IGN Preview

Started by Corporal Hicks, Oct 17, 2007, 09:56:44 AM

IGN Preview (Read 5,063 times)

Corporal Hicks

Corporal Hicks


I'm at college so I can't view it. Stupid filters. Could someone do me a favour and copy and paste the text/images here?



Aliens/Predator Preview
We track down Rebellion for words and impressions on its handheld tie-in to the forthcoming sci-fi sequel.
by Will Freeman, IGN UK

UK, October 15, 2007 - Alien and Predator: they're both mighty, hulking beasts locked in a viscious struggle to outperform one another, and despite everyone's best efforts, pinning down which will be the eventual victor is proving impossible. A bit like the next-gen console war then.

This match-up between the two ultra-violent extra-terrestrials goes back a little way further though. Their paths first crossed in a 1989 comic but most became aware of their rampaging conflict after a tantalising hint in the second Predator movie, which featured a Xenomorph skull on the unlikely piece of furniture that is the Predator trophy cabinet, glimpsed just before the closing credits roll.

Since then the enduring battle has proved enormously popular and has come to life in numerous comics, fan works, films and of course games. Oxford-based developer Rebellion has been producing virtual versions of the franchise since the system-selling Alien Vs. Predator for Atari Jaguar in 1994. Now it's pitching the old rivals against each other once more, this time on the PSP, having taken on the licensed game for the forthcoming Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem cinema release.

It would seem that Rebellion has a little more to contribute to the movies than just the obligatory tie-in game. Their hugely popular PC Alien Versus Predator game - the first title that required a 3D graphics card - has had something of an impact on the directors of the original and forthcoming films. "From what I understand, having briefly met Paul Anderson, it was one of his major inspirations in bringing the franchise back to the cinema screens, which was a source of minor pride," explains Tim Jones, Rebellion's humble head of design. "Certainly, the Strause brothers [directors of the new movie] are huge fans of the game. It is all part of the mythos and the lore".

For now though the distributor of the celluloid Alien Vs. Predator, Fox, is remaining understandably tight-lipped about the film's plot. "The basic premise behind the movie is that it follows on directly from the first," is almost as much as Jones can give us, though we managed to extract a little more information on the storyline of Requiem and subsequently Aliens/Predator, as the game is known.

Fox's first cinematic slice of face-hugging hive-dwellers tackling heavily-armoured, dreadlocked warriors concluded with an Alien living up to its stereotype and bursting from the chest of a Predator onboard a spacecraft. Requiem's basic premise is that the ship has crashed to Earth in Colorado, all hell breaking loose, offering eager cinema goers the chance to see victims torn apart by alien teeth, tail spikes, disc blades and the infamous green, concrete-dissolving blood that caused Sigourney Weaver so much strife.

In the game you play as a 'cleaner' Predator, sent to our planet to mop up the mess and restore order. This of course involves slaying plenty of exoskeleton-clad Aliens and soft, fleshy humans. However, despite their fearsome reputation, Predators are an honourable race, defined by a desire only to kill when absolutely necessary.

It's quickly apparent that Rebellion's PSP brawler encourages a more delicate approach than your typical 'kill everything that moves' roaming, fighting game. Jones, an obvious fan of brutish inhabitants of the distant cosmos, is particularly keen to defend the Predators: "As bad guys they do have some kind of code of honour that dictates who they think is worth fighting and who deserves sparing", he enthuses, "and that is key to the game".

Points for your performance are awarded on an 'Honour System' basis, judging similarities between your killing prowess and the values of the Predator species, and you're rewarded with new weapons and upgrades. Killing innocent humans quickly reduces you Honour score while defending them from rampaging Aliens brings you great gains. Meanwhile, fellow warriors in the form of machinegun-toting military grunts are fair game, and painting the scenery with their blood is fundamental to your progress. Thankfully, Rebellion is absolutely aware that in stepping into the shoes of a Predator gamers definitely want to play a bad guy.

