|Article By: BAD
|As Capcom progressed on from their CPS-1 to their more powerful CPS-2 hardware, one of the first side-scrolling fighters in addition to Dungeons & Dragons Tower Of Doom and Armored Warriors was Alien VS Predator. Yes, you heard right - the Japanese developer Capcom, responsible for the greatness that is Street Fighter (in all of its incarnations), developed the game. Alien VS Predator features beautiful character design and brilliant animation (thanks to the great CPS-2 hardware) that still has yet to be rivaled today by any of the next-generation releases, and features the chaotic side-scroller gameplay style of Final Fight with various characters to choose from to fight with. The Predators have come to settle a score with the Aliens, and you have been thrown into the core of a bloody, fierce battle between the two fighting sides. Utilizing the same method of side-scrolling fighting as the Final Fight series, you fight for the Predator's side in the theme - punching, slashing, tearing, piledriving, and shooting your way through stages infested with various Aliens and other enemies that weild attacks, weapons, and techniques just as lethal as yours. Also just as in the legendary Final Fight series, each fighter has several different moves and special moves to systematically eradicate the enemy, each performed by their corresponding button and motion combinations similar to that of other fighters. There is so much to like in this game.
|Alien VS Predator shares many similarities with Final Fight, but it cannot be overlooked that the game has its own style and feel, which is what ultimately makes the game so great even as I look back at it now. Though Final Fight 2 holds best side-scrolling fighter of all-time in my heart, Alien VS Predator is an amazing game in its own right - a game of genious minds and artists that not only earns one of the best side-scrolling fighters of all-time, but one of the best games ever, in the industry. Play the game and realize how great every aspect of the game is, from the great characters, to the blistering gameplay, to the beautiful soundtrack, to the very last few scenes of the game - this game successfully shows the perfect mix of classic and unique styles, with just the right amount of each to make the game a gem. In what other game can you team up with a friend and punch, kick, shoot, and slash your way through a bloody, teeth-grinding battles with waves of hungry Aliens playing as a Predator? Definately one of the best games Capcom has ever developed, and that's saying a lot, considering Capcom has made so many games that are so good. Capcom was able to create amazing side-scrolling fighters on the CPS-1 (Final Fight series) hardware, and they improved immensely an already great genre with the CPS-2 powered Alien VS Predator. Fans of Dungeon's & Dragons Tower Of Doom would definately like AVSP, although they may argue which is better. This game burns a monkey's ass. This game is great (those who have played it know this). Go ahead and try to find a side-scrolling fighter of the sheer artistic calibur AVSP conveys - you'll be hard-pressed to find a game with a theme as good as this, no matter how dilligent you are.
|As always characters make a game all the more interesting and fun to play, and AVSP shines bright in this category. This game has a greatly diverse and interesting character line-up, with two predators, an original Capcom female fighter who weilds a katana, and a returning commando from the Predator storyline who has a giant gun for an arm; I was surprised by the immediately distinguishable character selection back when it first came out, and even now I am still amazed. There are four characters to choose from in AVSP - Predator Warrior, Linn Kurosawa, Predator Hunter, and Dutch Schaefer. The Predator Warrior is by far my favorite character in the game, and another one of my favorites in gaming history; what a greatly designed character with amazing animation! Capcom draws their ability to create beautiful and fluid animation from an infinite source, and once again it really shows; all of the characters move, jump, get hit, and perform moves with some high end visuals. Some of the things the characters do in AVSP just look so completely fantastic, from Predator Warrior's bad-ass walking animations to Linn Kurosawa sheathing her katana after a combo, to Predator Hunter and Dutch Shcaefer's special moves. Every single move the fighters make is like watching a work of art, a masterpiece, in motion (fans know this). Again, Capcom's beautiful artists, just as they have with other games, created animation in AVSP barely comprehensible in words. One of the coolest things in the game is when a boss is defeated, the game runs in slow motion, allowing the player to do a move and watch in awe, every detailed, beautifully drawn frame of animation. The four main characters have some jaw-dropping animation in their actions, but the enemies in the game also have some cool animations; Aliens sneak, crawl, and leap around the screen, zombie's chests explode and reveals face-huggers, machines animate bulkiness, and some Aliens' heads explode upon finishing them off, leaving them writhing on the ground after being assaulted, just to name a few. The bosses in AVSP are well animated also, but they throw out so many attacks that watching them in motion is a bit of a chore; the Queen has a plethora of fucked-up attacks to obliterate you - all in smooth and beautiful animation (just think of all the different things an Alien Queen can do once she grabs you). The animation in this game is just stellar; just seeing the way the Predator Warrior fights is nothing less than a spectacular pleasure on the eyes (wait until you see the victory screens). As in all CPS-2 games, AVSP shines in sheer animated gracefulness, with evey character in the game animated according to their theme persona.
