Monday, June 29, 2009

E3 09: Alien Vs Predator Preview

I have a confession to make: I never played any of the previous Alien vs. Predator games. I am as wary of licensed games as many others are, especially when said game combines two properties that really have nothing to do with one another. Despite all of this, Alien Vs Predator ended up being the most interesting first-person shooter that I saw at E3. Imagine my surprise.

AVP is split between three campaigns: that of a human soldier, a Predator, and an Alien. All three will encompass one complete story, but you can experience it from varying points of view through a set of species-specific missions. The first demo that we were shown was from the human side, which was a curious choice considering that it fails to capitalize on the greatest strengths of the brand name and looked like a fairly typical sci-fi/horror FPS at first glance. The level took place in a dark industrial setting, with the player throwing flares to brighten up areas beyond his flashlight. The flare landed underneath a staircase, showing off some really impressive lighting that brings to mind the entirely orange and black aesthetic of Alien3. Since the flares are your only source of light besides the flashlight, you are forced to make their placement a tactical decision. At this point, I was still fairly unimpressed, as everything that I had seen looked a bit generic. "You roam around metal corridors fighting monsters," I thought. "How original."

All that changed once a pitch black Alien silently emerged from the shadows, leaping at the screen. The audience twitched as the PR guy--who had been demoing the game all day--died from this attack. "Where they come from is randomized" he noted, before trying again. This time the alien came from the same basic direction, but a little higher up. The creatures are very hard to see, so even the slightest change in trajectory can throw off your game and force you to squint to make out their shape against the shadows. The marine popped off a few rounds, but the Alien was too close to him when the bullets struck. This caused the creature’s acid blood to explode onto the screen, which would probably hurt like hell and cause you to go blind in real life. Since that wouldn’t be too much fun in a game, the on-screen acid sizzling ends up being one of the best vision-obscuring effects ever rendered.

Check out the rest of the preview here, at TGR.
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