I really liked the original Aliens vs. Predator PC game when it came out in the early days of the decade. Boy was that game freaky - it really cemented my fear of spiders/face huggers. The different races were also nicely compelling - playing as the alien for the first time was a blast, as you learned to climb walls and ceilings. And the predator just had so many fun toys.
It was the predator I got to see in action at E3, in the new Aliens vs. Predator game, now coming to the next-gen consoles as well as the PC. And in even better news, the original development team is back on the case - that right there makes me more hopeful for it. As before, there are three campaigns to follow - alien, predator, and marine - that can be switched between at any given moment.
I wasn't able to get hands on time, which was gutting - but the game is still has a way to go with its development. Here's the basic gist of the plot: human corporations stumble upon an ancient predator home, uncovering artifacts and a temple. Naturally, in this temple are a bunch of dormant aliens...which then get awoken by the humans. And while there were some predators on this planet, they are beaten back by the humans - so to protect the secrets of their race, a number of elite predators are called in to remove the pesky humans. The developer on hand showed me through a level as one of these elite predators, encountering both aliens and humans along the way.
So how was it? Well, the predator looked much more fun than his previous outings. The level started in a jungle, with the developer moving stealthily to isolate and eliminate various human patrols. The best bit here was the new jumping system for the predator. Depending on where your crosshair was, a spherical icon would pop up on the ground. Hit jump, and the predator leaps to that spot. This makes jumping from the ground to the treetops, or right across the canopy, a breeze - and it looked like a blast. It makes it very easy to get into a good snipering position, or to leap quickly down to slaughter someone - or to make a quick escape when it all goes wrong.
Other moves were more familiar, including stealth melee executions (including a trophy kill that involved ripping someone's head - including spinal cord - out of their bodies), the famous "three red dots of doom" laser blast, and handy mines. The predator is certainly packing it when it comes to inventive killing. Of course, it's all balanced by a finite amount of energy for all of these abilities - if you run out, you'll be limited to just your claws, which sucks when you're surrounded by marines. So you'll need to use your powers wisely, and pray there's an energy station around the next corner.
The Good: Great presentation and ideas.
The Bad: Can't tell if it plays as good as it looks.
The Ugly: The predator unmasked. Seriously.