Hello everyone, just three articles left before the finale! “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn Part 34” will focus on another mixture of very different games. These games would be: Aliens v.s. Predator, the two games tied into The Chronicles of Riddick series known as Escape from Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena, and finally PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. While all these games are very different from each other in terms of gameplay, they all have one thing in common: They were all games that I wasn’t entirely sure about, but I took the risk and bought them anyway. All games were fun in their own ways, but none were especially exceptional, at least not to me. Let’s get to it.
Aliens v.s. Predator (PS3)
First off, I never played the previous AVP games for the earlier generation of systems (or were they only for PC?), not counting a few short sessions with the side-scrolling arcade game. The Aliens and Predator series have always intrigued me, especially Predator, so I figured I’d give this game a try (not surprisingly, the deciding factor for me was getting to play as the totally awesome Predator). Like in the earlier games in the series, you get to play as a Space Marine, a xenomorph (hereafter referred to as the Alien to keep things simple), and a Predator (I think they’re referred to as “yautja” in certain circles, but again, let’s keep things simple). Each character has a short 2 or 3 hour campaign, so altogether the three campaigns add up to a still relatively short game. The stories for the three campaigns aren’t particularly engaging, but the way they sort of intertwine is kind of interesting.
Playing as the Marine is the most challenging and in many ways the most fast-paced of the three campaigns. He gets to use a number of weapons like the classic pulse rifle, a shotgun, a sniper rifle, a flamethrower, and a smartgun. Since he will chiefly battle against scores of Aliens, and occasionally some combat androids and one Predator, he has to stay on the move and shoot like a madman lest he be overwhelmed by enemies. Even killing Aliens when standing too close to them will result in the Marine getting showered by molecular acid that spurts from the Aliens’ wounds, which could easily kill him in an instant. The Marine’s campaign is certainly more anxiety ridden than the other two campaigns, especially in the beginning, but it’s still not what you would call “frightening”, especially not compared to the later Alien: Isolation (I never played that game myself, but I could easily tell from gameplay footage that it’s a real spine-tingler). Speaking of Aliens, playing as the Alien in this game is probably the most interesting of the three campaigns mainly because of the Alien’s unique abilities. While the Alien relies solely on close range attacks with its claws and tail to do away with its enemies, it is also capable of hiding in dark corners and surprising its enemies as they pass by, and it can also climb along walls and ceilings. The first-person perspective can make climbing on these surfaces rather disorienting, though. The Alien mostly battles Marines, though it also faces off against combat androids and a handful of Predators, so the challenge level is appropriate, if a bit cheap at times. On the upside, the different stealth kills the Alien can pull off are entertainingly gory.
Finally, the Predator campaign is my favorite of the three, though I am rather biased in that regard. The Predator can absolutely slaughter enemies with its collection of awesome weapons like its wristblades, plasma caster, smart disc, and combi-stick (there are mines too, but they suck). Like the Alien, the Predator can kill enemies through stealth by using its cloaking device, coming right up to them, and tearing them apart, often ripping their heads and spinal columns right off. The Predator’s jumping ability is particularly impressive and intuitive; all you need to do is highlight a high point you want to jump to and the Predator will jump exactly to the highlighted spot with no issue, assuming it’s in range. The Predator also has the largest collection of enemies to destroy, including the usual Marines, Aliens, combat androids, and even the abomination popularly known as the “Predalien”. Now, as fun as these campaigns may sound, as I said before, they’re all very short, plus they’re incredibly linear. There are collectibles to find off the beaten path, but there’s really no incentive to find them all. Furthermore, there’s no real sense of progression since neither of the characters have upgradeable abilities. The Marine finds his weapons scattered around each level, while the Predator gains its later weapons at specific points in the campaign. There was also a multiplayer element which was interesting, but for the most part it didn’t work too well due to lag, and even finding a match took me a good half hour, if I was lucky. Overall, this game was fun for a while, but could easily be beaten in less than a weekend, and I could only replay this one so many times before I got tired of it, which led to me trading it in. Aliens v.s. Predator gets a score of 67%.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay/Assault on Dark Athena (Xbox/PS3)
Firstly, I will be discussing Escape from Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena as if they were one game due to how incredibly similar they both are to each other. Escape from Butcher Bay was originally released exclusively on the Xbox, but fortunately it was released again sometime later and bundled with its direct sequel Assault on Dark Athena on the PS3 (and Xbox 360). Both these games are tie-ins to the films based off the character Richard B. Riddick (a role I wish Vin Diesel had concentrated more on rather than making movie after movie on the overdone The Fast and the Furious franchise), and both games are prequels to the film Pitch Black. As far as movie tie-in games go, The Chronicles of Riddick games are among the best you can hope to play. Both games are in first-person perspective, and while the use of guns is common in both games, referring to them simply as “first-person shooters” would be a very simplistic description that does them no justice. For one thing, Riddick spends a good chunk of both games without access to any guns whatsoever, relying normally on melee (normally bladed) weapons or even his bare hands to do away with his foes. As a result, Riddick would spend most of his time taking out enemies through stealth rather than running and gunning.
