For decades the idea of the two franchises having a monster mash-up has tantalized fans. The first time both appeared on screen wasn't the AVP series, but Predator 2.
When Danny Glover enters the creatures ship for the final confrontation, for the keen eyed, an Xenomorphs skull was on clear display, indicating the creatures not only inhabit the same universe, but engage in mortal combat.
Around the movies themselves alternate media filled this void, and even when the movie eventually disappointingly came to fruition, video games trumped it.
Aliens Vs Predator not only captures look and feel of each franchise, it combines them successfully, while allowing players to experience the creatures.
Much like Doom era shooters, it has a plot. in this case - objectives, but it's background haze. Aside from an opening cutscene and the occasional blip of text, it remains non existent.
This is a game about immersing the player in reminiscent visuals and audio than a specific narrative, and to that extent it works unanimously.
Though an old game, it's visuals, particularity with the Redux mod, stand up remarkably well thanks to some exceptional use of lighting and a deliberately oppressing color pallet. In particular the lights spitting illumination sparsely fluctuate the lighting make the environments feel rickety, foreboding and unsettling. It emulates the movies, particularly aliens, perfectly.
Sounds, be it music, creatures or gun sounds, are more or less directly ripped from the movies, with both the familiar Predator theme and the much less memorable Alien theme. Aliens hiss, marines scream and Predators click, releasing deafening roars. Again, perfectly adapted.
Mechanically, though all first person, they play remarkably different with all the expected character traits.
A Predator is highly resistant to fire, with the ability to heal, take no fall damage and stealth, like the marine, he uses projectiles, albeit more exotic in nature. As in the movies, the iconic heat vision can be activated. This character, due to his ability to take the most damage, is probably the best starting point.
The Marine has the expected arsenal of pulse gun, smart gun and flame-thrower. Unlike the predator, the marine takes fall damage and has far less HP. Much like the Predator, he has his own iconic enemy detection in the form of the blip radar. An additional night vision can be used, but this turned the rader off completely.
Xenomorph is undoubtedly the most difficult but also most interesting character to play. Death as this class can occur instantly. No projectile weapons exist, it's entirely melee based and the rapid movement requires careful attention. It can climb any wall from any angle, rejuvenate health via consuming enemies and use it's own version of night-vision to see where humans do it. The Xenomorph could be summed up as a stealth game.
Each campaign is roughly 3 hours long with specific level design for each encapsulating the essence of the character you play.
The Marine is survival horror. Because of games like Amnesia the Dark Decent, the idea of giving a player a weapon has been seen as counterproductive to the genre, instead making the player slowly creep around while a few sporadic enemies wander.
Alien Vs Predator does the exact opposite. The marine can move rapidly, practically Doom speed, with a bounty of weaponry, but he faces a never ending wave and wave of incredibly rapid and barely legible Xenomorphs that (depending on difficulty) can end a player quickly. These elements coupled with the maze of blackness give a sense of futility.
This captures the second movie perfectly, while mechanically creating engaging ,fast gameplay that remains consistently tense.
The Alien plays the opposite, avoiding gun turrets, picking off secluded opportune targets and instead using darkness to it's favor, always staying out of line of sight and using vertically and speed to it's advantage.
This captures the first movie perfectly, again, working mechanically on it's own terms.
The Predator sits somewhere in-between and is probably the weakest campaign. Through cloak, it can stealth like the Xenomorph, and it's wrist blades allow melee as a viable option. On the other hand it can take much damage unlike the Xenomorph and take enemies head on, picking them off, while dealing with endless hoards of aliens. It's enjoyable, but overpowered.
The game does have some glaring flaws,. Though mimicking the labyrinth like mazes of the tight black corridors largely works, the methods of progressing can be incredibly frustrating as finding objectives, usually a switch or a destroying item, are obtusely hidden behind inconspicuous objects. These aren't creative or rewarding like finding keys in Doom, they simply hinder enjoyment of the game and outright create road blocks.
That aside, if you're a fan of either franchise, then this is a must play with the Redux mod, highly recommend. Multiplayer also exists and apparently still has a community behind it all these years later.
Every couple of years I reinstall this, and with good reason, it gives you something the movies can't while at the same time honoring them. A prime example of how to successfully use a license.