I won’t lie to you. I’ve been playing AVP for a solid month now. After finishing up with most of the trophies I’ve jumped over to the Multiplayer and had a blast with it. Rebellion’s console opus is quite an experience…when it’s working anyways.
As you’ve no doubt heard by now, while Aliens vs. Predator is a solid experience gameplay wise, it’s just that developer Rebellion’s attention to detail when creating it’s online experience was somewhat lacking. You’ll be hard pressed to get into a match on your first try and while it gives you several options for getting into a matchmaking lobby you will find yourself not getting a game going for a space of time.
While Rebellion has promised to fix these nagging online problems amongst other things for the console iterations of AVP (having already patched the PC versions) it’s instead went ahead and released the Swarm Map Pack.
For those interested what you’ll get with the Swarm Map Pack is as follows
Outpost (an online map, playable in most online modes, up to 12 players)
Docks (another online map, playable in most online modes, up to 8 players)
Hive & The Machine (Survivor Mode maps)
That’s four maps total for 560 MS Points or 6.99 on the PSN.
Now here comes the good and bad of it. I’ve downloaded several map packs in the past, even some for games that don’t have a strong online support for it’s additional content. What happens is that alot of these games offer maps but not alot of people end up buying said map packs and we almost never see games with the maps being played. I sometimes have to question why companies atleast don’t budget the price of alot of Map Packs, because the Packs do stimulate the online gameplay, but some people are well…cheap, so shouldn’t a price reflect the content you get? Let’s dig into the Swarm Map Pack to find out.
For those unfamiliar to AVP, Survivor Mode is essentially this game’s version of Gears Of Wars’ Horde Mode. As a Marine you fend off wave after wave of Alien as they stalk you and eventually go for the kill. With the new “Hive” map, a new level of tension is brought to the table, as you stand above on a platform while Aliens’ swarm below and wait to strike, now an additional terror lurks, as Facehuggers are added as an additional boss. Facehuggers were annoying in the campaign, so this extra level of tension as you search out not only Aliens but their counterparts which take off quite a bit of damage if left unchecked…plus their so damn small! While I don’t think “The Machine” is as good as Hive, it still offers the same nail biting experience that the Hive does, set in one of the generator rooms from the Refinery level. With the purchase of the Swarm Pack you get these two maps for both online play (with up to 3 other friends on your friends list) or offline by yourself, which definitely in my opinion ups price value since you are being given content that you don’t have to depend on the online community to play.
Outpost is a sprawling ruined building area, with a grassy opening and a bridge adjacent. It definitely allows for alot of good cover areas for Marines, stalking positions for Predators and probably one of the biggest gripes Non-Alien players….a massive hole in the center. Why will Non-Aliens be pissed? They can literally go all the way down it, run around in it and come back up without ill-effects. Get close to the hole with a Marine, or fall off a tree with a Predator and you’re hole bound…and definitely not in that I can stick to walls good kind of way.
The Docks is a much smaller map, but definitely geared more toward the Aliens. It has an open area, based upon a shore that if you walk into, will be drained of life. While Marines will find a good “last stand” position next to the giant crane which allows for alot of visibility, any Marine (or Predator for that matter) will be mince meat if they get caught inside the building as it’s dark hallways are perfect stalking grounds for Aliens. Untop of the building in the open area by the shore is a roof an open area to the action going down below, so when you get 8 players in a game, it might very well be easy to forget that a Predator may be watching you…from above…ready to strike as soon as the chaos clears…or as it’s happening!
As a final thought on whether this is worth the MS Points or Cashola on the PSN, I’d say if you were a casual fan I’d probably stay away, but if you find Aliens vs. Predator an experience you come back to again and again, I’d definitely recommend it.