Aliens vs. Predator
When You Think about it first-person shooters are pretty darn amazing: all-pervasive, all-conquering, and almost always excellent. There are some duffers, but most are far beyond average compared to when the first.
Aliens vs Predator game appeared... back when Atari and SEGA made consoles and Doom set the benchmark for FPS fun. And it's in this arena of game design excellence that we await the arrival of a new Aliens vs Predator, a full 10 years since Rebellion last had a go at the best movie mash-up since Godzilla went Technicolor on a guy in a gorilla outfit.
Overlooked for the 2001 Aliens versus Predator 2 in favour of Monolith the Oxford-based team have every right to consider the franchise as theirs. This is in spite of Hollywood going Phantom Menace on what was a serviceable premise in the time since Rebellion last pitted US Colonial Marines against the galaxy's most persistant stalkers.
The Prodigal Game
"It feels like the franchise is coming home in many ways," says Tim Jones, AvPs project leader, who like many on the team was around, albeit in a more junior capacity, when the original PC game was being crafted.
"I joined Rebellion just as A vP was being finished up," adds lead designer Alex Moore.
1 played the title at university," chips in producer Paul Mackman, keen to establish his veteran credentials at, the expense of arousing the suspicion that, being a student, it wasn't a legit copy he was addicted to. "I'm coming to it as much of a fan as a developer."
"I think that's true for all of us," interrupts Jones, pointing out that Rebellion have changed a lot since 1999. "Our passion for the AvP franchise lias never diminished. One way or another we've been working towards making this game for a very long time." The three senior developers fail utterly at revealing any inner turmoil that might exist over how the AvP backstory lias been developed in the time that it's been outside Rebellion's influence. However, there's the sense that the team are pleased to be going back to the source material that directly fed the Dark Horse comics, and Rebellion's own early game translations.
"I don't think it's fair to say that we're ignoring the AvP films," says Paul Mackman. "There's good stuff in there..." (true, the credits were particularly pleasing) "...but to be fair our primary reference point film-wise, James Cameron's Aliens, Ridley Scott's Alien an also the original movie. But we take inspiration from anywhere that's appropriate really." Of all the movies, the underrated Alien3 probably provides the better entry point for those keen to immerse themselves in the new game's timeline. This latest AvP is set roughly 200 years from now; 30 years on from the events on Fiorina 'Fury' 161 shown in Alien3:20 before AvP2 (movie) and 170 before the comical happenings in Alien Resurrection. Basically, you can be fairly certain that Ellen Ripley won't be making an appearance.
This time the setting is Freya's Prospect - a colony not unlike Aliens' Hadley's Hope, which is on a planet bearing a slight resemblance to Predator's Guatemalan jungle setting. The doomed colonists have stumbled across a cache of alien eggs, each one a home to one of those oh-so insistent and creepy facehuggers.
The difference between the site of the eggs in the Aliens movie and this game, is that they are found in the apparent ruins of another alien civilisation - that of the Predators'. Obviously the colonists are soon host to the acid-blooded uglies, while the silenced airwaves attract the intervention of US Colonial Marines. "The Company is still up to its nefarious ends," says Mackman, referring to Weyland-Yuntani, the all-pervasive corporation that finances extra-solar expansion and is hell-bent on capturing specimens of alien life, regardless of the long-term risk to humanity, or short-term risk to its staff.
"They're still pursuing their weapons programme, which was established by Asli in the first film and Carter Burke in Aliens." If there was good stuff in the AvP movies it was in establishing the early years of the Company and why it might have become so driven to 'build better worlds'. No doubt this AvP game will develop the theme that greed and profit have always been a bigger threat to humanity than any creature.
Just Add Story
"Our brief for the original game was never narrative focused," says Jones, "but with this one it was absolutely one of our key goals for the game: to deliver a really rewarding and cinematic story that would make the most of the three perspectives that the game's campaigns will provide."
Regardless of what people recall from previous games in the series, most will be familiar with how the game's cast operates: the aliens have acid for blood, attack with tooth, tail and claw and are utterly relentless in their pursuit of flesh to press their drooling quartz teeth into; Predators skulk in the shadows and rattle their mandibles; while the Marines spit out pulse rounds and quotable lines at the first sign of trouble. The point is that we all know what each race is capable of, as well as their methods and technology, so where can we expect surprises to come from?
