Fox Digital Entertainment's forthcoming "Alien Vs. Predator: Evolution" for iOS and Android devices finds the iconic film monsters wrestling for control of an alien queen on a distant planet. For anyone well-versed with the movies or comics, the concept may sound familiar, but as CBR News discovered during a recent hands-on preview with the game, there is still plenty of fun to be had with it. Developed by Angry Mob Games, developers of the previous "Predators" mobile game, the title revels in the characters' appeal with every blood -- or acid -- soaked slice, rip and kill.
Jeff Schwartz, Fox Digital Entertainment's associate director, demoed a few of the levels, which sees the player taking on the role of either a Jungle Hunter Predator or an ooze-dripping alien. The graphics are surprisingly rich for the handheld arena, with plenty of detail from the piped Weylan-Yutani hallways to the open sky of the remote planet that has now become a battlefield.
While there are some humans in the mix, don't expect to see them as playable characters -- they're mostly there for fodder.
Schwartz explained the plot revolves around warring factions of Predators, the playable Jungle Hunter Clan and the enemy Super Predators. In the initial alien level, the Super Predators invade an alien hive. "It's the last stand of the aliens trying to protect their Queen," said Schwartz. Though the player may put up a valiant effort, the first alien character is set up to die. And as for those humans? "Weylan-Yutani is on the planet for different ventures and they have gone into temple and they've been able to harvest eggs from the Queen," Schwartz said.
With the Alien Queen captured, the Super Predators hope to control the xenomorph species and use them against the Jungle Hunters. As a Jungle Hunter, the player must prevent the Super Predators from carrying out their deadly plan. As an alien, the player must kill every man or Predator that stands in its way.
In service of these grim purposes is a varied list of skills and add-ons that can be earned through special in-game kills, completing missions or by buying store points. Schwartz called them "Xeno" or "Honor" points depending on which faction the player chooses. Alien add-ons include acid splash skills, different style head and body designs and more. The Predator player can earn various masks, extra devices or upgrades to the "combi stick." Each costume piece offers various in-game bonuses for the player as well. Other options include health increases, medikits, and the ability to call in facehuggers.
The game uses a d-pad and a/b button scheme. After an initial acclimation phase, it was pretty fun to jump across a room to attack a scientist or marine and slash at them as an alien, recalling the madness of "Aliens II." After opponents are worn down, the game gives you the option to swipe near the enemy to activate a special finishing move; an opportunity for extra gore. A combo system is also available with a list of special moves easily found in the pause menu.
In the level we played, the alien must climb the walls of the marine base to avoid hazards and must confront and escape from a dropship. As part of the alien specific controls, a toggle next to the B button allows the player to switch from claws to tail, which leads to some pretty satisfying kills. The camera can be moved independently with a swipe of the finger, aiding the alien POV when the character enters air ducts on the base.
In addition to the main nineteen story levels available at launch, the game comes with ten to twelve side missions. Schwartz said some involve hitting a target goal, like achieving 10 enemy body slashes. In others, the player must defend a nest of eggs. In the side mission we played, the objective was simple: stay alive. As an alien caught outside near the marine base, we endured a seemingly endless phalanx of colonial marines. While Schwartz mentioned having found he can last upwards of 25 minutes in the side mission, our time was a more modest two-and-a-half minutes.
Before switching to the Predator side of the game, Schwartz showed a level in which the player must first play a facehugger and, briefly, a chestburster. The facehugger section was particularly hilarious as the creature must escape an un-egglike containment unit and, of course, find an unwilling host. The chestburster section leads you to a quick animation that skips, as Schwartz quipped, "all the insecurities of an adolescent alien."
The Predator starts out with a plasma gun, a combi stick and stealth abilities. In the level demoed, each comes in handy as players must dodge, shoot, and impale the various facehuggers infecting a Weylan-Yutani lab. Holding the attack button down brings up the famous Predator targeting reticule for the most effective plasma blast. We choose to skewer the facehuggers as they jumped on the floor. Moving onto humans, we discovered the special finishing move re-enacts the film monster's predilection for scalping and spine collecting.
According to Schwartz, the Predator eventually acquires his iconic heat vision. The Alien also receives an equivalent vision power later in the game. Another feature he was happy to show off was an in-game brightness slider to offer the player the option to shed more light on the dark world of Aliens and Predators.
Of course, more light will be shed on the unending conflict of the Aliens, Predators and the humans caught in the middle when "Alien Vs. Predator: Evolution" arrives on iOS and Android devices later this year.