Aliens vs Predator 2: Primal Hunt

20Aliens vs. Predator 2 was one of the scariest shooters ever made. Unfortunately, the add-on for AvP 2, Primal Hunt, fails to build on the creative gameplay, instead offering unfocused and convoluted missions. Once again broken into three campaigns — Corporate (which replaces the Marines), the Predator, and Predalien (a hybrid race standing in for the Aliens) — the story behind Primal Hunt involves an ancient and powerful relic being pursued by all three factions. You can play the campaigns in any order, but the plot unfolds in the order listed above..

The Corporate campaign is the strongest of the three, and features some compelling moments, especially early on when you’re fighting with AI-controlled squadmates. Later, the switch to outdoor sections really fails to capture the key magic of the original game. Aliens just aren’t all that scary when you can see them coming from a mile away, and you’ll miss the dark, claustrophobic environments that scared you senseless.

Set 500 years before the Corporate campaign, the Predator sequence ends with a hokey cut-scene that explains the time difference. The Predator missions are mildly interesting, but since most of the locales are the same as those you traverse in the Corporate battles, there’s a dismal sense of redundancy.

2The worst campaign, though, is the Predalien’s, which devolves from mildly interesting to a liability. Starting off as a wee little facehugger, you must skitter around in search of a suitable host. This setup may have been a good idea on a design doc somewhere, but in reality it’s sheer boredom. If I’m an Alien, I want to munch folks and tear them limb from limb, not crawl around semi-helplessly. And when you’re finally allowed to eat people, your first taste of human flesh comes as a chestburster. By the time I was controlling the massive Predalien, my interest level in this campaign was zero.

Hampering all three campaigns is disappointing AI and pathfinding. The new Predator-planet creatures have one attack methodology: the blind rush. There could be moments of coolness, like when several enemies of various species are chasing you, but instead of fighting among themselves, they always focus on you. I was really expecting to see them whoop up on each other, but it never happened, and the experience suffers because of it. Another common problem is creatures getting trapped in environmental textures or just running around in circles.

These complaints aside, the expansion does add a few cool features for diehards. The Corporate mercenary has access to dual M-4A4 pistols (a throwback to Aliens vs Predator Gold), along with a remote sentry gun and a controllable turret gun. And the Predator gets a snazzy energy flechette weapon that lays down rapid-fire laser beams — a great way to slice and dice those pesky Aliens.

5These additions mainly add depth to the multiplayer experience. The Predator’s ability to self-destruct is particularly entertaining, as the resulting explosion decimates anyone who’s caught in the blast. But by the time you’ve blasted your way to the end, Primal Hunt fails to uphold the brilliance of Aliens vs Preadator 2. The story comes off as jumbled and uninteresting, the AI is unimaginative, the Predator and Predalien missions just aren’t that interesting, while the Corporate ones have lost their spooky edge.

System Requirements: Pentium 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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