"I think it's fair to say that in a world where first-person military shooters are commonplace, this is really an opportunity for us to deliver fresh gameplay that most gamers won't have experienced, says Jones. In particular lie's proud of the ability of the Predator to use his vision modes and leap around the environment in order to stalk prey and remain stealthy.
"The leap mechanic is unique to our version of AvP and that's really enabling for the player," says lead designer Alex Moore. "It's not something I've seen in very many first-person shooters at all."
Having seen this leap mechanic in action it appears to work by you seeking a green go-here area with the crosshair and pressing a button that will zip you across to that spot. That may not sound all that impressive, but since players playing the Predator will be able to launch onto vertical surfaces as well as the obvious horizontal ones, they'll also have to take into account their profile in relation to their prey, since even when cloaked a Predator isn't truly invisible.
"The Predator is about being in trees and monitoring the people below him, making sure that he picks the right moment to attack rather than just blundering in there like a tank, says Mackman. "It opens up all sorts of gameplay possibilities. We're taking those kinds of steps forward with the alien player as well.
As Jones is quick to add, regardless of what people will expect, and what their experiences are with other games in the series - "crawling on the walls and ceilings and hiding in the dark to pounce on your prey and then kill them in gruesome ways" - isn't an experience you're going to get from Call of Duty.
As for the Marine player, it's not about shooting guys behind cover. "You have to enter the darkness and find your foe as much as it finds you," says Mackman, hinting that the Al isn't simply concerned with overwhelming the player with numbers. The xenomorphs may be relentless killing machines, but there are situations where they'll know when to hold back. Likewise the Predator will likely use surprise and fall back into the shadows if overwhelmed. So although AvP is being designed as an FPS, survival horror and stealth is as much a focus of design as all-out action.
The Marine is clearly there to fulfil the action side of things, with his pulse rifle and under-slung grenade launcher, moving up to the smart gun and a trademark shotgun (handy for close encounters, obviously). It's those pesky shadows and his bleeping motion tracker that will help ladle on tire tension. For the aliens, the trick is to make use of all the surfaces, use the shadows, get in close and strike hard and fast.
It's important for us to make sure that a single alien is a deadly threat to the player, because they are one of the scariest monsters in the universe, says Jones, highlighting a problem that has blighted many Aliens-themed game in the past "Even when you're up against two or three of them you're really in trouble, so the times when we really ramp it up and throw significant numbers of them at you, you're really going to have to be very tooled-up with weaponry to even stand a glimmer of a chance.
"I don't think players are going to be in any way disappointed with the number of enemies that they face at any one time. It's going to keep people on their toes and make them terrified."
There will be times in y the game when teamwork is an essential part of strategy. Safety in numbers has been the lesson we should all take away from the movies (that, and, don't open the damn airlock), and while isn't a squadlevel game other characters you meet and fight alongside - regardless of which species you're playing as - will be there to offer respite from the sense of vulnerability that will play out.
"One of the key things we're trying to achieve with the game is that it feels very physical - that everything you do is fully connected with the world," explains Jones. "That helps us with making you feel vulnerable because you're not a disembodied game entity in the world. That ties into when you connect very physically with the characters right in front of you."
Such physicality is demonstrated by visceral nature of melee combat in the game. Previous games required only blind pummelling of the attack key when up close, whether you were swiping alien claws or a Predator's wrist blades. The new AvP will open up trophy kills if you put a decent sequence of blows together, or are about to make a surprise attack. For the alien it might be the old pierce-and-lift tail manoeuvre, or a diagonal slice that carves a person in two parts. For the Predator it's the swift removal of the spinal column (although having seen it repeated four times in one brief play session, it's already becoming passe).
"The gore kill moments are really a pay-off that you have for successfully completing a series of melee attacks," says Paul Mackman. "We're offering a relatively simple but hopefully deep melee combat system, such that your success can be gauged on the kind of kill moves you can pull off."
