In Chiswick, London, no one can hear me scream. Except for the fellow journalists and SEGA reps sitting across me as I play a multiplayer preview of Aliens vs. Predator
and get impaled for the eleventh time. I'm no good at first person shooters against human opponents, but this is taking the piss somewhat.
You see, AvP
is the sequel to the 1999 PC classic of the same name. You pick a marine, an Alien or a Predator, and essentially do whatever you can to survive, hunt or torpedo each other out of existence. Each species handles very differently, and requires a unique style of play and strategy to stay alive. It takes a couple of matches to truly understand each character's weaknesses and how to take advantage of that.
This resulted in me becoming the world's most fashionable Alien Earring. This is because as a Marine, I had not noticed that I should probably avoid whatever blips are popping up on my HUD scanner. Any Predator cloaked in the darkness was still visible on my radar, so it was a case of manning the hell up and shooting whatever was apparently behind me.
It was a good strategy, and the combination of cunning, torches and man-made weapons allowed me to be on an even footing with the Aliens and Predators for the first time. Punishment was never dealt sweeter than by my rifle.
Throughout the day I was able to play all three species in the game, with the Predator easily being my favourite. Clumping around in his heavy armour, this chap is easily spotted unless you use his invisibility cloak to sneak up on opponents. His special vision allows you to see Aliens scurrying up to you, and by holding a trigger and pressing an action button, the Predator can leap from ledge to ledge too.
The Alien is perhaps the least conventional method of play I've seen in an FPS. Using nothing but claws, tail and speed, your attack strategy appears to be run, stab, run away. Clicking the thumbstick gives the Alien a huge speed boost, which can help you evade the firepower of Marines or Predators.
The most impressive thing is the ability to climb all over almost every surface in the map. It makes for a very disorienting experience at first, but it's awesome to scurry along the floor, charge at an enemy, impale them, then dash off only leap off a ledge, onto an opposing wall and crawling away to safety.
As well as the classic deathmatch modes, I was able to enjoy Predator Hunt, which has players killing a randomly-chosen Predator to become a Predator themselves and earn points. Mad fun, especially when all the other Marine players stab each other in the back to get to the Predator. My tactic was to wait until a friend close by got impaled, then shoot the Predator in the face while he was pre-occupied. Worked like a charm.
Another mode in the game is Alien Infestation, which is basically a survival mode for a bunch of Marines in which an Alien player slowly kills every one of them off to turn them into Aliens. The last man standing, for as long as he can survive, ends up winning the round.
More modes, weapons and features were mentioned, including a Smart Gun that is apparently the Holy Grail of Marine offensives, the recognisable three-dotted Predator gun and an array of shotguns, pistols and automatic guns.
Unfortunately the only map I was able to play was a jungle arena, but this had many nooks and crannies for various species to take advantage of. Predators could use the corridors and shadows to cloak more effectively, the wide open spaces allowed Marines to cover each others' backs, and the big rockface that surrounded the level was a bonus to Aliens zooming from here to there.
It can only really work to Rebellion's disadvantage if teams and players consistently chose one particular species. If everyone picks a Predator, or Marine or Alien in a deathmatch, the appeal and interest in fighting different enemies at once would be cheapened in a way. No doubt a lot of people will be picking favourites though, but perhaps Achievements and Trophies will allow players to experience all three classes on a regular basis?
The return of Aliens vs. Predator
marks a trip down memory lane for many PC gamers, with two thirds of Rebellion's staff being of the original AvP
dev team ? with the bonus of the addition of a whole load of new stuff to enjoy. And with what I've seen in the multiplayer matchups so far, the new features are more than greatly appreciated.
isn't due for release until early next year, but Rebellion's Senior Producer David Brickley and Assistant Multiplayer Producer Eric Miller said they wanted to roadtest the mode to see if they were heading in the right direction. My initial thoughts are very positive ? it is rare to find a unique angle in the world of FPS games these days, and the sheer variety in the gameplay here allows AvP
to feel fresh in today's deluge of shooters.
Read our in-depth interview with Rebellion's Senior Producer David Brickley and Assistant Multiplayer Producer Eric Miller right now.