Aliens vs. Predator (2010 video game)
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Aliens vs. Predator is a first-person shooter video game developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original Microsoft Windows game and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game is not a sequel to the previous game Aliens versus Predator 2, it is a reboot based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise.
There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.
Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various game types in various ways.
As in the films, the Predator prefers to stalk its prey from the safety of treetops and the gameplay reflects this, the player leaping from branch to branch automatically with the help of a "focus jumping" game mechanic. The Predator has different vision modes, the most recognizable from the films being a thermal imaging scanner, but the player also has different vision modes for spotting Aliens (only accessible from a special mask the player picks up in-game) and viewing the world normally. For example, the Heat Vision mode allows the player to see marines very clearly, while it renders Aliens nearly invisible; the Alien vision works in reverse, making aliens appear clearly and marines nearly invisible. Regular vision allows one to see the environment and other predators better than the former two visions, making battles between two or all three species a tactical juggle to prioritize enemies based on their threat to the player.
The Predator’s gameplay is more based on stealth and tactics than the average first-person shooter. The player has to be aware of Aliens, which have the ability to see through a Predator's cloaking device, that may climb up a tree and attack from below as well as taking care not to reveal themselves to marines too early as the marines’ weaponry and numbers are more than a match for the Predator. For long-range weaponry, the Predator can use a shoulder-mounted plasma cannon in addition to a glaive-like disc and a combi stick (or throwing spear). For close-range combat, the Predator has four retractable wristblades on its arms.
The wristblades allow for the Predator to perform a "trophy kill," a nod to the movies in which the Predators take trophies, usually skulls, from their defeated enemies to show their prowess in the hunt. OXM labeled the trophy kill mechanic as "spectacularly violent" and it has been partially censored to avoid an Adults Only rating in the United States as it was "several measures more graphic" than any other recent games. There are several animations, one of which is a "terrified" marine dragged into the center of the screen by his or her throat, which the Predator then snaps effortlessly with the accompanying sound of "someone biting into raw celery". The neck broken, the Predator decapitates the marine, a "sizeable portion" of the spinal cord following. Even after this, the marine is still alive for a short period of time, "gasping his last, with nothing but bloodied, glistening Vertebral column beneath his chin."
Jason Kingsley, the CEO of Rebellion, defended the brutality of the trophy-kill system, stating "This is obviously a game based on adult-rated movies, and we want to make sure it’s very clearly an adult-rated game. It's an issue for me; some computer games are for kids– we're not making a computer game here for anyone other than adults. That's very clear and within that context, I think the violence is part of the character and the world– so we're talking about a fantasy world here and fantasy creatures and we're talking about trying to build up a mythos. I remember the first time I saw it, one of the particular Predator kills, everyone went 'Oooh'. But it's what the Predator does in the movies."
The Predator campaign explains how their species considers the war tactics of the human Marines juvenile. A quote from the intro states: "We are old, my brother. Our race is few and scattered. Our ancestry lost to myth. The humans are still children, creatures of desire and hubris, with no comprehension of the long hunt. Still, they make good sport. They have discovered a trophy long locked away. They must not be allowed to find the crucible that spawned our most respected prey. If they succeed, all life will succumb to the crawling dark...".
Aliens fight in close-quarters with their claws and tails, getting as close as possible to their prey as quickly as possible. Aliens have the ability to climb walls and jump from distances without much effort, and can blend in with shadows, using darkness to their advantage. Within limited ranges, aliens can seek out prey through walls. These senses also allow Aliens to clearly observe cloaked Predators. In the single player campaign, players will have the opportunity to harvest "hosts". By pinning the host, nearby facehuggers are able to locate and latch on to them, thereby propagating the Hive. Throughout the game, the player also has the opportunity to perform "stealth kills".
The Colonial Marine campaign is far closer to that of a standard first-person shooter. Marines carry a wide arsenal including pulse rifles, flamethrowers, and auto-tracking Smartguns. To help navigate the surroundings, marines are equipped with shoulder-mounted lamps, surveying flares to briefly illuminate darkened areas, and motion trackers, capable of providing info on hostile positioning as they move.
