Weyland-Yutani bioweapons research facility on LV-426. 2154 – ten years after Ripley effectively shut down all xenomorphic research. Until now.
The sensuous female voice of the facility computer jolts you awake.
“Massive biocontainment failure. Scientific and civilian personnel evacuation complete. Serious xenomorph infestation reported in level 1. Level 3. Level 6. Levels 9 through 14.”
“Expected time until help arrives… 17 hours, 14 minutes, and 53 seconds.”
And, as if to ram the point home, the entire facility plunges into darkness.
Incoming message blip from security HQ.
“OK. Stay frosty, marine. No sweat – just follow standard evac procedure. Head to the dropship on apron four, and we’ll burn our way outa here.”
“I hear you, sarge,” you reply. “Pulse rifle is locked and cocked. Little low on ammo, though. Image enhancer is online. Motion tracker is A1… but – nah, this can’t be right. I’m getting some pretty strange readings here. Are you seeing this?”
So begins the terrorfest that is Alien Vs Predator, dropping you headlong into the frightening conflict between xenomorphic creatures with too many teeth and acid for blood, and the relentless Predator, complete with cloaking device and human skulls.
Alien Vs Predator is a first-person shooter in the style of Quake or Marathon. However, instead of taking on the role of a gun-toting hero, you can adopt the role of battle-hardened marine, nightmarish alien, or the seemingly unstoppable Predator.
It’s also the game you always dreamed of. Unsurpassed lighting, audio, gameplay and visuals combine to conjure up an immersive feeling of fleeing down tight corridors, frantically reloading weapons, or simply waiting in ambush as an alien then pouncing on you helpless foe.
Never has a game been able to create an environment that literally drips atmosphere of this calibre. Inside, the rooms are grimly lit, red emergency lights blinking on and off, while outside rain pours down. Some places are shrouded in inky blackness, with the marine having to rely on the ghostly light on night-vision goggles, while the Predator has to switch to infrared navigation. The game mechanics are spot on. Aliens dash along walls and ceilings with reaction-stretching speed, and marines saunter past while you’re cloaked as the Predator.
The audio hasn’t been skimped on either. Dynamic music is straight from the film series, while the weapons sound exactly as they do in the various Alien movies. Even better, the motion tracker pings rhythmically, its mini radar flashing ever-more urgent warnings as it picks up aliens closing in.
Gameplay is additionally involving. The ability to take on the role of any of the game’s main protagonists gives it a unique edge, and each race demands varying tactics and delivers a refreshingly different experience. The aliens are astoundingly quick, but little armour means they can be quickly dispatched. Playing as the Predator, on the other hand, demands stealth and cunning to reach your objective.
That said, this is a shooter in the truest sense, and the objectives are simple. Get from A to B, remembering to pull a lever on the way that will open the exit door. It’s uncomplicated fun, instead allowing the player to be sucked into its futuristic world.
While graphically rich, this is no Unreal Tournament, being a port of a game that came out on Windows a couple of years ago. While well realized, the textures can look a little grainy and the characters are slightly blockier than modern gamers are used to. The upside is that it will safely work on anything from a Rev A iMac running Mac OS 8.6 upwards. It’s not a happy alien playing in Mac OS X, but it will comfortably work in Classic.
It’s realistic, with aliens, marines, and the Predator able to be killed in a instant. It can make for frustrating restarts, but it all adds to the atmosphere.
Included is a worthy multiplayer game, although the weighting given to the sometimes invincible-seeming Predator does mean that the best online experience is to be had between bands of marines and a brood of aliens. Multiplayer is only Mac-to-Mac at present,
Aliens Vs Predator is a rare gem of a game, oozing atmosphere and creating genuine feelings of tension. Lighting, graphics, and audio all conspire to pull together a game that sports a unique playing style and added multiplayer matches. It has face-huggers, too.
This review appeared in the Expo 2001 issue