|The Predator Warrior is a great character: he uses a spear as the basis for most of his moves, a shoulder cannon, skill, and agility. The Predator Warrior is the perfect character to use for wreaking massive amounts of havoc upon the opposition; Predator Warrior's moves are agile and combo easilly, and it's easy to get from one point on the screen to another quickly with his moves, similar to Maki in Final Fight 2. To start, Predator Warrior's plethora of moves are just brutal as all hell; his jump kick, if performed correctly, can combo 3 times and then shortly after, in a split second, change course and finish the opposition with 2 more hits in the opposite direction (think of a 'Z' path of movement here), and if that wasn't enough, he can still juggle them if they bounce off the wall. What's even better is that if you miss the last 2 hits completely (of either one of his two lead-in jumping attacks), you can still catch them in the whole ground link combo when you land! Truly fucking spectacular, and perfect for wreaking bloody havoc upon herds of Aliens at a time. Also a great move for taking out several enemies in one sweep is his Leaping Kick, which only hits twice, but if put into a combo can be fatal, and it also has the benefit of sending the enemies across the screen, close or far. To go with the already great selection of moves, the Predator Warrior, when he loses his spear, can fight with his fists, changing other moves, and changing to a completely different ground combo that ends with a nicely drawn short leaping kick finisher. In addition to ground combos and jumping attacks, he also has a slide that is readily available to hit low enemies like facehuggers, and a turn-around sweep that is used as a sort of counter (very effective to buy a few crucial seconds of time). Another of his great skills is his screen-clearning Special Move, which is actually a Spear Cyclone that's quick and has nice animation; dust and victims grace the screen in 2-D splendor, but even the dreadlocks on the Predator Warrior move with the environmental effect of the cyclone when he does this move! One of his other Special Moves is aesthetically spectacular - Predator Warrior leaps into the air, and with a slight pause, fire his shoulder cannon into the ground, leaving all in bright flames. The Predator Warrior is all about technique, and there's so many different moves you can do with him that fans of Guy and Maki (of Final Fight fame) would pick him up in an instant and feel at home. By far, my favorite character in this game, due to the greatness that is everything Capcom's designers put into the Predator Warrior's complete persona. A brilliant character Capcom's artistic staff did an amazing job on; no matter the Predator Warrior's walking, action, or combo animation, all is exceptional.
|Next is a Capcom original character totally new to the Alien VS Predator story - the beautifully animated and voiced Linn Kurosawa (this is for you, Headquarters!). Linn Kurosawa weilds a katana, an ancient martial art, and mows down enemies with a handgun. Linn plays like a weaker and slightly quicker version of Predator Warrior (or Guy or Maki), with quick but distance-lacking punches, quick triangle jumps, air-juggling, and the ability to reload her weapon quickly. She also has two very useful Special Moves as well, consisting of a charged fireball with deceivingly great range, and a Rising Kick that can not only be put into a ground link combo, but also juggles! Since Linn proudly weilds a katana, most of her moves are based upon it, like her dashing attack, her jumping alternate attack, and she also uses it for the last few hits of her ground link combo. One other very interesting aspect of her attacks is her ability to air throw (only) opponents into each other, making for a great escape-tactic when the going gets a little tough. her handgun weapon is especially useful in mowing down enemies from both sides when the screen gets cluttered, or just as a quick diversion to plan another attack. Her jump kicks can actually be used to hop back and forth on the heads of the opposition, and then chained into her fatal aerial katana juggle lead-in. She one of Capcom's best female character designs, with so many great attributes in the theme, animation, voice-over, and gameplay. Linn's voice-over is just awesome. Just hearing her voice in this game tells you that the developers did some work on creating her persona accurately and perfectly. Just seeing the animation for Linn's triangle jump is something to be reckoned with; animation this good can almost be classified as a crime. Every frame, every single frame of her animation is something that any fan of good taste can have the utmost respect for; such a great character design with great animation to compliment it. Almost definately probably my second favorite character in this game, and of the most respected Capcom creations. What a great character indeed.
