Aliens vs Predator Multiplayer Preview: Aliens FTW
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m hooked on “Modern Warfare 2”’s multiplayer. I feel like in the current gamer culture, there’s a bit of a stigma that comes with playing “MW2” online, but, for better or worse, I enjoy it. Since “Call of Duty 2” the “CoD” franchise has been a bit of an anomaly for me, mostly because they’re really the only multiplayer games that I regularly play online. Other than that, I’m usually a solo gamer. However, I recently had the opportunity to take a look at another game that I will soon be adding to my online roster, Sega’s “Aliens vs. Predator.” And it’s not because I’m a fan of the movies – because I’m not.
In all, out of any of the Alien, Predator, and Aliens vs. Predator movies, I’ve only seen the original Alien. I realize that may lower my geek credibility, but I wanted to get that out of the way in the interest of full disclosure. While I’m not opposed to seeing these movies, I’ve just never gotten around to them, and currently have them in my Netflix queue. In addition to never seeing any of the movies, I’ve never really played any of the games either, save for “Aliens 3” and “Predator” for the NES, and those aren’t even in the same galaxy as Sega’s upcoming “AvP” game.
If you’re a fan of the movies you should be able to piece together the overall plot of the single player campaign mode – the Aliens don’t like the Predator, and the Predator doesn’t like the Aliens, and the Space Marines hate everyone – but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. While my few minutes with the single player mode were impressive (this game does dark and creepy extremely well), it’s the multiplayer that was the true highlight.
Again, as you may expect, it’s Aliens versus Predators versus humans in a very well-crafted multiplayer arena. You pick your species, and then you pick your game mode, three of which were shown off; Deathmatch, Infestation and Predator Hunt. As you may have guessed, Deathmatch was your standard multiplayer fair – kill or be killed. Infestation switched things up a bit, pitting the players against each other as one randomly chosen player attempted to turn everyone into an alien. As each player become one, the infestation grew, until all the humans were eliminated leaving the last man standing as the winner. Predator Hunt played similar to Infestation, but it was a team of humans against one Predator, and whoever killed the Predator became the Predator. In the end, whoever stayed the Predator the longest won. It played a lot like king of the hill, but not. As far as the modes go, Rebellion did a great job tailoring the gameplay to the unique characters that are featured in the game, allowing for an experience that’s different than all of the other FPS games on the market – yes, even “Call of Duty.”
The other big departures from the standard FPS formula were the different playable species. While the Marines played like your standard armed-to-the-teeth human characters, hunting with the Aliens and Predator were completely different experiences.
The Predator, while a worthy adversary, has a fairly high learning curve, but comes with a ton of toys to play with. First off, there’s the cloaking mechanism that basically lets you sneak up on almost anybody, almost anywhere on the map. They also come packing thermal vision, that lets you see where everyone is. While those features along make it seem like this causes the Predator to throw off the game’s balance, it really doesn’t, mostly because our dreadlocked friend has to go and find his more powerful weapons scattered throughout the board. He’s not completely defenseless, but he doesn’t start off with his devastating plasma caster at the beginning of every match. Going into the demo, I was told that if I could master the Predator, I would be able to dominate the competition, but in the end it was the Alien that I fell in love with.
Oh Alien, my oozing black beauty, sweet Jesus you were fun to play with. The Alien was an entirely new take on a playable character in a multiplayer FPS… mostly because it leaves off the “S.” The Alien doesn’t get any fancy lasers or grenades; all they have is their tail and their fists. That’s right, they’re melee characters in a shooting game. Sure, it may seem like that puts them at a distinct disadvantage, but they come with sleeve full of tricks. First off, there’s their incredible speed, which comes mixed with their ability climb on just about any surface. It takes a little getting used to, as going from floor to ceiling is a little disorienting, but you learn to adapt really quickly. These capabilities actually made the punching and tail-swiping Alien feel like a sniper that pummels their foes to death. Just camp out on a wall, or the ceiling of a cave and wait for a Marine to run by, drop in (because they didn’t see you hanging there) sneak up behind them, and jam your tail up through their neck, decapitating them, and giving you a beautifully gruesome one-hit trophy kill.
Yeah, the trophy kills… they’re amazing. All three species have them, and if you can get up close enough to another player on the board, and hit X they’re in for a big surprise. Each species’ trophies kills were created with their specific physical characteristics and weaponry in mind, making them different no matter what you play as. Just checking out these kills alone are worth taking the game for a spin when it comes out this February.
There’s something really refreshing about “Aliens vs. Predator”’s multiplayer that makes it seem familiar enough to be able to pick up and play, but also new enough to feel like it is its own special experience. Rebellion has done an impressive job of creating a game from a licensed property that sets itself apart from the piles of other games that are out there, making a game for both fans and newcomers. Now, let’s just hope they nail the single player the same way they did the multiplayer.