Aliens VS Predator: Requiem on the PSP should be the greatest game ever made. It sees the coming together of two of science fiction's coolest, deadliest and scariest characters - the Predator and the Aliens. It should be adrenaline pumping, heart-stopping and poo-yourself scary, all covered in more gore than you can shake a flame thrower at. Problem is, the game is a disappointing let down - another promising movie-license which could have been so much more than it turned out to be.
AVP-R begins with an opening cinematic which sets the thin as a rake story in motion. You play the Predator, who has come to Earth to slaughter as many Aliens as he can possibly manage. The Aliens have already taken root and started breeding, so you'll be stalking around various US countryside type environments and buildings trying to put an end to the Alien menace while disposing of any evidence of your presence on the planet.
The problem with the game is that it's just, well, meh. The Predator himself looks pretty cool. He's a big presence on the PSP's screen, and there's an impressive amount of detail woven into his iconic looks. But the environments he runs about in are about as bland as they get.
I'm mindful here of the PSP's limitations, so I'm not going to slam the game's overall aesthetic, but I'm disappointed in its richness. Textures are bland, dark and generic. The game is full of similar looking tunnels, hills and forest areas, all with that gritty wash about them we seem to be seeing in loads of PSP games nowadays. The graphics are good, don't get me wrong, but you'll soon tire of what feels like endless identikit environments.
The combat is also uninspiring. You move about with the analogue nub, control horizontal camera movement with the shoulder buttons, fire your selected special weapon (which will usually be the shoulder cannon) with O, interact with stuff with X, hack and slash with your dual claws with square and go first-person with triangle. There's no real depth or skill to it. As wave upon wave of Aliens comes at you, all you need to do is keep moving backwards as you blast them into oblivion with the shoulder cannon. While you can upgrade your special weapon as you proceed through the game, nothing is more effective for dealing with the pesky acid-blooded blighters than using the weapon you start off with.
My idea of what makes the Predator such a bad-ass is that he is a stalker, surveying his prey from above - he is the ultimate hunter. But AVP-R makes him more of a tank, with no need for stealth and no need for real strategy. He is a hulking dinosaur trawling through a sea of Alien flesh.
What the game has you do is also pretty boring. When you're not spamming your shoulder cannon you'll be walking up to bits of Predator and Alien technology and disintegrating it with a simple press of the X button. There's a little more to it than that - certain things can only be seen in certain views, for example the classic Predator thermal view, or the Alien view or the Tech view - but it's pretty basic stuff.
There's also a disappointing lack of gore in the game. If you've seen the trailer for the movie you'll know that there's so much blood-soaked Alien on Predator on Human destruction that the violence almost looks comical. Well there's hardly any in the game. Aliens simply writhe around on the ground for a bit then disappear when you kill them. I want Alien heads flying off in the air, I want Alien tales going mental after you've removed them from their bodies, and I want so much Alien blood spraying about the place that it looks like it's raining acid.
As with a lot of PSP games, AVP-R struggles a bit with its camera. It's a decent effort, don't get me wrong. It just can be quite frustrating at times. A lot of this is due to the fact that the Predator is such a big character model, so you can't see a lot of what's happening. Aliens will often attack you from out of nowhere, and start clawing at you before you've had a chance to react. I suppose this is probably how it's supposed to feel with the shadowy, swarming Aliens, but it can often feel a bit unfair.
Beyond the short-ish 15-mission single-player experience you have a very basic ad hoc two-player Skirmish multiplayer mode that doesn't really add much to the game. Here you battle through more waves of Aliens in a competitive face-off with another player.
I guess my main issue with AVP-R is not that it's a bad game, because it's not. My problem with it is that it's just so disappointing. In the same way the first AVP movie left me feeling quite angry because it dealt with two of my favourite movie series in such a boring way, AVP-R on PSP leaves me feeling worse than it probably should, because I love the universe upon which it draws and I want it to be great. Perhaps my expectations are unreasonable, but taking control of the Predator and slaughtering masses of Aliens on Earth isn't as cool as it should be.