Leave Him, He's Dead
Hie three-way battles that will identify the single-player side of AvP will be mirrored in the multiplayer. Of course Rebellion are in no mood to reveal anything specific about what gameplay modes to expect, only that, according to Jones, there will be a variety, "from the traditional, to ones that really make the most of the different species and the way they interact"
A full co-operative multiplayer campaign is on our wish list, but even just the traditional would do us fine, since it was Rebellion that did much to nail co-operative survival years before Left 4 Dead was even thought of. Suggestions that Valve's zombie shooter might have stolen AvPs thunder prompts a response that could be telling: "L4D takes the approach of a parody, says Mackman, "it's not a scary game as such. It's tense, but it's not the same kind of game as AvP. Yes it's co-operative, yes it's got a run-through area if you're comparing it to the original AvP but compared to what we're doing with multiplayer..." A-ha! "Well, we're not talking about that at this point. We're only saying that fans won't be disappointed."
Regardless of whether L4D is influencing the design of the multiplayer side of AvP, Rebellion are aware that although an endless parade of games have borrowed from AvP over the years, there are games that are paying back that influence in return. However, it's not any one title that is inspiring Rebellion to get this one game just right. More than the template of the classic games in the AvP lineage. Rebellion are holding up the increasing levels of polish and accessibility that modern action games offer. Like us, Rebellion are of the opinion that today's FPS games are pretty amazing, and, like us, they want Aliens vs Predator to be counted among the very best.
Download Aliens vs. Predator
In Many Ways you already know the score with the new Aliens vs Predator - it's essentially taking the much-loved PC model of years gone by and sprucing it up for the teenagers who weren't around at its beginning. This in itself is no bad thing, and the fact that it's being developed by Rebellion - the chaps who did the original Jaguar version and subsequent PC follow-up (you know, the one that people actually played) - gives this game much respectability.
It's hard not to feel a pang of longing when you first see the Predator's gameplay - leaping cloaked from tree to tree, listening in on red/ orange Colonial Marine blobs on the infrared HUD as they talk amongst themselves, and then warming up the old shoulder-mounted triangle-o-death plasma gun.
Playing as the ugly dread -' locked one is all about vertical gameplay - keeping your balance, and scanning the environment below you for enemy movement. The tree-top gymnastics are aided by a marker that you place on viable spots that then triggers your Predator to leap there. Another enticing feature though is the ability to record the voices of people you listen in on - then later drawing soldiers out into ambushes by replaying the voices of their dead associates. It's a ploy that certainly worked on Arnie's gang.
As for the Colonial Marines, well you know what to expect: a misty metal-encased base with grids for floors and ceilings and all the pulse rifles, beeping motion trackers and screaming soldiers that Weyland-Yutani can provide. Oh, and the automated turrets from the director's cut of Aliens - the one people judge you over, should you not have seen it There's no doubt here, as you move between wounded Marines soldering doors and shoring up defences against an imminent onslaught that Rebellion have nailed the feeling of tension -although whether it'll be ratcheted up to the levels seen in Monolith's AvP2 is still unknown.
What's definite, however, is that when the aliens do put in an appearance their Al isn't lacking -they're always in different and unexpected spots and they're always noticeably hunting you down. You can pretty much guarantee that most of your Marine chums won't be making it through the night.
This said, if we're being overcautious in extolling AvPs virtues then there's a good reason - the last notable PC game Rebellion developed was Shellshock 2: Blood Trails (issue 206) which was truly an abomination: an indelible black mark in the history books of gaming.
With this in mind, if there's something to be feared other than acid-riddled xenomorphs then it's that mission objectives will seem a smidge bog-standard. Having to knock out a bunch of generators to gain access to a Marine base while playing as a Predator, for example, isn't a crime - but we've knocked out similar generators plentiful times before.
So while there's little doubt that the new Aliens vs Predator will be an absolute blinder, with the game's release so far away we're not going to tempt fate with rampant pre-ordering just yet..
This guide's been written to help you grasp the basic functions of each character. Hopefully, it will help you cope with the many bowel-loosening encounters you'll face during your AvP experience. Enjoy!
The slowest character in the game, and probably the weakest. He is protected only by his armour (and guns). If you learn each level and move quickly to reach the armour power-ups and health, you stand a better chance of survival.
The biggest array of weaponry available - use them wisely Pulse rifle
Use short, controlled bursts, and aim for the head. A reliable weapon with a grenade launcher for when you're in a rush.
Similar to the pulse rifle but autoaiming. Great against Facehuggers.
Another handy weapon against Facehuggers. Always run backwards while firing and never let a burning enemy touch you - you'll go up in flames, too.
Big one-shot rocket launcher. Effective against Alien Queens and Predators, not so effective in confined spaces.
More powerful than the pulse rifle's launcher. Comes with three different types of grenade: basic, fragmentation and proximity.
