Defying all laws of God and man, the Alien vs. Predator video games are actually really good. The Jaguar AvP is one of maybe two titles that justify the platform's existence, and the PC version has a devoted fan base even now, 10 years after its release.
The team at Rebellion that' responsible for making those original games has, for the most part, reunited, and they're working on a new, current-generation Alien vs. Predator title. As with the original games, you have the option to play as an alien, a predator, or an extremely vulnerable and very scared Colonial Marine, each with his own specialized arsenal, abilities and narrative.
The new AvP is set 30 years after the events of Alien 3, in a relatively familiar version of the Aliens universe. Weyland-Yutani, the malevolent corporation that's been screwing up the program since the original Alien, is still founding colonies across the universe.
One such colony just discovered one of the Predators' testing pyramids, as seen in the first Alien vs. Predator film, and a xenomorph outbreak has ensued. The colony manages to send a distress signal, and a detachment of Marines is sent to investigate.
There are three separate campaigns in AvP, and each takes place concurrently in the same location. Each campaign is its own complete narrative, which is unlocked from the start; you can play through it start to finish, so there are no forced moments when you must switch characters, Call of Duty-style. You play as either one of the xenomorphs, a rookie Marine whose squadmates are dying all around him, or a Predator.
Right now, Rebellion is keeping details of the alien campaign under wraps, and getting near the Predator demo on the E3 show floor would've required a pistol, whip and a chair. (They've also promised the ability to play as all three characters in multiplayer, but they're remaining quiet on the subject until later this year.) In Sega's booth, however, Rebellion showed off a brief segment of the Colonial Marines' campaign, which is about as claustrophobic and terrifying as you'd expect.
This new Alien vs. Predator runs on Rebellion's in-house engine, which they've been tweaking and adapting for new platforms and projects since the original AvP. This marks its debut on current-generation hardware, with a number of new improvements that mostly relate to the aliens.
AvP does a great deal with dynamic lighting. Aliens use shadows to their best advantage, deliberately putting out of light sources and running away from any light you deploy. They scuttle across walls and ceilings remarkably quickly, using them as they would the floor, and the engine features a number of AI tweaks specifically to let the aliens use this ability as effectively as possible. Even in the short 10 minutes' worth of gameplay, the Marine spent a lot of time fleeing toward well-lit areas and spraying gunfire idly into the dark, as Aliens came at him from three directions at once.
The environments are suitably claustrophobic and creepy. The colony's hallways tell a story; as you walk through the corridors, you can tell where major skirmishes between colonists and aliens were fought by the melted holes in the floors and ceilings, bored clean through by pools of the Aliens' blood. Your allies die quietly the moment you turn your back, disappearing without a trace; the massive sentry guns that you depend on to enforce a perimeter also have a habit of going abruptly offline.
Alien vs. Predator is currently slated for release in early 2010. As mentioned above, a number of other important details, such as which form the alien campaign takes (i.e., whether you get to start off as a facehugger) and the multiplayer modes, are being kept secret until later this year.
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