Aliens vs. Predator Preview
The concept of “Alien vs. Predator” isn’t new. It first arrived back in 1993 as a beat-‘em-up title for the Super Nintendo, then enjoyed a successful resurrection in the form of a revolutionary FPS on the Atari Jaguar. The latter system was likely doomed from the start and only boasted a few killer apps, but Alien vs. Predator was arguably #1 on the list. Now, Rebellion and Sega are once again bringing us a game that pits humans against two of film’s most notorious sci-fi creatures. Not surprisingly, the developers are making the game reminiscent of the Jaguar iteration; we’ll be able to play as any of the three characters (Human Marine, Alien, or Predator), and yes, it appears to have a first-person shooter format. It’s an extremely competitive genre, to be sure, and Rebellion will have to produce a first-rate title that will satisfy the long-dormant desires of old-school gamers; those who have always wanted a true sequel to that Jaguar gem. Given the advances in technology, just imagine what could be done…
We probably don’t have to tell you that the game’s primary appeal will revolve around the three very distinct classes. This almost negates the need for a lengthy adventure, simply because playing as the Marine will be nothing like playing as the Alien, which translates to automatic longevity via experimentation. You will have to examine the pros and cons for each class; for instance, while the Alien can’t hold any weapons, it can perform a variety of deadly melee attacks and special techniques (remember Cacooning in the Jaguar game?). Then there’s the Predator, which is the slowest of the three classes, but has technology neither of the other two classes can boast. So again, it’s all a matter of balance. In a recent GameSpot interview with one of the game’s designers, Tim Jones, he said there’s “a beautiful purity to the three-species combat we have!” For our part, we’re also hoping for very different story arcs for each of the three classes in the single-player campaign; that would make the characters feel truly unique.
But the differences in how the game plays with each class doesn’t end there. For instance, as the Marine, you’re going to want to avoid dark areas where your foes definitely have the advantage. On the flip side, the Alien will want to plunge as much of the environment into darkness as he can, because that’s where he thrives. If you remember the Jaguar title, a great deal of that game’s appeal rested on the atmosphere; when I first played it, I can easily recall the sensation of fear and anxiety that came with exploring that spaceship at 2 a.m. with the lights off. This time around, the emphasis on environmental attention will be clear. Areas will range drastically from large and spacious to small and cramped, thereby giving each class a chance to shine at various points throughout the quest. It’s when the three species clash that we’ll have to remember the strengths and weaknesses of our chosen class… There’s also talk of a “predalien;” a nasty mix of Alien and Predator, although we assume it’s only an enemy and not a playable class.
The developer says that all three campaigns will be “comparable in length,” and of course, one can say the premise was inspired by previous games and the movies. They do say they’re “steering clear” of any direct quotes from the films, but it’s not like you’re going to mistake the Alien and Predator for something else, right? You know what they’re from. The key will be gameplay mechanics, which is why we’ll be on the lookout for any new in-game media. Also, we’re hoping Rebellion balances out the three classes so one doesn’t immediately have an unfair advantage over the other; that seemingly small mistake could prove disastrous for such a game. Oh, and just think of the multiplayer possibilities with such distinct classes… Anyway, Aliens vs. Predator is tentatively scheduled to arrive in February, so stay tuned for more info as time rolls on.
8/13/2009 Ben Dutka