This was Mark Rutherford’s first video game score. It was 70 minutes of live orchestral score recorded in Slovakia with the Istropolis Philharmonic Orchestra. To create a unique and original sound for the Predator and the Alien he made his own percussion kits constructed from bits of metal and various tools which were then scraped and hit with nails, sticks, brushes and mallets.
As a Marine, the game starts out above the planet, with the Marines squads on two separate ships, one of which is identified as the USS Marlow. The Marines have been given orders for a combat drop. When the Predators' ship comes out of cloak and destroys the Marlow, Major Van Zandt directs the surviving shuttle to land. The player Marine, dubbed "Rookie", is knocked out during the drop, and regains consciousness in the heart of the chaos itself. At Corporal Tequila's direction, Rookie is sent into several parts of the wrecked human colony with the purpose of getting systems back online and locating all the surviving Marines, especially Major Van Zandt. However, the Major is discovered cocooned, forcing Rookie to shoot him.
Moving further into the newly established hive within the refinery, Rookie encounters the Matriarch, an Alien queen, and sets her on fire, ultimately killing her in an explosion with help from Tequila. Going through the swamp, Rookie is contacted by Tequila, on board a drop ship to pick him up, but the ship comes under fire from a Predator and crashes before the rescue can be made. The now-stranded Rookie receives the assistance of the colony's administrator, Katya, from the Weyland–Yutani group, that was originally sent to investigate the pyramid. Following Katya's instruction, Rookie is able to locate other survivors throughout the ruins and fights and kills a Predator before finally rescuing Tequila in the Alien hive, but not before she has been implanted with a chestburster. Tequila asks the Rookie to shoot her, but Katya informs him that if the Rookie could get Tequila to the research lab, Katya could perform surgery on Tequila to extract the alien inside her. Weyland finds out about this during the procedure and cuts off the power to prevent Katya from trying to remove the alien from Tequila. Rookie is forced to put her into a stasis capsule to prevent the alien from "bursting" and killing her.
With their dropship and the Marlow destroyed, Rookie is informed by Katya, after finding out that she was an android, that Weyland has a datapad that can contact his personal dropship and get them off the planet. Meanwhile, Katya successfully removes the implanted chestburster from Cpl. Tequila's body with the aid of a backup generator. Rookie goes below the facility to confront Weyland, in order to acquire his datapad, and uses it to recall Weyland's dropship, getting himself, Tequila, and Katya off the planet and in the process revealing the Weyland who was on the planet was an android the entire time. Rookie, Tequila, and Katya are then seen in cryo-sleep on board the dropship while it's traveling to Weyland's personal cruiser, which is in orbit around the planet, while the pilot uploads the datapad's contents to the cruiser's computer. An older-looking Weyland is then delighted to learn that a "live specimen" is secure, and to receive the vital contents of the datapad: the coordinates to the Xenomorph homeworld.
As an Alien, the game begins in a laboratory, where two humans are being kept imprisoned. As one of them wakes up, a chestburster emerges from the other, killing him. Soon after, a chestbuster breaks through the other's body, killing him as well. As scientists enter the room to collect the specimens, they find that "Specimen 6" is missing. The missing chestburster then emerges from the second victim's mouth, rather than the containment tube, and, as a result, the room is gassed by head scientist Dr. Groves, killing the two other scientists and subduing the chestburster; however, Mr. Weyland prevents the death of the creature, impressed with the chestburster's cunning, and tells Groves to assign the creature to a special program, the alien code-named 'Specimen 6'.