|The Predator Hunter is the tan-clad Predator who stands in a hunched-over fighting stance. This Predator, although with longer reach and more power, has a bit less technique than the awesome Predator Warrior. The Predator Hunter does have some nice attributes though, including an effective uppercut that has great reach and does decent damage (not to mention putting victims across the screen). Very similar in some aspects to the Predator Warrior, the Predator Hunter has the shoulder cannon, the super-fast Leaping Jump Kick, the air-Shoulder Laser Special Move, and the plethora of ground combos. He has the same great Leaping Jump Kick that the Predator Warrior takes an advantage of, and he can for the most part, use it in all the same ways to start combos and destroy the opposition. He also has an enemy-smashing Chest Dive, which is effective in crowded situations. The Predator Hunter's screen-clearning Special Move is actually one of the coolest moves in the game - he throws out two glowing Discs that circle him, cutting enemies to shreds. The animation on the Predator Hunter while in this move is cool because his hands are out-stretched behind him as he throws the Discs, then he quickly tucks them back in and resumes the fighting. Awesome. Also, just as with the other Predator, the Predator Hunter has at his disposal a different set of moves once his spear is lost, along with the slide kick and sweep counter moves. Is he a better character than his counterpart? I think not because his skill level doesn't allow him as much combo potential and screen mobility as the Predator Warrior has, but for turtles or intro-level players he is a good selection due to his long range of attacking. Some players might also like the screen-clearing move he has, due to its aesthetic uniqueness. However, as far as the individual character design comparisons go, the only thing I think the Hunter has over the Warrior is the thick-bladed spear he totes. Overall a good character with power, but lacks the skill that makes Predator Warrior such an efficient killing machine.
|Dutch Schaefer is the powerhouse of AVSP; he plays like Haggar from Final Fight, with powerful slams and special moves. His slams are powerful and clears enemies quickly if used correctly, but he lacks the speed that the other characters in the game seem to have to their advantage. Dutch uses a huge machine gun for battle that can be utilized in the air or on the ground, emitting a spray of fire across the screen low and high. One of Dutch's most effective moves is the Dash that acts as his Jump; since Dutch probably can't jump with that heavy machine attached to his body, he instead uses a quick and powerful dash as means of quick evasion. The Dash can not only mow down tons of enemies, but it can also act as a lead-in for the aerial machine-gun fire Special Move he has. His combos are standard large character combos, with slow hits that do massive damage but have ludicrous recovery time. Once the timing of his hits are mastered, though, he can quickly prove a force to be reckoned with. His slams aren't terribly complicated, and bounce him minimally to safety so he can plan his next assault. The Body Slam is great for clearning the screen efficiently, while the alternate slam Special Move is better for bosses or large enemies like Chrystalis. His mounted machine gun is good for in-close fighting, whereas the air fire is more suitable for air-to-ground assaults to buy time for the next move. One disadvantage compared to every other character in the game is his single screen-clearning Special limitation, with only an Electric Cyclone for those hard times in the game when the screen is the enemy. Is he better than Haggar? Well, you're dealing with Arnold here (yes, he was "Dutch" in Predator), so you have to be careful when basing such comparisons! So, to base a more fair comparison, I say he is like Haggar but with some slight tweaks to give his fighting style some diversity by allowing him to pick off enemies from above with his Special Move fire.
