E3 2009: The Five: Aliens vs. Predator
The Run Through the Jungle: Quite a few games have borne the Aliens vs. Predator title over the years, but the only ones that really matter were developed for the Atari Jaguar and PC by Rebellion and Monolith. Rebellion returns to the franchise for this chapter, which treads similar ground as the PC games: Three species -- Alien, Predator and human -- vie for control of a planet. Whoever wins, we win, too.
1. The beauty of the great AvP games was that they offered three games in one, and that's the case here, too. There are solo campaigns for each side of the warring triangle, with appropriate weapons, sounds and situations for each. And in each campaign, there will be opportunities to set the other sides fighting directly, giving you some cover to escape an encounter unharmed.
2. Having those three factions butting up against one another would be a horrific tease without multiplayer. In truth, Sega hasn't shown much yet, but this is one area where I'm willing to be blindly optimistic.
3. What did the two Aliens vs. Predator movies lack? Balance. Not a problem here. Each of the three races is balanced to have advantages and weaknesses. Humans have numbers and weapon tech, but get them alone and they're easy prey. The Predators can cloak and use energy weapons, but that energy reserve is finite. Against a squad of humans or horde of Aliens, they're toast. And the Alien, which Sega has been reluctant to show off, is fast -- with deadly acid blood, but also incredibly fragile.
4. The PC AvP games could be incredibly difficult, especially playing the Alien. The creature was so agile that overshooting jumps was easy, and frequently deadly. This iteration has some new-school platform elements that might make navigation easier when leaping. You'll see landing reticules when playing the Predator, for example, that show where you can jump. That's a bit sad, in a way -- there was something appealing about the difficulty back in the day -- but games are easier and more accessible now. If this is the best way to crack more Xenomorph skulls, I'll live with it.
5. There's a specific look and, more importantly, sound to both the Aliens and Predator films. Rebellion has got the audio just right. The sounds of Colonial Marine pulse rifles, the sheared ping of motion detectors and the screams of leaping Aliens and healing Predators in pain is all there. Elements of the scores from both movie franchises are incorporated, too, adding to the ambiance.
The Crispy Forecast: The look and sound are there, and Rebellion has packed in some great dynamics between the factions. If it nails the multiplayer, this might be the return to the alien universes we've waited for.
This preview is based on a developer-driven demo of the game at E3 2009.