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Xbox Review - 'Aliens vs Predator: Extinction'

by Justin on Sept. 8, 2003 @ 12:51 a.m. PDT

A real-time strategy game, you can create and control your forces as one of 3 species across 21 single player missions with 10 upgradeable combat units per species. Decide your attack strategy; order up your own custom army from a list of units, choose your upgrades from enemy detecting vision modes to devastating weapon enhancements.

Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Zono
Developer: Electronic Arts
Release Date: July 29, 2003

Buy 'ALIENS VS. PREDATOR: EXTINCTION': Xbox | PlayStation 2

Aliens vs Predator: Extinction is the real-time-strategy adaption of the popular crossover movie-to-game franchise. With the characters having first starred in their respective action films, they worked very well in the action-packed first-person-shooter genre. And, surprisingly, thanks to some clever ideas and well thought-out mechanics, the core gameplay of AvP: Extinction is largely successful.

The game consists of twenty-one seperate levels. The human marines, aliens, and predators each have a campaign with seven missions. Most of the level objectives are pretty standard fare, and the levels themselves are nothing to brag about. In fact, they're probably one of the game's weakest parts, as most levels consist of bland terrain. Paths to follow are created because, despite the level of technology the marines and predators hold, they still can't seem to climb over steep (or for that matter, somewhat steep) hills. Fog of war is also here and annoyingly persistant, which is a bit disappointing.

You won't find much in the way of building management in this game - it's more geared toward managing your units and successfully leading them into combat. Each of the three species have their own ways for collecting credits and creating units. From here, you can choose from an assortment of units or even upgrade them - a nice touch.

The marines have the pleasure of working with a CommTech - a fellow who can work his way around a machine without any trouble. If you come across broken atmophere generators, this guy can repair them, which will create a nice little flow of income. You'll also earn some cash for every enemy that's killed. With this cash you can purchase basic infantry, CommTechs, snipers, flamethrowing soldiers, machine-gun-weilding Smart-Gunners, and even insane Exosuit-bearing warriors. There are also medics, who will really help in a jiffy after a battle, and Synthetics, who can carry important or useful equipment - stuff like sentry guns.

The Predators are an interesting bunch, as the game focuses largely on their honor system. Every time they kill an enemy, they earn some Honor Points, but they can earn a bunch of extra points by tearing out the skulls of their fallen foes. Why these are considered valuable is beyond me, but it's an interesting system, even if gathering skulls can sometimes take longer than one would like. Predators can call in reinforcements from the ship floating overhead nearby - they drop in via pods and are instantly ready for use. There are a number of different predators, ranging from wrist-blade melee fighters, to spear-weilders, to masters of the art of throwing razor-sharp discs, to the frightening Vanguard with a huge scythe. You'll even be able to use the Hydra, a nasty sonofabitch with heavy armor and powerful guided missiles.

The Aliens are even more interesting, and it's obvious the most work went into making these guys unique. You have your basic Queen, a super strong, egg-laying meanie, who can also order enhancements for your units. The Queen will lay eggs that hatch into little extra-terrestrials called Face-huggers. These help you out by working their way to a host and impregnating it, where afterwards a new unit will be born. There are two kinds; purebreeds, which will always hatch into certain powerful aliens like young Queens, and transbreeds, where the kind of alien you get is dependant upon the kind of host you impregnate. Peaceful farm-like creatures will lead to simple drones, while the tougher, rougher humans will lead to stronger, warrior aliens. This also encourages you, while playing as the marines, to destroy any dead bodies you might have lying around. Pretty neat, huh?

Thankfully, the game controls pretty well, considering the fact that you're using a controller and not a keyboard and mouse. Moving the left analog stick means moving the camera, as the cursor is always stuck in the very centre of the screen. Moving the right analog stick will move a small cursor on the onscreen minimap; tapping A then will snap the camera to that position quickly. Events, such as attacks on your soldiers, are noted on the minimap for easy detection. You can also tap Y to quickly jump to the latest event. Generally, the A button selects units. You have some other options; double-tapping a unit will select all of the same type that are onscreen, or holding in A will cause a circle to gradually grow and select the units inside it. Tapping the B button on a location will make any selected units move to that spot, or pressing B on an enemy will make them attack that enemy. You can also change your units AI somewhat - making them more aggressive, defensive, et cetera. Setting groups of soldiers to the directions on the D-Pad is easy and useful, too. All in all, the controls are entirely functional and were never a problem for me.

Unfortunately, the graphics in AvP:E look very dated. Character models are unimpressive, and seem like they could use a few extra polygons. They do animate fairly well, if not perfectly. The level graphics are more bothersome, though. Constantly made up of blurry, boring textures, and lacking many interesting features, you'll quickly bore of the levels. For what it's worth, though, the framerate is steady throughout.

The sound is rather unimpressive as well. Sound effects work well, from gunfire to guttoral alien sounds, but are rarely anything too special. The music could be far better - I found myself wishing the game offered custom soundtracks because I was tired of the game's tunes. The voice-acting is only decent, but it could be worse.

Aliens vs Predator: Extinction is a fun game most of the time, despite it's problems. It's not 100% excitement, but if you're a fan of the series, there's a lot to like. The fundamentals of each faction are well thought-out, and even if the game lacks much replay value, you'll still be able to spend quite a few hours with the game. It would make for a fine rental or even a purchase for the right price.

Score : 7.0/10

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