Gamescom '12: Hands-on with Alien vs Predator on iOS

Who'll win?

Gamescom '12: Hands-on with Alien vs Predator on iOS

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and video games based on the evergreen Alien licence. Oh hi, Alien vs Predator, I didn't see you there!

Following on from its 2010 game Robert Rodriguez presents Predators, Angry Mob Games has decided to take it one step further with its upcoming iOS and Android release and invite the xenomorphs along for the ride.

Hack time

Due for release in November, this Unity-powered third-person action-adventure romp is heading for familiar two-button hack-and-slash territory.

With movement mapped to a virtual stick in the bottom-left corner and two 'action' buttons located in the bottom-right, the goal is simple: kill or be killed.

Over the course of the game's 21 levels, the game swings between the perspectives of the Alien and the Predator, as they stalk the dimly lit corridors in search of prey.

Perhaps predictably, there's never any shortage of armed marines ready to die horribly for the cause, and dealing with them is straightforward.

Regardless of whether you're playing as the lithe-limbed Alien or the stocky, blade-wielding Predator, you're armed with two basic forms of attack: a slower, more powerful swipe, and a more frenzied but less powerful alternative.

Pretty in pink

Whichever form you happen to take, you can mix up your gory death-dealing with charged attacks or experiment and build-up simple combos to smash your adversaries into pretty pink chunks.

You'll also be able to take advantage of enemies on the edge of death and deliver spine-wrenching finishing moves. To truly bring the pain, you have to tap a context-sensitive icon when it appears above the head of an enemy, and then bask in the warm glow of a delightfully gory death animation.

Sometimes, the game mixes up the basic brawler formula with set-pieces, or more exploitative sorties.

In one section, the alien comes under concerted fire from an attack helicopter, forcing you to dash gingerly between crates in order to avoid slivers of hot death.

Dance of death

As you weave your way between obstacles, the boxes not only provide temporary protection but also block your path, forcing you to double-back to encourage the chopper to destroy these blockades for you.

Elsewhere, some sections break from the traditional corridor prowling and send the Alien creeping up walls and into vents, while the Predator gets to mix up the slicing and dicing with some blasting.

As you might expect, new abilities unlock as the game progresses, such as the Predator's active camouflage. In darkened areas, you'll also be able to switch to night vision, creep up on your foes, and take them down with stealthy efficiency.

In terms of the game's setting, not much has been revealed at this stage, aside from the fact that it's set in a temple on a "distant planet" built to test the skills of predator warriors.

What we do know is that a "disturbing truth" is revealed that leads to the Alien Queen being captured and the start of the young Predator warrior's journey.

Moody blues

Visually speaking, Alien vs Predator hits all the right notes, with authentic character models, proficient animation, and a moody ambience that befits the licence.

Retina display support has been pledged, as well as support for the older devices including iPhone 3GS - albeit "with a few effects turned off". In short, it should look great on whatever device you happen to own.

At the moment, the one major question mark is the camera control system. At present, Angry Mob has opted for an entirely manual system, but admitted that it's considering tweaking it in the run-up to release.

Keeping your enemy in view can prove problematic when you're surrounded by gun-toting marines, so it'll be interesting to see how the issue is solved when it ships later this year.

If you're in the mood for brash brawling action, keep an eye out for this as the year comes to a close and the nights draw in.

Alien vs Predator is due for release on iOS and Android in November 2012.
Kristan Reed
Kristan Reed
There's no such thing as 'not enough time' in Kristan's world. Despite the former Eurogamer editor claiming the world record for the most number of game reviews written before going insane, he manages to continue to squeeze in parallel obsessions with obscure bands, Norwich City FC, and moody episodic TV shows. He might even read a book if threatened by his girlfriend.