Alien vs. Predator
||| Jaguar Review: Alien Vs. Predator ||| By: Timothy Wilson / | \ GEnie: AEO.8 Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org ---------------------------------------------------------------- Here it is, a review of the release version of Alien vs Predator (AvP) for the Jaguar. The ROMs weren't in a case yet, but I did get a manual. (Lots thicker than the previous games.) First up, it was the release version, and I spent several hours playing it, everyone got that? Good. I'll let you know now that I'm an avid Doom fan, but I didn't like Wolfenstein 3D. I've played System Shock & Blake Stone too, all of the same genre: texturemapped rooms with beasties in them. Okay, that's a generalization but it's supposed to be, it's the same genre that Jaguar AvP is in. Don't expect this to be an "Oh Gosh!" nothing- but-praise review. If you haven't seen any of these games, I'll describe how they're played. Basically, you view the world through your character's eyes. The world is populated with objects residing in rooms made up of texturemapped floors and ceilings and walls - meaning that, instead of flat polygons or dull colors, the walls look more "real", since photographic quality "textures" or images are mapped into the 3rd dimension onto those surfaces. Also, your movements are not constricted to 90 degree turns and 10 foot lunges - in AvP, the view can be rotated smoothly around, and you move freely within the game. If done right, the end result is amazing - you actually feel that you're -in- the game. Things can come at you from any angle, so you have to constantly look around and check for beasties. Again, if done properly, this type of game can really pull you into the gaming drama. So by now, I hope you've figured out that this isn't like the other Alien vs. Predator games out there, namely Activision's SNES cartridge and Capcom's arcade game, both which are side scrolling beat-em-ups. Also, AvP is not a Doom wannabe, AvP is a slower paced game, so I suggest those people who want a Doom-like game... well... buy Doom when it comes for the Jag. I saw it the same day I played AvP - it's running very fast, and the sounds are great. Atari Jaguar Alien Vs. Predator is a total rush - the best ever adaptation of a movie concept to the video game world. As you get to play three different characters: the Marine, Predator, and Alien, you get to use all of their gizmos, weapons and tenacity however you see fit. I'll start with a run down of the characters, and why they're on ROM. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Species Roll-Call =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// The Alien (Xenomorph) This is a game of species survival. Your queen has been lost to the Predators, and it's up to the Xenomorph soliders to get her back. Your claw, tail, second mouth, and unearthly speed are your weapons. Unable to heal yourself like the other races on the station, you have to cocoon Marines to be impregnated with a Xenomorph egg. (This basically "buys" you a new life after you die.) You may have up to three gestating eggs at one time, but at least one must be full grown in order for them to be of use. If you die with a fully gestated egg at the ready, you'll start life again where you cocooned your victim. You have free reign of the airducts, so it's easy to hide and wait for your eggs to grow. This is probably the most challenging character to play. //// Predator His is a game of sport, Predator style. The Predator in question is a greenhorn, sent to prove himself in battle by eventually killing the Queen Xenomorph to claim her skull. The only weapon availible at first is the wrist claw. While the Predator does have the whole shebang - wrist claw, "Combi-stick" (telescoping spear), killer discs, shoulder- mounted plasma gun, medi-kit, and the cloak - the weapons are activated as you gain honor points. You gain use of the Combi-stick at 150,000, the disc at 350,000, while the plasma gun is up somewhere around 750,000. You get 5000 points killing a Marine with the stick or claw, and 10,000 for an Alien. The catch is that you must kill while uncloaked! Otherwise you -lose- honor points when you kill something. (Sometimes, you get in a situation where you feel you have to play it chicken and attack while cloaked. Don't get too caught up in playing it safe though - after all, you're a Predator aren't you?) With the cloak comes the Pred-o-vision, with 5 different filters availible to you. Some are useful, and some can be inhibiting, depending on your surroundings. The idea at the start of the game is to single out a Marine (they like to travel in packs, but you can catch one alone if you wait), uncloak near him (you can do so from behind), gut him with your claw, then immediately cloak again. The cloak is useless against Xenomorphs, and if you're not careful, Marines can get a good idea of your presence. //// Colonial Marine The Marine's game is one of personal survival. Being the only human alive on an infested space station (you've just been released from a 90-day brig sentence during which separate Alien & Predator invasions of your station happened), you must gather clues from the various