The game reviewed by a gamer
The Aliens vs Predator 2 add-on, Primal Hunt, is filled with good ideas and new settings that can breath some fresh air into an already excellent game. Unfortunately there could have been more of these and sometimes executed in a better way. Despite its bad points is Primal Hunt a must have for any AVP 2 player or a game that only the die-hard AVP 2 fans will enjoy? Find out in this review!
Primal Hunt was developped by Third Law. You may know this game for their game Kiss: Psycho Circus - The Nightmare Child. Gameplay comparison is easy of you played this game before, but more on the gameplay of Primal Hunt later. They also created the bonus mission in No One Lives Forever: Game Of The Year Edition. For little historic background, they were one of the teams who worked at Ion Storm on Da´katana and left when they felt the project wasn''t great at all.
At first glance there is nothing bad to say about the content of Primal Hunt: you get 9 new missions, 3 for each race. The Marine, Predator and Alien missions are replaced with Corporate, Ancient Predator and Predalien. You get new weapons, a new Predator class, new equipment, the headbite for the Predalien and various little tweaks. On the multiplayer side you get the new addition of the add-on, 4 multiplayer maps and some new server options but more on that later.
At your arrival at the FOP in the AVP 2 Marine campaign, you learned that Pod 5 had to be sacrified and destroyed, the reasons of this you don''t know. Primal Hunt single player mode is about the reasons that lead to that event. Primal Hunt takes place before the original AVP 2 and this is an interesting premise indeed! It is possible to play any species in any order, but for the sake of surprise you should play Corporate, Predator and then Predalien. Like in the original game you won''t really respect continuity but this is for the better as you can preserve some surprises and events will eventually unfolds. I won''t say it anymore so I won''t spoil you but please, give yourself a treat and do it in that order!
You play as Dunya, one of the mercenaries under the command of General Rykov. We can now see Dunya without a hood and this is a good thing because she has beautiful hair (and her face doesn''t have that mean expression she has in AVP 2, were she plays one of the baddies in Marine campaign). Dunya is called by Rykov and asked to enter the Zeta Archeological Site in order to obtain a Pilot technology artifact that seem to have some effects on the Alien hives. Heavy Alien resistance is expected as they try to prevent anyone from gaining access to the artifact chamber. Good voice acting by the way.
To accomplish your mission, you get the standard equipment you can have as a Marine in AVP 2 but you get a new motion tracker (it can detect movements in 360░ now but has a maximum distance of 15 feet, the Marine motion tracker can detect up to 30 feet in 180░ ahead of you so both are balanced), a new version of the pistol and you can use two at the same time. Very precise, quick and deadly but takes a long time to reload. You can also pick up sentry guns and place it somwhere in a room to help you dispose of Aliens. But it had a fixed amount of amo and can be stopped for some seconds if the temperature goes too high.
The gameplay is very different from the original game. Very different. In AVP 2, the game builds an ambience and try to surprise you with scripted events: a pipe that crashes from the ceiling, hissings sounds being heard without any visual contact of any beast, doors and gratings being broken by Aliens, etc. You walk into dim lighted areas, sometimes completely dark corridors, always *knowing* that something will happen, that an Alien will pounce at you real soon but without knowing *where from* and *when*. Primal Hunt doesn''t play like that.
You enter a building that leads to a lift, bringing you down to the Zeta Site. You don''t go down alone: two Corporates soldiers come with you to help you recover the artifact. Inside thge building, as soon as you open the first door, ten seconds after you took control of Dunya, will you be confronted to large numbers of Aliens, Drones and Runners. During your progress they will keep coming at you, harassing you all the time. Do not worry, thought it may look like a skirmish game right from the old AVP with scenario element, Aliens attacks are still a scripted event and packs will only attack you after you open a door, reach a certain point in a corridor, etc. This mean that you can relax a little after dealing with a group of bugs. The rest of the campaign will play like that.
While this is a radical change in gameplay that may not be appreciated by everyone, I thought it wasn''t a bad idea. After all the add-on can be a good oportunity to make a new game with a different gameplay out of the parent game. I surely wouldn''t have objected if the gameplay was similar to the gameplay of AVP 2, with an oppresive ambience growing by having you wonder when you will have to deal with a hissing black beast coming out of the ceiling. But in my opinion this change is also for good can give you the experience of trying to get out of an unknown place and reach your friends while the entire Alien hive is after you. If it''s a war they want, a war they will have! But some may not like this change and I can understand them: I myself wait for missions that can renew the feelings I had while I was playing AVP 2. But Primal Hunt doesn''t annoy me with that choice, it even entertained me!
