Preview: Alien vs. Predator: Evolution offers hacking and slashing action as well as vertebrae removal
It's safe to say that neither the Alien nor Predator franchises have ever completely gone away. The sci-fi duo continues to resonate with fans, so it should come as no surprise that Alien vs. Predator: Evolution from Fox Digital Entertainment and Angry Mob Games - the developer that previously brought us Guerrilla Bob, Muffin Knight, and Predators - is a continuation rather than a revival of the crossover rivalry. So far, this next chapter looks to provide fans with a mobile hack-and-slash experience that's full of pure nostalgia, delightful gore, and pretty graphics.
AVP: Evolution stars the titular Alien species and Predator clan. The game's campaign mode spans 19 levels, with the core gameplay relying on sheer action. The Alien path starts you off as a facehugger, and it isn't long before you turn into an adorable (read: creepy as hell) chestburster, only to finally become a full-grown Alien monstrosity. The Predator branch starts you off as a lowly hunter and allows you to take the character and mold him into a battle-hardened warrior.
Intuitive hack-and-slash combat makes AVP: Evolution easy to pick up and play right off the bat. There are a few wrinkles to keep things interesting, though. For example, executions can be performed when your enemies are weak enough. Simply tap the skull icon over your target's head, slide your finger across the screen, and watch as the enemy gets its head ripped off. Performing executions rewards you with health, which you're going to need as you're constantly under attack. As you make your way through numerous locales including the Temple Arena, Marine Base, and Alien Hive, you'll encounter a variety of enemies. Some are armed while others rely on brute force, and it's up to you to dispose of them.
You can upgrade your Alien and Predator characters via an in-game store. The interesting thing here is that you can either purchase upgrades using real world cash or by spending points that you accrue after you complete side missions. The store in AVP: Evolution is fully stocked with skills and abilities that enhance your characters as well as appearance altering items. So if Predator is feeling a bit of fashionable ineptitude, he can totally snag a new helmet and armor.
If you'd rather just play to earn points for use in the store rather than spending your own money, you'll find a number of side missions to engage in. These include survival mini-games where you need to stay alive as long as possible; stealth jobs that task you with killing large numbers of enemies before being spotted; kill-based missions that require you to perform specific attacks such as body slices; and protection side quests.
While both Alien and Predator share a similar combat style, each character has a few nuanced attacks to help differentiate the two. Alien has a strong tail smack, acid spit, and facehugger call to truly terrorize the opposition. Meanwhile Predator can slice his enemies or shoot at them with guns. He can also use thermal vision or employ Alien vision when hunting his cold-blooded prey.
I spent a bit of time playing AVP: Evolution during my preview session, and I was pleased to find out that the touchscreen controls were quite responsive and highly functional. It may certainly take a few minutes to get used to the controls for some players, but the onscreen "analog stick" and "buttons" work well. Additionally, it should be noted that AVP: Evolution looks pretty damn great. Built on the Unity engine, the game sports a nice graphical look, with character models appearing especially impressive.
AVP: Evolution is scheduled to launch sometime during Q1 for iOS and Android devices. A specific price point has yet to be determined, though individuals interested can look forward to that information closer to launch. From what I gathered during my time watching AVP: Evolution in action and playing it for myself, it looks like mobile gaming fans of the Alien vs. Predator lore will have something pretty interesting to look forward to.
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