There is a dark corridor, illuminated only by your flashlight. You hear a faint scraping sound from the shadows behind you and quickly spin around, the sound now gone and the hallway eerily quiet once more. You begin to make your way down the hallway again but are quickly grabbed from behind by something you can’t identify. The last thing you see before everything goes dark is the head of a Xenomorph, and its second jaw breaking through the glass on your helmet. But, instead of being discouraged, you laugh. Going over strategies in your head during the five second respawn time, you jump back into the game, trying not to make the same mistakes as last time.

This is just one such encounter that can be experienced in the demo for the newest Alien vs. Predator game, Aliens vs. Predator. Developed by Rebellion Developments, the studio responsible for the very first Aliens vs. Predator game, this game takes three very different, hostile species and mixes them up in a very creative and interesting way. The demo only offers one map with one gameplay mode, but it does a good job of showing off all the differences between the three playable species and the basic strategies of playing as them.

Probably the most basic species is the one not included in the title: humans. Taking the role of a Marine, you are caught in the middle of the war between the Aliens and Predators. When you first start playing as a Marine, you may feel incredibly underpowered. Luckily, a variety of firepower is strewn across the map to aid you in defending yourself. Basic FPS knowledge will help you immensely here, but you will still have to be very careful as you traverse the map. Because the demo only allows a Deathmatch option, it was very hard to get Marines together in a group to help fight off the other species because as soon as you see another human, they’ll attack you and continue on. If you are lucky, though, you might find an awesome group of people to team up with, and it makes it that much easier surviving the war.

Being a Marine is also one of the most stressful experiences I’ve ever been a part of. Predators and Aliens will constantly be flitting in and out of your line of sight, setting off the motion sensor you are equipped with whenever they get close enough. Plus, the closer they get, the faster the motion sensor beeps, building up tension with every second as you’re stalked throughout the map.

The titular Alien character is almost the polar opposite of the Marine. You have a ton of skills at your disposal, like the ability to crawl along the walls and ceilings. If you are able to sneak up behind an enemy, you are allowed a very quick, instant kill attack. But, there is a drawback in the form of you being vulnerable when killing your unsuspecting victim, a sequence that takes a few seconds to finish. As an Alien, you’ll be using your speed as your main weapon. You can also go the psychological route by destroying light fixtures and hissing at your enemies to disorient them before leaping in for the kill.

Playing as Predator forms a great middle ground between the experiences of playing as a Marine and Alien. While your main goal is to hunt like the Alien, you must also be very careful of being spotted like the Marine. You gain a similar instant kill attack, but also the same vulnerabilities of the Alien. But, playing as the Predator gives you a lot of toys to mess around with. You have a cloaking mechanism that renders you almost entirely invisible, but will run out after a short while. You also have two different scanning visors, one that tracks heat signatures to find Marines and another Alien scope for hunting the Xenomorphs. Lastly, you can set traps in the form of overloaded computer terminals that will kill any unsuspecting enemy to pass by. The Predator is very deadly in the hands of a skilled player, and I think they might have to nerf him a bit before the game’s actual release.

While Aliens vs. Predator’s single-player story isn’t available in the demo, the multiplayer is enough to get me excited for its eventual release. The different species and tactics that come with playing as each of them give a bit of strategy and complexity to the game that keeps you coming back for more. The controls are very smooth for being an early build of the game. One thing that seemed a bit iffy to me was the camera when you were in control of the Alien. Being first-person, it became a bit disorienting as you shifted from the floor to the walls and ceiling. Be sure to check out the demo on Xbox Live, PSN, and Steam, and the full game when it is released on February 16th for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.

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