computer consoles to figure out what occurred, and what you need to do to save yourself. Hints gleaned from the data logs guide you to new weapons and security cards. The cards are used to open certain doors, or access certain computers. The weapons you gain help keep you alive by allowing you do waste the aliens more effectively. They include: a pump shotgun, a pulse rifle, flame thrower, and the best of them all, the "smart gun". The motion tracker is around there too, but it has to be found just like the rest. The Marine's job is to get enough security level passes to set the base's self-destruct, and leave on the escape pod. No easy task, since that requires searching 5 levels (plus airducts) and 2 alien ships! Yes, you will have to travel through the Alien-infested airduct system, and retrieve items from both ships. Good luck, soldier. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Details, Glorious Details =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Each character has their own overlay for the keypad, and their own Heads Up Display (HUD), the HUD is a ghosty image that can be brightened or dimmed if need be. The Alien HUD shows the status of your eggs to the left, and your three attacks and their readiness to the right. Using a claw constantly will reduce its effectiveness. Waiting between blows allows for the "pull back" of a big swipe to happen. The Predator HUD has a sound oscilliscope and his medi-kit to the left, and weapons active on the right. (The oscilloscope reacts to nearby enemies, but I heard things better instead of watching this readout.) The Marine's motion tracker (if found) is on the left, weapons and ammo on the right. All scores are at the top of the HUD. Each weapon has a number or letter by it, as a reminder of which button is used to select it. All characters can bring up an automap that is overlayed in the middle of the screen. The map rotates as you do, so "up" is always the way you face. The map fills in as you move along, but it is lost as you move between levels - which brings up a good point, as you play, you are free to go anywhere you want, there isn't some lame-o "boss monster" guarding the elevators or guarding anything in fact. Zero boss monsters in this game, HOORAY! The controls are similar for each. For the Marine & Predator, "A" is use, "B" is fire, and "C" (in combination with Left and Right) is "strafe", or side step. The number keys select weapons, "8" is the map on/off, "7" and "9" are alternate "strafe left" and "strafe right" keys. Pause/Option brings up the HUD brightness control and Save game menu. "6" changes the vision filter for the Predator, and Option toggles the cloak. The Predator can use Marine food and medi-kits, but they are stored/ converted in the Predator kit, which is then activated by pressing "5". This lets you heal when needed, and as much as you need. The Marine will use up all of a medical kit, even if its not all needed. The Alien is a bit different though, "A" is claw/open door, "B" is mouth, and "C" is tail. In order to Cocoon a Marine for impregnation, you hit the Marine with a claw, a tail, and a claw. This brings up a message saying "Cocoon the enemy!" as you walk over the Marine, you hear a nice painful, gurgling sound, and the Marine is cocooned. Most sound in the game is straight from the movies. The one to listen out for is that characteristic Predator snarl if it's nearby (which is always un-nerving, as Predators are deadly). The Predator also laughs when a new weapon is aquired. (Billy's laugh from Predator 1.) The Aliens squeal when wounded, and doors open up with that unique winch sound. The Marine mainly just "ooofs" and "arrghs", but they added a bit of "cheese" to the Marine in that any time he gets a weapon or gadget, he says something inane. For instance, while grabbing the shotgun from the body outside his cell, you hear, "What on Earth got ahold of this guy?" Upon getting the pulse rifle, the Marine busts out with, "Alright! Bug soup!" Probably the cheesiest comment occurs when you get the motion tracker, "You can run but you can't hide". The voice is one of those Hell's Angels-whiskey-and-cigarettes gravely voices that doesn't really match the Marine's face on the HUD. Thankfully, these are few and far between, but they do peg the cornball meter. There is no music apart from the title sequence. (Which uses beautiful 24-bit rendered graphics.) During the game you hear the humming of the life support or the thrum of the Predator equipment. During a good fight (as the Predator), gun shots and flame thrower exaust were all around as I quickly found myself outnumbered by about ten Marines. It's a toss-up on whether music should have been in the game. I would have accepted some original Aliens or Predator music myself, but the lack of game music didn't annoy me though. =-=-=-=-=-=-= //// The Good =-=-=-=-=-=-= Jaguar AvP can be an intense game. The save game feature is a godsend, and there are 3 places to save your game at, so it's not like you have to play your way through the game in one setting. Rebellion did a great job on getting the atmosphere right: you have to wait for airlocks to pressurize; changing vision filters sounds