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Alien vs. Predator was a tense first-person shooter which was released in 1999, long before the disappointing film crossover finally made it onto our cinema screens. Developed by Rebellion, this was originally a title for the Atari Jaguar released in 1994 but they reworked it and made some improvements to release a PC version. The player had a choice of playing through three short campaigns as a Marine, an Alien or a Predator. Each offered a completely unique experience with different abilities, weapons and objectives and when you consider that it included an enjoyable multiplayer option as well you’ll see this was a great title at the time which was hugely popular.
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The three single player campaigns were quite short and they were light on plot but what you did get was atmospheric action. The first campaign casts the player in the role of a Colonial Marine sent to investigate the Nostromo. From there you had to battle your way through endless dark corridors packed with Aliens in a research facility and then a colony before detonating the atmosphere processing station to wipe the Aliens out. After that it was time to face the Predators and of course yet more Aliens.
The Marine campaign was the toughest because as a Marine you were weak, armed with the usual weapons you’ll remember from the film. The creepy atmosphere was beautifully built by the motion detector which steadily beeped faster and faster as your enemies approached. The game-play as a Marine was standard FPS.
The Alien campaign was my favourite and you had to defend your hive from attacking Marines before destroying their ship and escaping to battle Predators and then finally board a ship bound for earth. As an Alien you had no guns but you could move very fast and use your ferocious jaws, tail and claws to rip enemies limb from limb. You could also literally climb the walls or run along the ceiling, and while it was easy to lose your bearings until you got used to it, this was a terrifically fun idea.
The final campaign cast you as a Predator battling Marines and then Aliens followed by an Alien/Predator hybrid and then finally the frightening Alien Queen. You were equipped with the weapons from the film, so shoulder mounted canons, a throwing disc which would cut through any foe and wrist blades for close combat. As a Predator you could also engage your cloaking device for short periods of time and utilize an infra red vision option.
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On release this was a gorgeous game but things have advanced quite a bit since then so there’s no denying it looks somewhat dated by modern standards. The environments were nicely modelled and stayed true to the settings you’ll recognise from the various films. The human settings look better than the alien architecture which was obviously tough to model. The character models were also well made and they fit the bill in that they were instantly recognisable. There was some good animation work in the game too and the scurrying Facehuggers who jumped horrifyingly onto your face to fill the screen provoked a few screams of horror the first time I played this.
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The usual array of multiplayer modes allowed you to have three way battles and there were few things in life more satisfying than snapping off your mate’s head with your Alien jaws as you zoomed towards him and dropped down from the ceiling. The toughest challenge turned out to be playing against a Predator and their bag of tricks made them close to invincible in the right hands. The multiplayer was fun but the maps weren’t great and the lack of balance could make it annoying at times.
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This will run on an old system quite comfortably. All it really needs is a 200MHz CPU, 32 MB RAM, DirectX 6 compatible graphics and sound card and just 64MD of hard drive space. I never had a problem running this game and found it robust and smooth.
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Alien versus Predator was a great FPS release and it really offered something a bit different for fans of the genre. The campaigns were all relatively short and straight forward but they were well scripted and provided a decent challenge. The fact that each of the three campaigns played very differently was great, although the Predator campaign was undoubtedly the weakest of the bunch and left me under whelmed. The main flaw with this title was the lack of a save feature during missions, this meant you had to proceed with extreme caution. The multiplayer mode was unbalanced but if you cast less experienced players in the Predator role it could be a lot of fun. Overall this was a classic FPS title and a great deal more entertaining than the film was. The sequel, Alien vs Predator 2, improved on this formula.