Aliens vs. Predator (2010) – A Fun Game That Could Have Been More

     There have been quite a few games in the “Aliens vs. Predator” Franchise. The one I played was the one that came out in 2010 and is the most recent in the Franchise. “Alien” and “Aliens” are two of my favorite films and I have watched the first “Predator” film. I have not seen a full version of any of the other films or any of the films in the “Aliens vs. Predator” Franchise. I do enjoy this world though. The Xenomorphs and Predators have great designs and the humans in this series are flawed. This game does a decent job capturing all of this, though I wouldn’t call the game good, which I’ll get into below. It is fun though, so if you like this world you should check it out if you can get it on sale for cheap.

The game was developed by Rebellion Developments and produced by Sega.

The story follows a marine who arrives on a planet during a Xenomorph takeover, a special Xenomorph who escapes from a lab and a young Predator who is arriving to prove himself to his warrior people.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

Tension in Gameplay – One things this game does well is that there is always tension in gameplay. Whether you are an alien, predator or marine you feel vulnerable and it is easy to get overwhelmed by enemy forces so the game forces you to be smart. You can’t just walk through the story and not have any strategy.

The World – You have an ancient Pyramid built by the Predators that hold their history. You have  a corrupt corporation Weyland-Yutani trying to steal technology and experiment on Xenomorphs and you have Predators trying to clean up the mess humanity is making. It is a really interesting story that just needed deeper development of all 3 of the factions.

The Campaigns – The campaigns are all a pro but I’m going to give each an individual score depending on how each of their stories was handled. All the stories are interconnected which makes the narrative a lot of fun.

Marine Campaign – The marine campaign is the most basic. You are a rookie marine who soon becomes the only survivor besides your commander Tequila who has a chestburster injected into her at one point in the story. You take out a few Xenomorph Queens in the story and a Predator as well over the course of the story. Your story starts with survival, working with a scientist named Katya who betrays Weyland-Yutani and finally confronting Weyland who it turns out is an android. You call in his escape craft and your story ends as the pilot says they’ve secured a “live specimen” and discovered the coordinates of the Xenomorph homeworld.

Final Score: 7 / 10 It could have been more if the marines or Weyland was fleshed out more. They exist for the plot and there isn’t any depth beyond that. It is still basic enjoyable.

Predator Campaign – The Predator campaign involves you destroying dead Predators who were defeated prior so their technology doesn’t fall into enemy hands and ends with you walking the path of your ancestors as you take on powerful Xenomorphs and finally destroying the Pyramid to keep the humans from getting your technology. The campaign ends with the Pyramid destroyed and you rising to the top of your Pack as your ship sets off for the Xenomorph homeworld.

Final Score: 7.3 / 10 I’m rating this story a little higher because you are witnessing the history of the Predators and the arc of you becoming leader makes sense. My main issue on why I wouldn’t call it good is there is still no nuance or depth to the Predator characters. More lore but there is nothing to the characters.

Alien Campaign – The Alien campaign is the most fun. Aliens are the weakest out of all the 3 factions you play as. You start out as an experiment but start a breakout from your lab and free the Queen. You and the other Xenomorphs have control over the planet until the Pyramid and prime Queen are destroyed but you are saved by the original scientist who was experimenting on you in the beginning. In the last shot, you Experiment Number 6 has now become Queen and the scientist is your prisoner. The implication is I think you are an intelligent enough Xenomorph that you are probably going to return to your homeworld like the other 2 campaigns.

7.5 / 10 Your character is vulnerable and it is a completely alien perspective. The same can’t be said of the Predator whose honorable drive could still be based in human cultures. The Xenomorphs are fully alien and that is what elevated it. Still wasn’t good as it is a really short campaign and how you end up captured at the end just kind of happens. Nothing you do in the campaign logically leads to your capture.

The Cons:

Weyland-Yutani Motivation – Weyland-Yutani seems to be seeking immortality and technology but even with the Weyland Android that isn’t well explained. The entire organization is full of mad scientists and androids who are evil for the sake of being evil. This is such a shame as the idea of seeking greater technology and power could be used to better humanity but the organization discards people and barely functions.

The Predator’s Human Voice – The predator says “Fuck” a lot as a distraction and it struck me as childish. Was this supposed to be badass? All it did was made me not take the young Predator whose campaign I was playing less seriously. It was crap writing and was hardly needed. If anything it made the Predator’s less alien when exploring the alien aspects of them is what made them compelling (their technology and code is cool). I would have rated their campaign higher if not for this awful edgelord distraction.

