We got the opportunity to talk with Rebellion’s Tim Jones, head of art and design for the game, who seemed genuinely thrilled to be working on the property. Really, who wouldn’t be excited to replicate all the famous sights and sounds of one of the best genre properties around, turning it in into a faithful, scary experience for gamers?
As in the 1999 PC original you can choose from three different single-player campaigns, Marines, Aliens, and Predator. While each one starts off with the same opening cinematic (featuring none
other than digital Lance Henriksen) they all go their own ways
immediately after that. Every one is completely unique, with no crossing paths.
They’re saying the entire single player game will take around 12 hours
to complete depending on your skill level, with the Marines taking up a
good 50% of that time. The Aliens campaign is the shortest and tightest
of them all, clocking in around 2-3 hours.
PR man Blain Howard jumped on the controller to show off the Predator’s campaign. Each one starts off with a unique tutorial mission, and this one begins with you playing a Predator (the elders call you “Youngblood” via subtitled Predator speech) that’s going through a warrior rite of sorts. To test your manhood they throw their greatest enemies at you- Aliens, of course- to see if you can survive. The game quickly gets you up to speed on the various moves and weaponry. The Predator is more of a brawler than you might expect, with the right and left bumpers doing heavy and light attacks, and holding both allowing you to block. Get around an enemy or knock him off balance and you can perform a finishing move that kills them instantly, something that also comes up in multiplayer.
While his wrist blades aren’t as strong as an Alien’s melee attack you can also obtain the Predator’s other weapons such as the shoulder mounted plasma cannon (that can explode enemies with a single shot) and Chakram, the disc-shaped weapon that will ricochet around the environment till it decapitates or dismembers a foe. You also have his gadgets to play with like a cloaking ability and heat vision, both of which help you sneak up on enemies and dispatch them without even knowing you were there. There’s even a jump move that allows you to leap to otherwise inaccessible high places and survey an area.
Stealth gamers will find a lot to like in the Predator’s campaign, that’s for sure. The Aliens are also all about stealth since they seem a lot weaker and don’t have any nifty weapons to play with (although they can crawl on any surface and see enemies through walls), and the Marines have great amounts of weaponry but are sitting ducks as far as vision goes. Each one gives you a completely different style of play.
One cool feature is that you can jump between campaigns after every level. After beating a section of the game a screen will pop up showing the percentage of each campaign that you’ve beaten, allowing you to continue on with your character of choice or change it up accordingly.
Besides the single player we also got a chance to check out the co-op Survivor mode. This game is playable either solo or with up to four people at once trying to survive as Marines in an arena that’s invaded by progressively stronger Aliens. The map we were shown was in some ancient underground ruins, where the middle was the only place that contained any light. The rest of the map (where all the weapons and power-ups are placed, of course!) is completely sheathed in darkness, making for a creepy experience as you have no idea where they’re coming from. You of course have the pinging motion tracker from the films that gives you a vague idea of where they’re coming from but since the aliens can come crawling from any angle you’re constantly swinging around your flashlight the ceiling and walls, trying to find them before they find you. It’s here that surround sound will be of great help to you, not to mention how friggin’ awesome it is to hear all those famous movie sounds. Fox opened up their sound library for the developers, allowing for faithful motion tracker noises, pulse rifle blasts, alien screeches- all the sounds that make the experience that much better.
Sadly, there’s no splitscreen multiplayer, but you can bet this will be fun to tackle with a few friends online. That’s on top of the tons of competitive multiplayer modes that will be included in the game, of course. They’re going to support 18 player online, sometimes allowing for 6 of each species to engage in all-out war.
But don’t take my word for it- Sega has just released a multiplayer demo across all platforms (360, PS3 and PC) for you to get your hands covered in acidic alien blood for yourself. Be warned, however, jumping right into a multiplayer match isn’t exactly the best option for someone looking to learn the controls. Chances are you’ll end up getting killed without knowing what happened, and since it’s straight-up deathmatch (not the species team deathmatch) everyone is a threat. One thing to know right from the start- it’s smart to keep your back to a wall. Aliens and predators can kill you with a single button push if they sneak up behind you and it’s beyond infuriating to start a game being murdered over and over with no idea what’s going on.
There are a couple things that irk us about the game. The finishing moves, while cool to watch at first, soon lose their charm when you’ve seen the same ones in the span of a few minutes, never mind how cheap they feel online. [Update: We’re being told that there are dozens of different finishing moves in the final game.] The lighting in the game is fantastic but the character models are a bit chunkier and less detailed than we’d like. But the action is fast and fun once you get used to it, and the demo at least allows players to try out each species and see how they like each one. When you get the hang of things the experience is much improved, and we can’t wait to check out the rest of the multiplayer modes and see what the single player campaign has to offer.
Aliens Vs. Predator hits stores February 16th in NA, and then the 19th in EU. Do you have all your favorite Hudson lines ready?