The nastiest gun in a Marine's arsenal. The only problem is you can't move when you're using it. So, make sure you find a save spot to mow down your prey. Especially effective against Alien Queens and Predators.
Marines carry a lot of baggage. Here's some of the more useful stuff
Not as handy as you first think. It cannot detect movement behind you, and it cannot specify whether an enemy is above or below you. It also detects mangled body parts. Not one to rely on.
Enhances vision in darkened areas. To use it effectively, knock out any lights that may blind you.
Use them to light your way if you don't want to use the image intensifier. Remember, you can only activate four at a time.
The Marine is probably the most popular character because it's the closest to what we're used to in first-person shooters. But, as we said earlier, he is slow and death can come quickly. The key to succeeding with the Marine is to not waste your ammo, and to not hang about. When attacking Aliens try and run backwards. Shooting them point-blank is asking for a whole lot of acid in your face.
You need patience and cunning to play as the Alien. You can take advantage of its incredible speed, but use it wisely; leaping down a corridor towards a Marine with a minigun is futile - he'll just pop you like a water balloon. Use the ceilings and walls, and remain in the shadows for as long as possible. And remember: using the jaw attack on a head not only kills fast, but it also earns you health, too.
The Alien has no 'techie' weaponry on it's side and instead must rely purely on what nature gave it
Great to use against Marines, not so good against Predators. You can also claw a dead-being to gain a small amount of health.
Perfect against Marines and Sentry Guns; Predators can also be killed using this attack method, just hit it once to knock them down and a second time to kill them.
Line up your prey's head so it's in the middle of the screen and hit the primary attack button.
Hide & Seek
The Alien's default view is hunting vision. Humans are highlighted in blue, Predators in green, and other Aliens in red. Also has a 120-degree field of view as opposed to 90-degree. To see in the dark, the Alien must use its navigation sense. Unfortunately, the alien loses the ability to differentiate between different species in this mode.
The Alien is a real bitch to control, but if you manage to get to grips with the interface and retain your bearings it's probably the deadliest character in the game. The Alien has two advantages: its speed and the ability to see everything including cloaked Predators.
The Predator is the ultimate hunting machine with deadly weapons, the ability to cloak and heal itself, and four vision modes. The only disadvantage is its constant need for field energy -fuel; without this, Mr Predator is virtually useless.
Weapons A Equipment
Ammo is limited, so a good Predator should waft for the right moment to attack Wristblades
For really close encounters, the primary attack kills Marines in seconds. The secondary attack (holding down the right mouse button) can kill instantly. The Predator also collects trophies by performing a secondary attack on the head of a dead, non-decapitated body.
This baby is able to take a Marine's head clean off and pin it to a wall - also useful when attempting to keep aliens at bay. Without doubt the perfect sniping weapon.
Auto-targeting weapon that can kill a Marine instantly. It can also be charged up for bigger bolts by holding down the fire button.
Primary button which heals you completely. The secondary button puts out flames. Takes between 15 and 20 energy units to use.
The best weapon to use against Aliens, especially Facehuggers.
Capable of destroying a Xenoborg with one hit. It's also lethal against most other creatures bar the Alien Queen. Auto-targeting and auto-return.
Who's A Clever Boythen?
The Predator carries more than formidable firepower in his quest for trophies
Only really effective when used against Marines.
Kills enemies from a distance. Very effective when used with the speargun or shoulder cannon.
Only available in a certain bonus stage.
**The Predator has four different vision modes*-
Excellent for hunting humans. Use the shoulder cannon in this mode to auto-target.
Master the Predator's strange weapons and he becomes a very satisfying character. The cloaking device is useful (except against Aliens) and the two homing weapons can be highly effective if used from cover. The perfect character for campers.
You've probably seen a few other creatures on your travels, here's how to kill them
A total nightmare: if they get on your face, you're dead. Marines should go for the flamethrower or smartgun, and grenades if desperate. Predators can blow them away with the pistol.
Look like civilians, but handle weapons better and show no fear. Easy to kill as Alien or Predator.
A hybrid robot and Alien. Marines should use SADAR or the minigun to kill them, and the Predator either the disc or speargun.
Flamethrower, grenades and SADAR are all good to use. Predators should use the speargun and aim for the head.
