Aliens vs Predator Classic is basically three games in one. Using the same environment as the backdrop for the alien, the marine and the predator, you play each character through its various missions and then move on to the next. Being the orderly person that I am, I just chose according to the title and started with the alien. Having not read the manual or a walkthrough first, this threw me for a loop and I wandered about the starting point for 15 minutes before realizing that I could climb walls by holding down the crouch button and using the directional keys. I'm afraid this was not one of my brighter moments.
The alien is a very simple creature that relies on speed, a sharp set of nasty claws and on its ability to scale walls and evade detection by moving through vents. Its tail can also be used as a weapon, but this seems to work only on the predator and lacks any kind of precision aim. It also has a hunt mode that enables it to see in the dark from a kind of fish bowl perspective. The alien can be a very disorienting experience as you are often not sure which way is up. Given its talents, I thought they could have included some stealth aspects, but it seems the alien is not a subtle creature as nine times out of ten, you're likely to be spotted by the enemy. You're only advantage here is speed if you can avoid the flame-throwers and the Molotov cocktails. Health is restored by eating your prey, so bon apetit!
Playing the marine has slightly more edge to it as you move through the ship to the sounds of screeching aliens looking for lunch. Stranded, your goal is to make your way to an escape position with the occasional aid from your commander via video and radio communications. This may involve performing certain tasks first. Your main weapon is a pulsar gun with a secondary fire grenade launcher and an image intensifier that can be toggled to provide something similar to night vision. I found this a little annoying, as you need to have it on most of the time, which disables the radar that pinpoints the positions of the nasty creatures. It also blinds you if you look towards any light. However, if you turn it off, most of the time you can't see. Another thing lacking is any kind of map or indication of where you are supposed to go. At times, I found myself getting lost in the many corridors and rooms, unsure of which direction to take.
The aliens are very fast and like to come up behind you or drop from ceiling vents, so prepare to die a lot. In fact, this makes the game sort of frustrating as you end up replaying the same portions over and over till you luck out and kill them. Seconds later you will be in the same situation again. Towards the final marine episodes, predators are also added to the mix as well as having aliens attacking in greater numbers and from all directions. Originally, there was no quicksave, but due to complaints, it's now possible to add this feature, which is good because I used it constantly.
I probably enjoyed playing the predator most of all. It's evident that this creature is at the top of the food chain. The levels are more linear and you're not as likely to get lost. There are also tips concerning what you have to do. In fact, it almost seems like this portion is a different game in some ways. The aliens and the marines don't provide nearly as much of a challenge to kill and you can get through it without dying every 3 seconds. The predator has cloaking abilities and a self-med feature built into the weapon cycle. You have to choose a safe spot to heal though, as cycling through these is quite slow and impossible during attacks. During the latter missions the aliens come in swarms and if you double back, they spawn in such unmanageable numbers you may have to restart the mission.
There are four modes available to the Predator, thermal blue against humans, electric red against aliens, Predtech green, which is excellent for seeing in the dark and normal which requires light. In thermal you can see okay, but electrical is not good for much besides highlighting the aliens. Different weapons are also more specifically effective against humans and aliens. Cloaking and some weapons require energy, which will slowly regenerate or can be replenished immediately with pick-ups. If you run out of energy, you are left with very little defense and will greatly decrease your chances of survival. There are therefore times when all you can do is stand around twiddling your thumbs while waiting for it to very slowly regenerate.
Each character also has bonus missions after the main missions are accomplished. Each character also has some different controls, so you should set these when you change.
In general, I didn't much like this game. After awhile, it just got very repetitive, boring, and frustrating at times due to its lack of direction on where to go and what to do. To me challenging means forming working strategies and not replaying sections over and over again till you luck out. I'm also not overly fond of games in which the environments are constantly in darkness. This game sat on my computer for months before I finally forced myself to finish it. On the plus side, I had no technical issues and the controls are few and simple.
This Classic 2000 version was updated to work on modern computers and multiplayer functionality was added. It received good reviews, which I find baffling, but to each his own. This is one of the few times where I find myself quite out of sync with the consensus view.