There are other small details in place that point to well-considered game design over the careless workmanship that is often found in releases clearly intended to please movie executives over actual players. A double health bar system offers a faint whiff of strategy, for instance: a traditional health bar is joined by an energy bar, which can be drained to use powerful weapons, or to replenish your physical strength. While this detail may be small, in the thick of the action, deciding whether to spend energy on health or weaponry could make for some highly-strung decision-making, and is hopefully indicative of a canny attention to detail on the development team's behalf.

That said, it's still hard not to reserve a touch of suspicion about Rebellion's latest development. Movie tie-ins often mean lazy cash-ins, and jaded gamers are likely to bet on Aliens/Predator being a brainless, button-mashing romp, thoughtlessly built from action game cliches. And then there's the issue of why the game is a PSP exclusive. "It was basically a matter of logistics," explains Jones, "we have a strong heritage with the PSP and have done a number of successful titles such as Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron". While the latter is true enough, 'logistics' may refer to the typically suffocating dev time given to a studio working on a Hollywood license. The game was started after the film's production began and is due for release before cinemas across the country start showing Requiem this coming January.

So it's actually a pleasant surprise to report that while Aliens/Predator appears to do little anywhere near revolutionary, it's looking like another solid contribution to the franchise. This is, in part, thanks to Rebellion's gushing enthusiasm for the franchise - "I just love Alien Vs. Predator", says Jones with a grin - but it's also because there appears to be a solid combat system in place.

While you spend a great deal of your time in-game using Predator's shoulder-mounted cannons and infamous Xenomorph-lacerating staff, much of the game's emphasis is on the antagonist's various vision modes, which made for many of the iconic visuals of the first film. Bearing several similarities to the superb Syphon Filter PSP release Dark Mirror these different vision enhancers, aside from your ordinary eyesight, offer both perks and disadvantages, requiring you to switch instinctively from one to another.

Traditional heat vision enables players to peer through obstructions at hidden humans but doesn't let you see Aliens. Alien-specific vision is designed to focus on your most dangerous foe but becomes washed out and useless as you approach their hives. Finally 'tech vision' enables you to pick up on both dangerous and important artefacts that litter each level, usually as directed by your objectives. Flipping from one to the other lets you look for other details such as heat escaping from weak points in walls that may reveal a new pathway.

While Rebellion might be wise to avoid the term minigame, with all it's connotations of soulless 30-second bursts of nonsensical family merriment, Aliens/Predator offers a public transport-friendly Survival Mode, which restricts you to a single arena with a five minute time limit. Your challenge is to face off against as many Alien hordes as you can. While it's one-player appeal may tire quickly, the ability to tackle two-player cooperative Survival Mode over the PSP's wireless link looks like it could be great fun

With 15 levels and three paths through the game, as well as a collectables system for the completist, Aliens/Predator is looking every bit the fully-fledged handheld release. It even offers its own exclusive additions to the film's human-orientated universe. "Obviously we've had to expand upon what's shown in the movie, from the Predator's point of view," states Jones, "to flesh it out to an entire game's worth of levels and game environments to play through".

"There are certainly differences between the plot of our game and that of the movie, but you'll have to play the game through to the end to appreciate those," he continues, before hinting at some very violent content in both the game and the inevitably blockbusting cinema release.

While it would have been terrific to have seen Aliens/Predator bring truly terrifying horror to Sony's sleek handheld, Rebellion has taken the burden of responsibility of adapting a licence they love very seriously. Obviously, some it'll take some decent hands-on time to really prove the worth of this action adventure. And though there is space for a little graphical improvement, Jones is confident that the secret to both of the universe's most awesome beings is the foundation of an excellent game. "They're the two baddest aliens in the universe," he beams.

Corporal Hicks

Corporal Hicks

Ta. Any new pictures?

AvPGalaxy: About | Contact | Cookie Policy | Manage Cookie Settings | Privacy Policy | Legal Info
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Patreon RSS Feed
Contact: General Queries | Submit News