When the Alien aliens and the Predator no longer had the individual clout to generate box-office, they were paired off, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man-style, and re-imagined as two fading, punchline-riding monsters with a newfound grudge. The Aliens Vs. Predator game wisely doesn’t pick sides. Instead, it democratically lets you play as the alien, the Predator, or the Marine.
The Marine campaign is by far the most dramatically interesting of the three. Your time alone in the dark, armed only with an underpowered pistol and a flashlight that appears to be on loan from Doom 3, provides the game’s only truly evocative moments. When a blip appears on your radar scanner letting you know that something’s out there and moving your way, you’ll experience Ridley Scott’s 1979 movie from a far more intimate perspective. Such is the power of videogames. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t know what do beyond this moment except repeat it over and over until it’s drained of all dramatic value. Such are the limitations of videogames.
The Marine campaign is also sometimes absurdly difficult. Guns are forever running out of ammunition. And even though you’re facing a creature with acid blood, two tiers of teeth, and daggers for fingers, you’re bizarrely encouraged to fight it via mêlée attacks. Whenever an alien gets within 15 feet of you, onscreen prompts instruct you to use a combination of the left and right bumpers to block or strike. Thanks to the surrounding dark, more often than not, you have no idea who or what you’re fighting, and wind up flailing wildly at the darkness.
In the wake of the difficult Marine campaign, the alien and Predator campaigns offer some much-needed table-turning catharsis. Yet neither ever manages to transcend novelty. All three campaigns overlap, though the Rashômon-like possibilities are never fully explored.
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.