Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction
Consoles have never been an ideal breeding ground for real-time strategy games. No matter how you slice it, it's the one genre that's done better on the PC. That doesn't stop developers from trying though, especially when they have hold of a popular license, and in the case of Aliens Versus Predator: Extinctions, two popular licenses. A console RTS based on two old movie licenses'sounds destined for mediocrity, doesn't it? Miraculously, Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction is the best example of how to do a console RTS game right, although it isn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination.
Unlike most conventional RTS games,Extinction focuses primarily on combat. That means there's little resource management or structures to build, which might turn-off some RTS-fanatics, but it's for the best for a console RTS. Missions are usually seek-and-destroy missions, although they sometimes branch out into fix-it and survival missions, which are' well, the same thing. And even though this is a RTS game, there's not much strategy that you need to take into consideration aside from the obvious restrictions of each unit. A lot of your success will depend on how many units you have and how good you are at zerging (throwing a mass amount of weak units at enemies). Despite these faults, Extinction does a lot right, including the excellent control setup that isn't marred by endless menu screens. Extinction takes the best parts of a RTS game and brings it to the PlayStation 2, largely forgoing the menial tasks that just aren't suited for a console. This all might seem utterly simplistic to a PC RTS fan, but given a console's control limitations, keeping the game simple works out well in the long run.
Extinction doesn't suffer from choppy framerates or bad lighting-effects, but it does commit the sin of looking utterly boring. Maps are bland and hold no visual flare whatsoever since most missions take place on barren areas with little detail. Likewise, the audio is a mixed bag. While sound effects sound like they were ripped straight from the movies, the music is bland and forgettable. There are some noticeable mixing problems as well.
For a console RTS, Aliens versus Predator: Extinction isn't half bad but compared to a PC RTS, however, Extinction is too simplistic for it's own good and hardcore RTS fans would do best to avoid it. Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction may be one of the best RTS games out there for the PlayStation 2, but that isn't really saying much when sizing up the competition.
Download Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction
Extinction squeezes PC real-time-strategy gameplay onto consoles.. .and for the most part, it's a good fit. For example, traditional resource management has been mercifully stripped down: Predators collect skulls and Colonial marines repair atmospheric converters to earn points for upgrades or reinforcements, while Aliens use fallen foes to spawn their brood. These intrinsic differences make each race's game worth playing, and you'll find diverse missions in each campaign, too. It's not all chest-bursting excitement, though--like that guy with the long face said, the waiting is the hardest part. Much of the game is spent killing time while your units heal, your Predator's stealth energy recharges, or--worst yet--your troops find their way. When you send a large group to a spot on the map, at least one unit will take a strange alternate path and get annihilated. Moving your party into a new area too quickly can also lead to squad-killing ambushes, so you have to inch along and save frequently. There's entertainment to be had with Extinction, but expect a lot of hairpulling to go along with it.
You like strategy. You like a hardcore challenge, but you understand that console RTS games aren't as deep as most PC ones. You don't bitch when using a joy-pad for something that's traditionally played with a mouse. You, my friend, will love Extinction. It offers tons of variety, and individual missions can suck you in for a couple of hours (because they take planning--and they're tough!). This is a great game except for one problem: Units sometimes forget you're in control and just take some wayward path to their doom.
Apparently, I'm not one of those people Shoe thinks will dig this game. RTS games appeal to control freaks, and though I certainly fall into that category, when the control is difficult in a game for control freaks, well, control freaks like me freak out. I thought Marines were the most elite of our fine armed forces, so why the heck can't they run in formation when I tell them to? Extinction is definitely a competent title, but to enjoy it, you'll need extreme flexibility and patience. Good luck with that.
The Aliens vs. Predator series has produced some great first person shooters by taking full advantage of both licenses and creating a unique experience. That experience however has been abandoned in favor of a new genre as Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction jumps into the real time strategy arena. It would be great if Extinction continued the success of the AvP series, but unfortunately its transition to a real time strategy runs into a number of issues that keep it from reaching its potential.
On paper, Extinction looks like a solid game with 21 missions, with each species (humans, aliens, and predators) given seven missions. In addition, each species is unique so completely different strategies need to be incorporated from one species to the next. The aliens for instance don't have any ranged attacks but overrun their opponents with numbers, the humans rely on firepower, and the predators have a number of toys including stealth that give them their advantage. Special abilities further distinguish the species like the aliens' ability to impregnate their enemies for instance, making even your dead a liability.
Unfortunately, the execution of those concepts really falls flat, failing to create a dynamic experience. One major problem is the lack of strategy required at what initially appears to be a game ripe for strategy. A one-dimensional approach can be adopted and applied to almost any circumstance as you attempt to overwhelm your enemy. For example, the aliens are geared toward simply throwing units into combat until the enemy is eliminated with little variation required. The balance of the game is also off as the predators have a clear advantage in combat with a number of abilities such as stealth and vision enhancements that can quickly overcome both aliens and humans. Additionally, Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction doesn't focus on structure building, where bases are built and fortified, but relies mainly on unit upgrades, which may turn off more classic RTS fans. It does however have a rather painless resource collect system that is completely different for each species where the humans get resources from generators and the predators from 'trophies'? and kills.
The graphics are also a disappointment and make it hard to get engrossed in the game. The detail across the board is lacking and the environments are bland and unimpressive. The audio isn't going to make an impression either but is appropriate and at least doesn't distract from the game.
Although Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction starts out well, it will have a hard time keeping the interest of most RTS fans. Fans of the series however, may still get something out of it as the license is used well as long as not too much is expected from the gameplay.