There are NUMEROUS flaws here, but it surprisingly does quite a bit right in 2010 that most games haven't yet achieved.

User Rating: 6.5 | Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction XBOX
NOTE: The review for this game is FAR longer than most of my reviews. If you just want the basic facts without long reading, head to the bottom for a streamlined summary. Gracias.

With the new Aliens versus Predator game recently released for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, I was intrigued enough to go back 7 years or so and boot up a game I used to enjoy for my original Xbox, Aliens Vs. Predator Extinction. I was curious at how this game would stack up in terms of more modern strategy games on consoles and PC, in graphics, music, gameplay, and most importantly for console strategy games, the controls. After extensive playing, I wasn't too surprised at the many, many flaws in this games basic mechanics, and yet I still found alot to admire about it for reasons that I didn't expect.

Getting straight to the flaws, I should warn you that there are many, many, many issues here that many people may not be able to overlook, and for good reason. The graphics in this game were dated even for their time, but now the game, to be kind, looks abominable in every respect. Other than faithfully recreating the units and general feels of the AvP universe, the environments themselves are very bland, flat, and muddy, and characters often phase into each other during basic walking from point A to B. The explosion and fire effects are pretty poor, and the blood and gore effects (speaking of which, how was this game rated T for Teen??) are pretty cheap, and it never really leaves your mind during the time you play it. On the one upside, the familiar units from the movies/comics are recreated here pretty well, and the new units are downright awesome to behold, such as the Alien Ravager and Carrier, and the Predator Blazer and Hydra. They, surprisingly enough, don't feel unnecessary of out of place, and it makes the large scale battles that can occur that much more fun, even though the animation is pretty horrible all around.

The sound in the game is also quite a mixed bag. On one hand, the sound effects are faithfully recreated quite well. The aliens hissis still disturbing, the predator's roar as it takes the head from a corpse can still send chills down your spine, and the ever familiar sounds of the marine's guns and motion tracker can create a decent amount of tension similar to its FPS brethren. On the downside though, the music, while good, is practically non-existant. You can barely ever hear it, and the sounds of your units usually override it when it is hearable. The voice acting (what little of it there is) is passable, but not great.

And the list of flaws goes on and on. The AI in this game is usually serviceable and gets the job done, but at times it can be beyond infuriating. Sometimes they won't move when you order them to, or they'll run the opposite direction in which you tell them to. The worst moments had them refusing to run through a tunnel right in front of them and instead turning around and running into pursuing predators, wiping out my unit entirely.

But the games biggest offense, which will likely be inexcusable to most, is the total lack of multiplayer, online or off. Although I realize that old Xbox games will no longer function online as of April (not that there would be a ton of people on this now anyways), it just feels lazy that they didn't even try to include it since the gameplay in this game is ripe for versus battles. And in what was also a dumb decision, they didn't even bother to include a skirmish mode for 1v1 or 2v2 battles against computers. I could've lived with just skirmish and no online if that was too hard for them to develop at the time, but not having skirmish is an even bigger slap in the face to AvP fans.

So after all of these flaws, is there really any reason to pick up this game NOW when there's already newer, arguably superior games on the market for next gen consoles? The answer to that is how forgiving you are of this games many missteps, because if you can get past those annoyances (as I did), you might be surprised at the depth and variety that can be found in this game.

Unlike most newer RTS games, the three races present in AvP:E are completely different with totally unique playstyles that make each mission never feel like it's getting too repetitive. There is virtually no basebuilding in AvP:E, but the mechanics here for gathering resources and massing troops comes so naturally it didn't really need to be included anyways. The humans are the most standard playing of the races, going from objective to objective wiping out aliens and predator while stopping to find and repair ATMO's, which can be used to bring in resources and order new units and upgrades. The Predators make use of many less units than the other two factions and rely more on stealth, something the human campaign makes no use of for the most part. Even in an RTS, its incredibly satisfying to create a small Predator hunting party, cloak, sneak into an enemy base and stealh kill it's inhabitants, taking time to gather their skulls afterwards (aka the Predators way of resource gathering). And the Aliens may be the most fun of the bunch. As an Alien player, you mainly mass colossal armies of aliens and overwhelm the other factions. You do this by laying eggs with your queen, using your aliens to kill anything from aliens to predators, to the occasional animal. After dragging back their modies, they can be impregnated and have an Alien hatch to add to your army. It's undeniable entertaining to impregnate each possible unit for the first time and see what kind of new Alien you get, and its a unique experience that you aren't likely to find on new games nowadays. The variety in each of the campaigns is admirable, and it makes the game very hard to get bored of. Tired of playing as a Marine? Go kill them as an Alien. Massing Aliens not your thing? Go Sam Fisher on them as a Predator.

But all the variety in the world doesn't matter if the controls won't measure up, and thankfully AvP:E does NOT have that problem, and even now the controls prove to be far superior to many modern RTS games. Selecting units is always quick and easy. You can select them individually, by unit type, or just pick them all out on the screen, and its surprisingly intuitive even after nearly 7 years. Using unit abilities is as simple as holding down a trigger and hitting the black button, and you can quickly move units across the map with the right thumbstick. It's so well executed that I'm surprised that most developers haven't tried to mimic this controls scheme.

These easy to learn controls combined with the variety of the 3 factions make the game immensely enjoyable when it's working right, but some may be put off by the lack of multiplayer or skirmish modes. Well don't fear, the 3 campaigns will take you more than enough time to finish. As of now I've put over 25 hours into the game, and I still have 2 more missions for the Predator and Humans to finish up before I'm done. And this is only on normal mode! You should be fairly warned that the game is pretty tough by RTS standards, but the save anywhere system (another feature that more modern games need) makes the painful parts much more bearable than expected. Very nice indeed.

So in the end if you choose not to venture into AvP:E out of worry that it might be too flawed, you wouldn't necessarily be wrong to do so. It has many problems that can easily frustrate, and there are many games out there with much better production values than this game. But if you're willing to overlook these flaws and come in with an open mind willing to try something a little new with your RTS games, you may walk out in the end pleasently surprised, as I did. It has it's problems, but for the ever cheap price of $10 you can now find it for, I found it to be an adventure and a risk worth taking that can bring you long hours of deep tactical RTS gaming at it's finest. Just don't expect tha graphics/sound/multiplayer of Halo Wars, and you'll have a good time with Aliens versus Predator: Extinction.

The Good:
+Unprecedented variety in its 3 factions that no new RTS game will give you
+Top notch control scheme
+Long and pretty challenging (over 25 hours)
+Return of new and old AvP units gives a little something for everyone
+Those familiar, lovingly recreated sound effect.
+Shocking amount of depth in combat
+Gory executions!
+Save anywhere system makes the game much more forgiving later on

The Bad/Very Bad/Downright Ugly:
-Too little music for my tastes..
-Voice acting (what little there is) is subpar at best
-More story would've been nice, considering what the new game offered up
-AI lameness is infrequent, but excruciating when it happens.
-Probably some of the worst graphics on new, old, or even older consoles.
-It's one ugly mother******.

The Perplexing:
-Beheadings, dismemberment, decapitations, impalings, more dismemberment... how did this game avoid an M rating again?