AGH Jaguar Review:

by Atari

One of the first major - and highly anticipated - Jaguar titles that really showed what Atari's 64-bit system can do, Aliens Vs. Predator is not your run-of-the-mill Doom clone. There's a lot more cunning and strategy that's required to succeed in this game, and the atmosphere is much more suspenseful than all other first-person corridor shooters up to this point. AvP also doesn't have the sheer number of enemies in each level that Doom has, although this actually serves to scare you when you actually come across your foes. Players get to choose to play the role of the Predator, the Alien or the marine, all trapped in the same base. This choice isn't just mere window-dressing of character graphics; it actually influences your strategy toward how you attack (and what you'll use to strike) and what you're actually trying to do. Each of the characters have different strengths, weaknesses and goals.

The Predator is probably the choice for first-time players, as you get the baddest weapons and can turn invisible at will. Here, your task is to kill your enemies in the base, although you cannot be invisible while doing so. The goal here is to find the skull of the alien queen.

Choosing the Alien nets you a much faster creature than the Predator, and strength in numbers. Your goal here is to find your breed Queen. You cannot use any weapons, but you have the ability to increase the number of extra lives by placing eggs into the bodies of your victims. This gives you the opportunity to use one of the hatched Aliens when your original Alien dies.

The marine is most vulnerable, as you'd expect. You have neither the strength nor speed that's inherent in the Predator or Alien. Advantages lie in the larger repetoire of weapons and in your craftiness. The task using the human is to kill everything in sight and escape the station.

Visually, the game is stunning. The entire station is highly detailed and looks extremely sharp. Your player's status and the station map are actually layered over the playfield in green. This trick lets you see view the action on the entire screen, unlike most other games in this genre. The scaling of the walls is quite smooth, although movements are a tad on the slow and choppy side. The characters themselves are drawn very nicely, but lose a few points because of pixelization when they get close to you and the frames of animation drop from time to time.

A slightly more irritating aspect of Aliens Vs. Predator is in the control department. Movement is "floaty", meaning that you can't stop and turn your character on a dime. A speed burst or running button is sorely lacking in what is already a relatively slow-paced game. Also annoying is the fact that when you save a game in progress, the number of enemies left in the level, and the amount of supples, among other things, are not stored in memory. More attributes should have been saved along with just the progress you actually made in the game.

Despite the aformented glitches in Aliens Vs. Predator, it's uniqueness compared to various other clones lies in the suspense factor and depth of play. This is no ordinary blaster where you just run around mowing everything down in sight. The game requires sharp thinking and cunning as much as the quickness of your thumbs. And the atmosphere of the movie has translated here very nicely. There's no pumping techno tune playing in the background of this game. In fact, there's no music at all. The only sound you'll hear is screams, gunshots and explosions, further adding to the horrific setting of Aliens Vs. Predator. Finally, every new game is unique in that your foes are not in the same place as in the previous game. This sort of randomness harkens back to the good 'ol days of 2600 Adventure, where you never know what to expect in each game you play. Overall, a terrific effort that displays the hardware prowess of the Jaguar.

Title Aliens Vs. Predator
Publisher Atari
System Atari Jaguar
Graphics 9
Sound 7
Gameplay 9
Overall 9
Reviewer Keita Iida

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