Days later, Specimen 6 is fully grown. During an observation of its abilities, it is told by its queen, the Matriarch, which is also imprisoned, to escape, but is gassed and recaptured. As Weyland opens the door to the ancient ruins built by the Predators' ancestors, the structure emits an electro-magnetic pulse that disables the local human colony's systems, also disabling Specimen 6's restraints, allowing it to escape. Specimen 6 releases the other captive Aliens and the Matriarch. Once free, the Aliens retreat to the colony and the nearby refinery, where they begin to multiply through Facehuggers. The Matriarch establishes a hive in the refinery and the Aliens become dormant, until the arrival of the Colonial Marines.
After the Marines arrive, Specimen 6 begins to kill off Marines and disable the colony's systems. While on its mission, it eventually finds itself at the ruins Weyland opened, where it and the other Aliens encounter a duo of Predators that they immediately kill. At the end of the fight, an Elite Predator appears and battles Specimen 6, who weakens it to the point that a Facehugger is able to attach itself to the face of the Elite Predator. As Specimen 6 returns to the Hive through the jungle, it stops and is mentally stunned as it sees the refinery is on fire, and senses that the Matriarch is trapped in the fire, set by the Marine "Rookie" (as seen in the Marine Campaign), and died in an explosion. As the alien begins to undergo strange effects, Weyland and a few combat androids discover Specimen 6, and at Weyland's request, they capture it. They take the captured Specimen 6 off-world to an orbiting ship, where it kills the crew. It is shown that Specimen 6 escaped and began to build a hive in the ventilation system. It is then shown that Specimen 6 has metamorphosed into a praetorian and is in the process of molting its newly formed chrysalis to become a new queen.
As a Predator, the game starts in the jungles, where a youngblood is proving himself strong and fit enough for the rank of Elite. Once the trials are complete, the Elite, named "Dark", is dispatched with a group of other Predators to a planet in order to investigate a distress call, sent by a youngblood hunting party on another planet (BG 386). On arriving at BG 386, the Predators destroy the orbiting Marine ship, the USS Marlow, and launch the Elites onto the planet's surface.
On the planet, Dark finds one of the dead Youngbloods, and sets his wrist bracer to self-destruct in order to keep the humans from discovering their technology. Dark is then told to make trophies of the Marines, on account of their intrusion on the planet, and therefore, sacred hunting grounds for Xenomorphs. He goes on to infiltrate the Colonial Marines' forward base in the colony, disabling the systems and releasing the Xenomorphs into the open.
Dark infiltrates the Refinery, and finds the Alien queen already killed by Rookie, the Marine from the Marine campaign. He enters the ruins after escaping the refinery and finds the mask of an ancient and legendary Predator. Replacing his own with this mask, Dark gains the ability to see and target Aliens in the dark as well as holes and crevices from where they can hide. The mask plays back holographic scenes from many years back celebrating the Predators' first victory over the Aliens. It is at this point the player is instructed to find a certain artifact of high importance to the Predators – an ancient wrist bracer.
Venturing through the ruins, Dark finds stranded Colonial Marines and more Aliens. Reaching an ancient combat arena, the Elite battles a Praetorian. When the Praetorian is defeated, Dark acquires an ancient combi-stick, a spear-like weapon that can be thrown while maintaining the thrower's cloaking.
The Elite then infiltrates the research lab Weyland–Yutani built above the Predators' pyramid and searches for the wrist bracer stolen by the colonists for research. Dark has his first encounter with corporate combat androids. Weyland attempts to capture the Elite for live experimentation, but fails. The Elite acquires the wrist bracer, and after battling through the Xenomorph labs and the queen's former chamber, makes it to the pyramid, activates the self-destruct sequence to his wrist bracer before battling & killing a Predalien, which was born from the previous Elite Predator in the Alien campaign. He is then informed the wrist bracer is to be used to wipe out the entire temple and the colony around it, as the temple's sanctity had been violated by the humans, and to purge the stain on the Predators' history. After escaping the temple, Dark returns to the Predator ship and his ancient mask gives him data revealing the Aliens' homeworld.
In December 2008, a Kotaku article stated that Sega had announced that an Aliens vs. Predator video game was being developed. This meant that Sega's other upcoming game, Aliens: Colonial Marines, would be pushed back so Aliens vs. Predator could be released first. It was later confirmed that Lance Henriksen was involved as one of the characters of the game, he plays Karl Bishop Weyland.
