Aliens vs. Predator GamesCom 2009 PreviewBy Andrew Pfister - Posted Aug 20, 2009
They mostly come out at night.
They also come out at GamesCom. "They," of course, are the Aliens of Aliens vs. Predator, and after Predator stole the show at E3, it was xenomorphin' time in Germany.
The Sega product manager giving our demo began by mentioning that the original Aliens vs. Predator PC game was about 10 years old. After I stopped freaking out about the quick passage of time, I flashed back to prowling around as an Alien in that game, able to walk on almost any surface in almost any direction, and feasting on a buffet of helpless Marines.
And all of that is coming back, with a few helpful refinements. Playing as the Alien could be disorienting, especially in regards to knowing which way was down. In the new AvP, Johnny Alien (name completely unofficial) has a reticule in his field of view. Though our human scientists have yet to fully understand this life form, having an aiming reticule in its field of view is probably unrealistic. But it's completely helpful, as its T-shape is always showing you which way is down, and it glows a bit when centered over a surface that you can leap to. If that wasn't agile enough, pulling the controller's left trigger activates a focus mode, which highlights smaller paths (air ducts, vent holes) and lets you launch into them in one seamless maneuver. When chained the right way, Johnny can get behind a squad of confused and frightened Marines in a matter of seconds. But we're still not sure how effective it'll be against Steve Predator.
Speaking of confused and frightened Marines, we got to see them in action, as well. Sega and Rebellion are pitching the three factions as different play styles. Predator is "aggressive stealth," Alien is "slow stealth," and Marines are "survival horror." They get the same battle kit as Hudson, Apone, and Hicks: motion tracker, flares, and a pulse rifle with grenade launcher -- of which the firing sound is pitch perfect to the movie. The scene we saw was a squad desperately trying to barricade an area and set up sentry guns, while a pack of Aliens started a massacre.
Between the Predator's lust for skeletal trophies, the Aliens' remorseless violence in the name of the Queen, and the Marines' pulse rifles, AvP is unashamedly graphic. It's even a bit disturbing (in a good, provoking way) at times. During an Alien mission, you're tasked with collecting human civilians and prepping them for a face-hugging. If the civilian sees you, he'll actually attempt to run and barricade himself in a safer place, which is realistic and kind of cool. But if you somehow manage to get in the room, the civilian will actually pull out a sidearm and shoot themselves in the head -- a fate they'd prefer over the inevitable bursting of chests. The only odd thing about it that I have yet to get over is how the game engine portrays any blood as almost gelatinous globs. A minor issue, but distracting nonetheless.
Sega also announced that in addition to AvP's three single-player campaigns, the game will feature 18-player multiplayer, with 3-way and 2-way modes based on various faction match-ups. Oh, there's also a four-player co-op "Marines vs. Aliens" mode akin to the Horde mode from Gears of War 2, which is brilliant. I have a feeling that a large percentage of players will be mostly playing that mode.