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Aliens Vs Predator Multiplayer Hands-On Preview

17:3528/01/2010Posted by Chris MorellNo Comments

Despite the universal panning of its Hollywood efforts, the concept of Aliens Vs Predator remains a popular one. After all, with blockbuster epics such as James Cameron’s Aliens and the Schwarzenegger vehicle Predator still considered among the best in the genre, a grudge-match between these horrific characters inevitably plays on the imagination. Despite such a rich heritage as separate entities, AVP has proved itself a far more impressive game series than in film, with the 1993 and ‘99 iterations often being recounted with a good deal of nostalgia. Now Rebellion, the development team behind the originals has been tasked with rebooting the franchise for a generation spoilt for choice when it comes to multiplayer thrills. Can this latest instalment make an impact on the gaming industry, or will it crash and burn like the movies before it? D+Pad has been to find out…

Amidst the hubbub of a preview event in London organised by Sega, first impressions were good. Granted, terms such as ‘good’ and ‘decent’ hardly get pulses racing and are often indicative of some niggling issues that serve to pull the experience down. Could it be a poor handling of the source material or a simple case of been there, done that? Thankfully neither is a problem here; there’s an impressive level of variety on offer and the intense three-way battles work about as well as you’d hope. Instead, any issues stem from possible inconsistencies in the quality of modes. Where some are sure to become instant favourites due to their adrenaline-pumping, spine-gouging thrills, some fall short of greatness having transitioned from a good idea in theory to a poor one in execution.

Of the three playable classes, the Marine is by far the easiest to get to grips with, making for a good jump-on point for anyone intimidated by the otherwise complex control scheme. You could be forgiven for expecting the humans to put up little resistance against the monstrous hordes, especially given the pasting our guys take in the movies. This time things are a little different as sticking together and working as a team really will pay dividends once the enemies clamber in. Get caught on your own, however, and you’ll likely empty a clip into the air before meeting the business end of a Xenomorph’s extremity. You can pick up weapons littered about the stages and you’ll have access to the trusty radar complete with panic-inducing sound effects. So far, our only complaint is that after years of Modern Warfare, the Marine just doesn’t handle as well as we’re used to, though perhaps such a thing would bestow an unfair advantage on the battlefield.

Survivor is essentially ODST’s Firefight with a Marine taking on increasingly fierce waves of Xenomorphs. In truth this is nothing new to gaming and AVP fails to bring anything fresh to the table. You’ll stand in place, blasting anything in view until succumbing – it’s not much fun, even if it does make you feel like you’re taking part in a hopeless last stand.

Domination is AVP’s answer to Capture the Flag; where two teams must rend flesh from bone, disintegrate, dismember and generally give the opposition a bad time in an attempt to capture their bases. It’s certainly a twist on a multiplayer staple and is likely to give the game legs once players tire of the campaign. Infestation was another of the more successful matches of the night, serving as Rebellion’s take on Halo 3’s Zombie mode. Beginning the round with a randomly chosen Alien, it’s up to the Marines to survive as a team or risk becoming one of the aggressors themselves. As a Marine, this presents the unsettling situation of slowly being outnumbered as your own numbers dwindle, with the resulting species switch generating a feeling of empowerment coupled with an overwhelming sense that you’re now on the winning team.

Taking the reigns of the Xenomorph is an interesting experience once you get to grips with its sheer speed. A light claw attack, a heavy tail whip and a menacing hiss are all available but what makes the gameplay truly unique is the ability to climb a range of surfaces then bound between them. The speed at which you traverse these walls and ceilings can make it disorienting especially when just starting out. To alleviate this problem a simple hold of the trigger buttons will have you drop to the ground, offering time to get your head together or have it removed entirely – a welcome addition either way. Attacking in packs is the key to success and should you get the opportunity for an instant kill, prepare to be treated to some of the most satisfyingly gruesome finishers to date. Performing one of these takes time and seeing as the battle continues to rage around you, opting to play it safe rather than gutting your prey in public will often be the more appropriate strategy.

For us at least, Predator Hunt is a mode with plenty of unrealised potential, where a group of Marines must stand together or risk being picked off by a lone Predator. Unfortunately, most of these matches were spent running around for extensive periods of time, as the designated Predator made its way towards the team in the hopes of picking off a daydreamer. Perhaps the map chosen by the devs failed to showcase this mode’s strengths and it’s certainly possible the atmosphere required just wasn’t present on the busy show floor. In either case the Predator does offer a welcome alternative to controlling the grounded Marine or the close-quarters Alien.

As the Predator, you can fire your shoulder-mounted Plasma Cannon, use devastating blade attacks and select your nifty cloaking device which does exactly as it says on the tin, only revealing your position to the keen-eyed via a telltale shimmer effect. Nimble and unseen, bounding between locations and making use of stealth is key to effectively stalking your prey. It’s all about sneaking up behind a straggler, going in for the kill then taking them out with a bloody finishing move. In a bold design choice to mix things further, the Predator is the only character not to regenerate any health over time, resulting in a mad dash to one of various electrical nodes strategically planted around the maps. These nodes will leave you open to attack if you’ve timed your recharge badly, making tactical thought a must should you wish to become a true master of this legendary hunter.

We can confidently predict that AVP will make for a fine distraction between high profile games this February. The graphics are solid – if sometimes too dark – and boast impressive animations, lighting effects and character models which succeed in evoking memories of the classic films. There are some concerns as to whether it’ll hold its own amongst some of the more hotly anticipated titles this year, though it could very well prove us wrong with a strong campaign and online community. After all, having sat through both appalling Hollywood attempts and suffered a monumental wait for our next AVP fix – we’ve earned it. Check back soon for our full review.

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