Slightly tougher than normal Aliens but can be despatched in the same way. Watch out though, these things actively seek out and eat power-ups.
There are various ways to kill a Queen depending on which level you're on. Only one thing is constant though - explosives always work best.
My Favourite Sound probably out of all of them, is the ones made by aliens when they're being horrifically slaughtered in their second film, Aliens. It is, I think, based on a heavily distorted recording of a trumpeting elephant, sped up to make it absolutely terrifying in a way only the panicked, high-pitched scream of a flailing pachyderm can be.
In second place it's the dense, tinny shred of a pulse rifle. Then there's the muffled, static veil draped over your ears when the Predator switches to thermal vision, married with his exotic, guttural clucks as he lops his tongue about inside his mandible box-mouth. Sexy.
Every Aliens vs Predator game has understood the importance of replicating the most aurally recognisable aspects of its characters, and this release continues that tradition. It sounds incredible. Incredible enough to make me want to say words like "aural soundscape" and "crunchy sonic feast". Here's a game that's mostly about inflicting horrendous injuries on deserving creatures, and it's one In which you'll appreciate every sinewy crunch, gargled howl, bloody slosh and hollow snap.
Aliens vs Predator is sickeningly violent - more so in one of the three campaigns than the others, admittedly -in ways that are borderline comical and dancing on the periphery of decency.
Lovely, spine-tearing, eye-socket spearing madness then. Where the films lost credibility the moment they went PG, Rebellion's A v P wears its 18 certificate with pride. These are Schwarzeneggar's Predators and, Ripley's aliens. Sadly, these are the same one-dimensional barking space marines you've seen a thousand times before, but the point stands - this game doesn't flinch in showing you brutality on a level not seen since the early films. The good ones.
So, evil megacorp Weyland-Yutani have found some ancient ruins on a distant planet, and in their efforts to exploit the artifacts found within they've attracted the attention of the ruin's guardians: the tribal, dreadlock-sporting Predators. (Bit of a pedant's minefield, this review, but we'll stick to calling the angry monsters 'Predators' for the sake of our sanity). The planet also happens to be home to a colony of Giger's xenomorphs, thereby allowing for the classic three-way struggle seen in both of the previous games to erupt all over again.
Registering false positives in nearly every darkened corner, the environment takes pleasure in suggesting random shadows might contain dripping alien death, and for the first 10 minutes you won't even meet one of the things. You'll be yelping at vents, alarmingly shaped shadows and dangling bits of wire which, in a case of misjudged engineering, look identical to the tails of lackadaisical, ceiling-dwelling aliens.
The Alien campaign, on the other hand, is a reduced affair. Weapons and frippery are replaced by tooth and claw, and the unique ability to climb on any surface allows you to stalk marines from the darkness like a pervert Spider-man. You're the smarter-than-your-average specimen known as Number Six, receiving curiously detailed orders from your Queen (who's kind enough to mark objectives on your HUD, in between shitting out a thousand eggs) and fighting to save her and your colony from the nefarious human threat.
it's worth mentioning just how pretty Giger's skittering sex metaphors are, too. Great greasy things, are the aliens, moving unpredictably along walls and ceilings, at all times beautifully animated and intricately detailed. As absurd as it sounds, their flowing, flicking tails are their most convincing component, snaking behind their skeletal forms as they corner and leap from surface to surface. In the Alien campaign, you'll spend real minutes chasing your physics-powered tail.
Your armoury increases to include a shotgun and a powerful scoped rifle, around about the same time you begin to encounter acid-spitting aliens and the Freud-baiting facehuggers.
Inevitably, when your objective changes focus and you find yourself pitched against human opponents, the change in pace throws the Alien's combat into sharp relief. Instead of frantically searching walls and ceilings for scuttling enemies, you're seeking out enemies who intelligently find cover. The notion of an enemy who, at this late stage, doesn't simply sprint towards you in an attempt to stab you from every angle at once feels oddly unnatural but wholly welcome.
Otherwise, you're dragging your lonely self through some scenic environments, locations through which all three campaigns pass. Marines have their cold, metallic, space-age grime. Aliens prefer their homes to resemble the interior of a giant decaying anus: dank, maze-like hives peppered with facehugger-bearing eggs.
