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Aliens vs Predator let's you walk in another man's shoes - or in fact another race's footwear. Throwing you into battle from the viewpoint of the marines, aliens and predators the seemingly short storyline is a joy to play through - and got me wondering if our differences can ever be resolved peacefully.
Aliens vs Predator on 360, PS3 or PC is like having two of your all-time heroes getting together for a project, you just expect that their respective greatness will join up and create something truly spectacular. There have been Aliens vs Predator games before. I thought they were OK but not wonderful. If I'm honest I really struggled with working out what I was supposed to be doing whenever I played as an Alien and that sort of coloured my opinion. Now though, there's another chance to make the game work and it has the benefit of much more powerful hardware.
Aliens vs Predator tackles the same storyline from three different angles. It was intriguing how the same scenario seemed so different when played from a different protagonist. Objectives, opportunities and threats all depended on whether I was playing as Alien, Predator or Marine. From the Marine point of view, Weyland Yutani has discovered an ancient Predator temple and are working, once again, to weaponise the Alien race. You play a stranded marine in the middle of all this. The Aliens are guided by their queen and are working to bring about the creation of a new Alien race by impregnating a Predator. The Predators, on the other hand, are combining containment of the Alien threat with some good old-fashioned hunting.
These differing perspectives were extenuated as you played. Visiting the same locations as a different race you think, "I've been here before, only last time I was hunting Aliens rather than being one of them"! That made it fascinating to fit the storylines together in my mind; when I visited a location I had already seen I would be thinking, "Ah, the Predator has already been here" or, "Now I understand why I was here in the first place". It sounds a bit confusing but, trust me, it's not.
People often remind me that every religion is convinced that it is right and the others are, at best, mistaken.
What's most interesting for me is trying to understand the motives of each race in the game and how, from each one's perspective, the other two are "the enemy" while their own motives are completely reasonable. I don't tend to think too deeply when actually playing a game - if something or someone is the enemy that's just the way it is - but afterwards I get to thinking about what I've just played.
It's not a million miles away from my ministerial duties in the real world. People often remind me that every religion is convinced that it is right and the others are, at best, mistaken. Obviously that wouldn't be justification for hunting each other down or anything but at a basic level I think the mindset is the same. I'm right, and you're not.
I often get the opportunity to talk with people from other faiths in our town and it's great to be able to get together with people of different faiths and none to talk about the things that affect us all. I know Aliens vs Predator is just a game, but I can't help wondering if you could get a Marine, an Alien and a Predator to talk what the outcome would be.
Each has mutually exclusive goals that I don't think could be met with a compromise, and I'd suggest that we will always see the same thing in the real world too. Perhaps there's value in the conversation even without the possibility of agreement. In these scenarios I remind myself to respect other people's humanity while recognising their differences - but I'm not sure how this works with other races.
I felt very exposed and weak, wandering through the colony, constantly wondering whether that shadow was hiding my doom.
Aliens vs Predator does a good job at depicting this though- you get to try your hand at not only meeting them but being them. And each feels very different. As an Alien I was climbing the walls, waiting for a hapless marine to walk underneath me so that I could drop down and dispatch him. As the Predator I was constantly jumping around with my invisibility cloak on. The weaponry and abilities made me feel very confident even in the face of multiple enemies. The Marine was a completely different, I felt very exposed and weak, wandering through the colony, constantly wondering whether that shadow was hiding my doom. It didn't help at all that I kept hearing the Predator's clicking voice too!
My only complaint was that the story felt quite short. In fact, the story is quite short compared to some other games, but you go over it three times as each character I guess that compensates. Overall this was a joy to play through. If you're a fan of the Alien or Predator movies, or of good sci-fi based FPSs, you have to check this out.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: