After nearly a decade of waiting, fans of the Aliens versus Predator games were beginning to wonder if they’d ever get another acid-spraying, head-biting, marine-disemboweling fright fest. Sure, we’ve had the movies to turn to in the meantime, but let’s face it, those atrocities were more like a kick in the pants than a decent piece of driftwood to cling to.
Well, the wait is finally over, and the latest game in the franchise, aptly titled Aliens versus Predator, has been recently released. It’s an entirely new story, I guess we could call it a “reboot” of the franchise – but the previous two games had no sequential links, so it might not be an entirely appropriate term. Anyway, in a nutshell, the Weyland Yutani Corporation, the greedy conglomerate from the movies that never learns that breeding Xenomorphs always ends in disaster, has found the ruins of a Predator temple on a remote planet. This temple was used a breeding ground for Xenomorphs, which young Predators would then fight as a rite of passage into adulthood. With both a Xenomorph breeding ground and a temple full of Predator technology at their disposal, the greedy corporation decided to establish a research facility and bring in a crew of workers. As you probably already know, this is where things go horribly wrong.
As in the previous games, players get to play through three separate campaigns: The Marine, the Alien (Xenomorph) and the Predator. Each campaign offers a unique experience and tells a different part of the story. The Marine will probably be the first one most players engage in, since it’s the most familiar in terms of feel. Players take on the role of a nameless rookie member of a squad sent in to investigate a distress signal from the Weyland Yutani research base at the temple. His gameplay is comprised almost entirely of completing objectives like restarting generators, finding keycodes, investigating distress beacons and trying to escape through the obligatory “only remaining route”. These are all very typical sci-fi-horror reasons to venture down dimly lit corridors, checking every shadow with a flashlight or sprinting balls-out along narrow corridors while being chased by hordes of nasties before a critical door slams shut – and the developers were gracious enough to make fun of it in the game from time to time. It’s clichéd, but it works. As one could expect, there are some collectibles to be found in each area, audio diaries in this case, which paint a picture of what went wrong.
With the Predator, Rebellion has gone down a completely different route than in the previous two games. The Predator’s main task is to investigate the disappearance of some “young bloods” – Predators who were in the process of completing their rite of passage into adulthood. To do this, he must battle the newest wave of Xenomorphs at the temple and get rid of the human invaders while he’s at it. Rather than the very typical weapon-switching FPS style of the previous games, this time the Predator’s arsenal remains localized. He has his claws available at all times, enabling him to lash out at will or block attacks. Doing this allows him to engage in fisticuffs with the Xenos (I kid you not), and it feels not entirely unlike Condemned 2 and other games that use a dual trigger system for delivering punches. In addition to this, he has a few Predator gadgets at his disposal, including his shoulder cannon, disc and spear gun. He can turn himself invisible and also use a special distraction technique, which projects a sound that humans will then investigate. What’s also really cool is that, for the first time, the Predator can actually jump as high as he can in the movies, enabling him to leap to higher ground while stalking his prey.