign can be punishing, so its not that fun. And, its odd that the Predators are actually a decent faction, its just the campaign that ruins it. If only there was a skirmish mode
The final faction is the Aliens. They are the best in my opinion, not only because their campaign is most enjoyable, but because theyre unique. Rather than ordering more troops, you actually have to breed your own. Heres how it works: you get the Queen (the leader) to start laying eggs. Once an egg has emerged, you can change it to a Praetorian egg, which you can change the hatchlings into Queens. Whatever type of egg you hatch, a Facehugger will be born. The Facehugger will die unless you find a host, a human, animal, Predator etc., otherwise they will die.
Anyways, once youve found a host an alien will sprout out of the host, turn into a cocoon and eventually hatch into an Alien. As far as what Aliens you can access, youll get your generic Alien, youre huge killer one, an Alien that is pretty fast, and, of course, the Queen. I liked the Aliens campaign most is for a number of reasons. First, there was some variety, as rather than make you mindlessly kill like the Predator and Marines campaigns, theres usually something you need to do like make a Queen. Secondly, the game was at a perfect difficulty level. It wasnt easy like the Marines campaign, but it wasnt punishing like the Predator campaign. Finally, NUMBERS! You could give birth to lots and lots of Aliens, about 45 to be precise, and seeing lots of Aliens cause carnage is satisfying for a strange reason.
The gameplay isnt perfect though. There are some path-finding issues with the game. An example is when theres a steep ledge in front of where you need to go, some of the idiots just walk into the thing, with little success in getting up there. Some of the Aliens can go up steep cliffs, but for the most part the troops cant go up. So they go around, and then get lost. Thats a bit annoying, especially if they walk into a bunch of enemies and die. Its not too frequent though, as sometimes they seem to wall hug the cliff and go the right way. Also, the A.I. isnt the brightest in the world. Like I mentioned before, they sometimes get lost, or try to walk up a cliff. Other examples include when a Marine targets the nearest thing to him, except its not the thing thats slowly depleting his health. Its rather dumb, and can be a pain having to make them target the killer. Still, these issues dont detract too much from the gameplay, which is, for the most part, really fun.
The game is rated 12+, which surprising seeing as the films were rated 18+. Also, its weird how it only got a 12+ rating seeing as theres quite a bit of blood in the game and some of the sound effects are unsuitable for people this age. I would say its more of a 16+. Then again, Serious Sam: Next Encounter on the PS2 got a 12+, which is full of limbs blowing up and blood. Maybe this got a 12+ rating because the camera is too far away. Still, I would say that 14 year olds would be suitable to play this. I certainly wouldnt let a 7 year old play this, as they may find some of the Alien designs too scary, and the blood and sound effects arent suitable for them.
Graphically, Extinction looks okay, but it could have done with, lets just say, a bit more polish. The games environments look particularly ugly. Textures look messy, the environments feel sparse and there are not many colours (brown, grey, green, brown, grey ). Still, they are quite large, and they do look different, as you get swamps, laboratories, caves and more. The character models dont look that detailed, though thats not much of a problem seeing as you wont be seeing them up close. The animation is decent, though sometimes the game lacks it as people just float across the battlefield. The effects are great though, as the explosions look nice, as does gunfire and ray gun effects. More destructible objects in the environment would be nice though. The frame rate is smooth for the most part, though on one of the last missions where there were dozens of marines and lots of aliens fighting, the frame rate was so choppy it was like a slideshow!!! Still, while it doesnt push the PS2s power, it still looks good. Plus, the Alien and Predator character designs really do stay true to the films. Oh, one more thing-the war fog is hideous. Basically, anything you havent explored on the map would be completely black, which is fine. But if you leave an area youve explored, the area will be covered in a slight layer of black fog. Its ugly man, and any enemies there couldnt be seen.
One of the best things about the game is its sound. The game highly benefits from being based on the Alien and Predator films, giving it some brilliant music and effects. Youll hear some music from the films, like the creepy music played when the Queen is onscreen. Most of the music is great; its just that sometimes the music is a bit absent. The effects are also top notch. The sounds of the marines bullets screeching, the whoosh of a Ray gun firing and the blast of explosions are all really satisfying. The voice acting is appropriately cheesy. You will hear most of the dialogue from the Marines, as Aliens and Predators cant speak. Theres a cool guy who will debrief you at the beginning of each mission, and he sounds pretty cool. The only real problem with the sound is that some of the effects drown out other effects, making for a somewhat odd moment. Still, this is a brilliant sounding game.
