Best of Both Worlds
Other areas of the game’s classic balance have been re-jigged to make Aliens Versus Predator
feel fair across all three campaigns too, with the most notable changes affecting the Alien.
Earlier this year we got a chance to see Aliens Versus Predator
at GamesCom in Cologne and it was apparent even back then how much Rebellion has tinkered with the balance of the Alien class and, more importantly, how much they’ve learned about how to incorporate it into the rest of the game's design. Stalwart fans of the AVP
series will remember the Alien as the lightning fast, wall-running, ceiling-hugging blur who could run lethal rings around enemies in multiplayer. That’s no longer entirely true.
The fundamentals are still there, obviously. The Alien is still a super-fast free-runner, but it’s all been toned down a bit since then and the Alien now moves noticeably slower in multiplayer matches to help make it more fair on the others. In singleplayer the levels have been broken up to make cramped, indoor areas more easy to navigate and to encourage stealth tactics in players, rather than slash and dash.
Just looking at this gives us the chills
These changes to the layout of levels in the Alien campaign include all manner of little adjustments, like adding dripping water to empty corridors to keep you clued into what plane you’re currently on, as well as introducing more level furniture and breaks in climbable spaces.
With more obstacles to overcome compared to earlier AVP
games, you’ll need to perform lots of pounces and leaps, rather than just sprinting along walls. It’s here that the focus jumping comes in – a minor concession for novices and consolites which aids you in jumping to far-off vents. Functionally it’s very similar to using the grappling hook in Batman: Arkham Asylum
and it’s something the Predator makes use of when jumping between branches too.
All this discussion of design tweaks is in danger of distracting us from one of the more striking things about Aliens Versus Predator
though – namely, the gore. There’s so much graphic violence in AVP
that we had to question Rebellion about it specifically when we interviewed Art Head Tim Jones
earlier this year and though he claimed it goes with the AVP
territory we do have to wonder if it isn’t a bit excessive. We love a bit of blood and guts as much as the next man, but the detail and time spent lingering on every iota of the viscera is rather unsettling. Spinal columns oscillate below the Predator’s clenched fist, while crimson spurts all over where the Xenomorph’s face would be as civilians throats are torn out.
This isn't going to be pretty
Controversially, not all the violence is player enabled either and NPC civilians will occasionally resort to suicide
in order to escape an Alien attack. Not quietly either. If nothing else comes to hand then unarmed workers will grab loose grenades to get the job done, showering their environs with yet more entrails. Yum.
It’s worth clarifying though that all of this is based on preview material and that, with Aliens Versus Predator
already banned in Australia and Germany, it’s likely a tamer version will see an eventual release no matter what Rebellion and Sega say. That’s likely to piss off a lot of fans and drive a lot of anger from soccer mums, but to us what’s really important is whether the game is any good underneath all that. A good game with blood in it should be a good game without blood in it right?
The important question then isn’t about censorship or gore. It’s simply; do we think Aliens Versus Predator
is shaping up to be a good game?
Too bloody right we do.
Aliens Versus Predator will be released on February 19th 2010 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It will be published by Sega and you can discuss the game in the forums.