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The Alien third of the Aliens Vs. Predator is definitely the furthest removed from the normal FPS staple of guns, marines and enemies. For one thing, you have no long range weapons. Yes, you read that right. Nothing. All you have are claw attacks, tail attacks, and bite attacks. So you might be forgiven for thinking that the Alien is a little bit crap.
You would be wrong though. The alien is so far from crap that if crap was a big planet, the alien would be speeding light years away from it in the Nostromo.
Why is the Alien not crap? Read on, I say...
- Firstly, the Alien takes no fall damage. You can throw yourself off any ledge you like, and you will simply land and keep fighting.
- The Alien is fast. Disturbingly fast. As you will quickly find out if you play as the Marine, the Alien can be on the far side of the room one minute, and then right in front of you. This advantage of spped and surprise can turn the tide of a battle with either of the other two species, because they are confined to walking nice and slowly.
- The Alien never needs to look for pick ups to increase it's health or armour, or find ammo. All the Alien's weapons are part of it's body, so the Alien is always at full attack strength. The Marine is screwed if he doesn't have his ammo, and likewise for the Predator.
- The Alien can recover health not from Medikits, but from mutilating bodies. That's right, Soldier of Fortune style fun with a slightly less prominent taste of realism. To get health, the Alien can use use his claw attacks on dead bodies (which are then broken up in a very satisfactory way) or use the mighty head bite. The head bite is activated by pressing the primary fire button (Normally, Primary fire uses the claw attacks and secondary fire uses the tail attack). When a hapless victim's head is lined up in the centre of your screen, and they are in range, the double set of jaws will appear around the side of the viewpoint - and then it's a simple mouse button click, and your friendly little pet alien decapitates the human or Predator. You then gain some health back from it - how much depends on whether the victim was dead or alive. Live victims give much more health.
- The Alien has two unique vision modes.
- The navigation view basically makes dark things light. In a game as dark as Aliens Vs. Predator, you need to be able to see in the dark, and while the marine relies of flares, the Alien can just use his snazzy vision modes. This is useless for seeing enemies, but great for travelling around.
- The hunting vision mode allows you to see in a similar way to humans - everything is in the correct colours, and it is impossible to see in the dark. However, any enemies that are alive (which excludes androids and sentry turrets) will show up with a special glow around them, a different colour depending on what kind of enemy they are. This means that tracking enemies becomes a piece of cake.
- The Alien has a special key to hiss. This can be done to scare nearby humans, and in some cases they will panic, leaving an easy kill. Especially amusing are the civilian humans who carry petrol bombs - make them panic and they will often throw the bomb short and set themselves on fire.
- The final element which makes the Alien the king of the species (I've heard that in the multiplayer game, a good Alien Player can take out any number of other species) is the fact that the Alien can crawl on any surface. That means any surface - for example, imagine you are in a corridor, the cross section of which is a square. Stand in the middle of it looking along the corridor. Press the crouch key (which you should bind to a point quite near your movement keys - you will need it) and strafe to the left a bit. If you were the marine or the predator then you would hit the wall and stop, but the Alien simple start to walk up it. Your view rotates 90 degrees, and you are moving up the wall. When you get to the top of the wall, keep strafing and you will hit the ceiling. There truly is nothing wierder than playing as the Alien. You can hang on any surface for as long as you want, just by holding the crouch key. This means that you can hang on a ceiling, watching blissfully oblivious humans below you, plan your attack, and then let go, fall, and kill. You can also climb around shafts to any conceivable height, which is necessary in a lot of the Alien levels.
Overall, the Alien is the wierdest chapter of the game, but also one of the most fun. You are very powerful, and can decide whether to leave enemies or kill them. A slight problem is that for some of the later Alien levels, they rely entirely on how well you can learn your way around a huge maze of identical vent shafts. But aside from this needless element, the Alien side of the game is excellent.
Thanks to Triften for a correction.