No matter who you choose to play as, the campaigns are linear, checkpoint-pocked trots from one area to the next, and one from which every ounce of fat has been trimmed. AvP's campaigns are iwrryingly short - you could race through the Alien campaign in under two hours, and the Marine's in four - but they're densely packed with well-sonstructed set pieces, engineered scares and often striking locations. The Predator campaign, in particular, is almost puzzle-like in delivering small arenas of patrolling humans and tasking you with murdering the lot of them. Your distract ability allows you to target a single marine and lure him to a point using a voice recording, a highly telegraphed (they shout things like I think the noise came from here!" when they reach the bit of floor you told them to go to) but useful tactic which creates an opportunity to grab and violently dismember the wandering victim.
Aliens grab too. And where Predators jab wristblades into eye sockets, aliens spear chests on barbed tailsand plunge their inner-mouths through foreheads to regain health. You'll gag on your own nostalgia gland as, when playing as the Alien, you realise you can still slash limbs off corpses and leave them lying about the place for their friends to find. Scooting up and down walls is at first disorientating, but soon becomes second nature - and as long as you're in the dark you can take a moment to relax and figure out if you're upside-down or not, just like a real alien probably does.
Darkness effectively makes you invisible to marines who aren't alerted to your presence, working very much like the Predator's cloaking device. Once they know you're nearby however, they'll poke about with flashlights until they've found your hiding place, requiring you to move and jump between shadows, hissing to lure individuals before tearing their faces off in showers of blood, skin and bone.
So those are the campaigns. Three discrete experiences, each one adapted to suit the mechanics of its given species, with the Marine's more fully realised than the others. Number Six's journey ends all too abruptly, and does away with the fun larval stages in AvP2. It literally (and this isn't a spoiler) winces and dies (maybe) of sadness, three hours before you'd expect.
Crucially, they all work within the context of the three characters and their abilities. Survival is the co-op mode you dreamt of after watching Aliens - a desperate last stand against an unending tide of flashing claws and teeth. It's a basic, boiled down affair though, featuring nought but players, their guns (with an occasional autoaiming, xeno-seeking smartgun drop), and an endless supply of angry, angry scuttling enemies.
Elsewhere, the straightforward three-way deathmatch appears finely balanced. Both aliens and Predators can perform their unblockable trophy kills by moving behind enemies and hammering the E key. Once locked into the gruesome animation, the attacker is then at his most vulnerable, creating the potential for a ridiculous conga line of trophy killers, or for one intelligent player to hold back and toss a few grenades or plasma cannon rounds into the fray. Marines lack the ability to tear bones right out of another player's body, and instead rely on countering melee attacks, which gives them more than enough time to pile a few shotgun J rounds into their stumbled victim.
The Best Bit
The multiplayer modes are fast paced-which makes sense, as more people are being stabbed
and speared than shot - but it remains faithful to the fiction. Few concessions are made in porting abilities from the single-player campaign to multiplayer - admirably, you'll be cloaking and leaping from shadows as a Predator, dropping from the ceiling as an alien, and running away from moving objects as a marine.
The constant exchange of what are essentially backstabs doesn't grate either, instead the experience is closer to playing on an instagib server - that is, you'll kill, die and respawn with enough regularity that you'll place little value in your continuing existence, scoffing nervously at death as it buzzes by you over and over again.
Aliens vs Predator is a brilliantly authentic and cinematic experience, tinged with a vague sense that more could've been done with the single player to properly spear our eyeballs into attention. It's savage, dark, and ultra violent, just like we said on the cover, but holding it back from a higher score are Alien and Predator too soon and don't reach a conclusion. Does it compar rest of the series? Yes, of course it does, at times it tears the throat put of the previous two games and dances on heir acid-speckled, increasingly decrepit corpses. But will it make as big an impact? No. It's old-school, a shooter from a decade past, and with that all the baggage you'd expect: often startling linearity, irrelevant plot and scenes two steps away from the Modern nWarfare-style blockbuster set pieces to which we're fast becoming accustomed.
I'd argue that we wouldn't want it any other way when it comes to Aliens vs Predator. It's deliriously gory, unwaveringly confident and spectacular fun. And, at the very least, it's far better than the dogshit films.
Remember the old Aliens vs. Predator game for the Jaguar? Great--now forget it ever existed. The PC version promises to take these two movie monsters into the modem 3D realm for all the acid-bleeding action you can handle.
