There is nothing on this planet that gets every geek soaked in excitement like a good crossover. Marvel Vs. DC, Freddy Vs. Jason, and of course Spawn versus anyone that will fight him but probably the most famous of all is Aliens Vs. Predator. Having more than it’s fair share of comics and games this feud has been going on for what seems like forever but did anyone ever think to create an RTS built on that universe? Real time strategy games are highly uncommon on consoles and for good reason, a lack of mouse and keyboard for starters, but they also take advantage of the extra hundred or so keys on the keyboard as well but this hasn’t prevented Electronic Arts and Zono Interactive from creating a surprisingly good RTS on the Xbox and get this, it actually plays pretty good. Developers would bode well to take a nod from the control scheme but of course this game isn’t without it’s faults and you can be sure I am about to divulge them right about……now!
Countdown To Extinction
From the get go you have the option of choosing which species you shall command on your quest for glory. Whether it’s the slimy Aliens, primitive Predators, or even the heavily armed humans each species does have their own advantages. There is only one mode of play to be found in the form of campaign which is more than disappointing. This game screams for multi-player or even a simple skirmish feature which would have greatly increased it’s longevity. What is here though is pretty good, each campaign takes you through several missions and slowly teaches you the controls. You would be best off reading the Bestiary for each race before tackling the game to learn how each unit functions, trust me it will save you countless play overs.
You Are One Ugly Mother Fu……
On the visual side AvP Extinction could look a lot worse, bad thing is it could look a hell of a lot better as well. Poor textures and bland environments flood this game to the very end. The character models are decent enough but the problem lies in the fact that when using Aliens or Predators it becomes difficult to decipher each unit as they all tend to look alike. On the plus side the frame rate is rock solid even with multiple enemies and troops onscreen and the menu interface is quite enjoyable, I always did have a thing for animated menus. The character animation is also quite nice which really adds to the battles but these small perks do not hide the fact that this game is not all that great to look at. The sound department can also leave you wanting more. While the sound effects are taken directly from the movies the voice overs and chatter are drab and incoherent. What does stand out though is the score, it’s creepy, dark, and fits the mood of the game perfectly, even I am not bitching about lack of custom soundtracks here. Although hearing some death metal while ripping out a skull as a Predator could have been an interesting touch.
If It Bleeds We Can Kill It
Making a real time strat game work on a console is a task that should not be handled lightly and thankfully it hasn’t been. The folks at Zono have obviously spent more than their fair share of hours perfecting this control scheme and it should be mocked for future console RTS games. You use the A button to highlight units and holding it down creates a circle to grab more than once unit. You can also select specific types of units as well as assigning units to the d-pad’s four directions which is very nice. Most of the time I used the mini-map to navigate my way throughout each level as it was the quickest way to find out where your troops and enemies were. There is not construction or harvesting to be found in AvP Extinction which most RTS players will find a bit odd. The humans use drop ships to call in new units but the cream of the crop is definitely the Aliens. Fans of the series will certainly be pleased to know that when playing as them you use the queen to remain in the hive and lay eggs which eventually hatch into face huggers. Then you must find a host in order to create your troops, very nice touch and it shows the team did their homework in bringing this game to a new genre.
Birth Of A New Genre On Consoles?
While AvP Extinction has it’s minor flaws it does represent the content very well. Making great use of a controller to simulate the RTS experience was enough to get me excited about future strategy games on consoles. If we can just get some online play and a friggin’ skirmish mode we are in there. For now enjoy what is easily the best game of it’s type on consoles but don’t expect to be wowed by it’s visuals or depth. I recommend snagging this game up if you come across it on sale or in the bargain bin for around twenty bucks but fans of the series will want it now and I say go get it. The best thing to happen to the AvP universe since the Atari Jaguar haha you knew that was coming. Rental recommended!