by Travis Fahs0
AVP: Evolution Review
Better than a Paul W.S. Anderson movie.
AVP: Evolution, the latest of the seemingly thousands of games in its franchise(s), is an impressive game, indeed. It’s the second Predator title on Android, but the first for the Alien series, and Fox has put some muscle behind making it a high-end, console-like affair. This is the sort of game we always want to see more of; a mature action game, marketed squarely at traditional gamers, and oozing with production value. Alas, being well-made does not necessarily make a game fun.
Evolution does an awful lot right. The graphics are absolutely gorgeous, and even allow users to select from three detail settings to keep things running smoothly on a broad range of handsets. On the higher end, you’ll see specular shading, normal maps, and light bloom, as well as some very detailed texture work. It’s not the prettiest game on the market, but it’s able to hold its own against competitors like Wild Blood.
The story alternates between the Xenomorphs and the Predators, with the human Colonial Marines acting as a common enemy between them. This is a great opportunity to add variety to the usually repetitive hack-and-slash genre, but this opportunity is largely squandered. Apart from a few special abilities used in particular sequences, the two races play very similarly, with action consisting of basic button-mashing combos. A second button allows players to leap/dodge, or block, and its implementation is a bit shaky. When enemies are weak, you’ll also have the opportunity to perform an execution move by swiping the screen, which fills your life bar.
This last mechanic proves to be especially problematic. These execution moves are easy to do and the opportunities to perform them are almost constant. Even worse, they usually fill your life bar completely up. By all appearances this is a title targeting adult, core gamers. It’s brutal and violent and soaked in console convention. Why then, is its difficulty so terribly low?
The game makes a few efforts to include some depth. You can earn experience points and level up, and between stages you can purchase upgrades in the form of new equipment. These are basically just stat buffs, and not terribly useful in light of the game’s low difficulty. There isn’t any ability to unlock new moves, limited use items, or anything else to add some desperately needed variety.
The level design also doesn’t do much to help alleviate this problem. There are a few interesting variety sequences, like a stage early on where you control a tiny “face-hugger” loose in a Colonial Marine base, but it isn’t enough to stave off boredom. Most levels end with an anticlimax, without much in the way of boss fights or scripted events.
AVP: Evolution isn’t a bad game by any means. In fact, it’s a very well-made game. It runs well, looks great, and is very well polished. This makes it all the more frustrating that these efforts have been spent on what is ultimately a very basic, very easy, and very shallow button-masher. On the Android platform, it may be able to skate on its looks, but if this were a console release, it wouldn’t even stack up to Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Summary: AVP: Evolution is an average action game, made exceptional by its license and its great production values. Low difficulty and generally simple gameplay undermine what should have been a much better game.