As someone who has only seen “Alien” and “Aliens” and the first “Predator” film, I had an enjoyable time with this video game. The factions play different enough that no campaign feels the same and though the story is basic, it is fun. If you are looking for a cool way to explore those universes than I would check out this game if you can get it for cheap. I bought it cheap on Steam for a nice escape during Covid-19, I had a lot of fun.

Final Score: 7.3 / 10 Enjoyable but could have been more.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) – An Unmemorable Sequel

   “The Golden Circle” is a film that really should have been about the “Statesman” (The American Secret Service of this film) or just a day in the life of “The Kingsman.” It is in the film going big and trying to recreate the magic of the first film that ends up being the biggest reason it falls flat. It isn’t a bad film by any means, but the strongest moments are the character moments, not the action and this is an action heavy film on an apocalyptic scale, just like the first film…and the writing just isn’t up to par. Before I get into spoilers, if you enjoyed the first film, you’ll probably enjoy this one, I just hope that if a third film is made that they go small and give us a more character driven story than the we got this time around.

The film was directed by Matthew Vaughn who co-wrote it with Jane Goldman and produced the film with David Reid and Adam Bohling. The series is based off the comics called the “Kingsman” by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.

The story this time around involves the drug Kingpin Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) attacking all the Kingsman hideouts after one of the former members helps her hack them. Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) are the only ones left, as they follow the emergency protocol where they must team up with their American counterparts known as the Statesman to stop her and her plans.

SPOILERS ahead

First I want to get into what works about the film. The Statesman are a fascinating group and Bridges “Champ” is a lot of fun as the leader of the organization. Though, Bridges is good in everything he’s in, even when the films suck. The Statesman is based in a Kentucky Distillery and has a cowboy aesthetic to contrast with the gentlemen aesthetic. I really want a movie about them after seeing this, hell this could have been their movie and Merlin and Eggsy could have been agents sent over to help with the drug problem that drives the plot without the Kingsman being destroyed. Since the two of them are fantastic.

Merlin and Eggsy are easily once the best parts of the film. Mark Strong continues to give both warmth and the cold edge of an agent and Eggsy has embraced his role as an agent even as he still holds onto the life he had before with his friends from his past life. They don’t really have an arc in this, but seeing them as the only members of the Kingsman worked, though I wish their entire organization hadn’t been killed. For one Roxy was a great character who we will now never see in the field again.

Poppy is a villain who is a lot of fun and fits perfectly into this universe. She is a drug Kingpin who wants to legalize all drugs so that she’ll be recognized as the richest woman in the world. Her base is in South America and designed like a 50’s town, which fits her messed up mentality where she feeds people who betray her to her other minions. She also has robotic dogs that are really cool and fit into this universe really well. Her plan is to infect everyone with her drugs and give the antidote once heroin is legalized. It is a pretty great plan and she is a difficult enemy to beat.

Galahad’s arc surprisingly works. If you’ve seen the previews you know Colin Firth’s character Galahad is back and in this we learn that he was a scientist before he joined the Kingsman so his arc is reactivating his memories so he can help when the Kingsman and Statesman start losing to Poppy. It is always good to see this character and as much as I hate characters coming back, the fact that it took the entire film for him to come back, made it worth it narratively.

Now for what didn’t work. At one point Poppy captures Elton John and after that he is used as a joke and reference through the entire film. It is really annoying and grating and there was zero reason for it to be in the film. It was never funny and just distracted from the plot.

Over-dependence on action is a major problem too. I get this is a spy film but the first film managed to have a lot of great moments of reflection that we never get in this, even though Eggsy and Merlin’s friends are all dead. The movie was so focused on moving to the next action set piece that it hurt the story.

The love story with the Princess also didn’t work and there was no reason for it to exist, especially since it leads to a weird scene with Eggsy sleeping with one of the enemy’s girlfriends. The entire love story felt contrived and after that scene…it just felt awkward, unneeded and it distracted from what little of an arc Eggsy has in this film.

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is a film I’ll recommend if you like a good action film and enjoyed the first movie. It isn’t nearly as great as the first movie, but it is a solid sequel as we get to know Galahad’s backstory, there is a great villain and the Statesman are a fun organization. I wish it had been more focused though, this is a film that could have been great as a “Statesman” film or as a mission with the entire Kingsman team in action. Sadly this was a film that failed to measure up to its own ambitions. Once again, still worth your time if you are looking for a good action film or loved the first one.

Final Score: 8 / 10