Sadly, Extinctions value is what hurts the game most. Indeed, you wont finish the three campaigns quickly. Itll take you a good 15-20 hours to complete all 21 missions. Just dont expect much value beyond that though. The game doesnt have any multiplayer, which is weird considering there are three playable factions. Online play would have been awesome, and even offline multiplayer would have been good. There isnt even a skirmish mode, which seems rather lazy. There are, literally, only the three main campaigns to play through, and, to be honest, you probably wont want to play through them again. Its a shame, as, had online or offline multiplayer modes, as well as a skirmish mode, been added this game could have had tons of value.
Extinction could have been utter rubbish. Zono could have put the bare minimum into the game, as they could have said People will buy this because it is Alien versus Predator. Luckily, that isnt true. Its a very fun, great playing, excellent sounding RTS that is whole heartedly recommended to fans of the films Alien and Predator or fans of RTSs. Sadly, its not all perfect. The graphics are okay, but ugly textures and a sometimes very choppy frame rate hinder them overall, and the lack of a skirmish mode, multiplayer or online play seriously hurt the value. Though dont think this wont last, as youll spend a good 20 hours with the three campaigns. Shame theres not much after. Still, Extinction is better than most of the licensed bull that comes out these days, and its a great example of how developers should do console RTSs. Oh and the 12+ rating means anyone too young to watch the films can get a taster of the films here. I think a lot of reviewers have stated this already, but I think this could have been one of the PS2s finest, had the developers kept the game In the oven for just a few more months so they could add a Skirmish mode and Multiplayer, as well as polish the graphics a bit, fix some of the gameplay problems and sorted the minor sound problems.
-(Where You Can Buy It)-
You can buy this from the used and new section on Amazon from £11.95
This was published by Electronic Arts and Fox Interactive and developed by Zono.
This was released on the 8th of August, 2003 and is also on Xbox.
Thanks for reading. Stunt 101
In Aliens Versus Predator you can play as either the Aliens or as the Predator, or as a marine. You can select whichever one you like, and can do more than one type at a time. When you play as Predator, you are constantly being attacked my Aliens and hunting down Marines. You have different modes of vision, normal, thermal, night vision, electical and so on. The weapons are good, you have a range of melee combat weapons as well as throwing and shooting weapons, most of which are electrical and need to charge up after a fair bit of use. You have huge strength and can jump huge distances. I also like the invisible mode to sneek up on marines, but it only lasts a couple of seconds. When you are the Alien, you start off as the little alien who bursts out of a human stomach, and need to feed upon flesh to grow, and feed to the humans you kill for health. As the game progresses, you get bigger and stronger, and your attacks get better too. The Alien's vision is very weired, it is curved, like a fish-eye TV lens. And is not normal colors, you can have something similar to thermal, or a black and white normal. The Alien is very very fast, and thats your advantage over the Prdators, if you see one looking at you, you don't fight, you run! The only way to kill them is to use your cunning and sneeking up skills. When you start, your combat is terrible, all you can do is bite, but then you get to scratch, then lunge, then use your tail then you get all kinds of stuff like being able to crawl on any wall or ceiling you like, lunging 30 foot at a time, slaughtering marines gets so funny too. I personally prefer playing as the Predator though. And finally, when you get to play as the Marine its super hard, your against Predators and Aliens!! You and your gang of marines gets picked off one by one in the cut scene, and you have to survive through the mission. You get some pretty cool weapons, including a chain gun, a rocket launcher and a flame
thrower. Each weapon has its perfect use in its perfect place, and if you pick this up early on in the game, you will progress the first few levels quite quickly. You have two modes of vision, Normal, and Thermal. And be carfull, those Predators are very crafty with they're capability to become invisible! Overall, I really like this game, the graphics are sound there are no graphics walls to run into and the game has never broken up for me, the audio is very good, not every shot you fire sounds the same and the music is very well chosen, when its a really tense moment, there is such frightening music, and during a shoot fest, the music mixes into a hard, fast beating tune, its all well thought out. The load times are quick and the story-line is pretty good too, thats why I haven't mentioned it to you, you'll have to play the game to find out. The cut-scenes are amazing graphics, its very realistic and tense. The game is quite long, its like having three normal games in one because of your three characters. As the game progresses it gets harder but don't quit, because the final cut-scenes are very worth watching. Once I started playing this game, I couldn't put my mose down! Hope you enjoy it too!