GC 09: Gamescom's BIG games played

Aliens Vs Predator is being shown behind closed doors at Gamescom in Cologne, demonstrating Alien gameplay for the first time. Here's what we thought.

Unlike the rather traditional-looking mercenary gameplay - which looks like Doom 3 with pulse rifles - the Alien side of things is looking very different.

Aesthetically, the game is much more stylised in this mode. The fish-eye lens effect, coupled with some neat discolouration and distortion effects make the game look just like you're seeing through the eyes of a xenomorph (we imagine). And every so often, after a quick change of direction, you'll catch a glimpse of your tail. You can't say that about many games.

The gameplay appears to be much more stealth-based than the survival horror feel of the mercs and it'll make for an interesting change to become the hunter. You'll spend your time craving civilians to harvest, which involves setting a face hugger free on your victim's face while you hold them still. Nice.

Of course, it's not that easy and you'll have to kill several human mercenaries along the way before you reach your undefended target. Each kill is rendered in gruesome detail and you'll see the whites of your prey's eyes for a second or so... until you gouge them out with a skeletal extremity. There's screaming, impalement, occasional vomit... and lots and lots of blood. This sure ain't for the squeamish.

In a novel twist, there's a punishment for failing to reach your target quickly. You might be obstructed by a door, which is breakable - but while you're busy prising it open, the civilian may manage to get hold of a gun and take the coward's way out. There's no harvesting when there's no face left to hug.

The game is fast-moving yet appears to control well from the hands-off demo we were shown. As an alien, you can crawl along the floor, walls or ceiling and, to avoid sticking to the wrong duct, you can now target your next crawlspace of choice and leap to it with the press of a single button.

The alien can also see through walls to some extent, using the electromagnetic field in its body to read living objects. This allows you to plan your next attack before you've even entered a room.

It all looks very promising, and the announcement that the game will feature not only 18-player multiplayer on all three formats (PS3, Xbox 360 and PC), was sweetened even more by the prospect of four-player co-op. There's even a Left 4 Dead-style four-player mode where a group of mercenaries must face an onslaught of aliens, which sounds brilliant.

The game will be released across the three platforms in February 2010 and the PC version will be available through Steam, complete with profile access from different PCs and the prospect of downloadable content.