Real soon had I the feeling I was playing a "Serious Sam" mod for AVP 2. For those who do not know these great games, Serious Sam is an FPS where you struggle againt thousands of enemies at the same time. The more you kill, the more is spawned, sometimes right in front of your eyes with a teleportation effect. This guarantee that you''ll never run out of action. But is seem that developers at Third Law also decided to copy Serious Sam too faithfully for their own good: more than once will you advance in a hallway and suddenly Aliens will spawn in front of you, jus popping out of nowhere! This can give you a good surprise but doesn''t look very good at all: in the original game, Aliens spawned from around the corner or came out of the celing or the walls, in Primal Hunt they come out of nowhere. Or you check a wall, walk 3 meters and look behind you to see it crawling with Aliens. Not a very subtle way to spawn ennemies.
Another feature that wasn''t very brightly implemented was the death of your teammates. Right after you go down the lift in the beginning of the game will you be attacked by Aliens that keep coming and coming. Each time you kill on,e it is replaced in the next two seconds. You can kill thousands of them, they will still come. What''s the catch? It is scripted your teammates have to die here, and until they hit the ground, Aliens will come at you. Problem is that they have some good armor and they won''t go down easily, and during the time it takes for the infinite Aliens to kill them, you may waste good amo on the bugs. So the thing here is to let them be surrounded by Aliens and do nothing until they die, then you can kill the bugs: they won''t respawn.
Other than that, I have not many complaints about the Corporate campaign. You get to meet other creatures, like a chameleon like gorilla and giants underground carnivorous worms. You find the sniper rifle at mid point and you can put it to great use here, not unlike the Marine campaign where you don''t really have any opportunity to use it at its full potential, except 2 minutes before the end of the game. You may get bored sometimes of the linearity of the missions but the game can give you some changes: environment changes, new ennemies, story unfolding, etc. Plus the game isn''t very long: each specie has 3 missions to complete. Talking of that, I know it is an add-on and doesn''t usually very long to complete (at least not longer than the original game) but the events had only the time to take place that it was already over! I thought I could still learn something new with that new movie... but it was the end movie of the campaign! But you will learn a little more in with the other species. I liked the end of the last mission: you must survive 2 minutes in a room being overrun by Aliens. In order to survive you must place several turrets in strategic places and take control of a huge minigun turret and not let them approach you. I enjoyed it but was disapointed to discover the Corporate campaign was over after that.
Acient Predator missions
This campaign begins 500 years priors the events of AVP 2. You play an Ancient Predator on a hunt trip on LV-1201. After fighting the locals beast, you discover the presence of an Alien hive. The hunt goes even better! You enter the hive to collect some trophies and discover a construct that was not made by the Aliens. In it you find the Artifact that, once activated, repulse Aliens. This is a blessing and soon enough you and your clan mates build a Predator base in the middle of the hive, near your prey and under the protection of the Artifact. But something goes terribly wrong and while trying to fix things, you trap yourself in a stasis field and awaken 500 years later when Dunya steals the Artifact. You then follow her in the FOP to try to recover the Artifact.
As with the Corporate campaign, storyline is good and involving. You get the standard Predator equipment plus one weapon: the Energy Flechettes. With it you can fire several laser beams that don''t hurt much but they are precise and don''t use many energy. You also have another look and the HUD meters are now all red. The cloaking has been changed too: now you don''t go half transparent but instead you become invisible with a "glassy" texture on you. You have to see it to immediately fall in love for this. Looks great in multiplayer (when you can spot him that is).
Again missions are very linear with lots of Aliens, again spawing in front of you, popping out of nowhere. But they are easy to dispose of with the plasmacaster. The problem is that you''ll be using the plasmacaster most of the time! I changed weapon sometimes but the plasmacaster is still better when you deal with Aliens. Overal the same good and bad points of the Corporate missions can be transposed here. Again it ends rather abruptly but I enjoyed the ending.
This one begins in the same way as the Alien campaign from AVP 2 except that this time you sneak into a Predator HQ to impregnate a Predator thus evolving into a Predalien. I won''t hide it: I was really disapointed with this one. Three missions for this campaign: facehugger, chestburster, Predalien. Yes, you only play a full-grown Predalien in the last mission. I figured this quickly but I was ok with it. I really became dispointed with the third mission. Nothing to say about the first mission, you sneak into the HQ and it is easy to be detected by Predators so you have to find a safe way in. Lots of quicksave/quickload but I enjoyed it. Then you become a chestburster and again need to be stealthy and find some food to grow. It was ok too but here you encountered some smaller versions of the big problems that plagued third mission and these were...
It''s hard to find your path! Really! As a Predalien I imagined I would have to sneak on unsuspecting humans, run in air vents and drop on your poor prey to tear them apart. Well I had some of that but most of my time I was looking around trying to find my way. There was a grating on the floor that looked the same as the floor, a grating on the ceiling that doesn''t look like it can be broken and there is a path beyond it... This wasn''t as clear as it was in the original game.
