Back then, when the alien franchise wasn’t ruined by ridiculous AvP movies of third-rate directors or promethical failures of first-class directors, I was still inspired by everything that somehow had to do with H.R. Giger’s alien. Of course, the legendary Total Conversion for Doom, Alien TC, was played up and down to gassing and was cheered up like a little girl every time a new soundbite was played by Private Hudson. All the more excited I was on “Aliens vs. Predator”.
Aliens. Predator. Marines. As an egoshooter. For Windows. Mwhahahahahah! I didn’t care that there had already been a commercial first person shooter for the Atari Jaguar five years before, with exactly the same title, which according to critics at that time and today is said to have become quite good. Atari Jaguar? To be?
For lack of money I was curious like a flash bow to the first reviews in PC Games and Gamestar, which I had both subscribed to at that time. The judgments in both magazines were very positive, but criticized the fact that you couldn’t save within a mission. Already at that time this was a big no-no for me and therefore I turned to other potential targets for my sparse consumer credit in a rather sobered way. At some point I realized that Rebellion, the developers, had delivered a reasonable savegame function after violent protests via patch, but I didn’t want to do that anymore. And because almost a year later the “Aliens vs. Predator 2”, which was better by light years, was available … the better is the constant enemy of the good. AvP 1 then disappeared over the years from my perceptual horizon.
Until last year in October, when GOG.com held the first major public test of an early version of the Galaxy client and put “AvP 1 Classic 2000” into the account for free for all participants. AvP Classic 2000 was a re-release of Rebellion five years ago, which had reworked this classic for more modern Windows systems and the 360. There was proper widescreen support, support for controllers, and many other improvements, including creating unlimited storage levels.
Can the game do anything else? How does it perform in the cruel test of time, how does an egoshooter from 1999 perform with current genre representatives, who alone are already technically far away from whole galaxy clusters?
To my great surprise, AvP 1 holds up damn well.
Yes, the optics are obsolete. Pretty rough outdated. Low resolution textures, only roughly detailed models and level sections. Every purely software render-based shooter from the time shortly before the triumph of the 3D accelerators looks better. The curse of the early years, when people were still under the illusion that visible pixels were evil and blurred texture porridge was all the rage. But that doesn’t matter at all in this case. Because you usually don’t see much of it, because the predominant impression of AvP is darkness.
Because in the dark is good rumor, or in contrast to the later Doom 3, where you also wanted to bet on the fearsome factor darkness, AvP 1 is not annoying. It works because darkness doesn’t punish the player with not being able to use weapon OR torch at the same time.
The unfortunate, lonely Marine in AvP 1 doesn’t have a flashlight, but he can throw up to three flares at the same time, which flood the dark corridors and halls on LV-426 with light. He also has a residual light amplifier at his disposal. That’s not annoying, that generates suspense, that generates voltage. By the way, did I already mention that with the departure of John Romero, nobody at id Software understood anything about game design anymore? Ok, back to the topic …
The darkness, the light spots of the flares, the signal of the motion sensor suddenly interrupting the silence, the aliens rushing up as fast as an arrow, crawling along walls and ceilings to avoid them, together with the well-known sound clips from the films … all this still works today. AvP 1 is fun! Have a lot of fun! Weapons have different uses and effects, and there are few unfair situations with opponents suddenly spawning in their backs. Facehuggers and aliens always come from somewhere, towards the player, and those who are nimble and watch out, those who safely choose the right weapon for the respective occasion and also appreciate the value of a quick retreat, will also survive tricky situations. Well, AvP 1 isn’t easy. The simplest level of difficulty allows you to make a few mistakes, but you won’t get very far with a haphazard hurry. Only the final fight against the Queen is annoying. The Queen is pretty much immune to everything the player can muster in this level of weapons (which isn’t much, to make matters worse), so that you quickly realize that rebellion is modelled on the end of the alien movies, but the player then becomes almost insane trying to figure out how to push this damned-side Queen out of the airlock without getting hacked up or blown into space himself.
Yes, there is another campaign for the alien soldier and the predator. But as in the second part of this series, I don’t find the gameplay very convincing and quickly quit. The alien can’t make any mistakes at all and the predator is so OP that it quickly gets boring and the game clearly shows its age.
Private Hudson still rocks the boat!