Have You Played… Aliens Versus Predator 2?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Aka “the one where you got to be a chest-burster chewing its way out of someone’s ribcage.” Five stars for that alone, right?

AVP 2 was a lesser sequel in most respects. Perhaps a bit too story-led for its own good, never quite as frightening as the first and far too bright and inappropriately colourful for its own good. But it sat down and thought about the Alien mythos, and what had not yet been done, and what elements of it that horror fans and schoolchildren were most excited by.

Then it did it, in a bravura sequence that had you play through the notorious life cycle of the xenomorph. There’s an adequate but largely forgettable tri-perspective first-person shooter hung around it, which suffers from both over-familiarity and not making the Aliens particularly as convincing as in the predecessor, but the rest of it almost doesn’t matter. You get to be a Facehugger. You get to be Chestburster. You get to kill a cat and then finally become an Alien. Good work.

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31 Comments

  1. Halk says:

    The alien campaign was pure fun.

    The predator campaign was pure boredom.

    The marine campaign was super creepy — until you met the first aliens. I guess many games share the same problem: You don’t want to rely on jump scares alone, because it’s cheesy, but relying on suspense alone simply does not work (after half an hour noone takes the suspense serious anymore).

    Getting the balance right is hard, and very games manage to get it. System Shock 2, Doom 3, and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs are probably some of the best working examples.

    • FuriKuri says:

      Agree with your post pretty much entirely, and in my opinion the problem with the marine campaign is this: the music ruins it. Not that it’s bad, but it often changes dramatic tone just before the aliens show up and ruins the atmosphere.

      Essentially it comes to serve as a more effective and less unnerving motion scanner.

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        Thulsa Hex says:

        I liked AvP 2, but yeah, the “dynamic” music kicking in whenever an enemy was nearby rendered the motion detector almost pointless. This was such a bonkers oversight.

        The motion detector made Aliens (the 1986 movie). It is an amazingly simple and powerful piece of design. Iconic, too. All they had to do was let it do its job.

        • GameOverMan says:

          I completely agree. Something similar happens in Aliens: Colonial Marines, there is a warning beep just before enemies appear, making the motion tracker useless at least as a way of building tension.

  2. Isendur says:

    The multiplayer on that one. Wow such good memories. Great game. Too bad sequel was not that good. (I’ll hold my opinion on a certain Gearbox game, don’t wanna swear)

    • DarkFenix says:

      Terrible as the netcode was, the multiplayer was the most incredible fun. AvP2 was just about the first multiplayer game I played seriously and for a long time.

    • Danbanan says:

      Played the multiplayer so much I was in two clans(MWA and RID). One was competitive and one casual. Participated in lots of tournaments, stagger fire, trained newbs, stagger fire, learned the maps inside out, stagger fire, practiced with other clans, stagger fire, had tense one on one duels with leaders from other clans, stagger fire, met some cool people and some not so cool. It was glorious! Stagger fire!

  3. CartonofMilk says:

    i did and it was glorious and i liked all the campaigns.

    Predator was my fav actually but it was also by far the easiest. The Alien one was the hardest but it felt more satisfying than the Predator one in terms of being the “monster”. But yes the great thing was how all three campaigns had a different feel and obviously gameplay but it still all worked. You FELT overpowered and the ultimate hunter as the predator. You FELT extremely vulnerable and in over your head as a marine and you FELT like the scary blood thirsty unthinking (but not really of course which is what makes it scarier) monster everyone was terrified of as the alien.

    Another great thing about the game was how all the 3 campaigns main “characters” storylines intertwined. I played as the predator first and at the beginning of a level you’ve been captured and restrained and put in some pod and through the glass of a laboratory in front of you you see an alien come through the ceiling and destroy some machinery/computer that gets you to be released. Then when you play the alien, you ARE this alien coming down from the ceiling and freeing that predator that you see through the glass! the game was full of moments like those that you only got to appreciate fully if you did all 3 campaigns

    But probably my favorite was how you’d catch glimpses of the predator as a marine. Cloaking in and out of your peripheral vision sometimes. there it is on this roof killing some alien..now it’s gone. There it is on top of this elevator shaft. Now it’s gone. It was such a well…scripted FPS. very immersive. The ambiance of this game was phenomenal. Very cinematic.

    You know, this article, and talking about the game just now, made me realise when i talk about some of the greatest FPS of all time i never mention AVP2 and really, i should. It’s criminal they have not managed to make another game like this in this franchise.

    I also on a personal level have extra fondness for this game as i played it in the first month or so after i moved out to the big city on my own in late 2003. Great times full of hope. God knows i need to reminisce about those days, especially today.

  4. Turkey says:

    I never really got the Predator part of Alien Vs Predator. It’s like some sort of self-insert fanfiction that the Predator wrote himself, so he could be in a much more successful movie universe.

