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Aliens vs. Predator 2: Primal Hunt Review

publisher: Sierra
developer: Third Law Interactive
genre: Shooters

PII 450, 128MB RAM, 16MB Video Card, 600MB HD
ESRB rating: M

release date: Aug 13, 02
» All About Aliens vs. Predator 2: Primal Hunt on ActionTrip

Hm, choosing the right embodiment... Predalien, Predator, or Corporate (human)? Boy, if only I was given this choice in real life. Yeah, I know being human has its advantages, but didn't you just once wish to find yourself in the shoes of a fearless predator, or an alien that desperately seeks man flesh? Once again we come before this choice in Aliens vs. Predator 2: Primal Hunt. This time facing a few new challenges and additional game features. Hm, yep, I think "a few" says it all.

Well, I don't want to complain too much, but the storyline didn't do anything for me. To be completely honest, I didn't quite get what the whole thing is about. Briefly, the scoop is that our human heroine has got her nasty paws on a peculiar artifact, which was originally concocted by Predators. This naturally, pissed off the Predators, and they're gonna want the ancient artifact back. And what part do the aliens play - you ask? Well, I have no freakin' idea; I assume that they realize that if the Predators retrieve this peculiar relic, they would be more powerful than any other race. Or it could mean that the artifact represents danger to the aliens exclusively, and therefore they would have to obliterate it (and have a few human snacks along the way). Whatever. The one thing I'm sure of though is that the scenario connects all three campaigns, which means you'll have to complete all of them to find out what's actually going on. You know the exact same routine from the previous game.

Ultimately, players know what to expect from a game expansion pack: a fresh and intriguing plotline, new levels, new enemies, innovative weapons, and similar extras that ensure any kind of gameplay improvement (well, you can scratch the "intriguing plotline" part). Straight off, I was thrilled to watch some of the new artillery at work. Three important seasonings have been added to the human weapon stash: the dual pistols, turret guns, and deployable sentry guns. Every one of these gives you the opportunity to effectively ice those nasty back-stabbing aliens. Dual pistols for example, have in some cases proved more effective than other destructive weapons like the mini-gun or the highly regarded grenade launcher. Turret guns are used in cases where you're besieged by foes that just persistently keep coming at ya. Now let me tell you, this puppy can slice and dice. Last but not least, the sentry guns represent one of the most interesting weapon improvisations I've ever seen in a FPS game. Your marine can pick up these sentry guns (more than a few) and then position them on a desirable location; this gives the player ample opportunity to form a defense plan before aliens start gnawing at him... Err, sorry, I meant HER.

As for the Predator, nothing spectacular was brought into his charming array of deadly weapons. The only new thing is the so-called Energy Flechette, which generates rapid laser fire that proved most handy against alien adversaries. But alas, I fear that many Predator aficionados will be mighty disappointed to see merely one new weapon. As you'd expect it though, these few additional weapons were most appreciative in multiplayer deathmatches where you have the opportunity for massive carnage.

Throughout all three single-player campaigns I noticed that the enemy AI was done reasonably well. This also goes for the friendly AI. At the beginning of the human campaign, your marine heroine of Slavic descent, Dunya is escorted by two bulky and well-armed gentlemen. These companions are well-versed in using powerful weapons, such as the flamethrower and rocket launcher. Oddly enough, these fierce troopers can lose their lives right outta the blue despite their huge arsenal and intense military training. This has nothing to do with any alleged AI glitches; quite the contrary. It's a actually a very authentic capture of the atmosphere from the movie 'Aliens' - as I recall, the beginning of the movie shows all of those combat-trained, highly skilled, and heavily equipped marines training like crazy, after which you'd think they're invincible; when all of a sudden they start dropping down like flies... They are soldiers and they are there to protect you. But, as little Rebecca pointed out, it simply won't make a difference.

In reference to the overall gameplay improvements, I think it's safe to say that this is the point where Primal Hunt sinks really low. Simply put, all of the additional features can not compensate the lack of original mission structure and the basic purpose of your marine, predator, or alien. Granted your task is clear and fairly simple in each campaign, but that's just the problem as it turns out. Each entity in the game has a sole purpose in Primal Hunt; to find some ancient artifact that has mysterious and symbolic meaning. Huh? Where? Who? How? What for? - Nobody knows. And that's pretty much the way it stays throughout most of the game. One of the biggest disappointments here is that the levels were composed to bore you to death, rather than provide a decent and intriguing challenge to the player. Mainly, enemies will be appearing out of nowhere for no apparent reason and with no particular line of attack, other than the old jump-'em-and-take-'em-by-surprise method (original Doom style - ed). Plus, it wouldn't hurt having lengthier campaigns - make that "a lot lengthier." Trust me, I completed the marine campaign, which I'm sure most of you prefer, in less than a few hours.

The graphics regrettably haven't improved much... Wait a second here, they haven't improved at all. OK, I realize this is not a full sequel, so you wouldn't expect revolutionized graphics, but some issues could've been remedied. The most apparent drawback are the textures which are still pretty poor in detail and do not have sufficient capacity to suit today's standards. This goes for both indoor and outdoor environments. Also, once you get sick of walking within the compounds of dark caves, sewer channels, and such, nothing else can be found to grab your attention. The background craves more detail and the terrain needs more features. But even with things being the way they are in this expansion pack, you'll still need a top-of-the-line video card to play Primal Hunt without any apparent slowdowns. I warn you that the recommended hardware specs can be a bit deceiving.

The in-game sound though, is the main game facet which genuinely reflects the ambiance from the movies 'Aliens' and 'Predator.' The music adds to the tension and suspense, while the Predalien and Predator screeches send shivers down your spine.

The additional multiplayer maps aren't anything special and particularly noteworthy. However, we found that that utilizing the huge variety of weapons was the most thrilling trait of the multiplayer experience. There you have it really.

I cannot begin to describe how much I have enjoyed the flicks 'Aliens' and 'Predator.' The first two games successfully portrayed the horror and action from the movies, which is exactly what I was hoping to feel when I tested them in the past. Whereas, in Primal Hunt I imagined many cool innovations in terms of gameplay - and let me tell you, I found only a few. But then, sometimes I have a vivid imagination and it's a shame that this expansion pack cannot fulfill even the slightest portion of it. All in all, I firmly believe that most of you will feel the same way, and will frequently be bored stiff when you play the game. That is, if you ever decide to buy it after reading this review.


6.5   Above Average 

A few cool weapon innovations that slightly improve the gameplay. The spine-chilling atmosphere never fails. Excellent sounds from where I'm standing;

Most tedious campaign scenarios, level design sucks, and the environments lack more detail. Extremely short. A generally disappointing add-on for an otherwise excellent game.



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