Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem
Score: 78%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Rebellion
Media: UMD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Third Person Shooter/ Fighting

Graphics & Sound:
It's fun to say we've evolved to the point that we don't need snazzy graphics to recognize a quality gaming experience, but most of us still prefer a good-looking, quality experience. All the better if that snazzy exterior happens to be a goldmine of sci-fi geek lore, the Alien vs. Predator: Requiem license. The game of the movie in this case ends up being about what people loved and hated about the recently released film. Those that follow and adore the characters will gladly overlook some flaws in order to get another taste of the magic, however diluted. The gaming experience isn't the greatest or most original thing going for the PSP system, but it looks nice. The best visual effect is the cloaking device used by the Predator characters, and the visor system that adjusts how you see the world. Clicking between normal, thermal, tech, and alien viewing perspectives is very realistic, if you can call an effect in a game based on a movie at all close to reality...

The accompanying sound effects in the game are nice and again pulled right from the movie. Since a Predator is the key character that is playable, most of the effects you can trigger are related to Predator things. It would have been nice to hear more Alien sounds in the game, beyond the death rattle or attack cry of the creatures. Standing in for distinctive sound effects for the most part is a very dramatic soundtrack. The musical setting is charged and very true to both monsters' movies and the Alien vs. Predator series. At times, the level of drama and tension in the music wasn't perfectly balanced to the surroundings, but the timing was generally tight. Swelling music at key points during attack sequences really helped to pitch the whole game into high gear and the sound of various weapons or NPCs helped to set each scene. Cut-scene animation wasn't anything special, but did help to advance the story in some places or build up to a key moment.

The misfortune of Alien vs. Predator: Requiem tops off with the lack of online multiplayer, apart from Ad-Hoc. To play this online in Skirmish or Multiplayer Mode would truly have helped the game ascend past its flaws. Instead we have some good gameplay for a roomful of people; how much longer will this work for us? The gaming systems are becoming appliances at this point, and the appliances have everything they need to become gaming systems in the near future. Online multiplayer in a game that makes sense from a content standpoint is soon to be more than a nice-to-have. Within a few years, the concept of playing games online will be a basic expectation for any sports, action, racing, or similar genre.

As single-player experiences go, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem isn't bad. The worst you can say is that it comes across as lacking challenge and doesn't truly capitalize on the license. The high points include some really nice staging of enemies so that boredom doesn't set in and a good balance between fighting and scouting items. The former can become onerous depending on how you feel about fighting in the persona of a Predator. We all know from the movies that Predators are virtually indestructible. They are big, fast, covered with armor, and fearless. If that weren't enough, they are packing serious weaponry that takes Aliens out quickly and at a distance. The main advantage Aliens have is speed, stealth, and superior numbers.

Alien vs. Predator: Requiem keeps the pace moving as you seek to eradicate all sign of Alien life on Earth while destroying Alien technology. It seems the bad guys crash-landed on Earth and are now settling in to make themselves at home. You proceed with the mission of taking out all the nasty proliferating Aliens and hopefully that's all you find...

Alien vs. Predator: Requiem as a game suffers from some of the same issues over which critics were quick to ding the movie. The repetition of finding and destroying Alien serpents is broken by a few alternate objectives, but nothing like a real plot. The interaction with people is unimportant unless you care about perfect scores. The main pursuit is always the destruction of Aliens and you only use the points you gather from taking them out to upgrade your character's armament. Lack of online multiplayer doesn't mean you can't strike up a nice Ad-Hoc game with friends. Hosting or joining a game through these means is a nice enough option if you happen to have a like-minded group of gamers. The various locations in the game are available for multiplayer along with a variety of Predator skins. The alternate mode for solo play is called Skirmish, and comes across more like a traditional "survival" mode. In this setting, you are dropped into one of the maps with a specific amount of time to take out wave after wave of Aliens. Points scored in these modes don't contribute to the growth of your character, as is the case in the Story Mode. The replay value of the game is relatively high considering the structure of the game, where you work down one of three branching paths toward the ending. How you work through opening up all areas of the game is left up to you, which is nice. What's missing from Alien vs. Predator: Requiem is variety. Mixing up some on-rails shooting or FPS action with the third-person would have been nice and some more complex puzzles or true stealth action would also have made for a more memorable game.

Maybe the problem is that unlike the Alien movies where Ripley and Co. were always required to find creative ways to overcome the Aliens' superior strength and numbers, a Predator can take on an Alien in a fair fight. Armed with only a shoulder cannon and some attached "claws," the default Predator fighter is formidable. The ability to lock-on to distant Aliens and take them out with the shoulder cannon means that you'll rarely have to engage in hand-to-claw combat. When you do get close, you'll find that an Alien isn't hard to take out with a few swipes as long as you don't have more than one on you at the same time. The stealth features included in the game are only for the benefit of humans, but there aren't strict penalties for being discovered. This is a real fault of the game; Predator gameplay should be about more than brute force and the movies were full of stealth action on the part of the Predator. By limiting the level of challenge for both fighting and exploring, the developers didn't leave much in Alien vs. Predator: Requiem that will excite gamers. Sadly, the source material may be as much to blame, since most folks will attest to a certain blandness that has set in on the franchise at this point.

Game Mechanics:
There are some quirky things about how Alien vs. Predator: Requiem controls that are worth mentioning. Control schemes are not usually enough to overcome poorly planned and executed gameplay, but developers should try as much as possible to create something dynamic and exciting. This time we see mostly failure to do this, but the HUD display with its multiple visual modes is a standout. Thermal vision is great for marking humans in the distance, Alien vision does the same for your "real" enemies, and Tech vision highlights machinery with which you need to interact. You'll use the Alien vision more than the others and what I realized is that a "memory" feature would have been so much smarter than what is here. Rather than force you to cycle through the available vision modes to find what you need, triggering the specialized HUD should go to the last-used mode. Another example of a feature with missed opportunities is the first-person view. Triggering this allows you to zoom in and out to highlight objectives and "tag" Aliens with the (X) button. Tagging allows you to score more points later when you destroy the tagged creature, but doesn't do much more. For the most part, the Aliens move so quickly that the tagging ends up irrelevant. The first-person view doesn't allow you to strafe or attack at all, so it is largely wasted potential. My preference for most of the game would have been to play in first-person if the controls allowed, and a smart control-scheme should allow for some flexibility.

Flexibility and depth aren't calling cards of Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. The content is fine and matches up with the license in every way, but it feels as if the team cheaped out and settled for less than an excellent game when the potential was there. These are great characters with a rich legacy that deserve more than a broad-brush treatment and the same tired third-person fighting conventions we've seen a million times before. Playing through the game will be enjoyable for fans of the movie that want to have more interaction; there's no denying that controlling a well-armed Predator is lots of fun... The lack of online multiplayer is an unfortunate omission and really robs Alien vs. Predator: Requiem of maximum replay value and a long-term player community. Much like the film on which it is based, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem may leave you with some buyer's remorse, feeling like you didn't get enough entertainment for your money.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.