just like it did in Predator 2; Aliens gather speed as they run; and their acid blood splashes on you (causing damage) at close range. Scampering facehuggers and Alien eggs that open when you near them are great touches. (Open eggs produce face huggers so beware.) The textures used are low contrast, so putting your face in the wall doesn't give that big chunky pixel effect. There are windows in walls to look through, and some doors as well. There's lots to explore, the levels are vast, and I think it'll be a while before they are all mapped out in your head. One other good thing is that unlike Wolfenstein 3D, when you -know- there's an officer or a guard waiting behind a certain door each time you play, Jaguar AvP randomizes a lot of its enemies and items in the station. This greatly enhances the game's replay value, as in each game, you'll never really know what's waiting for you.... The game was a challenge, I don't believe I'd tire of it quickly. A particularly heart-pounding moment occured once when I got a pulse rifle - suddenly a Predator decloaked right in front of me. I let loose on the trigger while the Predator cloaked again. Green blood was still visible as I unloaded a good 3 seconds of pulse rifle ammo into him. Finally, he decloaked and died. Whew! These Predators are tough fighters, and will often stalk a hapless Marine. (Just wait until you're playing the Marine and walking down an empty corridor only to hear a voice come out of nowhere and whisper, "Over here...". You'll learn to scoot pretty fast.) =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// The Not so Good =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= The Alien bodies on the floor continue to hurt you when you walk over them. I recall from the movies that the acid ate through floors and stopped after about 3 minutes. Having just killed a bunch of Aliens, and then having to walk through the remains all kinda grated on my nerves, but you'd have to walk through a lot of acid to die. Restoring a game resurrects all of the bad guys, so don't save in a room where you just killed 10 Marines. (Like I did.) I would say a good place to save would be in the elevator. (Or in an airduct, if you're playing the Alien.) Restoring a game also resets the ammo and medi-kits too. Corellating the computer map with your map is difficult, since there isn't a "north" or "up" on your personal map. It took me a while to track down the various rooms I was supposed to go into. Once I was playing the Predator and came across a Marine and an Alien in the same room. This bothered me. Interestingly enough, I entered the room and side stepped while watching the Alien. Suddenly, a flame thrower burst came from behind me and wasted the Alien. Thanks, buddy. The Marines are trigger happy to the point of stupidity. I lined up about 5 Marines in a doorway and watched the guys in back torch the guys in front. Maybe it's supposed to represent panic, but it's a little too much. =-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Overall =-=-=-=-=-=-= "The Edge" magazine gave this game a 4/10, and said something about lack of anything to do. Well, that's bullshit. It's true that it isn't a shooter, but I got my butt kicked many-a-time playing each of the characters. I'd say if you want a real killing spree, play the Predator. Suspense? Play the Marine. And the real challenge of the game is being the Alien. The -game- here is great, I had an excellent sense of being the characters, and hey, the audio and graphics are good too. I'm gonna buy this one. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= //// Final Ratings =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Title: Alien Vs Predator JagNet: No Design: Rebellion Players: One Published by: Atari Corp. Available: October 21 (US) Price: $69US October 23 (UK) Here's the summary ratings: "*" is a whole "+" is a half 5 stars maximum Control: **** Strafing is slow, but most moves are similar between characters. No way of customizing. Gameplay: ***** Lots of variety and freedom. I felt like I was playing a movie! Graphics: ***+ Better than Wolf3D and its clones, but it's still all orthagonal. Great textures and a lack of chunky pixelated walls. Sound: ****+ Clean samples, very atmospheric, with only title screen music. I miss the pulse rifle sound from the movie. Overall: ****+ It's gonna get a place in my library. We've gotten what we were promised. I really hope Atari makes this a pack-in. Pts Stars AEO Ratings """ """"" """"""""""" 10 ***** GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good. 9 ****+ Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent. 8 **** Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this. 7 ***+ Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers. 6 *** Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time. 5 **+ Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this. 4 ** Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic. 3 *+ Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun. 2 * Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this. 1 + Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you. 0 - Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.