Players choose to control the Alien, the Predator, or the not-so-hapless Colonial Marine. Aliens can slash, bite (with both sets of jaws), tailwhip enemies, and scurry up walls. Predators use wrist blades, a shoulder cannon, and other projectile weapons as they hunt their prey. Marines pack plasma rifles, flamethrowers, and other items of military force to splatter both baddies on sight.
Each character has at least one form of alternate vision (infrared, etc.) and their own unique abilities. Aliens, for instance, can destroy power-ups that other characters need to survive and can eat opponents to gain health. The alpha we got our hands on showed great potential and accurately conveyed the spirit of the films. Watch for three downloadable demos at www.gamepro.com (one for each character) as the game steadily approaches its March release.
Aliens Versus Predator offers the ultimate sci-fi creature double feature--triple feature, really--and gives rabid shooter fans something to really sink their claws into.
I Don't Know Which Species Is Worse
AVP lets players become the Aliens, the Predators, or the Colonial Marines, each with their own single-player mission structure. Not only are the adventures difficult, but they're also needlessly frustrating because you can't save your game in mid-level--you either complete it or restart it. That's simply inexcusable.
AVP's multiplayer action is where the game comes alive. The Aliens are fast and can climb walls--but they're not well armored or armed; the Predators can turn invisible and snipe their opponents with high-tech weapons, but rely on a limited power supply; and the Marines can blow up stuff better than the other two but, hey, only human and therefore the underdog.
Cinematic hallmarks abound in AVR Schwarzeneggers mantra in Predator was "If it bleeds, we can kill it" In AVR it's just the opposite--if it bleeds, it can kill you. Get too close to a dying Alien corpse, and you'll either be burned by the acidic blood or sliced by its dangerous tail-thrashing death throes.
How Could They Cut The Power? They're Animals!
Graphically, everything's awesome--from the utilitarian colony halls to the organic Alien hive walls. Each character has at least one enhanced view mode: The Aliens skitter across ceilings at stomach-churning speeds in a fish-eye perspective. just to make you feel all the more inhuman; the Predator has rainbow heat vision; and the Marines sport an image intensifier. You'll need all these visual advantages, too--AVP's surroundings are dark by design, and what few lights there are can be knocked out.
The sounds are straight from the movies, including the distinctive burst of the pulse rifles and the Predators blood-curdling scream. AVPs control configuration , tries to be flexible but ends up merely flawed; the interface could definitely use a ' tweak. Plus, you need to customize the controls for each character individually.
I Aih't Got Time To Bleed
Aliens Versus Predator could be one (or three) of the best movie-based games ever, but its shackled by its obsolete save-game structure and annoying controller configuration. If you have patience (or better yet, enough friends for multiplayer) and true fanboy dedication, AVP is I one awesome bug-hunt.
- As the Alien, chomping off your opponents' heads takes practice. Line up your victim's noodle in the center of the screen and strike when you see your teeth come into view. Try it on panicky screamers.
- When playing as the thin-skinned Aliens, attack your opponents from above or behind and strike when they're not looking. It's a cowardly but crucial approach.
- Use flares freely to light your way in single-player Marine missions, but use them with care in multiplayer campaigns-they leave a sparkling trail for someone to find you.
- The Predator's heat vision is the most useful of his sight options. Stick with it through most of the game.
- Cloaked predators only stay invisible until they fire a projectile, or until their energy runs out.
- Just because something's dead doesn't mean it can't hurt you. Aliens bleed deadly acid for about 10 seconds after you wax 'em.
- The Marines' radar shows both enemies and their artifacts (corpses, organic debris, and spent Predator discs). Don't be fooled-stay alert for signals that move.
Smooth textures, spooky extraterrestrial vision modes, high frame rates, bright-green blood...whats not to like about AVPs environments? And if seeing the world through the eyes of an Alien doesn't make you queasy, nothing will.
To date, no movie gun has sounded quite as cool as the pulse rifles from Aliens-- and AVP reproduces that screeching gunfire perfectly. The creature howls, various explosions, unsettling ambiance, and orchestral music won't disappoint either.
Three characters in one game means three times the key configuration hassles. Once you get everything set up the way you like, the game responds well--but getting there is not half the fun.
Once you get past the learning curve, figure out each characters strengths and weaknesses, and mix it up in multiplayer. Aliens Versus Predator lives up to its legendary license. Just be ready to invest some serious time and effort.
Snapshots and Media
Playstation 3 Screenshots
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