And for the additions: Predalien have now a headbite, means he can have a better feeding than with his claws, an ability kept for multiplayer mode.
So we have three new campaigns but what can Primal Hunt gives you in terms of multiplayer additions or modifications?
Marines and Corporates can use dual pistols
Marines and Corporates can deploy sentry gun if available on map
Marines and Corporates can use a turret minigun if available on map
Corporates have a new 360░ motion tracker but withg smaller range than the Marine motion tracker
Predaliens now have headbite
New Predator Class: Ancient Predator
Predators can now self-destruct if they have 10% of life or less left.
Stun modification: if stunned by EMP or Alien tail, you can now move at walking speed, allowing you to (try to) defend yourself
Server setup: you can now prohibit the use of some classes or weapons
4 new maps
Predators have a new cloaking
Dunya shows her pretty face, it''s a shame you have to kill her
As I said, single player is ok if you don''t think you''ll get the same gameplay type as AVP 2. If you want to get tons of hissing Aliens at the same time running at you, you''ll enjoy it. Very linear, no real attempt to scare you and lots of shooting opportunity. The only problems I see are that it may be TOO linear and have TOO MUCH shooting sometimes, and Aliens can be teleported by Mental right in front of you (if you don''t know who Mental is, play the two Serious Sam games). But story is quite good. I also keep in mind that this is an add-on, a product destined to refresh an old game, not to be a new complete game itself, but I still feel that campaigns could have been a bit longer. Oh well!
And now, multiplayer...
4 new maps isn''t enough though they are very good. But you can find good maps on the web too. More maps would have been welcome.
The new weapons are nice but again there could have been two or three more! It''s only a new weapon for the Humans and a new weapons for the Predators. Sentry turrets are a nice addition that helps to build new defensive strategy for Humans in Team DM (that is if you care to talk with your teammates about strategies in Team DM). The 360░ motion tracker is nice to help you detect Aliens in your back but then it may confuse you by giving too many signals around you. Cope with that, soldier! And as I said before, both the Marine and Corporate motion tracker are balanced: the first with a greater range, the second with a 360░ detection angle.
The Predator self-destruct is nice indeed. As in the movies you begin to laugh in a sinisted way, but as in the movie it takes time before you detonate, which can give time to the ennemy to kill you. Remember that you can self-destruct only when you have 10% life left! A good strategy would be to escape your opponent, cloak, engage auto-destruct and run into many ennemies. Don''t forget that it counts as suicide (well, it IS suicide!) and you loose one frag.
Only one new class, and for Predators... Again, not enough. You take Ancient Predator only to have a new skin or use Energy Flechette in class-based games. A shame is that you keep the red HUD meters for life and energy, whatever Predator class you take. I prefered the original HUD, it would have been better if only Acient Predator got this one but oh well! I prefer to be an Alien anyway and it''s more of an aesthetic whim from me. By the way the new cloaking looks awesome!
Another thing: the new weapons and the turrets will be active only if they are implemented to the map! You won''t find any turrets if a map doesn''t support them. Same with Energy Flechette except that you will get it if you choose the Ancient Predator class and the server uses classes.
I can''t get out of my mind that mutliplayer could have received much much more. More game types, classes, weapons, ... Primal Hunt could have been a good opportunity to "fix" multiplayer: every fan will agree that every game style, even if fun, still looks like DM or Team DM with some more subtleties. I drool on my keyboard everytime I dream of a AVP multiplayer mode that can compete with the Team modes of Return to Castle Wolfenstein (which I admire after trying it but don''t play at all: my heart is with AVP 2 Team DM).
The ending word would be that Primal Hunt has some good features but we can''t help but think more would have been better, even when keeping in mind that this is an add-on. And the single player gameplay has 50% chances to please you and 50% risks that you will hate it. If you wanted it to be the same as the AVP 2 great single player experience, you may not like it. But of course you are now warned and know what you will get with it.
Most of the multiplayer additions would have been better in a free patch or bonus pack rather than be sold on CD. But they still add a little something to the experience. Also note that there are more AVP 2 servers active than Primal Hunt servers.
Buy it or not? Primal Hunt isn''t really essential. Maybe if you find it for really cheap it may be interesting (it has been released for some months now). Or better: if you are new in AVP 2, you can find a bundle with the original game and the add-on at a good price. That''s what I did. And it is a good opportunity to discover the first game. Also note that Primal Hunt ends where AVP 2 and it may be a good accasion to replay it once again. But if after reading this you don''t feel like buying it, then don''t. As I said it is a nice add-on but more would have been better.
This was Gragt, thank you for reading this.
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