|The gameplay is of the side-scrolling fighter type aforementioned, with vertical and horizontally scrolling stages chock-full of bloodthirsty enemies to face. The stages, as in all other side-scrolling fighters, have mid-bosses and bosses in addition to the various expendable runts that you often plow through. No side-scrolling fighter is complete without an opposition to systematically eradicate, and this is yet another area in which AVSP excels in. This game has as many enemies as there are drops of water in the sea; well, maybe not that many, but the game does have a more than generous amount of opposition to wreak havoc on. AVSP pits you against legions and legions of Aliens like Warriors, Stalkers, Smashers, Arachnoids, the classic Face-Huggers, and Royal Guards. Some of the Aliens are smaller and don't push much weight unless in groups, but others, like Razor Claws, or Crystalis, are roadblocks and can easilly make short work of any of the four heroes if they slip into a mistake. As the game progresses though, bigger roadblock enemies are usually accompanied by the smaller, more agile ones, making for tough situations. The enemies aren't limited to the Aliens, however, as you are often fighting against waves of badgering soldiers toting Pulse Rifles, Smart Guns, Knives, and Grenades. As if an assault of eight hellbent death soldiers wasn't already bad enough, you also have to worry about the Power Loaders, which is essentially a soldier in a machine that seems to apparently be used for 'loading,' but is instead used to kick your ass in more ways than one; and although slow as death, these assholes can charge with invincibility, grab, squeeze, hit, and toast you with a mounted flame-thrower. Each enemy possesses their own unique attacks just as the punks in Final Fight and other side-scrollers, some block attacks, while others heave grenades or spit poison. The bosses and enemies aren't just mindless drones like the assholes you see in any Chuck Norris Sunday programming; they can do jumping attacks, dash attacks, spit acid, headbutt, perform holds, claw, and wreak havoc via calling for backup.
|Of all the enemy detail and style in this game, the most surprising and noteworthy is how AVSP has an elevator stage that scrolls upward just as Rolento's stages in the Final Fight games, with bosses that resemble that of Rolento himself! After the ride starts, the most amazing boss in the game drops from above, appearing on the railing of the elevator - the Mad Predator. Yes, you heard right, not only do you have to cut your way through the legions of Aliens and gun-down a path through soldiers, you also have to face equally deadly opponents who use attacks similar to that of Rolento in the Final Fight series! As stated previously, AVSP has some things in common with Final Fight; the Mad Predators, similar to Rolento, have shadows and walk very fast, can perform wall-dive attacks, holds, and climb on the background railing to mount air devastating air attacks. The Mad Predator is essentially a maskless, pissed off Predator out to give you shit. This boss seems to have been modeled after Rolento; the Mad Predator's leap attacks from the railings, insanely quick ground attacks, amazing agility, and shadow trails will definately make fans of the great Final Fight series happy. In fact, just as Rolento litters the screen with grenades when his lifebar is a bit less than desirable, the Mad Predator drowns you in a screen of fire from his shoulder cannon. It's just nice to see that they put something so great from the Final Fight universe into a game with already outstanding design; the acute similarities the Mad Predator shares with Rolento are great. For those who thrive on consistency and wonder why I had previously explained the boss encounter of the elevator stage in plural, it's because if there are two players there are two Mad Predators as opposed to the single Mad Predator that graces the screen during a single-player journey. The design of the Mad Predators is great because the color palettes used for both of the characters, lacking a mask, looks great to see given credit for variation. As seen below, the Mad Predators look slightly similar to the Predator Warrior and Hunter, but are more agile, lack spears, weild stronger and different single-hit attacks, and have shadow trails (just like Rolento). Absolutely, by far, the height of greatness in this game due to its Final Fight referencing.
|The fighting action in this game is a white-knuckle experience; on most occasions, the screen is filled with legions of enemies, and there's nothing better than busting a combo on 4 enemies at a time. When two players go at it together, the brawl-fest gets furious, often littering the screen with bodies of Soldiers, headless Aliens, Face Huggers, Power Loaders, or even Predators! Two can team up on some of the bosses after killing off their minions, and corner the helpless boss with shoulder cannon fire or gun fire, in addition to the combos at the disposal of the characters. This game just bursts at the seams with action - there are even two stages in the game where snipe Aliens running beside your transport vehicle (the APC), leaping at you from below; greatness. This game is bloody as all hell; aliens fall headless to the ground, chest bursters explode the torsos of zombies into red chunks, zombies split in two upon contact, soldiers pour when eradicated, and one of the irritating leaders of opposition gets tore in half before being discarded. Even the stages are littered with the bloody corpses of the unfortunate. This game has some large-scale blood-spilling. It's not just the opposition that suffers though, as the heroes can be stabed, shot, mauled, burned, and even impaled by the Queen herself! The sheer amount of seamless chaotic action in this game is just amazing. The action of this game is a bit different from that of Final Fight, or any of the other more calculative side-scrolling fighters; AVSP is absolute mayhem and chaos in its entirety. Throughout the whole game, I think there were only about 3 or 4 spots where there weren't enemies pouring from every angle. This game aims to be utter choas and terror on the screen, with so much going on in some stages that you sometimes might find yourself catching a few pulse gun shots to the stomach, or a knife in the back. Where games like the recently reviewed Final Fight One or Armored Warriors focus more on calculating battles against the opposition with less chaotic parts, AVSP is almost the other way around, with a focus more on just surviving through all of the mayhem. The gameplay in Armored Warriors (or maybe even D&D for that matter), although sometimes crazy, is still not of complete mania like that of AVSP and its combos, firearms, and screen-cluttering enemies. Though I favor the less chaotic side-scrolling fighters, I appreciate all the great aspects of unique gameplay AVSP offers in all of its sheer hell of fighting terror and mayhem.
