The AvP franchise has a fascinating history; one whose origins are likely lost in the mists of time. The first hint of a crossover most fans saw was a startling reveal in the last act of Predator 2, though comic creator Chris Warner says he and his pals were talking it up in the late 80s - though the film beat them to the punch. Since then, it's been a rollercoaster of novels, comics, and eventually two official films - and, of course, a mess of classic games.
Rebellion was behind the original and groundbreaking AvP games, and it's the brains behind this latest more or less reboot - there's no one, two or three appended to this game's title. That said, it's pedigree is spotless; not only are many of the devs veterans of the original classic, but fans of the films will recognise the gravelly voice of Bishop himself as the head of the ubiquitous Weyland-Yutani corporation.
But that's also part of the biggest problem with the game - as gorgeous as the new graphics are, the game itself breaks almost no new ground. Once again Weyland-Yutani is poking its nose in where it's not wanted and messing with Xenomorphs, the Predators are on the hunt, and the Marines are caught in the middle.
Drake, we are leaving!
We had concerns about the control scheme in the Marine portion of the game, especially the ballistics modelling, when we previewed it last issue; sadly, it's still the same.
It's highly frustrating - for all its lack of originality, there's still a seriously visceral sense of fear in the human campaign. All the cues are there to get you wishing you'd put the brown trousers on, from the pinging motion tracker picking up not only on bugs and hunters, but also stuff you kick around yourself. There's the music, too, which is awesome, and all the classic tricks to make you leap out of your skin - but then you need to arc up at something and you feel like it's your first session at the range, rather than a highly trained bad-ass marine.
The devs more or less admit that they've skewed the gunplay, too, by giving you that lamest of FPS crutches, the pistol with unlimited ammunition. It's a pretty shitty pistol, but it'll save your life more than your Pulse Rifle, and, frankly, that's pretty ridiculous. After all, as Hicks tells us in Aliens, "I wanna introduce you to a personal friend of mine. This is an M41A pulse rifle: 10mm with over-and-under 30mm pump action grenade launcher." Close personal friend? If he'd been using the same thing foisted on us in AvP's human campaign it would be his worst enemy - it's inaccurate, lacks stopping power, and will generally take an entire clip to drop a few bugs.
Short controlled bursts my arse. More like spray and pray, then fall back on your pistol.
On the upside, it's possible to shoot away limbs and weaken or slow xenomorphs, and headshot them; plus there are more accurate weapons further into the game - but to see the almighty Pulse Rifle so poorly treated is just plain galling.