At Sierra's recent Palm Springs press event, we got a chance to briefly play Aliens vs. Predator, an upcoming PSP action game based on the approaching film of the same name. Although the movie's pedigree is dubious (the last Alien vs. Predator film met with mixed reviews), the game is in development at Rebellion Studios, the makers of the excellent Aliens vs. Predator PC game back in 1999. These guys know the difference between a plasma caster and a combi stick; they also know how to use them.
And you will too, after a few minutes in Alien vs. Predator. This game focuses on the Predator, so you'll be running, jumping, cloaking, and blasting rather than skittering or chest bursting, as you did in the PC title. Because the Predator has so many weapons and abilities at his disposal (at least, we assume it's a he), just about every button on the PSP has a use. But rather than get into nitty-gritty button layouts that are liable to change by the time the game ships, let's talk action.
In the first level we played, we found ourselves in an outdoor jungle environment near what seemed to be a human-research facility. After nimbly hopping up some tree trunks and running through foliage from a close, third-person perspective, we spotted alien wreckage, as well as human targets. We slipped into stealth mode, stalked onto a branch, shifted into first-person mode, and obliterated our first human target with a bolt from our plasma caster (basically a nasty, shoulder-mounted cannon for you Predator neophytes). Then, we jumped down and finished his astonished friend with our wicked hand blades. We couldn't find the triumphant yell button, but that doesn't mean it wasn't there.
After that, we stalked into a base only to be attacked by two xenomorphs. Too fast to blast, we had to cut them down. From there, we went deeper into the facility and noticed a sneaky xenomorph hunting us from the ceiling. How quickly the hunter became the hunted as we used its slow approach to nail it with a plasma burst--like an alien Orkin man.
It may seem a foregone conclusion that virtual life as an all-powerful bug zapper would make for a thrilling PSP action/adventure, especially when the bugs are xenomorphs and the zappers are predators. Did we mention that you and a friend will be able to play cooperatively? Even Arnold would have been mince meat against two. But whether Aliens vs. Predator is worth buying for one will remain to be seen when it ships this November.