SEGA has been proudly showing off new sections of Aliens vs. Predator at gamescom in Cologne this morning, with Alien gameplay being demonstrated for the first time, alongside new details of the multiplayer.
We were shown parts of the xenomorph campaign - the last piece of the three-part puzzle to fall into place. Visually it's very distinctive, with a more muted pallete wrested from Alien 3, and the fish-eye viewpoint familiar to fans of the first game. Movement, although remaining in the traditional spine-shivering scuttle mould, has also been refined. A minimal HUD now indicates orientation to the floor when on a wall or ceiling and a new focus mode will highlight vents and gaps which can be instantly leapt through, popping out on the other side to munch on unsuspecting squishies as they loiter in corridors, smoking and slagging off the sergeant.
As you'd expect, the Alien is still quite the mover, rattling along any flat surface to take out marines before they get a chance to bring guns to bear - a process assisted by the pheromone vision which allows you to 'see' the outlines of colonials through walls. Essentially, the name of the game is to pick off the armed guards one-by-one, isolating the unarmed and vulnerable colonists who remain. Then you grab and incapacitate them whilst a facehugger pops up and does the dirty business for you.
These harvestings all form part of larger objectives, pleasing your hungry queen as you progress. Leave a frightened civilian to their own devices for too long, though, and they'll often take the easy way out, popping a quick cap in their own melon, or hugging a grenade to stymie your larder-stocking plans. It's all quite tense and sinster, much as it should be.
There's more to playing the alien than just the fun and rape games, however. Marines will often set up traps and sentry guns, which must be disabled by destroying the power outlets which they're connected to. Or you can distract them with a handy hiss and leap from the shadows to perform a swift and lethal quick-kill manouevre when they come to investigate. First impressions are that the Alien campaign will also involve a fair bit of problem-solving, with larger areas full of marines requiring careful traversal to avoid detection and extinction.
On the multiplayer front, the main news is that there'll be 18-player, cross-species battles on all formats. There'll also be pure-blood modes where members of the same species are pitted against one another. Finally, there'll be four-player co-op, in which a quartet of marines will stand off against waves of encroaching aliens in a survival mode similar to Gears of War 2's Horde.
We'll be there, earning our brown review stripes, when AvP pops up from behind a stack of crates for 360, PS3 and PC in the first quarter of next year.