I'm lucky that I've never been one of those people who say or think violent thoughts. I never say anything like, "I could just kill such-and-such." I mean, I can hate a person. I'm just don't get all rage-y about it.
Question: So why then do I enjoy, in Aliens vs. Predator, portraying an alien creature who sneaks up behind a human soldier, grabbing the human's head, and shoving my alien spear-hand through her eyeball until blood spews out of her suddenly empty eye socket?
My theory: Because it's cool. That's not a very scientific hypothesis. Nonetheless, it's my theory. And certainly the good and gory killing in Aliens vs. Predator is nothing if not cool.
The plot: Human soldiers land at an aliens-infested space colony in the sci-fi future. Also, there are predators there. It's a three-way war between aliens, predators and humans.
Aliens vs. Predator is four games in one, basically.
One: You can play for about 10 hours as a human soldier who must sneak through dark corridors (with the world's worst flashlight) and shoot aliens and predators with your weak guns.
Two: You can play for about 10 hours as a predator, turning invisible at will, jumping like the bionic man onto roofs, and slashing the you-know-what out of both humans and aliens.
Three: You can play for about 10 hours as an alien, crawling up walls, zipping quickly through air conditioning vents, and eating the heads of humans and predators.
Four: You can play the online multiplayer, where you and other gamers get a small number of levels to kill each other.
In all of these modes, the violence is the thing. For instance, if you're playing as a predator, and you decapitate a human, you watch a whole film-type scene where you yank off the human's head, with the bony spine attached.
There is a lot to like about this game. It's satisfyingly fleshed out with a little storytelling, a collection of buildings and jungles to wend through, and (most satisfying) all the original sound effects from the Alien and Predator movies.
The game feels almost like a simulation, rather than a game. That is, you kill enemies methodically, one by one; if you try to Schwarzenegger bum-rush your way through levels, you'll die fast.
Dumbness: When you play as a human, your guns stink, yet when you play as an alien, those same humans' guns blow you away in no time.
Frustrating: It takes forever to get used to the game's imperfect hand controls. When I'm playing as an alien, I often accidentally end up running sideways on walls or upside-down on ceilings. That's discombobulating.
So I don't love those squishy controls. A game is only as good as its controls. But I don't mind the difficulty of Aliens vs. Predator. If I'm going to portray a murdering jerk, a game should feel free to make me run for my life, as well.