An early build of the game was submitted for review to the OFLC, but was denied classification in Australia in 2009 and effectively banned for sale altogether. Sega announced that there would not be a re-cut version released in Australia, and that it would appeal the decision. The game's refusal of classification again brought up the issue of a need for an R18+ rating in games, a move supported by many members of the public and government members.
On December 18, 2009, Sega won the appeal on the classification of the game in Australia. "It is with great pleasure that we announce the success of our appeal," says Darren Macbeth, managing director of Sega Australia. "We are particularly proud that the game will be released in its original entirety, with no content altered or removed whatsoever. Australian gamers applaud the Classification Review Board on making a decision that clearly considers the context of the game, and is in line with the modern expectations of reasonable Australians."
The Board noted that "the violence depicted in the game can be accommodated within the MA 15+ category as the violent scenes are not prolonged and are interspersed with longer non-violent sequences. The violence is fantastical in nature and justified by the context of the game, set in a futuristic science-fiction world, inhabited by aliens and predators. This context serves to lessen its impact. The more contentious violence is randomly generated and is not dependent on player selection of specific moves."
Two additional map packs have been released for purchase via Steam, PlayStation Network and the Xbox Live Marketplace  entitled Swarm and Bughunt. The Swarm Map Pack and Bughunt Map Pack were respectively released on March 19, 2010 and July 9, 2010. Both downloads provide new multiplayer maps and survivor maps.
Aliens vs. Predator received "mixed to positive reviews" on all platforms according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. Official Xbox Magazine UK praised the game for its "superb atmosphere" and "unique multiplayer", but criticized the odd melee system and how the marines could knock back an alien, relieving some of the atmosphere. The most scathing review came from 1UP, who found the multiplayer hard to recommend over the prior game in the series, Aliens versus Predator 2, describing it as "ultimately thin and awkward". GameZone's Dakota Grabowski said: "If the recent films on the Aliens vs. Predator franchise haven’t been painful enough to sit through, then perhaps video gamers worldwide are ready to stomach Sega and Rebellion’s pitiful offering. Delivering poor results and half-baked ideas, it’s my regret to call Aliens vs. Predator the year’s most disappointing title thus far."
411Mania gave the PlayStation 3 version a score of 7.9 out of 10 and called it "a solid game with its fair share of problems. For fans of the franchise, you’ll be able to look over the blemishes and find a game that you’ll be playing for months. For those that aren’t into the Aliens vs. Predator franchise, well, what the hell is wrong with you? Good or bad, I think we can all agree on one thing: This is the greatest game ever made where you can pull a guy’s spine out while he screams for mercy." However, The Daily Telegraph gave the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions a score of six out of ten and said that the game "lacks the action set pieces that helped to push the FPS genre to where it is today." The A.V. Club gave the Xbox 360 version a C and said, "The always-terrific Lance Henriksen is on hand to put a human face on—and lend some soul to—this otherwise soulless experience. Yet in the end, his character turns out to be just as hollow as the videogame he’s starring in." Edge gave the game five out of ten and called it "a hastily assembled three-in-one anachronism which proves just one thing: that terrifying and terrible are not mutually exclusive."
Despite its mixed critical reception, Aliens vs. Predator debuted at number one on the UK all formats chart. It was the fastest-selling game of 2010 in the UK, breaking the record previously held by BioShock 2. It was also the best-selling game on Steam, as well as on the retail PC charts.
As of May 14, 2010, Aliens vs. Predator had sold over 1.69 million copies worldwide. The game has grossed £14 million in the UK alone previously making it the highest grossing Alien game of all time.
Following the commercial success of the title, Jason Kingsley, the co-founder and CEO of Rebellion Developments, has stated that the developer is in discussions with Sega about creating a sequel. Kingsley has expressed his personal desire to revisit the franchise.
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