What we liked
Back to Intro1. General.
A nicely thought-through game, powered by an engine that is full of potential, aimed at a precisely identified audience.
Open spaces are handled nicely- outdoor areas are realistic and entertaining, with a variety of alien flora& fauna inhabiting LV1201, adding to the experience of trekking through an alien planet.
The military compounds used throughout are well designed, carefully positioned and appear realistic. Flowing water, rock formations, and the standard reinforced-concrete human intrusions stand out thanks to their detail.
The various caves create two, vastly separate emotions- the narrow, twisting passageways enforce the danger inherent with coming face-to-face with your enemy and having no viable escape/combat options, while the massive cavern sections inspire a feeling of awe and wonder, promoting a “tourist/sightseer” mode of play.
Inside, the levels are designed with extensive attention to detail, providing a deeply engaging experience. Human compounds of the future better look like the ones in AvP2! Planetary rock/concrete structures or ferro-concrete instil wonder, while the heady mixture of human passageways, ducts and machinery-specific tracts makes a welcome change.
The level of depth that you experience within the human habitats is staggering- dropped shoes; magazines; personal memo tablets that outline the inhabitants’ small vices, likes and dislikes [and often provide additional storyline data]; here and there a corporate logo; switches to press… make moving [or rather sneaking] through compartments VERY realistic.
In true NOLF fashion, a sneaking-by player will overhear snippets of valuable information, comments about normal run-of-the-mill daily tasks and [favourite with humans] ‘why the boss is a *&^&%’. The Labs even have a monkey locked in a metal cage.
Note to movie fans: the majority of human interiors will remind you of Alien, Aliens and Alien 3. Skilful use of existing design ideas reinforces the experience.
2. Storyline. [no spoilers here]
FINALLY!! Someone sat down and thought the game through, whilst taking under consideration the whole universe that is inspired by both series of scifi movies.
Any writing coach will ask you a single question- “why is your character doing this?”
Obviously, Monolith thought about that veeeeery carefully, because in The Sequel, the characters are motivated. They are closer to you, and you understand them better, become more involved, keener to push the story to its conclusion.
Skilfully drawing from “Aliens” the movie, you are placed within a USCM unit as a small cog in a much bigger machine. The interactions between fellow characters add depth, make them much more realistic and [in essence] worth fighting for. Your relationship with the various bots is also fascinating, and you experience friendship, camaraderie and, as [ab]used freely by your superiors, discipline.
You will be skilfully placed in the desired areas of a level [with full justification- assuring a continuous storyline] and, when necessary, interact with fellow squaddies.
Weyland-Yutani people provide an additional variation to the established 3-way playoff. True, they are human, so should be the logical allies, but…Can you trust them?
Oh, and you get a girlfriend…called Tomiko.
This storyline could be termed “the creation of a warrior that surmounts immense obstacles, helps his fellow Hunters and gains many impressive kills throughout”… Again it is all about motivation. You are no longer the ultimate unseen/all-knowing Hunter. Everybody knows who you are and they want you. BAD. You will witness many wonders in this journey and fight a Nemesis in the form of a human opponent.
The idea of killing, killing, killing….all day killing, has finally been supplanted with a prime biological motivation- to EVOLVE.
You learn how it feels to be an alien from its inception, experiencing the weakness of the first development stages, slowly growing in size, strength and confidence, becoming more and more bold in your exploits.
Helping your hive is as important as before, except now you witness a variety of additional motivating sights.
3. Gameplay.In-game movies [!!!!]
The storyline is skilfully plotted and you are brought up-to-date with all the developments [often mishaps] that have occurred to lead you there/here. Extensive cut-scenes pile you with information.
Rolling text assures complete info-dumps. Deaf, hearing-impaired and those listening to Limp Bizkit can still gain the necessary insight for a 100% experience.
Very good balance of weaponry- small is ALWAYS fast firing, while the ‘conflict winners’ [big calibre or making “wall of lead” guns] take a long time to start firing, forcing you to make snap judgements and rapid gun changes. Falling back whilst firing is now a plausible option [often the only way to gain distance is to move back, shoot, and move forward]. Weapon selection is also wider, as is the choice in ammunition. Your tactical options include: from sneaking-by [with minimal rifle usage] to gung-ho/destroy-everything.
A good mixture of “shoot’em up” and some task-driven sections.
The opportunity to co-exist with your buddies and then see them die in rapid and unexpected firefights will make seem it SO real.
Two things make this mode amazing: the Dropships and the powerloader. Interacting with the Droppers offers a mind-blowing thrill, while taking out the armed powerloader for a short stroll brings out the true psychopath in you.
Against aliens: you still have the advantage of extreme firepower, although as you move through the levels the combination of ‘conventional’ aliens and ‘runners’ will prove to be a welcome challenge. The re-designed and improved Praetorian will provide you with the necessary adrenaline rush. Acid looks real and explodes in various directions, increasing an alien’s killing range.
Facehuggers, which come from opening eggs [that react to your presence] are dangerously thrilling.
Cocooned human victims [akin to posters on a wall- a disturbed vision, I know] with whom you can interact make an exciting addition- your inherent fascination will offer enough opportunity for disaster [by pressing the ‘use’ key].
Against Predators: they will provide the invisible fear/excitement factor as you move through the levels. Wherever you go, expect their invisible presence. Laughter and various technical sounds will signify that they are watching you…
Against W-Y troops: they will challenge you extensively. Possessing the SAME weapons as you, places them on equal terms.
Your weaponry is [as always] impressive. The addition of new equipment makes this mode enjoyable and much more complex. Use the netgun for a swift delivery of neatly packaged humans and aliens for disposal at your leisure.
The removal of the Grappling Hook and introduction of ‘jump’ feature [with a booster option] restricts you to a more realistic playing position [one where the aliens CAN always get at you]. Similarly, there are no more fixed energy collection points, and now you can recharge when necessary.
Potential interaction with humans makes it a deeper experience, while the ability to stay hidden [whilst 3 feet away] and listen in on conversations invokes a sense of power. “Peeping Tom” has never been so exciting.
Finally, there is interaction with fellow Hunters- in certain levels you get to see other Predators.
Against Marines: sniper country. Alternately, unarmed combat will be a hobby- wrist-blades combined with full cloak give hours of fun.
Against aliens: they come at you from all angles, and your legendary resistance to damage has been reduced.
Against W-Y: their cyborgs will challenge you extensively, sensing your cloaked presence and filling the air with lead.
The introduction of initial development stages [facehugger, chestburster] have brought the monster under control. The fact that you have to hide, cower and sneak, before becoming a full-fledged monster is a welcome experience.
The ability to stun a victim [with a tail stun] assures happy consumption of heads [both as a health enhancement and hobby]. NOLF game engine makes sneaking around extreme fun.
The opposition is now much more powerful and competent. Relish the challenge.
Against Marines: they got you cold. Armour, rifles, flying lead…
Against Predators: their increased weapon load will make fighting much tougher.
Against W-Y: they also got you cold. Cyborgs, armour, flamethrowers…
4. Positive summary.
This game is something else. No longer a full-bloodied FPS, AvP2 takes you in a more interactive and exploratory dimension than its predecessor.
Note: remember to shoot the monkey in the Labs for a deeper, richer gaming experience. >>>Continue to next part: The Negative Comments
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