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Aliens vs Predator (2010) Preview
Post by Dan @ 01:54pm 02/07/09 | Comments
We take an in-depth look at Rebellion Developments Alien vs Predator first person shooter revival.

As someone that enjoyed many hours with Rebellion's original 1999 Aliens vs Predator First Person Shooter on PC, and more still with Monolith's 2001 follow-up, Aliens vs Predator 2, I was elated to hear of the long-awaited return to this series. Next to perhaps only Capcom's Arcade side-scrolling AvP beat em' up , these two FPS titles are the only games worthy of carrying either the Aliens or Predator name. Frankly, it's been a decade of generic action games and cash-in mobile titles for these two massive franchises. The legacy created by Ridley Scott, James Cameron and John McTiernan in the films Alien, Aliens and Predator (all now over 20 years old) still exists however, in defiance of the failings of recent films.

In both of the original Aliens vs Predator PC shooters, you had the option of playing as either the dreadlocked reptilian Predator, the H.R.Giger inspired Xenomorph Alien or a human Colonial Space Marine. Anyone familiar with the movies should recognise that the presence of Space Marines puts us in the timeline of the Alien films, as opposed to the recent (and best forgotten) AvP films that were set close to present day. Future-tech gives humans a fighting chances in the battle, making the species relatively even-matched and offering not only three distinctly different ways to play the game (including multiplayer), but also three full singleplayer campaigns with intertwining storylines - think Call of Duty's multiple view-points, except each with a completely unique style of playing.

After learning that SEGA would be showing off the new game (still tentatively titled just Aliens vs Predator) at the 2009 E3 conference, we were incredibly eager to see what 10 years of new technology might do such a successful formula. UK-based studio Rebellion Developments (the guys that started it all with the 1997 Atari Jaguar game) are back in the drivers seat, and had controlled demonstrations of both Marine and Predator gameplay running at the show.

Unfortunately they were staying very tight-lipped about anything not explicitly shown in these demos -- right down to even minor things like whether the Marine's smart-gun would return or anything at all about the Alien's abilities. So we weren't able to probe for really juicy stuff, but we still saw enough to get a solid impression on the game and walked away thoroughly optimistic. They did confirm that there would once again be a multiplayer component, but no elaboration beyond that.

The game is supposedly set 30 years after Alien 3 (so 170 years before Alien Resurrection), on planet 'BG-386' where Weyland-Yutani corp have established a colony called Freya's Prospect. Unbeknownst to them, they've carelessly stumbled onto a Predator temple, awakening the Alien Queen stored there, giving her a smorgasbord of fresh human hosts to gestate her offspring army in. A high-ranking predator has come in to clean up the mess, the Space Marines are trying to save their fellow humans and the Aliens are doing what they do best - reproducing and killing everything.

The first obvious improvement is the graphics and you'd certainly hope so from a decade of tech advances. Running on the in-house developed Rebellion Engine, the new AvP has all the looks you'd expect from a modern shooter -- perhaps not quite up to the fidelity and scale of Crysis, but definitely on on par with the likes of Call of Duty 4, Halo 3 or Fear 2. The lighting is something that they've absolutely nailed, creating a great atmosphere both in the steel hulls of the colony buildings and outside in the lush jungle exteriors.

There's also plenty of great atmospheric effects like the Alien's acidic blood melting metal and the vapours hazing the air, flickering flares casting shadows across a dark hallway and of course, the shimmering effect of the Predator's stealth cloaking ability that all serve to enhance the base-aesthetic.

The predator demo showed off a good section of singleplayer gameplay and with the jungle environment, was very reminiscent of the 1989 film. As a lone hi-tech hunter making your way through the colony, you'll be battling plenty of both Aliens and Marines, each requiring different strategies. A red HUD bordering the screen gives the illusion of wearing the Predator's visor mask and the multiple vision modes are back, allowing the Predator to switch between standard view, infra-red heat vision for hunting humans or a third greenish mode that highlights Aliens. Then there's focus mode, which gives you a detailed readout of the surrounding environment.

Within focus mode, the predator can now also move about much more efficiently. Rather than the grappling hook of the previous games, you now have acrosshair controlled leap function that lets you point and click to bound from perch to perch, allowing you to hunt your human prey cloaked from the tree tops. Scanning around for leap locations seems very dynamic, think Gears of War and the variety of locations that game allows you to take cover then translate that to rooftops, ledges and tree-branches.

