The PSP Official Guide Book, the first to preview AvPR, is also the first to review it. They've done a pretty lenghty one too. They basically say that it's a pretty entertaining game, but it's more for the casual gamer and not the hardcore fans. (Which I thinks pretty true) They also go on to say that the game has quite a lot of spoliers for the movie as it's got the basic plot, locations etc. They think that the Predator wins.
(Thanks to frost for the heads up)
Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem
They're coming out of the goddamn shops!
Alien vs. Predator gets in half-right - the Aliens here are fantastic. As a horror movie creature that's been levered into several action sequels, the iconic, insectile Xenomorphs have been somewhat tricky to deal with when not jumping out going 'boo!", It's like getting Dracula to face-off against the Terminator: Drac may be scary, but out of his element he'd just be another dick with a gun. Hell, even the original movie falteredwhen stopping doing close-ups of shadowy skulls and metal teeth and showed you the whole Alien. So major kudos to Rebellion for making these Aliens look their fatally stylish best, rather than like yet more generic soldiers with strangley skinny legs. They crawl, they leap, they scuttle, and even in what's basically broad daylight they really look the part. OK, it's night sometimes, but while the lighting's often quite sexy there's nothing in the way of proper darkness. This isn't about creeping, jumping at shadows and occasionally being eaten by one. As befits it's movie license, it's full-on action.
You, of course, play as a Predator; and the Aliens aren't your friends. And despite the Predator being one of the coolest monsters ever created - so cool even a rubbish sequel couldn't spoil it - we found it hard to feel that friendly towards him. He just doesn't look as good as he should. It doesn't help that, when walking slowly (a completely unnecesary ability, be the way...), he looks like he's solied himself. It also doesn't help that his fighting is limited to a punch-punch-kick stlye, three-hits-then-a-pause combo. He's supposed to be a seven foot-tall murder-bastard from outer space, for heaven's sake, not an incontient who fights like to girls at closing time. To be fair, he does have other options - flashier moves. These, however, are set off by responding to a button push (always X) quickly enough to counter an Alien's attack, and aren't in your control beyond the initial press. It's quite a nice feature anyway, if only to watch your Predator pummel a leaping Xenomorph into the ground like an American footballer, or even pick it up and swing it round by the tail. Miss the moment to hit X and the Alien knocks you to the ground instead, which means it's desperate button hammering time as you try to stop in lovingly spalshing your face into a wall.
A few deaths involved
What's disappointing is that this aspect, the combat in general and everything else you do seems to slightly pull it's punches. We know Rebellion is capable of making fantastically atmospsheric and viseral AvP games, because they've done it before - years ago - on PC. We also know Rebellion is hugely into the source material and loves these otherwordly monsters in ways that may be even slightly wrong. It's like they've been hobbled. For our money, theres certainly fear in Requiem, but it's teh fear in the touch of a cold dead hand; it's corpoarte fear. It's the fear, no pun intended, of alienating anyone at all in case they won't hand over the money. We'd put cash on this being why everty usable door, dark entry or spot jump from a massive red arrow on it. God forbid anyone should have to work out where to go. We also assume this is why the famous vsion modes, which look (and sound) fantastic, are not quite as indispensible as we'd like. It's a bit too easy to romp through this with only occasional flicks to other views.
It's presumably why there's n osparying acid to deal with from sliced-up Aliens - in fact, there's no blood or gore at all, just family friendly violence. Yeah. It's also presumably why the jumping is automatic. You just run at the big pulsing arrow and it's all taken care of. True, as with the special attacks it can be kind of nice, because you can admire your Predator from some dramatic angle, but in other's it's a bit disappionting. It's Alien Versus Predator, for God's sake. It's NOT NICE! It's a rampage to the death between the perfect killing machine and an orbiting dreadlocked loon who stalks things for fun. How about some challange? Just because it's on handheld doesn't mean everyone wants their hand held.
Mind how you go
Fine, license-preotecting AvP owner Fox likley wants their brand extension to be as accessible to as many people as possible. But would it have been too much to give us the option to turn the really nannying stuff off? By trying to be all things to everyone, Requiem risks being notjing much of anything. And that's a shame, beacause the later levels in particular are impressive. Dropping these two alien freaks into ordinary locations like hospitals, woods and diners is suprisinaly effective - especially when you finally track down the Hive and see that evil black honeycomb caking everything. In fact, the game contains a few spoilers, especially now the film has gone back to a January release... though on the plus side nobody goes to see an Alien Vs Predator movie for the plot. Or the script. Or the acting.
Off to hospital
Requiem is very cleverly structured, with three routes through (underground, industriel and urban) that roughly equate out to easy, meduim and hard. The way the missions are laid out on the menu screen, however, allows you to jump around between the difficulties to whichever mission and location takes your fancy - or bypass one you just can't do. Unfortunatley it's pretty short if you just bomb straight through on one straight, seven-mission route, but take in some of the others and it'll last much longer. The multiplayer may add even more replay value, but with combat that's so starightforward you'll have to be a major fan to do more than dabble. It's a shame, then, that Requiem concentrates on totally accomodating the casual player at the expense of entertaining the fans, becasue the result is certainly causual fun - but with Aliens like these, it could have been an experience of hardcore brilliance too.
Four weird things to see
TANK IN A PETROL STATION
We suppose they have to fill up somewhere, but surely parking it next to a massive amount highly explosive fuel is a tactical error of the first water?
ALIEN IN A SWIMMING POOL
We once had a dream where a manky swimming pool was full of frogs stuck to bit's of driftwood with nails. But we never imagined a full-on Xenomorph doing lenghts.
THERMAL VISION IN A SPORTS HALL
Is this how dogs see the world? And does this explain why they have no interest in basketball? It doesn't look all that hot, after all. The Predators boots look toasty though.
DOCTOR IN A HOSPITAL
You can do anything in games, and we've no problem with taking not one but two races of aliens landing on Earth. But seeing a doctor in a hospital? That's stretching credulity too far.
What you do in... AvP Requiem
45% Reversing away far enough to use your shoulder cannons
30% Going wibbly-wobbly invisible
10% Have your face chewed by Aliens. Christ!
9% Cycling through the vision modes wondering why they aren't quite
5% Pushing train carridges in 'on rails' sections. Boom. Boom
1% Making clicking noises with your mouth