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As it stands, 2013 isn't looking like a particularly stellar year for games based on the Aliens franchise. Aliens vs. Predator: Evolution is not quite the high-profile disaster that Aliens: Colonial Marines was on other platforms, as it does a valiant job of creating a longer-form brawler for iPhone and iPad – but the game is sadly plagued with consistent crashes and occasionally infuriating mechanics. Somewhere under the problems, there may be a really enjoyable title here. But without some polish, Evolution will remain a mediocre allusion to a beloved old PC game.
The concept of Aliens fighting Predators – and the human marines in between – is certainly appealing, especially since it's been done with success in past games. AVP: Evolution features a hefty amount of content, twisting the alternating tales of the rival headline factions over 19 missions. Side-quests offer unique challenges, like protecting a batch of Xenomorph eggs from androids, but an unfortunate proportion of the quests are focused on mindless combat, which has you incessantly swipe at enemies with an Alien tail or Predator claw. But the occasional unique mission approach – such as playing as a facehugger Alien latching on to a scientist – is great.
Movement is handled through a virtual d-pad, which works well until it reads a swipe as turning left, for example. After beating up an enemy enough, you're given the option to perform a gruesome execution, like biting off his head. However, the prompt-driven sequence spawned by such a move still allows other enemies in the area to blast away with abandon, and you'll frequently die as overpowered bad guys take advantage of a design flaw. Playing as an Alien or Predator should give a sense of empowerment, but Evolution just reminds you the whole affair is an occasionally tedious video game.
Completing missions and smacking around enemies provides Honor Points (Predator) or Xeno Points (Alien), which can be spent on upgraded armor, better weapons, or items like health rejuvenators. Obviously, the Predator's gear is far more involved, and matching armor with giant blade-poles or whips that literally cut enemies in half is excellent. But every time Evolution crashes to the Home screen, you'll care a little less about such things.
The bottom line. AVP: Evolution might turn into a worthwhile iOS brawler with some notable tweaks, but for now it's a rather mundane exercise in patience.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later
Plenty of levels and side quests. Great visuals inspired by the popular franchise.
Strange, unbalanced enemies. Occasionally frustrating controls. Crashes regularly.