Escape from Butcher Bay focuses on Riddick trying to escape from the infamous intergalactic prison known as (surprise, surprise) Butcher Bay. It’s probably not too difficult to believe that he does in fact end up escaping from this prison, only for him to end up being captured again in the beginning of Assault on Dark Athena by a group of mercenaries in their giant spaceship known as the (you probably saw this one coming) Dark Athena. As previously mentioned, Riddick doesn’t always have access to guns, therefore he must deal with enemies through stealth. Even when he does have access to guns, he’ll normally be outnumbered by other armed enemies, and since he can be killed pretty quickly, it’s best to use cover and shoot enemies from the shadows as much as possible. By shooting out lights, either with standard guns or with a tranq gun he acquires in order to not make any noise, Riddick can further darken certain environments to give himself an advantage since his “eyeshine” ability lets him see in pure darkness while his enemies will be blind and (mostly) helpless. There are the strange, rare moments where no matter how stealthy you are, enemies can still somehow spot Riddick even in pure darkness, but normally the stealth works well.
Combat is also rather well done, if a little unbalanced at times. When using his bare fists, blades, or club-like weapons, Riddick can strike enemies with blows from different directions, as well as block or counter most enemies’ blows. It’s strangely satisfying pummeling or slicing foes down, though the first-person perspective does make the melee combat feel kind of awkward sometimes, at least for me. Also, some select enemies feel unbalanced with how strangely tough there are. There were a select few who could block all direct attacks by Riddick and even break his block. Countering enemy blows also requires split second timing that I was never able to get fully accustomed to. Nevertheless, the melee combat was very engaging for the most part. Other flaws include occasional lag and the hit detection with guns being way off at random times; I’d be shooting directly at an enemy but the bullets would fail to register as hits for some reason. Both games include a couple of moments where you can control mechs and shoot up scores of bad guys with their machineguns and missile launchers, which is always enjoyable. Overall, these games are somewhat flawed, but they’re still lots of fun, and they were certainly standouts in the first-person genre of video games. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay/Assault on Dark Athena gets a score of 80%.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (PS3)
The few times I was able to play the Super Smash Bros. games, I had a hell of a lot of fun. In fact, I almost considered buying myself a Wii just to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but that would have been an impulsive and irresponsible purchase for me since I wasn’t really interested in any other Wii games. To my delight, the PS3 got its own version of a Smash Bros. game in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale which featured several of my favorite PlayStation characters like Kratos, Cole MacGrath, Jak and Daxter, and Raiden, as well as other popular characters like Heihachi Mishima, Dante (from Ninja Theory’s DmC: Devil May Cry), Nariko, Ratchet and Clank, Nathan Drake, Parappa the Rapper, and others. The absence of other characters like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, and Solid Snake was disappointing though.
Like Super Smash Bros., this game is a 2D fighter where up to four characters beat the crap out of each other in arenas inspired from different PlayStation games in which the characters were featured like God of War, Infamous, and Uncharted, as well as other games like Bioshock: Infinite and Resistance. As for the fighters themselves, they all control the same but feature very different styles of combat. Characters like Raiden and Heihachi Mishima, for example, are almost exclusively close-range fighters, while other characters like Colonel Radec, Nathan Drake, and Cole MacGrath are stronger long-range fighters with their use of guns and projectiles. You’ve also got your slow but strong powerhouses like the Big Daddy and Zeus. The use of item weapons from other games can be spawned for all characters to use, like RPG launchers, freeze bombs, and the Spear of Destiny from God of War II, to name a few.
Probably the most unique thing about this game is how you score kills. Instead of dishing out enough damage to make it easier to toss or strike opponents out of the arena like in Super Smash Bros., the main goal is to keep beating on enemies until enough of your super meter is filled, which will allow you to launch super attacks that can kill one or several opponents, assuming you don’t miss. Avoiding damage as much as possible is also important so your opponents don’t keep filling up their super meters as they beat on you and continue trying to kill you. This unique way of taking out opponents by waiting for the right time to strike with super attacks while also being aggressive at beating on them to increase your super meters adds a certain level of strategy that wasn’t really included in the Super Smash Bros. games.
Still, this game ended up having a rather limited appeal to me since it turns out I don’t have many friends and even less who play this game, so I had no one to play it with. This wouldn’t have been so bad on its own if it weren’t for the fact that the singleplayer element for PS All-Stars is very basic and features no real story like the far superior Subspace Emissary mode in Brawl. Instead, each character in this game fights a bunch of enemies, then fights his/her “rival”, and finally defeats the disappointing final boss, and these playthroughs are only broken up by an intro cutscene, a rival battle cutscene, and an ending cutscene for each character, nothing more. All in all, it’s a good, solid fighting game, but it lacks fun features and simply wasn’t the best kind of game for me in particular, as it turns out. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale gets a score of 78%.
That’s it for this week’s article. One okay game that I got rid of, two other games combined into one that are quite fun and unique in their own ways, and another pretty good game that never took off like its Nintendo-based predecessor. Come back next week for Part 35 of “D.G.M.’s Gaming Life Before Gaming Respawn” where I will discuss a few really good action RPGs and one other great game. Until then, take a look at more Gaming Respawn goodness below:
Will continues his quest to discuss every 3D platformer out there in his feature “GenreQuest: 3D Platformers”. Check out Part 11 of his feature, which is also the second part of his Crash Bandicoot special, over here. Then check out Part 12 over here.
Take a look at Ian’s review of the first-person, multiplayer hero shooter Overwatch right here.
Kjell burns some rubber in Asseto Corsa and shares his experience behind the wheel in his review of the game over here.
Ian strikes back and further proves that he may have a penchant for first-person based violence in his review of Dead Island: Definitive Edition, which you can find here.