Day Three: The Marine
See it in Action
For our final day of Aliens Versus Predator 2 coverage, we're examining the third and final playable race, the human marine. As previously mentioned, the storyline for each playable race is completely intertwined, and for the marines, their story is definitely a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A small group of marines have been sent to planet LV-1201 to find out why the corporate facility has gone offline, and because of previous experiences, they immediately suspect that the facility has indeed been invaded by an alien colony. Unfortunately, what the marines don't realize until it's too late, is that the aliens aren't the only cause of the problems at the facility.
The marine single-player campaign starts with the team outside the doors of a smaller portion of the corporate facility. To open these doors, you need to use the marine's hacking device, a small computer item that lets you open doors and solve other puzzles spread throughout the rest of the game--but what exactly those puzzles entail isn't clear at this point. As you move through the doors, the radar makes a familiar noise as it scans the surrounding areas for any other life-forms, friendly or hostile, that might be in the area. The sound of leaking pipes fills the air and the subdued environmental lighting successfully conveys a sense that the base has been deserted and something is waiting inside. A few minutes later into the hallways of the facility, you hear the screams of other humans and the growl of another creature. A quick glimpse of the room's ceiling reveals a laser targeting system not unlike that of the predator, which you finally meet face-to-face upon exiting the room as another predator attempts an ambush by firing projectiles from its shoulder cannon while cloaked. The corporate facility is not only infested with aliens, but it's also being used as a hunting ground for the predators.
Marines are the most conventional of the three races, so if you're a fan of other first-person shooters, you can jump into the game right away. The learning curve for the alien and even the predator is nearly nonexistent for the marine unless you learn how to use each weapon well. The marine has a number of new weapons--the knife, the shotgun, EMP grenades, spider mines, and the hand torch--which you can't find in the original Aliens Versus Predator. The knife has been added for the obvious purpose of giving the marine a weapon that lets you cut your way out of the predator's net. Other weapons, such as the EMP grenades and spider mines, give more tactical options (like setting traps), but the most interesting addition to the marine's arsenal is the hand torch, which lets you open doors or even seal them if you're overwhelmed by the number of enemies in another room. Returning from the original game are the pulse rifle, grenade launcher, proximity mines, flamethrower, smart gun, and minigun. It's also worth noting that the flame effect of the flamethrower is one of the game's more spectacular effects, as it spews fire forth in a realistic manner.
Fighting in Style and Multiplayer
In a basic multiplayer deathmatch, the marine doesn't have an obvious advantage over the two other races since the predator can match the marine's arsenal and the alien has a distinct speed bonus. However, after a few minutes of playing one-on-one between an alien and a marine, we discovered a large exo-suit--similar to the one from the movie Aliens--tucked away in a corner of a cargo bay area, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the marine can actually take control of it. While inside, you can walk around the environment and fire weapons, and thanks to its defense bonuses, it takes a few solid shots from any other weapon before you're in any serious danger. It's somewhat amusing to see an alien make a futile attempt at slashing the suit with its basic claw attack--only to see it bombarded with bullets a few moments later. The predator still has an advantage, thanks largely to its cloaking ability, but as previously mentioned, you can detect a predator when it comes within a few feet in its cloaked mode.
You can test your skills as a marine or any of the other races in Aliens Versus Predator 2's multiplayer modes. There are five modes altogether, some of which are variations on typical deathmatch and team play modes. Two of these modes are called survivor and hunt. In survivor, there are two different types of races, the mutate race and the survivor race, and each player starts the game as the survivor race. If you're the first player killed, you become a member of the mutate race, and if any additional players are killed, they also become a part of the mutate race. The scoring system for survivor combines traditional deathmatch scoring, in which you're simply given points for kills, with time-based scoring, in which members of the survivor race continually gain points for remaining a member of that race. If you have the highest score by the end of the game, you win.
The hunt mode is a little more complex than survivor. Essentially, you select two species at the beginning of the game--one race acts as the hunter and the other becomes the prey. After designating the roles for the participating races, you have to select a ratio for the number of hunters to prey. When a member of the prey team kills a hunter, the two switch places, giving the prey an opportunity to become the hunter. Scoring is based on regular deathmatch, so the number of kills is the defining factor for victory.
Monolith has made a series of additional tweaks for Aliens Versus Predator 2's multiplayer modes. If you die during one of the team play modes, you won't be able to float around the level and follow players who are still alive--instead, you will be restricted to observation points to prevent cheating by players who are communicating outside of the game. Some of the multiplayer modes also remember your particular preferences, so they will automatically load your favorite variation on one of the three races.
Aliens Versus Predator 2 improves upon the original with its intertwining storyline, new weapons, new abilities, and improved visuals. Monolith has also made a strong effort in adjusting the learning curve and making some of the preexisting weapons a little more fun to use. Barring any major bugs or other issues, Aliens Versus Predator 2 should be available this fall.