Alien vs Predator is a first person shooter developed by Rebellion and published by Atari for the Jaguar system. The game allowed the player to choose one of three characters: the Alien, Predator or as a lone Colonial Marine named Lance Lewis. It was a premiere release for the Jaguar system in 1994. Even at the time, it was being recognized as one of the few likely candidates for a "killer app" for the Jaguar.
The game presents itself as a virtual simulation of a previous attack on the Camp Golgotha Marine training base. The player is allegedly reliving the events from all three perspectives for tactical training purposes as a Colonial Marine.
There is no narrative to unfold during the game, and what has already occurred is revealed through the manual and reading log entries as the Marine. The station's staff retrieved a derelict spacecraft and docked it on the lowest level. They discovered that the ship was similar in design to the "Jockey" ship from the first Alien, and was filled with Xenomorphs. The Aliens quickly overran the base.
The Predators intercept a distress call from the station and dock at the uppermost level. Their "youngbloods" enter the fight to earn their honor, taking on both Aliens and the station's defensive force of Marines.
The Marine character awakens from cryosleep last in the timeline, making him the last human alive on a station full of Aliens and Predators. His goal is to set the station to self-destruct and eject in an escape pod.
The game takes place entirely inside five levels of a Colonial Marine Training base, plus two smaller "levels" representing Alien and Predator ships docked with the station. The player can select to play as either the Alien, Predator, or Marine from the title screen. Each character has a different arsenal of weapons, a slightly different style of play, and different overall objective. The levels also change slightly for each character, replacing enemies or blocking off some doors or sections.
The Alien starts inside its ship on Level 5. It must move to the Predator's ship on Level 1, find the Queen trapped within, and fight a Predator to free her. Marine personnel patrol the hallways and offer additional resistance. The player is the only Alien in the game, and has no backup.
The Alien is equipped with a claw strike, tail attack, and inner-jaw bite. Each attack is mapped directly to the A, B, and C buttons. Each attack grows weaker with continuous use (spamming), but recharges power quickly. The Alien has no long range attack, but has the fastest speed to close the distance to its foes.
Aliens cannot cling to walls and have no special vision modes. Aliens strike doors with their claws to open them, but cannot use elevators. Alien players must instead navigate maze-like air ducts to move from one level to the next. Aliens are very weak, but the player can cocoon Marines using a claw-tail-claw combo. Each cocooned Marine acts like a plantable checkpoint, and grows a new Alien over a short period of time (tracked by a gestating embryo on the Alien HUD). Up to 3 Marines can be cocooned at one time.
The Predator starts in their ship on Level 1 and must move down to the Alien ship on Level 5. They must find the Queen inside and defeat her - she's very tough, and the fight is equivalent to a boss battle. The player is the only Predator in this mode, and will face Marines in the upper levels and Aliens in the lower.
Predators have four possible weapons, all with infinite ammo - wristblades, staff, disc, and shoulder cannon. Like the Alien, spamming any attack reduces its power each shot. Predators start with only the wristblades, and earn their weapons through a system of "honor points." New weapons are unlocked at certain milestones, and taken away if the score falls below those points again:
- Wristblades (always availble)
- Combi-Stick (150,000 points)
- Smart Disc (350,000 points)
- Shoulder Cannon (750,000 points)
An Alien kill counts for 10,000 points. A Marine kill counts for 5,000. Using the disc or cannon (ranged weapons) cuts the reward in half. The same amount is deducted from the player's score if the kills are made while invisible.
Predators can cloak and decloak by pressing the "Option" button. Cloaking has no duration limit, and turns the player invisible to A.I. Marines unless they get very close. Cloaking has no effect on Aliens. However, if the player kills a Marine while cloaked, it is considered a "dishonorable" kill, and the player's score goes down. If they decloak first, their score goes up. The player must make enough decloaked kills to earn their full weapon cache.
Predators also have various vision enhancements, similar to those in Predator 2, that activate while cloaked. The player can cycle through five different filter effects (mostly just swapping colors) until they find a useful one, but enemies are not highlighted as in later AvP games. Predators cannot collect weapons, but can pick up and store Marine medkits into a health "reserve." The player can transfer health from the reserve at any time by using the 5 key. An "audio waveform analyzer" on the HUD also fluctuates to indicate nearby enemies, even if in nearby rooms.
The player wakes up in the brig on Level 3 after serving an automated sentence for punching a superior officer. They must locate 10 security cards through the base, with higher clearance opening up new areas of the levels. Level 10 access will allow the self-destruct system to be set, after which the player has only a few minutes to run to the escape pod on Level 5.
The Marine can access terminals throughout the station that give logs and maps for the current level. Logs offer clues regarding where to find cards or guns, and maps give a general idea of a room's purpose (the med-lab will have health kits, the armory will have ammo). Certain medical computers also freely restore the player's health, but up to a limit determined by their current security card level.
The Marine can open doors and use elevators if his clearance allows, but is also required to use Alien-infested air vents to bypass some locked or damaged hatches. The A.I. cannot open doors in the Marine's game, allowing some tactical use for sealing doors or creating chokepoints. However, the Alien's acid blood is persistent in this game mode, and will damage the player quickly any time they walk over an Alien corpse. This could effectively block off doors or narrow passages if Aliens are killed inside them.
All game modes are persistent as long as the console's power is on. The levels reset whenever power is cycled. The game offers three in-cart save slots, but these only save the player's position, ammo count, security level, and current score. All defeated Aliens will have returned, along with all previously-collected ammo. This can be worked to the player's advantage, but also encourages finding a safe spot to save before shutting off the console.
As with all Jaguar games, Alien vs. Predator came with insert cards to place over the controller's keypad. In this case, there were three - one for each species. The cards used icons to help quickly identify key functions for each character, include weapon selection, vision mode cycling (for the Predator), and distinct keys for left/right strafing. The player could also hold down C to strafe with the D-pad.
As with most Jaguar games, the cart itself is region-free with the console having applicable region locks. The instruction manual and back of the box info are printed in English, French, and German.
Alien vs Predator was well-received on release, and continues to be considered one of the few "good" games released for the Jaguar system. Its almost survival-horror take on the FPS was also fresh for the time. Limited supplies, slower foot speeds, and being massively outnumbered all created a shooter more tactical than run-and-gun. It was also the first game that allowed the player to control Aliens, Predators, and Marines in the same game - a trend continued by modern AvP titles - and one of the few games that offered three noticeably different characters/experiences on the same cart.
Due to its popularity, along with some mystique granted by being an exclusive that was only playable on an unsuccessful console, AvP can be difficult for collectors to find. Copies, especially complete ones, are usually fairly expensive on auction sites and specialty stores.