    • LetSam says:

      IIRC it started with comic book crossovers when Dark Horse got the Alien and Predator licenses in the early nineties or late eighties. The first AvP story was then adapted into a trilogy of novels which was actually quite enjoyable. The comics and novels fleshed out Alien’s world of corporate colonization and introduced Predator society which wasn’t even an afterthought in the 80s movies (not their point after all). The AvP movies of the 2000s don’t do these print media stories any justice. The AvP 1 and 2 games were much closer to that, although they lacked the pulp philosophical ideas that made the comics and books such fun additions to the Alien and Predator worlds.

      • N'Al says:

        It’s far simpler than that: near the end of the movie Predator 2 there’s a scene on the Predators’ ship showing a trophy wall with differently shaped skulls. One of those skulls quite clearly is an Alien.

        Although, I guess you’re right, the comics were the first media that featured both creatures alive at the same time.

        • Isendur says:

          Hey – if Batman can fight a Predator (at leas twice IIRC) than who is to take that honor from the Xenomorph?

        • Stropp says:

          That’s something I vividly remember from seeing the Predator 2 movie at the cinema. Being a huge fan of the Alien movies (1 & 2) I was like, “Did I really see that?”

        • Spongbo says:

          I didn’t really get the “skull” part. It’s not like they appear to have skin, they’re exoskeletal, right? So did Preddy just bleach his for effect? Do they fade when exposed to too much sunlight? (seems unlikely given Preddy’s décor preference and the position within the ship… not directly next to a curtain, from memory).

  5. bishmanrock says:

    We still play it at LAN parties. Facehugging a mate is unrivaled.

  6. Ferno says:

    Alien Life Cycle was such a great multiplayer mode. Aliens started as facehuggers and had to progress from there to worm to juvenile to fully fledged killer. Which type of alien you became depended on which person you facehugged (regular alien, predalien etc.). I had so much fun playing all the fun different modes for that game and even making up a few with people online.

  7. GallonOfAlan says:

    Marine and Pred campaigns were great, the Alien I remember as being less so.

    The best game in this series is still the first PC one. Yes it is, you tart.

    • Neuromancing the Boil says:

      No way. The best game in the series is the Jaguar version. Put that in yer smoke and pipe it, nancy boy.

  8. BathroomCitizen says:

    How to get this digitally?

    Is it in license-hell?

    • Turkey says:

      Yeah. Seems like Vivendi bought Fox Interactive a long time ago, so they probably have it along with the NOLF series.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        Luckily, I have AvP 2 on disc and it was great fun playing through the Marine campaign. Never did any of the other ones, but might do so when my next GoG/old-school craving starts again (got AvP 1 on GoG).

  9. bfar says:

    Well regarded at the time, but perhaps highly underrated as a retrospect. I loved it myself.

  10. vahnn says:

    The multiplayer in that game was super fun. Servers could enable the Alien Life Cycle option so that aliens would spawn as a facehugger, having to grab another player for kill, wait a few moments to pop out as a chestburster, then survive a short while before molting into your selected alien class. It was great fun.

  11. Psychomorph says:

    Still have the original disks. Played the hell out of it online in the 00’s.

    99% played as Alien drone. One of the best PvP’s I can remember. Made even a mod for it, but never released.

    Doesn’t like Win 7 it seems, mouse doesn’t work properly. Makes it unplayable. I am waiting since years for it to drop on GOG, but it doesn’t look optimistic.

  12. Kingseeker Camargo says:

    I actually liked it a lot. The atmosphere had lost something that the first one had nailed, that’s true; but I found the second one to be a much better single player experience overall. I mean, it had A STORY! and all.

    I remember thinking that the way each campaign would affect one another was tremendously clever at the moment.

    Probably should embrace that memory and not try to re visit the game proper, though. Thanks for the memories, anyway.

    • Psychomorph says:

      You nailed it.

      AvP2 had a cartoony look and character design, while AvP1 was as if like photo realistic, kind of like Doom3 graphics back in 2004. Also the Alien controls in AvP1 were way better and the Predator was a tank and not as fragile as in AvP2.

      So all that that was a real shame, especially because Monoliths next game, FEAR, had very realistic graphics that AvP2 should have had all along, but the atmosphere in AvP2 was really there and the story wasn’t bad. I also liked the gameplay, sneaking in the research labs as the Marine. Infiltrating the sealed of installations as the Alien. Good stuff! The Predator, which is my fav creature, was overall undewhelming I think.

      Multiplayer was solid as well.

  13. bill says:

    The first game made more of an impression due to the atmosphere. The second games’ interlinking story was great.

    The predator section was the weak point in both games. I don’t know why they didn’t keep the Honor System from the Jaguar(?) version… it would at least have added a bit of challenge

  14. Ronrocken says:

    Have I played Aliens versus Predator 2? Yes I have.

    It is a good game, with variable weapons and somewhat interesting plot. The Alien life cycle is absolutely awesome in game.

    But the bad things are the sounds and the graphics. Looking back, AvP1 had much more better graphics. AvP2 looks like a goddamn cartoon. And the sounds, oh satan, the minigun sounds like a fucking bb gun. What the fuck were they thinking?

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