Day One: The Predator
See It in Action
For the next three days, we'll be previewing the three playable races in Monolith's upcoming first-person shooter, Aliens versus Predator 2. Today, we'll take a look at the predators, a race that travels the galaxy, hunting for other creatures' skulls to add to its trophy collection. Monolith is making a number of improvements on the first game's basic formula, the most important of which is an intertwining storyline that gives ample justification for the presence of the three races in the same place at the same time. The setting for the sequel is a planet simply named LV1201, and because a rather large alien colony exists there, the predators like to think of it as a prime hunting and skull-collecting area. And when other creatures visit the planet, the predators see it as an opportunity to diversify their unique collection.
Those weapons are truly what set the predators apart from the other two classes, but before any of them can be used with any efficiency, you'll have to learn how to use the predators' excellent hunting skills. Like in the original game, one of the predators' most valuable assets is their ability to use three different types of infravision scopes, which you can use to detect any one of the three races in the game. Fans of the Predator movies will recognize the scope for hunting humans, a device that coats the environment in a rainbow of hues, making it easier to detect humans by coloring them with a mixture of dark and light colors. The scope for hunting aliens is incredibly useful since the large insectlike creatures like to hide in dark areas and wait for the perfect moment to pounce on an unsuspecting visitor, but if you're careful, you can lessen the impact of such an ambush--just make sure you scour the walls and ceilings with this scope before you proceed into any dark corridors or rooms. The last of the three scopes has been specifically designed for use on other predators.
Don't think you can get away with just using one scope throughout most of the game: If you don't use the correct scope to find a specific enemy, that enemy will be practically invisible. But thankfully you won't have to constantly switch between the three settings to find enemies. The development team at Monolith wants to make the environments as immersive as possible in Aliens Versus Predator 2, so if you listen carefully to all the sounds in the area, you might be able to hear one of the other enemies in the area. It's not exactly the most reliable method though. If you want to have greater success in getting the jump on any enemies in the area, you're much better off using another essential predator skill that lets you come within a few feet of an enemy without being detected: the cloaking skill.
Come On, I'm Over Here!
Only the predators' cloaking device can give you a good chance of successfully launching the first attack on an enemy. The cloak turns predators almost completely invisible to other enemies in the game; however, it does have some drawbacks. When you activate cloaking, the environment you're standing in front of becomes distorted, a particularly obvious side effect when you come in close range of your target. Monolith has designed the AI so that as the predator, you can use the cloak at a safe distance, but if you get too close, any enemies in the area start to open fire. In one early level, two marines are in a room talking to each other when one of them turns to look in your direction. Fortunately, they can't see you at a distance, but if you walk any closer while cloaked, they'll immediately start to open fire.
In this kind of a situation, where there are multiple enemies in the room and you can get in the first shot, you'll want to use your predator's range weapons. The spear gun is useful because it's powerful and can be fired from a distance with reasonable accuracy, but it's also slower than most of the other range weapons. However, you can actually retrieve ammunition for the spear gun by taking a spear that has pinned an enemy's head to the wall. The shoulder cannon is a powerful ranged weapon that's relatively quick and can do damage to a greater area than the spear gun, but since it requires the trademark predator laser-targeting system, it might give away your location too quickly. To make the decision a little more complicated, Monolith has added a net gun to the predators' arsenal. You can walk into a room, fire the net gun at some of the human marines or aliens, take out the others that are free with your weapon of choice, and then deal with the enemies that are tied up. The net gun works very well, and it's especially effective in larger battles, but enemies can cut out of the net and start attacking you after a short period of time.
Another weapon at your disposal is a razor-sharp disc that you can use for direct long-range attacks, but in truth, it's designed to act more as a trap rather than as a direct-attack weapon. When you fire the disc, it will get caught in walls and stay there until you tell it to return. You can fire the disc, lure some aliens or marines into the room, and as they walk to a certain point, you can recall the disc and do some serious damage at the same time. They won't even see it coming.
For predators, the single- and multiplayer modes aren't very different from each other. The same tactics work just about as well against human opponents as they do against computer opponents; however, you will have to protect yourself a little better in multiplayer since opponents can actually knock your mask off, removing your infravision abilities. In addition, you also get to choose from different types of predators in multiplayer, including the impressive alien-predator hybrid. We'll have more on Aliens Versus Predator 2's multiplayer tomorrow when we take a look at the most agile species of the group, the aliens.