Preddy also packs an arsenal of high-tech weaponry. In addition to the dual wrist-blades, we we shown some form of proximity mine as well as the obligatory shoulder-mounted Plasma Caster. The way the triangular crosshair zooms and the sound it makes puts you right back in the 1989 movie - we're told that Rebellion used FOX's actual film assets to authentically reproduce such effects. As the predator you'll also collect trophies - the skulls of both the humans and the aliens that you decapitate. This maneuver is performed in a lovely realtime animation where the Predator jams his wrist-blade in the neck of the victim and lifts upward, tearing the spine clean from the torso. We're not sure how Aussie censors are going to sit with this, but there's no sex or drugs so we're probably safe. A couple of other features we saw were using the Predator's PDA to short out human power generators, and using a Marine officer's severed head on a retinal scanner to unlock a door.

The Marine gameplay is of course very different. For a start, you'll often have fellow soldiers assisting you and be receiving a clear set of instructions and objectives from your superiors. You're confined to regular human movement and your weapons are much more conventional - the space-age Pulse Rifle being the standard issue. The Marine level we were shown from early in the game tasked you to defend an indoor installation against an Alien onslaught.

As a Marine, you can't cloak or jump from tree to tree, but you do have the trusty old motion tracker and access to environmental equipment like turrets. When the Aliens started showing up, I felt like screaming "There's movement all over the place!" and "Game over man, game over!". The lights go out and flares are thrown to light the room, the motion sensor starts beeping faster as bangs and clangs can be heard in the distance - then an alien bursts out of a ventilation duct and crawls across the ceiling. That iconic chirping sound is heard as your fellow marines start firing their pulse rifles. Not wanting a face full of claws, tail, retractable teeth or acid-blood splash back, you do everything you can to keep your distance while peppering them with bullets.

With presentation this slick and gameplay variety that has already been proven successful, twice, it's difficult to see how this game could possibly suck. Hopefully PC gamers get treated as well in themultiplayer space as we were with the legacy titles but failing that, at least it looks like there will still be a great singleplayer campaign to enjoy. Aliens vs Predator is currently slated for an early 2010 release on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

More details can be found in AusGamers exclusive interview with Rebellion's Tim Jones, available in either video interview or written Q&A form.

Latest Comments
Posted 02:32pm 02/7/09
There needs to be a board of officials to regulate the naming of products in this franchise. It's getting rather hard to google.
Posted 02:37pm 02/7/09
Agreed. I really wish they just called it Aliens vs Predator 3, but I guess they don't want to worry about storyline continuity with the previous games (not that anyone would even remember them).

This really is looking awesome though. I really hope multiplayer is just as fun as the originals.
Posted 02:38pm 02/7/09
This review has got me excited ..... Its defiantly on my list of things to buy on release.
Posted 02:45pm 02/7/09
So we might see two Aliens games next year? This and Colonial Marines or whatever?
Posted 02:48pm 02/7/09
Yeah, this is in addition to Gearbox's Aliens: Colonial Marines (which incidentally was apparently delayed to let AvP out of the gates first).

There was also going to be an Aliens RPG from Obsidian, but that's been canned.
Posted 04:18pm 02/7/09
Sounds b****ing. I had a hell of a lot of fun playing AvP2 and its one of the few cross-brand things I think I can actually stand, so look forward to checking it out!@#
Posted 07:09pm 02/7/09
Really looking forward to this, played alot of AvP and AvP2.
Posted 11:21pm 02/7/09
Hopefully it doesn't get lost in the refused classification crowd. Some of the head-ripping and stuff you can do as the Predator is pretty brutal as far as games go. Then again, the second alien level in AvP2 had you eating your way out of some guy's chest cavity.

He had issues and therefore no friends, so it was ok. Maybe being sci-fi will slip it through the gates.

I absolutely loved AvP2, I used to play it heaps online. Fingers crossed this one turns out great, the crossover needs some love. At least it has a chance since its not based on the movies.
Posted 04:10pm 04/8/09
soy andric

como entro al juego
Posted 04:26pm 05/8/09
One of the best things about AVP was the volumetric explosions. I haven't seen anything like it any game since.
Posted 09:26pm 05/8/09
I wish people would get over this whole wolverine dual blades s***, predator looks f*****g dumb with it.
Posted 09:42pm 05/8/09
Posted 09:29am 08/8/09
I love AVP2 too, although playing as aliens in the vents gave me a headache and very it's confused.
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