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Aliens vs. Predator

GamesCom 2009: Aliens vs Predator Preview - Through the Eyes of an Alien

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It feels like Aliens having been fighting Predators for years... what’s that? They have? Go figure. It seems like they’ll continue to do so as well if SEGA’s resurrection of the gaming franchise has anything to do with it. Shipping in February next year, which will be 11 years after their original AvP video game, Rebellion are looking to do it all over again by applying their successful formula –  three races (the Aliens, Predators and humans), three campaigns and plenty of frightening madness. Behind closed doors at this year’s GamesCom, Rebellion was keen to show off the finer sides of the Aliens campaign.

So how do the Aliens differ to the humans and Predators in AvP? Well, whilst the humans rely on their guns and wits, and the Predators rely on their gadgetry and pure awesomeness, the Aliens themselves will have to rely on speed, agility and stealth... and they have many tools at their disposal to do so. One of Rebellion’s goals with AvP was giving each campaign a different look and feel. With the Alien campaign, you’ll notice the fishbowl lens effect, the use of a different colour palette, the post processing effects and settings that use high dynamic lighting. They all combine to give the Alien campaign its own unique look and feel.

 
The Alien’s agility is obviously one of their strengths and the fact they can climb walls and other surfaces at speed, and jump ridiculous distances makes them a force to be reckoned with. Climbing walls may seem a little bit disorientating at first, and frankly it is, but thanks to a few environmental clues (such as dripping water and dangling chains) and a T shaped crosshair which indicates which way is down; Rebellion do enough to alleviate that concern. They also do a number of things to make travelling at speed that little bit easier. Firstly, there is the range finder, which will make surfaces glow on your HUD when you are close enough to jump to them. Secondly, you can use the Left Trigger which activates focus mode. Focus mode highlights interactive or victim elements in the world, but possibly more importantly, it places a small vortex effect around small openings and gaps that allows you to jump through/into once targeted by simply clicking jump; thus making it easier to move at speed through potentially awkward sections.

As an Alien, your objectives will be fairly simple and single minded, and will revolve around survival and procreation – so acquiring hosts and civilians to increase the number of the Alien species is how you’ll be spending your time. Of course, to get to your potential hosts you’ll need to get past a number of marines, and you’ll have to get to them relatively undetected as well because they would even go so far as to take their own life rather than be your host.
 
 
Obviously as an Alien your strength is your speed and agility, but utilising the dark will play just as big a part. Not only will you have a light indicator on your HUD but you’ll also be able to disable lights and cast darkness around you and your potential victims. Chances are that will encourage the marines to whip out their flamethrowers and fire them aimlessly, but it makes it easier to stalk your prey. Sticking to the dark and using the element of surprise to your advantage is key, because as an Alien, you can’t take that much gun fire, so just bear that in mind. You are brutally powerful up close and personal though, and when you are within touching distance, you can set up a gruesome kill sequence (of which there will be 10 in the final version) that will see you ripping off people’s heads or steering your tail through their stomach. Speaking of the tail, if you swing round fast enough you can actually see your tail... which I thought was a rather nice touch. Off topic, but worth a mention.

Staying in the dark is key yes, but so is taking your foes down alone because otherwise you will open yourself up to a ton of abuse, and most likely death. The Alien may have the ability to detect where the marines are by detecting the pheromones that they let off, but you can also use the Alien hiss to distract them, and lure them into your traps. Rebellion pointed out that although the marines and civilian AI starts out as scripted, they have a free flowing AI that reacts to any sort of interaction – so disturb them and they’ll leave the originally scripted AI paths behind to adopt a more responsive reactionary approach.

Seeing as there isn’t much to the Alien in terms of objectives, Rebellion have thrown in a few puzzles to break up the gameplay – whether it’s something simple like destroying a power supply to get down a certain path, or something more complex, like getting to a civilian host who is surrounded by guards before they take their own life. Just because you’re this all powerful, agile killing machine doesn’t mean that you can just pounce in without consequence, on the contrary. Chances are you’ll be thinking more in the Alien campaign than you will in the other two’s.
 

We managed to move away from the Alien campaign for a short while to talk about the game’s upcoming multiplayer modes. The game when it ships in February will feature 18 player multiplayer that pits three factions of six against one another. They’ve also thrown in the option to mix and match teams as well. A bit genre breaking, but Rebellion pointed out that they only added it in because it was serious fun – isn’t that what games should be about? Also expect to see a 4 player co-op horde style “survivor” mode as well, because apparently if you don’t have that in your game these days, you’re full of epic fail... or so the legend goes. When asked about balance, Rebellion stated that because they have the experiences of the original under their belt and that they aren’t starting from scratch, they can take what they learnt there and build on it. Each race will have its own advantages and disadvantages and they all will all even out to be a balanced affair, or so we’re told.

The Alien campaign of AvP is shaping up pretty well, not just from a visual standpoint, but Rebellion seemed to have captured the mood perfectly as well. Offering three chiefly different campaigns, with three vastly different gameplay elements all under one roof, is looking like it’s going to be a successful formula once again. The game as it stands looks beautiful, has a great lighting system, is supremely gruesome, and is looking to offer gamers plenty of variety with 3 campaigns (around 12 hours total), multiplayer and co-op. We’re interested to see how the balance really shapes up in the multiplayer arena, but until we go hands on with it, we’ll have to take Rebellion’s word for it.

Aliens vs. Predator is coming to the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in February 2010.




 
 

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Game Info
Developer:
Rebellion
Publisher:
SEGA
Genre:

Release:

US February 16, 2010
Europe February 19, 2010

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