|Every side-scrolling fighter has alternate means by which to exterminate the opposition in addition to the standard granted abilities, and that means happens to be via weapons, and lots of them. AVSP has tons of weapons to use against the lot of enemies you encounter, and the weapons are also in acute abundance as well - it's not abnormal to see about 9 or 10 unused weapons on the floor at the same time. In choosing the means by which to invoke chaos upon the other side, you can take your pick from a plethora of death devices like the classic knives and pipes in addition to grenades, pulse guns, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, a smartgun, Predator discs, and even either of the Predator's staffs when the drop them (yes, the other characters can use them too). This game becomes absolutely crazy once weapons appear in abundance in certain parts of the game; the screen explodes into a happy team effort of pulse gun shots, flying knives and bloodspill, glowing flamethrower/grenade launcher aftermath, streams of smartgun fire, or on many occasions the destructive explosions of grenade fire. Amazing. In fact, this is probably one of the only areas of the game which slightly irritates me - when there's so many weapons on the screen, I've went to dish out some damage with normal attacks when instead I picked up one of the many weapons on the ground under me that one of the asshole enemies dropped, and unknowingly got slaughtered for it (because of the slower weapon attacking time). This becomes trouble sometimes in tight situations where there's lots of gun-toting jerks or crates, so it's good to watch out for this as much as possible to avoid being capitalized on. Which of them gets the 'weapon of choice' award? Well, actually, it's a tie between the knife and the disc. Why is this so? Well, first off, the knife has the classic feeling on its side, in addition to being able to pass through many enemies at a time without dropping to the ground. The knife looks as if to be a bit insignificant to the other weapons in the game that create burning hell and fiery deaths onscreen, but the knife is a very effective weapon due to the amount of enemies it can take out at once. On the other hand though, the Predator disc and its boomerang attributes add an interesting aspect to the battles, not to mention the sheer power of the hits when it connects (albeit a bit short of range). Mowing down countless scumbags with the smart gun or grenade launcher is fun also, so it's hard to really choose a complete favorite weapon in this game. With the good variety of weapons on AVSP, some strange character matches can be made, but look cool. Some of these odd matches include Predator Warrior weilding a pipe, Linn or Dutch using the Disc, or either of the Predators when they are using a pulse rifle; there's just something about the oddness of the charcters using each other's weapons that gives this game points. Just think about it; what looks cooler than Predator warrior using a pipe to beat the fucking hell out of a bunch of aliens? What is cooler than seeing Predator Hunter hunch over in his battle stance with a knife in his hand? One of the most fucked up things to see is how Dutch just butchers enemies all to hell if he gets a chance to use Linn's katana (sit back and watch the blood spill). The characters also look great with their respectful weapons though - Linn looks awesome with the pulse gun, Dutch looks cool with the pipe, and the Predators look cool when they use their movie-famed Discs. Also to be obtained are the Super Magazines, which max your weapon meter, allowing you to blast away without overheating for an alotted time; this is usually when the screen floods with the glow of fire. Items for health or points can also be picked up during the battles, like gems, cheese, salad, sea beam, lobster (of Final Fight 2 fame!), turkey (sounds delicious fresh from a crate or barrel, doesn't it?), the classic "meat" of Capcom side-scrolling fighters, and one of the coolest items ever in a game: the "porker" (yes, it's the real name). Is there any other game out there where you can break open a crate or barrel and find a porker?
