For many, when you mention Alien Versus Predator they’ll think of the Paul Anderson film, but before its release in 2004 the Rebellion game would be the first thing that would have come to people’s minds. Released for the PC in 1999, the game put players into the shoes of the Predator, Alien, and Colonial Marines, in three distinct and separate first person action/horror adventures.
The Marine story saw players thrust into the role of an unnamed soldier on a research station on the planet LV-426, the world that began the whole Alien franchise. Built to study the remains of the crashed alien spacecraft that Ripley and the Nostromo crew discovered in the original film, the facility falls under attack from the Xenomorph creatures.
Armed with a variety of weapons from the Alien franchise, including pulse rifles, smart guns, and the iconic motion tracker, you must make your way through the dark, twisting corridors of the facility, defending yourself from alien attack. Eventually having to enter the alien spacecraft, before travelling on to the atmosphere processing station, and eventually a space station, the marine story takes players through a series of very recognisable locations.
By far the most frightening of the three campaigns, the marine section forces you to traverse almost pitch black areas, using a small torch and flares to light your way, with even the tiniest blip on the motion tracker sending shudders down your spine.
The Alien portion of the game actually puts you into the body of one of the titular creatures as you defend your hive from Colonial Marines, before eventually leaving and making your way towards Earth.
The Alien gives players the most freedom in the game, with the monster able to traverse any surface, including walls and ceilings. Coupled with the incredible speed of the creatures, you’ll soon find yourself dashing around the levels, slipping upside down, around corners, and over obstacles like they’re nothing in order to reach your foe.
The Predator sections are probably some of the most balanced, managing to capture some of the horror that permeates the Colonial Marine levels, whilst also giving the player a sense of power and freedom. Sent to recapture stolen Yautja technology from the human, the Predator finds itself travelling to a number of different planets, including Fiorina ‘Fury’ 161 from Alien 3, as it hunts down and destroys those responsible for the creation of several Alien/Predator hybrids.
Equipped with a number of weapons from the films, such as the plasma caster, throwing disc blade, and spear gun, the Predator feels incredibly powerful as you move through the levels, using heat vision to hunt and kill the unsuspecting humans. Despite the obvious power of playing as a Yautja, the game manages to keep things feeling fairly balanced, forcing the player to carefully consider their approach to certain situations as to not be killed in a hail of pulse rifle fire.
Aliens Versus Predator was the first game to give the best sense of what it would be like to control the monsters from the iconic movie franchises, and essentially gave players three games for the price of one. Whilst each of the campaigns wasn’t huge, they were challenging enough to ensure that you couldn’t just breeze your way through them, and would have to spend a good deal of time with each character in order to complete their stories.
Almost twenty years later the game is still an incredibly enjoyable and engaging experience, proving to be a challenge to even experienced gamers. Well worth the time to play if you can track down a copy, or if you have access to Steam.