Review: AVP: Evolution pleasantly facehugs your childhood
Let’s start with a question: have you ever played a good Alien vs. Predator game? Most likely, the answer is a thoughtless no. Even the AVP movies haven’t done the property much justice, which is particularly disappointing since the Aliens and Predator movies were among my favorite films as a child. I also remember playing through early AVP-type games and being so disappointed -- never showing me even a glimpse of the passion the original movies held.
So where does AVP: Evolution on iOS and Android stand? After installing the game, you get to choose which faction you wish to play as. I dig that, and I immediately picked Alien, of course, because screw the Predators. Them and their self-righteous cloaking devices.
First off, the graphics are impressive. It looks damn good for a mobile title. The Alien story is interesting because you start off as a facehugger in a tank. You must break free, find a victim, implant the xenomorphs, ruin someone's day when you pop out of them, then run away and hide until you mature; this will be your form for the remainder of the Alien campaign. At first, I wasn’t a fan of the controls. With your left thumb you touch anywhere on the screen to bring up a radial circle for movement, and your right thumb controls attack buttons. Once you're accustomed to the controls, you can move the camera around pretty quickly. The 'tap to find your direction' feature is quite useful.
The game functions as a hack and slash with limited puzzle-solving moments. The first few levels are easy and don’t offer anything too complex. That sense of disappointment started to creep into the back of my head, but I kept pushing on though. Suddenly, I was playing as the Predator -- while I was still in the Alien storyline. It's understandable why they do this, because there are moments when the two characters meet up. Still, this could be done in completely exclusive campaigns.
What the game has going for it is the customization aspect. As you play as either of the two species, you level up individual body parts and assign points to unlock different body types, equipment and skills. All of the sudden, I’m customizing my Alien to fit my play style a bit more. I can spit acid, run faster and learn new attack combos. Of course I switch to the Predator and pick up some of the iconic weapons: the disk, net gun, bow staff, etc. The game is a lot more enjoyable once you gain the ability to merge an iconic version of these creatures with a vision of your own play style.
As the game progresses and more customization options become available, the difficulty also increased. The result is that you get more and more into the game. I kept playing, didn’t mind switching species, and felt myself with an uncontrollable urge to unlock more gear and abilities. Executions became more elaborate the more I progressed. Even though you get it early, it's hard not to laugh when an Alien uses a facehugger aggressively and slaps it on the face of a human.
Ultimately, if you are a fan of Aliens, Predator, or even AVP titles, this game is absolutely worth the five dollars it costs. If you’re looking for a customizable hack and slash game on your mobile device, this is it. I will say, though, the game did crash on me more than once, which did leave a slight negative impression. These crashes always occurred during combat too, which just seems like the more action that goes on, the more prone you are to a crash. While annoying, the game auto saves often, so I never lost too much. These crashes made me lose momentum, though. No one likes to be taken out of the gameplay. Thankfully, this hiccup didn’t ruin the experience for me, and I can gladly say that this game broke the AVP stigma.
[Reviewed on iPhone 5]