Aliens and Predators have been fighting for a long time now--across several films, countless comic books, and multiple video games. With the upcoming Aliens vs. Predator for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC from Sega and developer Rebellion, the battle will continue into the current generation of consoles and PCs. To find out how the AVP approach has changed since Rebellion's earlier work on such games as 1999's Aliens Versus Predator for the PC and 1994's Alien vs. Predator on the Atari Jaguar, we spoke with AVP project lead, Tim Jones.
GameSpot: How did you settle on the Aliens gameplay?
Tim Jones: We asked ourselves what would drive an Alien--what is an Alien trying to achieve? The answer is pretty simple: It's about survival. In our game that means escaping captivity, eliminating threats, and serving your queen. The other key element is the way the Aliens have been portrayed in the movies: They are scary and lethal; they hide in the dark, can move fast, and pounce on their prey from any angle. We hope we've successfully captured a flavor of what it might be like to be an Alien in the game!
GS: Did you follow the lead of any of the previous games that featured the Aliens?
TJ: There have been numerous Aliens games over the years, and myself and the team have probably played them all and, we take inspiration from wherever we find it!
Of course, we developed the original Aliens vs. Predator game on PC in 1999, which is still very fondly remembered to this day. So it's giving us a buzz to take that classic experience and bring it up to date for not only fans of the game and film franchises, but also a whole new potential AVP audience as well. A significant number of our team [members] on the game actually worked on our original 1999 AVP game, including myself. So it's been really cool to have the chance to come back and work on the franchise again.
GS: What mechanics did you feel you had to have in for them?
TJ: There was no way we were going to make Aliens vs. Predator without giving the Alien player the ability to walk on any surface (walls and ceilings included!) and to allow them to replenish their health by taking a bite out of their victims' heads…
GS: Has fan feedback influenced what's wound up in the game?
TJ: Yes, of course. We are fans ourselves, and our instincts for what should be part of the game often coincide with the wishes of the fans on the forums.
GS: Can you run us through what players can do as an Alien? Will they be able to lay eggs as in the Jaguar game?
TJ: Alien players are fully empowered to be the master of any environment they inhabit: dashing into ducts, leaping from surface to surface, seeing through the darkness. Combine that with the razor sharp teeth, tail, and claws, and there's a real force to be reckoned with! While you won't be laying eggs yourself, they certainly make an appearance. And you will have the opportunity to introduce the gruesome facehugger to some of your unfortunate victims…
GS: Has it been challenging to balance their abilities to make them competitive without being too overpowered?
TJ: Balancing in this game is extremely important, especially when you're working with three species that all provide their own unique gameplay experience. We are investing lots of time to ensure that we get the balance right in both single-player and multiplayer, and it's shaping up really well. Each of the three species, the Marine, Predator, and Alien, is capable of taking out all of the others--if players have their wits about them! We're constantly playing the multiplayer in the office and having lots of fun.
GS: So, from the trailer, it looks like you are sticking to the standard warrior aliens we've seen before. Are those the only ones being included or are there more (such as queens, predalien, etc.)?
TJ: I can confirm that the Predalien will feature in the game, and there will be other alien types too, including a couple of things that have never been seen before in the Aliens or Predator universe. Other than that, I can't reveal anymore. You'll just have to wait and see!
GS: Where will the game fit into the whole Alien/Predator movie timeline?
TJ: Our game story takes place about 30 years after the events of the movie Alien 3, so technology has moved on a little further in that time. Fans can expect to see some interesting twists to the iconic weaponry from the movies. It's a completely new story to the Aliens and Predator universes but obviously very much inspired and in keeping with the different stories in the movies and Dark Horse comic books. There is a huge volume of material for the Aliens and Predator universe out there, and we have strived to make sure that our story remains consistent with the established lore.
We're all huge fans of the Aliens and Predator universe, and while we're steering clear of obvious direct quotes from the movies, the game features a number of references that fans should delight in spotting. Though they certainly won't distract from the experience for the uninitiated.
GS: Will there be any ties with the Aliens: Colonial Marines game?
TJ: No, our game won't be tied with Aliens: Colonial Marines. We are developing the game that we want to make, ensuring that it's consistent with the previous AVP titles whilst also evolving the franchise. As a lifelong Aliens fan, I think it's great that SEGA is publishing more than one Aliens game in the near future. We're all really excited in the studio to see what the talented team at Gearbox delivers.
GS: Thanks for your time, Tim.