|All of the stages in this game are nice, with beautifully detailed hand-drawn backgrounds and lots of stage interaction like breaking doors, barrels, turret guns, elevator switches, street signs, crates, etc. The backgrounds fit the theme of the game perfectly, and keep fans of the two series at war satisfied. Also a nice note is that the game's stages change and fit the change in enemy presentation throughout the game; there's a shift in the plot of the game, and through this the game's stages compliment the new enemy encounters nicely. As the plot progresses with each The theme of the game says the Aliens have turned the place into "a living hell!", and that is exactly what most of the stages show. The soundtrack and effects that accompany the stages also satisfies - the tunes fit each mood for each plot twist in the game, and consists of classic Capcom trademark sound effects. Through most of the game you'll fight to the serious, mysterious, fearful, dark , heroic soundtrack, while at other times you'll hear a sort of melodic fantasy tone like that of the music in D&D; I think the mix of soundtrack styles in this game is also a plus, since the game sort of disregards consistency. Overall, I'd have to say my choice of music goes to Armored Warriors, but that is because I'm just more of a fan of the pulse-pounding, fast guitar type of background. Each hiss, slice, hit, yelp, groan, yell, battle cry, thud, explosion, and plasma shot sound great and definately add to the experience of the game. As mentioned earlier, the voiceover for Linn Kurosawa fits her perfectly and is an amazing voiceover, while the victory and battle cries of the Predators are amazingly nice and faithfully recreated.
|The last feature of the game I'll address is the presentation method that is used. As you plow through each infested stage the game has to offer, there are dialogues for the characters as the events happen. These dialogues ultimately give the player a sense of the character's previously mentioned personas in the game, as the story gradually unfolds. The characters have some uniquely cool dialogues; my favorite is when Predator Hunter is on an elevator lift and refers to it, saying "Impressive!" Another one is when cute little Linn Kurosawa sincerely asks the Predator Warrior "Tell me why are you doing this?" Awesome. There are also cinematic scenes as well (not to be confused with the dialogues), which reveal more about the game's story - why the sides are fighting, who the enemy is, etc. So, for the assholes that constantly claim side-scrolling fighters have no story, here is yet another example to (as if Armored Warriors and D&D weren't enough already) shove down their fucking throats. Plain put, the game's story is good, with some nice plot shifts and surprises I am still impressed with even though I've played the game several times over and over. Though I like the story of Armored Warriors probably the best of the recent side-scrolling fighters, I have to say that AVSP's story gets sincere respect from me; I was glued to the game once I started to understand what was going on and why. These plot attributes, along with the amazing visuals and sounds, make the presentation of AVSP a stellar one. The opening scenes, the plot-progressing scenes, and the ending scenes are all nicely done and make this gaming experience an interesting one. In fact, you'll pronbably have to play through the game about 2 or 3 times to completely understand the great story behind this game.
|All in all, AVSP succeeds in many areas, definately eligible to go down in history as one of the best. The animation is absolutely beautiful, the characters have great design, the stages look good, the sounds and music are nice, and lastly, the gameplay is fresh. AVSP uses a great comboination of old and new alike to bring forth its own style of side-scrolling goodness. That goodness, of course, is AVSP's own carnage, mayhem, and sheer terror that fills every stage in this game. Is it the best side-scrolling fighter ever? Well, AVSP certainly is one of the best, no doubt, but I still prefer Armored Warriors (or the classic Final Fight 2) as my #1 side-scrolling fighter of choice. Does it have what it takes to stand up to Armored Warriors, Final Fight One, D&D, or older side-scrolling fighters like Final Fight 2, The Punisher (Yeah!), or Cadillacs & Dinosaurs? Yes; AVSP delivers nothing short of quality in nearly every area of the game, and should please any fanatic for side-srolling fighters. I'd have to say that AVSP makes it into my all time greatest games without even breaking a sweat. Just the reference to Rolento in Final Fight and the elevator stage in AVSP is reason enough in itsself to rank this game so high on my list. Any game with a Final Fight series reference gets automatic points for great nostalgia. This game developed a small cult-following in the states (hey Headquarters!), and it's easy to see why - this game kicks a horse's ass. This game is great. Every aesthetic angle of this game is damn near design perfection in my book.