One man’s love ballad for the Alien

I love AVP. And by AVP I’m not talking about the comics or the horrifyingly bad film (though the sequel was – hnngghh – ‘better’) I am talking about the game. Not the Atari Jaguar beat ’em up game (it was the Atari Jaguar, right? I forget), not the Monolith sequel or the rather exciting looking new one that’s coming out.

No, I’m talking about the Rebellion version. The game that placed Rebellion on some sort of pedestal in my brain ever since I played it (that and the fact they’re Oxford based and own 2000AD).

A game so old it came in a CARDBOARD BOX on a CD (gasp) AVP is still damn fine. Beyond damn fine, in fact, it is amazing. I could just be gushing in a hyperbolic fashion but I’d say it’s among one of the better if not best FPS’s I’ve played.

And I’ve played a bunch.

But anyway, to get specific, the ‘A’ that makes up the AVP is the titular alien of movie fame. And it is Goddamn sweet. People have often talked about how playing the alien was a, well, alien experience and I might be inclined to agree.

You see, while many FPS’s and in fact the other two races in the game itself have your character standing on the ground and picking up weapons with which to do harm as the alien you are the weapon and every flat surface is the ground since, when crouched, you can crawl over everything. And crawl shouldn’t imply a reduction in pace; you move like shit off a shovel whether you’re standing up on the ground or crawling across the ceiling.

It’s liberating. The alien has the most palpable sense of speed I think I’ve seen in this kind of game. Again, it could just be wistful hyperbole but having just played the game it was still a rush to go halfway through a level in barely under two minutes.

But of course, you can’t run forever. At some point all those marines that are busy screaming and shooting at you – not to mention the civilians crying and running away from you – are going to need dealing with and you’ll find the alien ably equipped to deal with them. You have claws, a tail and that marvellous second set of jaws. They’re all amazing. They all kill in pretty much one hit.

This, I feel, is very important. You’re very, very fast and you kill marines very, very fast but unfortuantely you’re made of wishes and tissue paper and everyone but you has a gun or a molotov and are really quite relaxed about blowing themselves up or shooting their friends if it means killing you (seeing the AI do that still amuses me, as does watching them walk off ledges; it’s an old game…). This balances well.

If you get the drop on people, come at them from angles they don’t expect and do so taking full advantage of your speed – you know, playing an alien like you’re supposed to – and you’ll be an unstoppable blur of destruction. Try to close the six feet between you and guy with the minigun and you might at least take some of their armour off when your acid-blood filled body parts splatter over them.

So yes. Your claws kill in one. Humans, at least, go down easy. Predators not so much. For them you can crack the tail out. Just hold down that right mouse button, watch that barbed beauty coil up and pow, he’s down. But what is he doing on his knee, fiddling with that little thing on his arm? Why is he laughing? What’s so funny? Oh right.

You’ve seen the end of predator. You know where that’s going. So you got to put that dude out for good and the best way of doing this is, of course, by biting his head off. Man that’s satisfying.

The headbite is possibly the most satisfying thing in this game and maybe even of all time. This time I’m not even kidding. Get close enough – and not even that close – and make sure the head of your target is in the middle of your screen. Teeth appear, you click and their head disappears. Not only that, but your health goes up and there’s a very, very cathartic noise. I can’t even describe it.

The headbite is somewhat of a second nature to me now I must admit and is just so damn good. It’s also the recipient of one of my favourite cheats in any game;  the snipermunch. An instant kill, health-charging attack is one thing – it’s quite another with the range limit removed. Hur hur.

But I prattle too much. This is amazingly incoherent, even for six in the morning so I shall wrap up with but two points. The first is dull: aliens can also maul bodies for health. Awesome. Good feature. I hope for the love of God the new game is even half as good (the marine co-operative looks interesting, but my heart always belongs to the alien).

The second is that this game is now on Steam. Go and get it. I implore you!

But hell, I talk balls so what do I know.

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